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.
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.
With all the excitement and preparations of traveling it’s easy to (initially) forget the family and friends you’re leaving behind. But we’re interested, honest; and most of us (for the time being anyway) are living vicariously through you, so don’t forget about us. We want to know about the interesting guy you sat beside on the plane who invited you to dinner afterward. Or the hidden cave you explored while swimming in the Mediterranean. So please, fill us in.
For many travelers there is a certain Mystique that Cuba and in particular Havana holds. The largest Island in the Caribbean is a treasure of Spanish Colonial architecture, breath taking beaches, classic American Cars and being one of the final bastions of communism. Frozen in time is one of the descriptions I use to convey the feeling and emotion of being in Havana. Every where you cast your eyes you cannot be but reminded of being in a place that has changed little since the late fifties.
Times are tough. Even as the economy slowly begins to recover, people are struggling everywhere to get out of poverty, cut dollars and dimes, and save money when they need it most. But more importantly than that, the ultimate goal of all is to enjoy life – smile, laugh, and be able to enjoy the luxuries we all cherish – like travel.