I am going to start this chapter with listing some do’s and don’ts for travel that I came across on the net then I will wrap it up with some of my own.
This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you as a budding traveler and that is get advice and information about your destination(s) from as many sources as possible. No one person can know everything about a place. The same holds true with reference sources. When it comes to taking advice about a place always take the advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is biased in some way or the other.
Case in point, the following account relates to some advice I got about Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. This person told me to visit Yellowstone first, because if I visited Grand Tetons first I would be disappointed in Yellowstone. They said it was a bit of a letdown. After visiting both places, I can say that the person was wrong. I also began to understand their thought process and what type of vactioner they were. There are some places that you can just stop at scenic overlooks and see most everything there is to see. Grand Tetons is that type of park. You might miss a fewthings, but the vast majority of the park can be seen this way.
Yellowstone is not that type of park. If you just hit the overlooks, you will miss at least 90 percent of the park. You have to do extensive exploring which will require a lot of hiking. They also said that you can see the whole park in just two days. This statement was also false. We gave it three days. Let me tell you even that was not enough. We needed at least one more day to see the sights we missed. You may need to do some back tracking as well. Certain places need to be visited later in the day. Like the prismatic hot springs. We went in the morning, not a good time. You could see hardly anything due to the morning fog.
So the best advice I can give you is to listen to people and the supposed experts, but you will need to still take your own counsel. Only you know what you like and what type of traveler you are.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Time Abroad: 10 Do’s and Don’ts
1. DO Photocopy Your Passport
Carrying around a copy of your passport (the page with your pjot and other important information) is a must when traveling abroad, just in case your passport is damaged or lost.
2. DON’T Pay For Lodging By Wire Transfer Or Cash
Always pay via a credit card for stats abroad, no matter what type of discount you are offered. You don’t want to end up without a paper trail and stuck without a place to stay thousands of miles from home.
3. DO Use Your Room Safe
Leaving valuable out in the open is a terrible idea. Whenever you leave your room be sure to use your room’s safe, but don’t forget the passcode!
4. DON’T Let Your Phone Roam
Nothing is worse than returning home to see a cell phone bill that is astronomical. Be sure to either contact your provider for an overseas plan or only use it via WiFi.
5. DO Try New Foods
Don’t be one of those travelers who is scared to eat new things. Try something new!
6. DON’T Talk Politics
Not every country is a free country, and not every society is tolerant of free speech. Have fun but keep politics out of your discussions while on vacation.
7. DO Check Out The Culture
Your interests may not lie in seeing art works and performances I’m languages you can’t understand, but experiencing culture in a foreign land is incredibly eye opening and a fun experience.
8. DON’T Spend Too Much Time In Your Room
You may be jet-lagged, you may be homesick, but sitting around won’t help any of it. Get out there and have fun!
9. DO Pack Layers
Weather can change quickly when you’re exploring new lands, and finding properly fitting clothing when in foreign countries may he harder than you expect.
10. DON’T Do Drugs
Don’t bring them with you, don’t accept them from friends or family or strangers, don’t even talk about them. Many foreign countries are extremely strict when it comes to drugs and you could find yourself in big big trouble.
THE DO’S AND DONT’S WHEN TRAVELLING ABROAD
You’ve done it, you’ve booked the trip of a life time, now time to brush up on your etiquette before you jet off on your travels. We’ve got your back! Whether you are going on a trip around Asia or anywhere else in the world learn the basics & all our travel etiquette rules can apply for wherever you are.
When we set off on our travels we can get so caught up in the excitement of things that we can often forget that we are embarking on not only a trip of a lifetime, but a complete culture shock. Cultural norms within the world’s largest continent differ from what you might be used to in the west, so don’t let your shoddy etiquette stop you’re from marvelling in Asia’s outstanding beauty. Follow a few of our simple travel do’s and don’t and get ready to immerse yourself in a different way of life.
TRAVEL ETIQUETTE – THE DO’S
- Cover your head when you’re in temples or other places of worships. Also, dress modestly; covering shoulders and legs is advisable, as well as your tattoos.
- Eat local food. Part of travelling is immersing yourself in the new, even if its not be what you’re used to, it’s always polite to try the local food.
- It can be seen as invasive if you get snap happy without checking that you’re okay to do so. So always permission before taking photos of the locals.
- Check yourself before you wreck yourself! Things such as pointing or showing the soles of your feet can be seen as rude in certain cultures. Get yourself up to speed on etiquette before you travel so as not to cause offense.
- Check the tipping etiquette for the particular country you are in. Some cultures see it as an insult!
- Learn the lingo. Make it your mission to pick up a few words, ‘Hello’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in the native tongue will go a long way with the locals.
- Bartering is a way of life in Asia, especially at markets, just try to enjoy the experience and don’t be rude. These people are just trying to make a living so keep things chilled and fun!
- Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, and even some shops too. Keep an eye out for signs asking this and always comply.
- When you’re paying for something in Vietnam, use both hands to pass the money
TRAVEL ETIQUETTE – THE DONT’S
- Lose your temper. This one is particularly important in Vietnam and Cambodia.
- Pass items over another person’s head.
- Know your place and don’t sit any higher than your host if you’re invited to someone’s home.
- Try to keep both feet firmly on the floor, sole of the feet exposed is bad manners.
- Both hands in your pockets may perceive you as being angry, even if you’re not.
- Touching someone else’s head, cheek, or hair is consider rude.
- Never use your finger to point at people when you want their attention.
- PDA alert! Hugging or kissing your significant other in public can be frowned upon. Pay special attention to this cultural taboo if you travel to Vietnam, Indonesia, or Malaysia and keep the loving for behind closed doors
- Using your feet to point at things, especially an image of Buddha is a big no no!
MORE DO’S AND DON’TS OF TRAVELING ABROAD
- Carry and publicly show large amounts of money, or exchange currency at places that do not appear safe and secure.
- Walk with a purse or bag loosely over one shoulder. Instead, carry it diagonally facing the inside of the group or friend next to you. If you have a backpack, the safest place for it is on your chest when in a large crowd. Of course, NEVER leave these items unattended.
- Go to places not listed on your itinerary (unless specified by your instructor or chaperone). Stay clear of isolated or dimly lit areas especially in the evening. Curfews are in place for a reason.
- Mock or poke fun of the culture and people around you. You are a guest and should remember to “treat people the way you want to be treated.”
- Be aware of your surroundings. If anyone or thing looks suspicious, notify your chaperone or instructor.
- Only carry as much cash as is needed. If using traveler checks, give the larger amount to a chaperone for safe keeping.
- Lock up valuables.
- Memorize your passport number. You should also have a copy of your passport stored in another location. If it becomes lost or stolen, knowing your number will speed up replacement.
- Memorize your credit card number (if you are given one) and important phone numbers to call in case your card is lost or stolen. Make copies and leave the list at home.
- Dress appropriately for a destination; blending in with the locals makes you less of a target for those in search of obvious tourists.
- Follow the buddy system. Always have a friend or group with you. There is safety in numbers!
- Have FUN! Make the most of your experience by staying off your electronic devices. Soak in as much of your experience as you can.
Now that I have covered the boring and more mundane travel tips, let’s discuss some of the things that I have learned. Some of these I have already discussed, so I will just touch base on them here.
I spent the entire book discussing the DO’s, so lets concentrate on Randy’s DONT’s.
Randy’s 20 Travel Don’ts
- Don’t drink any water but bottled water, no matter where you are and what they say about the cleanliness of their water. You already know what happened to me in Mexico.
- Don’t piss off the natives, by this, I mean don’t slam your car door when you are moving your car in a campsite parking lot. While it may feel good to work off a little steam, all it does is make your life more difficult. Even though the travel park owner was a prick, I could have handled the situation a little better in the Grand Tetons. But where is the fun in that?
- Don’t get too close to the brown bears. You might remember that I mentioned photographing bears raiding a dumpster in Yosemite. What I failed to mention was that I got too close to the bear and I was reprimanded by a park ranger who just happened to be standing to the side and out of my line of sight. Sneaky bastard!
- Don’t get too close to moose no matter what their size especially rutting males. I was lucky that he had his attentions directed somewhere else. I could have really gotten my ass kicked by him.
- Don’t shut your car door before you have the damn keys in hand. You already know what happened to me on my California road trip.
- *Don’t eat a heavy meal of fried food before you go on for a boat ride in choppy seas. I did this on my first weekend live-a-board boat in the Channel Islands. Yes, this was the same trip that I experienced my mask flooding. As soon as we left the calm of the channel, we started hitting 5′ and 6′ waves. Approximately 30-minutes after that I started turning all different shades of green. I went up to the back of the boat and tried to keep my eyes on the ever dwindling shore line. Meanwhile, I tossed about five dozen cookies that night. At least, I wasn’t alone in my misery because another “Martian” traveler was competing with me in a new Olympic sport on who could get the most distance with his vomit. I have to admit I think he had me beat.
- Don’t actually carry the kitchen sink in your backpack. You really don’t need three kinds of water purifiers in your backpack, and maybe carrying that camping stool with you might have been a little much. If you can’t pick up your backpack, you might want to consider making it a little lighter, just maybe.
- No matter how well you think you know a hiking trail, wait until you can actually see before you start your hike. Case in point, my third Havasu hike.
- Don’t wear lightweight shoes when you are carrying a heavy backpack. I did. Well, let me clarify this when I tried to do the Trans Zion trek. There is a portion where you have to ford several small streams, so I switched out my hiking boots for a pair of mesh river shoes. This worked out OK for a while until it ended up to be six miles of fording streams. By then, my arches just about gave out, and I was limping even when I put my hiking boots back on. This trip just seemed to be full of don’ts. On our first day, we started our 10-mile hike at four in the afternoon, so we hiked till 10 PM that night. We never did find our campsite that night. I was so exhausted that I just opened up my tent and threw it on the ground unmade and rolled out my sleeping bag on it. I did not realize that I did this on a hill mainly because I couldn’t see a f–king thing. So I ended up in the morning having slid about ten feet from my original spot and I slept through the night. Also, don’t start a fifteen-mile day at 9 in the morning and then don’t take a one-hour lunch. Are you getting the picture that my hiking buddy didn’t want to do this hike? I was stuck because he was the planner. I had no clue where the hell I was going. So we ended up canceling the hike halfway through the second day.
- Another hiking don’t is DO NOT do the Rim-to-Rim hike in the Grand Canyon in the middle of the summer. It is just too freaking hot. I don’t know how many lives I have but I died of heat exhaustion on this one as well.
- Another thing not to do is don’t hike around lake Mead in the middle of summer. First, there simply is no natural shade where we were hiking. We laid under bushes to get out of the sun. Again we almost died of heat exhaustion. I don’t want you to think that I am an inexperienced hiker, I am just an idiot who thinks he is still a teenager.
- Don’t drive a street van into wet and soft ground. If there is water on the dirt road, you should really, really not try to drive on it especially if you are pulling a trailer. I repeat, NO especially if you are pulling a trailer. This took place the first time we tried to use our kayaks. Needless to say, we never got them in the water. The next day, we finally got a tow truck out in the middle of nowhere to pull us out of the quagmire that we found ourselves in. It took over two hours to pull us through “tractor pull” mud pit.
- Don’t try to paddle kayaks for the very first time on a body of water when it is windy out. No matter how hard my wife paddled she could not make any headway. If it wasn’t for the help of four very nice retired special forces veterans, we would still be out there wallowing on Lake Mead.
- Don’t take any kind of vehicle especially one with a trailer attached to it up a windy mountainous road with an angle of incline over 10 degrees at night. When I started rolling backwards down the road while in four wheel drive, I about shit my pants. Thank God, I was able to back into a private driveway where I was able to turn around and go back down that road. I can’t even remember why in the hell I was on that damn road in the first place.
- If No. 14 wasn’t bad enough, I tried doing a similar maneuver on another road…this time it was daylight. You know what… it wasn’t any better in the day. You may recall my tale of trying to turn around on the top of the mountain.
- Another thing you should never do is take a helicopter ride with someone who gets car sick. Not a good idea at all.
- Don’t take a tour boat ride around Horse Shoe Bend when it is raining. It kind of sucks. In my defense, it almost never rains in NV. Well, I was in AZ, and it does rain there. When we started on the ride, the sky looked OK. Well, that can change quickly and it did so. Oh my God, did we get cold. You also may remember me telling you about acting as a tour guide for my wife’s friend? Well, you guessed it she was on the boat with us as well. When we finally got back to our campsite all wet and exhausted, what did I find? I found my tent all knocked down and floating in the water. So guess where we spent our night sleeping? Yep, you guessed it, in my pick up truck.
- When you go on a cruise, don’t try and do two excursions in one day at your layovers. It is just too much. I know you want to see everything and do everything because you are excited. But you know what they are all cheesy and really are not worth doing in the first place.
- Don’t over-plan a trip. I had my trip to Thailand so booked up that it wasn’t even funny. We were six days in Phuket and every day was tied up. I asked my girlfriend if she could swim? Well, don’t trust a Thailander to tell you the truth. They will tell you anything you want to hear because they are afraid of disappointing you. So I spent a ton of money hiring a private scuba trainer so that my girlfriend could try diving. Well, that was money well spent (dripping sarcasm). I also changed the places that we were diving to make it easier and safer for her to dive in. By this, I mean boring with nothing to see. I should have just left my plans the way they were originally made and dove where I wanted and let her stay at the hotel.
- This goes for several of my trips, don’t try to save money by picking a cheaper hotel that is a thousand miles away from the places you want to see. I not only did this in Phuket, Thailand, I repeated it in the British Columbia. We had a great place to stay but it was over 10 miles away from the city. It ended up costing us nearly a $100.00 a day to tool back and fourth by taxi to do the things we wanted to do. We could have stayed right in the middle of the city in a nice hotel for a lot less.
Trust me, there are a lot more things that I have done wrong on my trips than the ones I have listed here. I have just scratched the surface. You may be asking me how I am still alive and also why do I put myself through the misery that I do? You know what, I really don’t have a good answer. However, in my final chapter I will hopefully be able to give you a reasonable explanation on why I do the things I do.
*A more complete version of this don’t can be found in chapter 19.