Guest Post: Confessions Of A Bad Traveler

This is the first-ever guest post on Ye Olde Blog.  I’d like you to meet Rarasaur!   Rara is one of my favorite fellow bloggers.  She’s funny, she’s smart, and she’s a wildly prolific blogger.  We have a standing appointment for coffee or tea or something if I ever make it to Southern California. (I’m thinkin’ 2014, Rara.)  I originally asked her to write a guest post for my travel-crazy May, but due to a series of hilarious e-mail malfunctions and one good old fashioned sitcom-style misunderstanding, she sent the draft to me over a month before I actually received it.  Yay, technology!

Her blogging topics are wildly disparate, ranging from pop culture to health to, really, whatever she feels like writing about.  Here’s a handful of her mostly-recent posts that I quite like, just to give you a sampling:

And now, without further adieu, I yield the floor to the inimitable Rarasaur.


I confess– I’m a bad traveler.

You’ve met me before. I’m the person crying at the airport, arguing that the scale must be wrong because my case is perfectly okay for carry-on. I’m the person who drives to an event that everyone else flies to. I’m the one you see on the flight the day after Thanksgiving because I don’t like to be away from home for more than a few hours. I groan whenever the plane shifts or is delayed for a second. I complain about the weather.

I know I’m annoying, so I restrict my travel to necessary moments in order to make sure that real travelers can enjoy their experience in peace.

I don’t think I’m wrong though. The reasons I am a bad traveler are so reasonable to me that I call them mantras.

So with no further ado, here are the Top 5 Mantras of Bad Travelers:

#1 – Things are good.

This is not my car, but it looks about ready for 12 hours away from home.
This is not my car, but it looks about ready for 12 hours away from home.

One thing I hear a lot from my traveling friends is how little importance they place on things.

One good dress that you can wash in the river, and they’re happy. One duffel bag full of necessities and they’re set. They have packing for various trips down to an art form and they use baking soda for more things than you could ever possibly imagine.

I don’t know what they do with their childhood toys, favorite books, and paintings– but I am sad without those things. It’s less about the materialism and more about the fact that they ground me. I’ve whittled my life down to just precious belongings and I don’t like to be without them.

They keep me calm, happy, sane, and focused on the positive.

Believe me– you want me to have things. I like things.

#2 – Clean is nice.

I make a similar face when I'm forced to be dusty.
I make a similar face when I’m forced to be dusty.

I have a North American, suburban definition of clean. If there’s a fly on my food, I’d rather not eat it. If I see someone rolling a tortilla on the floor, I’m suddenly not really that hungry.

I know. I’m perpetuating the American stereotype and probably making myself sound like someone who has never known hunger, seen starvation, or experienced hard times. My parents grew up in third world countries, and even here in America, I’ve seen true hunger. I don’t point at the food and say it’s disgusting and I don’t judge people for eating it.

I just don’t understand why I should pay several thousand dollars, and days of my life wedged in a tiny flying metal can, in order to experience it. I can eat dirty food here, without flying to New York City.

#3 – Stuff is the same everywhere.

buildingsThis is a consequence of too many geek movies and too eclectic of a family, but I believe it to be the truth. People are the same everywhere. Their goals and dreams are the same. They like to build big things and impressively tiny things. They have families that they love, and celebrations that are important to them. There are mysterious parts of their past that fill them with glory, imagination, and wonder. There are parts of their future that they are certain will exist soon, maybe even in their lifespan. They are proud.

Sure, the details are different. The buildings have different purposes and are different shapes with different names, but the awe-inspiring factors– the imagination, wonder, and community– is the same. Someone dreamed of something huge, and made it happen.

That’s beautiful but again– something I don’t need to go anywhere to see.

#4 – Airplanes are terrible.

Say Ahhhh!
Say Ahhhh!

Sure, they’re not dentist-terrible, but they’re certainly not fun.

If I want to be patted down, drooled on, and annoyed by strangers– well, I could come up with several far more interesting scenarios to accomplish that dream.

If I wanted to be locked into a building that only has overpriced food and bestseller books, well, I’d go straight to Hades and hang out there.

It doesn’t help that they restrict the number of things I can carry with me at all times. Did I mention that I like things?

#5 – I worry.

panic, worry, hitchhikers guideIs my car locked? Is my oven off? Did I mail my brother’s birthday card? Did he receive it? What if I find a stamp and forgot my stamp book and have to carry it in my wallet– except then my wallet gets stolen and I lose everything? What if I find a pet that I really want to take home with me, but custom forbids it? Will I mourn forever?

What if all flights back are cancelled and I don’t make it back in time and I’m late for work and I lose my job? What if I eat something that my body is not used to and my eyelashes turn green?

What if I look like a famous serial killer and am arrested on suspicion?

THEN what?

No answers? That’s what I thought, Traveler.

Let’s see a towel get you out of that sort of trouble.

So why do you travel?

What would you say the mantras of a Good Traveler are? Do you think there are such things are non-travelers and travelers, or have I just not been converted yet? (Have you come up with a scenario where a towel could get you out of the serial killer mix up? Seriously let me know. Now I’m worried about it.)

44 thoughts on “Guest Post: Confessions Of A Bad Traveler

    1. Don’t forget it can save your life if you visit Traal.

      Also, I once used a towel to beat out an engine fire in my old 1980 Honda Accord, so there’s that.

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  2. In my younger days in the corporate world, I had to travel frequently. I hated it! As you say, eventually, every new city looks the same after a while. Now, I happily roost in one spot and say let other’s travel! I’ve been there, done that and am happy here.

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    1. I love that others travel! Blogs like Steven’s let me explore through the eyes of someone who is enthusiastic about it, rather than myself… who would be totally preoccupied by my own footwear. 🙂 So yes, let them travel, and I’ll happily stay home and read/watch all about it. 😀

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  3. My 2014 calendar is still shrinkwrapped so apparently I’m free as a bird! 😉 Whenever you’re down this way, whatever year, we’ll have a tea/coffee extravaganza. 🙂

    Thanks for opening up your blog home to me. Plus, talk about perfect timing. I had a crazy busy real-life day making paper flowers and visiting cousins– my “go visit me here” post counts for the day, so huzzah. The whole May mishap thing was clearly meant to happen! 😀

    Anyways, thanks again, Steven. 😀 *hugs*

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  4. I don’t see how you can possibly say every new city looks the same. Salt Lake City is different from Seattle, is different from New York is different from Atlanta. London is different from Paris, is different from Rome, or Amsterdam, or Dusseldorf. Mumbai is different from Columbo, is different from Kuala Lumpur, is different form Beijing or Hong Kong. Nowhere is like Havana, either. Or Cairo, for that matter.
    As for all the stuff you take? I can’t get my head round this. I once went to the US for 10 days with only hand luggage. 10 days in Cyprus with only hand luggage. Three weeks in China where two of us took less than a single person’s allowance.

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    1. Well, firstly, Duncan… I’m all sorts of crazy. 😉 Secondly, it’s not that they look the same, it’s that the stuff that makes you “aww” and “oohh” is all the same. It’s really tall! It’s really deep! It’s really dark! It’s really fast!

      I don’t even know what hand luggage is… as in… stuff you can carry by hand?! That’s nuts. Hmm, let’s be conservative on 10 days– I’d need nice shoes, cheap shoes, 2 dresses, 3 pairs of pants, underthings, 5 blouses, all my bathroom supplies, a few books, a camera, & my computer. At least!

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      1. OK I accept your challenge. I’ll write a post about the things that tell me I’m somewhere foreign. Not the big stuff, the little things that make you go ‘What the F*** is going on here?’
        You have been warned.

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  5. I agree with all the points stated above Rara but I still like to travel! I am not one for backpacking across Europe but give me a three month Tourist Visa,money to spend and a place to stay, I’ll even go to Antarctica. I’m a Vegetarian so food might be a problem!

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  6. I travel a lot. In my own living room. I turn on the travel shows, I can almost smell the exotic foods, as I drink my cold clean water, I can almost feel the exhaustion of traveling, walking endless miles through the cities and deserts, as I sit on my fluffy couch in my air conditioned home. And I go to sleep on time at night, while imagining the hosts of the travel show’s jetlagged pace. Yes sir. I love to travel. My way. (Glad I’m not the only one who has lost their travel bug-)

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    1. I travel in much the same way! 😀 Books, shoes, blogs like Steven’s… I can enjoy without standing there. 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing the joys of your traveling sofa! 🙂

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  7. My Top Five Mantras for a Good Traveler: 1. Let “them” win. The world is full of rushing, scurrying people; if one or more of them is upsetting your cool, let them win. Smile, be patient, maintain your poise. 2. Be Ready for Anything. Since we cannot predict the future, we are best served by being open to everything we can. Openness washes away negatives, and encourages positives. 3. Learn What You Can Before You Go. Have a working knowledge of the language and customs you will encounter — this will prevent misunderstandings of all types. 4. Be Comfortable. If you don’t like to travel a certain way, i.e. flying, don’t subject yourself to the discomfort you know you will feel. Nothing can spoil a vacation faster than worrying about the flight home. There is always another way. 5. Be Unafraid. Trust that the good of the world outweighs the bad. If you are fearful, you could easily cause the people you meet to be uncomfortable in your presence. If you are unafraid, you will experience the richest returns, perhaps, of your whole life.

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    1. bunny42

      These are very smart and sensible. Especially the one about fear. It took me a long time to realize that I wasn’t a perpetual victim. I’m convinced that people who believe they are vulnerable unconsciously behave like victims, and predators can sense that.

      As for #1, Dear Abby used to say that people can only get to you if you let them. Or words to that effect. They’ll do what they’ll do. But you get to choose how you react to it and how you let it affect you. If it means you have to feel as though you’re wearing a cloak of invisibility, then so be it. You can smile and move on.

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    2. Beautiful, Judith! Those rules make perfect sense and when I do travel, I do all those things. Of course, #4 usually just keeps me from travelling at all. 😉 🙂

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  8. For me, it’s about seeing how life is elsewhere. The crosdw in Chicago are nothing like the crowds in NYC. Or Paris or LA for that matter.
    And it’s a lot of fun to see those differences.

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    1. Maybe because I grew up in such an eclectic/busy home, but for some reason, crowds everywhere sound the same. There’s a mom cooing at her kid, another yelling at her kid, someone’s late for work, someone is shopping, two friends are out together after a long time apart– I mean. The languages are different, the clothes are different, and their shopping list is different… but the people, they’re the same. 🙂

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  9. I travel because no matter how similar things are from one place to the next, there are adventures to be found that you can only get in certain places – Sure, you can see Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in any history book ever made, but unless you go the Louvre you won’t understand the feeling of seeing it in a throng of people in a room without air conditioning a hot Paris afternoon. Sure, you can see references, pictures of, stories written about the expansiveness of the ocean, but if you are from a landlocked area, you can not truly appreciate the sight, sounds, and smells without actually going. Sure, you can know everything there is to know about the natural wonders of the world, but you can’t fully appreciate them until you’ve seen the tar pits, until you’ve seen the folds in the San Andreas fault, until you’ve seen Old Faithful in Yellowstone. These experiences, these adventures, are worth the time in the metal tube, are worth leaving behind a few of our things, are worth worrying about haven’t left ovens on…

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  10. Melanie

    Oh travel. I travel more than I don’t. Sometimes I even do it for fun. What I love most is when I get to travel by plane or train. Sure, road trips are great, but there’s the people I have met on planes and trains who have changed my life. People who, for +/-2 hours, were my best friend, my confidant, my teacher, my student. It’s the getting there that is what it’s about for me. Once I’m there, meh, sometimes it’s profound, but more often than not, it’s just another big building, big hole, big forest.

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    1. Traveling for the journey! That is a lovely way to think of it. I think perhaps if I fretted less, I could actually pay attention on the journey. As it is, I mostly just bother the other travelers with my nonsense, haha! 😀 Thanks, Melanie!!

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  11. Great post rara! Not everyone is meant to be a traveller, and you’re not the only one I know. Stay home and be comfy. No point in doing something that doesn’t bring you joy when you can stay home and do things that do.
    Being nomadic, you must know I Iove to travel, but even I get weary of it from time to time. Our mantras – be flexible, be adaptable, trust the Mystery, relax and let things unfold, be prepared, take good care of your health, be present, enjoy yourself. Same applies to any life really.

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    1. 😀 Thanks, Alison! I’m so grateful that my joys can be found in a 5 minute radius of where I live. 😀

      I agree with you, your travel mantras are great LIFE mantras. I especially like “Trust the mystery”- profound and beautiful. 😀

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  12. I used to love to travel when I was young. I would think nothing of hopping on a plane & flying somewhere for an anniversary party or to help a visitor drive back to my place. Now I hate to fly. Everything I want to see can be seen on my computer without having to fly to get there. With Skype I can visit anyone I want to see. I don’t have to put up with heat, humidity, bugs, bad food or any of the other thousand things to annoy me. The ONLY exceptions are 2: I would get in a plane & fly somewhere in the Caribbean to be able to stick my feet in the Caribbean Sea & I would fly to get on a cruise ship (prior to all the bad publicity) because there is absolutely nothing so relaxing as cruising.

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  13. Hi Rara. Great to meet you, Steve. I love to travel. My sister always wondered why. She would tell me how she would dread the preparation, the packing, the anticipation of being cooped up in a plane, then the foreignness of the destination to her creature comforts. And here I am, I look forward to all those!

    Well, now that she has a new BF and her new BF loves to travel, things have changed……

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