Can we just discuss for a moment here the fact that a picture of someone reading from the Kindle app on their iPad is nowhere near as artsy and appealing as a picture of someone reading an actual book?
In 2012 we decided to do our first “giant” trip that involved planes, trains, and automobiles, multiple weeks, and multiple countries in Europe. We started out in Brussels, headed to a fifth floor (EUROPEAN fifth floor, so really sixth floor. Don’t let them try to fool you) walk-up with narrow curlicue stairs in the Gambetta in Paris, then went off to Madrid, Barcelona, and back to Brussels before flying back to Zambia.
There are many things you can’t plan ahead for while traveling, no matter how dedicated, resourceful, and thorough you try to be. Like, for instance, a rotovirus outbreak.
You can’t plan for a rotovirus outbreak, people. YOU CAN’T PLAN FOR THIS.
Right at the start I can assure you, I’m not using similes, metaphors, or exaggerating. Me. Two kids. Murder hotel. Addis Ababa.
I’m sure you’ve heard that what you do on the first day of the year will set the pattern for the year to come.
Actually, you may not have heard it, and I may have made it up. I did try searching that phrase, but I couldn’t find a Google link, which seems to indicate that I just randomly decided that it is a thing. Whatever. It’s a good thing.
Several months ago I went to hear a talk about travel. This one, one which I’ve had a chance to quote several times since, dealt specifically with the issue of travel safety. Plus, we got to play with some fun toys.
Because not every travel destination is the beautiful, safe beaches of Hawaii.
On the other hand, the vast majority of the world does not house terrifying specters of Jack the Ripper, just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists and go all Sweeney Todd on their innards, either. Still, it doesn’t help to be prepared. But how does one do that?
I’m not going to lie, I’m THAT mom more than I’m comfortable with. I’m THAT mom whose kids melted down at the dinner table after a full day of sightseeing while other children sat beautifully and quietly in starched dress clothes and said things like, “Please, Mother, might I have a bit of cheese?” At least, that’s what it seems like the other kids are doing when I’m THAT mom at the restaurant.
I’m also THAT mom when my son chooses to run-off to the bathroom without telling anyone while we are checking our luggage at the airport and in a time crunch due to unexpected traffic. You know the one, THAT mom who loses her mind and marches her child, goose-stepping toward the immigration officers who look like they are caught between fear of bringing the matter up and causing an explosive incident and wondering if the flight will be safe with that much frustrated anger in one economy seat.
This time, though – this time I was the mother who should have been featured on Passenger Shaming. Specifically, this mother, although not really that mother, just one with the same sort of detritus left by my offspring.
I’m just going to get this out of the way right off the bat. I don’t think that using airline and hotel points for travel is always the best and cheapest option to see the world.
There’s a lot more to travel than knowing what to go see and booking a flight to get there. There are visa issues, of course, and those can be horrifying. Then there’s the whole food thing – what can you eat? And are you sure?
It boils down to this: if you know a little about the culture of the place you are going to visit, you can probably figure out a lot of stuff that might stymie a tourist who isn’t as interested in a spot of adventure.
And sometimes the best way to know what to do is to know what *NOT* to do.
I’m not going to lie, our family has a deep love of visiting South Africa. It’s a fantastic place – one of the most beautiful places in the world -with incredible wildlife and an outdoorsy lifestyle that gives a visitor no chance for boredom. And while I normally stop reading any travel article that uses the word “vibrant” to describe a place or culture, I honestly can’t think of any other word that fits South Africa as well.
If Vienna and London are imagined in the staid grays and whites of a proper European city and Budapest is a sepia tone of historic struggles, South Africa is bright purples and reds, with contrasting colors everywhere you look.
But when you are from America, South Africa doesn’t seem all that big. After you visit the big tourist names of Cape Town and Johannesburg and see all there is to see on day trips, what else is left?
What is left is Durban. And Durban is amazing.
I use travel books like doctors use latex gloves – which is to say that some of them area great and sometimes I’m allergic to them and have to find a reasonable latex substitute.