Travel lessons from a travel writer

It’s funny that until you have someone ask the questions it’s often hard to know what travel lessons a travel writer can pass on.  Travel seems so normal that it’s not until someone is surprised, amazed or horrified about something that you realise  things have become ‘normal’ when maybe theya re not!

So this blog is for Margaret from the San Fran area, in the hope she reads it before her trip to Tanzania. And, the photo of the city mosque is either a reminder her of our over-coffee conversation this am, or memories of her trip to view this stunning building in its’ man-made lake. 

I wish I had had a tape rolling as I talked about the pros and cons of  solo travel, and how to pick the perfect travel partner. I’m so selfish and self-centred I do like to travel alone, but it has it’s disadvantages.

Solo travelers have to make ALL the decisions which can be good, but also exhausting especially when you are tired or under the weather. SO what advice did I give my new-found, ships-in-the-night, travel friend?

Body clock or bio-rythms in sinc are vital: I hate ‘killing time’ in the mornings, while night owls are frustrated by my early to bed, sleep through anything habits.

Fussy eaters can be hard to travel with. If they liked international chain food often I couldn’t travel with them .. once a week to keep the peace would be ok, but I want to taste the local food in the local down-home types of places. What about carnivores or vegetarians? Or gluten intolerant?

For me a place and their food is as vital to knowing about them and their culture as is their religion. I dont have to like all their food, customs or religious practises, but it’s none of my business: I’m a guest in their country and if I don’t like it, I need to go home!  Luckily for me, there has only been one place that I felt uncomfortable in and left quickly. (See my book – Naked In Budapest -travels with a passionate nomad – avaliable via Amazon etc – and no, it’s not the place in the title !) Not bad considering all the places I’ve been. Of course not liking a place or culture usually says way more about you, or me, than the places  or people.

The other  ‘advice’ I gave was to treat other travelers as adults … you both don’t have to do the same thing at the same time – programme days off, mornings off  for when you each do your own thing. After all when you always do what the other wants you will return home with lots of regrets about the compromises …and, memories of my days a counsellor has taught me that usually one person makes most of the compromises.

So, if each make a list of wants  (sights/ sites/ activities) from the place and  then put all the same ones onto the master list .. then do trades for the other things  – “I’ll do this with you if you’ll come to xyz with me’. Others can be non-negotiable for each of you .. and those are for your solo part of the day or week.

Margaret suggested I write  a blog about fellow travellers from hell but I’m not sure this is wise – but I’ll put the idea on the back burner and see what happens with it .. maybe a short story would be best, although I’m sure some people may still correctly, or incorrectly, identify themselves.  

What advice would you add about picking someone to travel with?  Who were nightmares to travel with and who were perfect? Or are you a solo traveller like me, and if so why?

Lets make this  blog a list of tips that are worthwhile for many travellers.  

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City mosque: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. July 2013

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2 comments

  1. I’ve travelled with a couple of friends and when you travel, it’s really different from when you’re just hanging out no doubt. I travelled quite abit this year with several groups of people and its quite surprising how you learn about people , well some you thought you already knew , while others become a pleasant surprise. “I have found that ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them ” as Mark Twain says. I’ve found the two best people to travel with this year from two seperate trips and the common denominator is that they are both game enough to try stuff overseas and crazy enough to put up with me and my travel habits!

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