I travel internationally about every 4 months or so. This means I get to watch fellow travelers, many of whom unsuspectingly offer colorful characteristics and situations ripe for my next mystery novel.
Yes, I admit it. I travel with a notebook and all too frequently jot down crazy things I see other passengers do. Especially when entering a new country–and culture–few of us seem to anticipate what they will find upon arrival.
So if you want to travel internationally, here’s how to do it badly.
1. Wear a strapless dress while trying to lift a heavy carry-on into the overhead bin. Laugh nervously while doing so.
2. Don’t change your home currency into the local currency. Doesn’t everyone use dollars/pounds/euros?
3. Walk into the restroom, ignoring the attendant and the sign that says the cost to use the facilities is 2 pesos/kroner/zlotys (toilet paper included.)
4. Travel without tissues (see #3 above.)
5. Don’t carry a pen on international flights. Instead, pester strangers for a writing implement so you can fill out your immigration form. Do so while they are filling out theirs.
6. Wear flip-flops to walk through A. the butcher section of a mercado B. a hiking trail C. European cobblestone streets or D. any formal restaurant.
7. Speak loudly in a language the listener does not understand no matter what your volume.
8. Tourist loudly through a house of worship while a religious service is in progress.
9. Walk around with your purse open or unzipped or stuff hanging out of your pocket.
10. Wear short-shorts in conservative countries where the locals don’t wear anything shorter than capri pants.
11. Jump into a taxi without knowing the local norms—are there meters, are fares negotiated beforehand, which are the unlicensed taxis and are they safe? Also–you took a taxi there. How are you getting back?
12. Don’t have any idea how to read a map. Be unable to figure out where you are in any given city.
13. Talk back to the guard at the museum who reminds you that flash photography is not permitted.
14. When at a tourist attraction, talk loudly to your companions when all are wearing headphones. Double negative points if headphones are attached to museums gizmos that describe the exhibits.
15. Don’t check local weather before arriving. Who needs a coat in Helsinki in March?
16. Don’t travel with Pepto Bismol.
17. Ignore instructions to put airline seat in the upright position during takeoff or landing. This way, you can get to know the people ahead or in back of you when thrust forcefully against them during takeoff/landing. Oh hi!
18. Get drunk during a flight and offer your drink to the possibly underage person next to you.
19. Pack porn for a trip to the Middle East.
20. Try to dance through the metal detector at the airport.
21. The sausages in Austria were supposed to be great but there is just wurst on the menu. Seriously, wouldn’t you think they’d serve their best?
22. Don’t set your watch and/or travel clock to the local time zone.
23. Call room service and ask the hotel to provide American TV channels.
24. Although you don’t understand the difference between football/fútbol/soccer/rugby/Aussie rules, talk a lot as if you do.
25. While in China, ask people if they realize that ping-pong is not a sport.
26. Eat partially cooked eggs. Add points by combining with #16, above.
27. Drink tap water when everyone else is drinking bottled water. Again, see #16, above.
28. Use a shopping bag or other open bag as a carry-on so you can share everything in it with the rest of the plane passengers during landing.
29. Don’t use sunscreen. More negative points if you then get on an airplane where the air is really really dry . . .
30. Damn. “Wet season” actually means rain.
31. Spoiler alert: Turkish coffee, Turkish delight, and Turkish toilets are not all equally nice.
32. Call the hotel concierge, TSA agent, or tour guide “dude.”
33. Let your screaming children be the center of everyone’s attention in the hotel restaurant/breakfast buffet/line at Disneyworld attraction/butterbeer stand at Hogsmeade.
34. What, they don’t speak Latin in Latin America?
35. Try to score drugs in a foreign country. Dude, seriously.
But be a great traveler with ideas from these travel websites!
www.afar.com the online portal for AFAR, the unique travel magazine
www.smartertravel.com a safe travel guide as well as a place to find deals and advice
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I'm author Carmen Amato.
I used to work for the CIA, now I write mystery and suspense, including the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco.
Expect risk, power, corruption. And relationships with heat.