I’m so sick of the travel section of most mainstream newspapers. The Saturday ‘Traveller’ section of my local paper is pretty much pages and pages of advertisements thinly disguised as destination reviews. I’ve noticed that it’s pretty rare to find a less than flattering review written journalists that travel as ‘guests’ of the tour groups, government tourism departments or airlines that they are writing about. They might point out one or two minor niggles but I’d say 95% of the content in those articles are absolutely glowing reviews of the service or company in question.
Everyone seems to be jumping on the Couch Surfing Bandwagon at the moment. And why not, it’s a great concept. Travel around the world, staying for free and meeting some cool and interesting people at the same time. There’s plenty written about the etiquette of surfing someone’s couch, but not so much available on how to be a good host. Here’s some thoughts I’ve based around my experience of giving up my couch to globetrotters.
A funny thing happened to me the other day. I was looking at all my lovely tech toys that could accompany me on my trips – and then I started hyperventilating. It was a sensory overload – a freakout over the simple task of surfing the net, but the conundrum of what do it on? laptop? iPhone? PC? Sometimes there’s such a thing as too much choice. It got me to thinking about technology and travel. I love my electronic gadgets, they’re better than children – they don’t talk back (unless you change the settings to do so) but really when you think about it, most of them are completely unnecessary for the global nomad.
You know that really warm feeling you get about yourself when you do something nice for someone else? What about that feeling of gluttony and selfishness you get when you’re in a foreign country sipping your 5th cocktail of the night, served by someone who earns less in a month than what you’re likely to spend before you go to bed?
Well, you can maximise the former and minimise (though not entirely eradicate) the latter. Try a spot of Voluntourim.
File this under the “how I can manage to eat another meal while I’m bumming it in Southeast Asia” category.
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One of the problems with short-term travel is the time required to fly to many places. I live in Southern California and if I want to fly to Europe I’m looking at a 10-hour flight at least. If I only have 7 days of vacation, this will quickly eat up a good chunk of my free time away from the ol’ 9-5. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say they just don’t have the time to travel such far distances.
Something many people are not familiar with is bartering. In America it’s very rare to barter for any goods or services in a traditional marketplace. Of course things like eBay and Craigslist have changed the way we shop, but for the most part, Americans don’t enter a store and offer half of the advertised price and expect to get away with it. In some countries, that’s exactly what you are expected to do though.