By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty
Travel brings out the best in me; thus, I am deserving of a camera crew, creative editing, fabulous make-up, and wardrobe.
I’m a great traveler, primarily because I am happy one, thanks to my techniques for terrific trips.
My destinations vary greatly with respect to broad appeal, but every part of the world possesses treasures. Many places are not glamorous, but every corner of the world has something worth seeing.
Find a grocery store, a neighborhood park, an independent book store, a coffee shop, a comfortable bar. Those are the places I spend most of my time in my own city, so why not do the same in Boston or Portland?
Talk to strangers
I travel alone as often as I do with others, so I am comfortable staring conversations with friendly-looking strangers, typically asking for recommendations, or often directions. My experience as a waitress and bartender makes me feel at home perched at the end of the bar near the service well, where I can enter into conversation or listen and learn. One memorable conversation was with a man at a gyro stand in Prague. He didn’t speak English and I don’t know Czech, but we shared horrible French skills and spoke for a while, just impressed we could understand each other at all.
Seek the unique
As globalization builds, the opportunity for experiences that can’t be replicated holds immense appeal. Local charm is why high-priced airfare is still a good buy.
My penchant for parades is just an extension of my desire to get to know a place by celebrating their local identity with them. Drink wine in Sonoma; watch orcas in Puget Sound; stroll the Promenade des Anglais in Nice; groove at The Continental Club in Austin; eat beignets at Café du Monde; drink in a beer garden in Munich.
Visit new places
The world is vast, and as my friend, Tammy, recently pointed out, we can expect at best three new destinations each year, and maybe forty more years of active traveling, which means there are only 100 new places in life I might still get to see (unless I win the lottery). Better get going!
Navigating a new city via public transit, on foot, and, recently, by bicycle remains a rewarding challenge. There’s no better way to get a sense of a place than to wander, or even get lost. A trusty paper map is a good beginning, but a two-night stay in Vienna taught me to always consider a sense of scale.
My status as an “early riser” is firmly rooted in my family tree, so I don’t bother fighting it. On vacation, I wake up early and am frequently the first person anywhere. Last year while visiting Seattle, I got to Pike Place Market before many of the vendors. Bonus: shorter lines!
I bring what I can carry. I find it easy to abide by the one-bag limit on the seriously going-to-charge-for-everything Spirit airlines. I wear dresses and add layers. I accessorize with scarves (of course!) which can make a similar outfit look different or used as a shirt or skirt. I stick to the two pairs of shoe rule. As my friend, Ivor’s sweet Irish mother used to say with regard to fashion, “Ah, sure, who’ll be looking at ya?”
Don’t waste time shopping
When I travel, I seek out things that are distinctive to the area; this means no strip malls. No malls whatsoever, if they can be avoided. My recent trip to Minneapolis did not include a stop at the Mall of America. Unique it may be, but I suspect it is just as soulless as any other mall I’ve ever visited. I am not a shopper. Unless it’s a local market with history and style along the lines of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, I’ll pass.
Do it on the cheap
I may spend a bit more for special meals or once-in-a-lifetime excursions; however, I won’t spend a ridiculous amount of money on any one thing. A round-trip ferry to the Aran Islands is still only 25 Euro, so I cannot be convinced to get the $75 lamb entrée.
Bring it home
Life-charging travel adds spark to daily life. Anything that’s worth doing on vacation is worth making a part of daily life, too!
My travel-savvy I might stems from my deep and abiding love for this big, beautiful world, and my close friends assure me that my travel photos and planned excursions are all tailor-made for engaging TV.
Someone better tell Rick Steves to watch his back.