How to Travel: 21 Contrarian Rules

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    Jul 15, 2013 11:54 PM GMT
    Here are the first 5 - they make a ton of sense:

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/07/14/how-to-travel-21-contrarian-rules/

    My 21 Travel Rules and Criteria

    1. Don’t check luggage. If you’re bringing that much stuff with you, you’re doing something wrong.

    [TIM: I second this and encourage you to take things to extremes. Here's exactly how I travel the world with 10 pounds or less.]

    2. Instead of doing a TON of stuff. Pick one or two things, read all about those things and then actually spend time doing them. Research shows that you’ll enjoy an experience more if you’ve put effort and time into bringing it about. So I’d rather visit two or three sights that I’ve done my reading on and truly comprehend than I would seeing a ton of stuff that goes right in and out of my brain. (Oh, and never feel “obligated” to see the things everyone says you have to)

    [TIM: Need some inspiration? Here are my highlight lists for Tokyo and Buenos Aires.]

    3. Take long walks.

    4. Stop living to relive. What are you taking all these pictures for? Oh, for the memories? Then just look at it and remember it. Experience the present moment. (Not that you can’t take photos but try to counteract the impulse to look at the world through your iPhone screen)

    5. Read books, lots of books. You’re finally in a place where no one can interrupt you or call you into meetings and since half the television stations will be in another language…use it as a chance to do a lot of reading.

    [TIM: I strongly suggest that non-fiction bigots (which I was for 15+ years) read or listen to some fiction to turn off their problem-solving minds. Try The Graveyard Book audiobook or Zorba the Greek.

    6. Eat healthy. Enjoy the cuisine for sure, but you’ll enjoy the place less if you feel like a slob the whole time. (To put it another way, why are you eating pretzels on the airplane?)

    [TIM: If you want to follow The Slow-Carb Diet, my default cuisine choices in airports are Thai and Mexican food. Also, keep a *small* bag of almonds in your bag to avoid digressions in emergencies.]
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    Jul 16, 2013 5:59 AM GMT
    Couldn't agree more. The best trips I've had were the ones where I planned ahead and chose only a handful from a long list of recommended places to visit.

    Another thing that I do is to go through one or two popular tourism websites and make sure I don't go to the top 3-5 attractions as recommended by them. I find it more enjoyable to just walk around the city (minus areas known to be sketchy) for hours and see the people living there, as well as visit local restaurants and parks. Some of the most beautiful places I've been to while travelling were not even in my list of places to visit.
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    Jul 17, 2013 2:42 AM GMT
    I like to add try and meet as many local people as you can! I find the best travel experiences are when you can talk to a local and actually see what it's like living in the city they are. They are also likely to show you the non-touristic areas and 'hidden secrets' to the city. We are very lucky as gay men to have apps like Scruff, Gaydar etc where we can say we are looking for friends as we travel. ;)

    Agree with non-touristic areas. I found places like Lisbon, Portugal where you won't see as many tourists as Spain to be so much more humble and you can a real sense of what the people living there were like.

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    Jul 17, 2013 9:12 AM GMT
    I agree with everything that's been said.
    And as I live in one of the most visited places in the world, I want to emphasize the fact that touristic places represent in no way the country that you visit. If you want to have a real insight and a little understanding of the place you need to avoid those and try to see how the people live.
    I know that most Parisians avoid the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées because of the horde of tourists and pickpockets.
  • Amelorn

    Posts: 231

    Aug 09, 2013 9:53 PM GMT
    As someone who filled up a passport in 4 years, I'll add my $.02.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE Don’t check luggage. If you’re bringing that much stuff with you, you’re doing something wrong.


    Wrong. Depending on the itinerary, it can be unrealistic. Trips can span climate zones, seasons, and continents. Checking luggage is NOT a sin. Want to continue your work-out routine? That will require extra clothes. Want to try out a michelin starred restaurant? Shorts, t-shirt + backpack won't cut it there. More practically, I'm on holiday. I won't waste my trip at the laundromat.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE2. Instead of doing a TON of stuff. Pick one or two things, (Oh, and never feel “obligated” to see the things everyone says you have to)


    Amen. Americans generally suck at this and run themselves ragged. The "if it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium" approach makes for very low quality vacations. Also, itineraries that packed, frenetic, and time sensitive are prone to cascade failures of lost bookings and major $$$ when something goes wrong.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE6. Eat healthy. Enjoy the cuisine for sure, but you’ll enjoy the place less if you feel like a slob the whole time. (To put it another way, why are you eating pretzels on the airplane?)


    Amen. Breakfast buffet =/= challenge accepted.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE7. Try to avoid guidebooks, which are superficial at best and completely wrong at worst.


    Agreed. Waste of money at $25 per pop. The internet is charmingly free. Further, the opinions of prior travellers in RL are easily solicited.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE11. Never recline your seat on an airplane. Yes, it gives you more room–but ultimately at the expense of someone else. In economics, they call this an externality. It’s bad. Don’t do it.


    Bullshit. You paid for that seat, it's your right to recline it. If someone bitches about it, the flight attendants will side with you. There's a forum www.flyertalk.com that deals exclusively with frequent flyer issues. Thias has been confirmed.

    These days, I am fortunate enough to fly exclusively business or occasionally first, but from my economy days, I did not hesitate to recline. I did so slowly and after the meal service, but I did recline.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE15. Don’t waste time and space packing things you MIGHT need but could conceivably buy there. Remember, it costs money (time, energy, patience) to carry pointless things around. (Also, most hotels will give you razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletries.)


    Depends. Soaps and shampoos are a given. Conditioner and toothbrushes are not. In fact, free dental hygiene items are rare outside of Asia, even in the 5 star category. I generally travel only with deodorant and a toothbrush/toothpaste.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE17. Ignore the temptation to a) talk and tell everyone about your upcoming trip b) spend months and months planning. Just go.


    A romantic, but inefficient notion. Gathering knowledge & planning before departure has helped me with everything from scams, to local pricing info, to hotel information, to most cost effective transport. The efficiencies gained by research have been worth many, many hours and well over $20,000 in savings.

    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HERE19. Don’t upgrade your phone plan to international when you leave the country.


    Indeed. I'll skype if I need to call long distance. Otherwise, a local call from the hotel phone (as often as I need to) is usually peanuts. My total calling costs when abroad usually total perhaps $5 month. Phone calls are usually unnecessary on holidays.