Article – Paul Gioffi Well Weathered Edition 5Michelle @ ISR2018-03-27T11:55:44-07:00
Travel Survival Notes & Other Curious Observations
Monthly Travel Column by Paul W. Gioffi
Disclaimer: While travel can be exciting and rewarding there are unforeseen dangers that may arise. The Information presented in Paul’s articles is the author’s personal opinion and what may have worked for him yesterday may not work for someone else today or tomorrow. Therefore, you agree to use any and all information provided by the author at your own risk and agree that you will hold the author and ISR harmless in regard to any and all instances that may arise or result from use of this material.
Following, you’ll find travel tips number 13, 14, 15 and 16 from Paul W. Gioffi. To read the introduction to this column which began in February of 2006 please see Edition 1. To access other previous editions please see the Index.
Entry 13: Have a Penny, Give a Penny, Need a Penny, Take a Penny
It costs nothing to smile, to step aside and let someone else pass first, to hold open the door, to offer your already-read newspaper, to say “keep the change,” or to perform some other, similar pleasantry. A ball point ink pen or a stick of chewing gum will make you the Nile River’s most popular sailor. An unexpected question on Native American culture at the Grand Canyon gift store may get you the inside scoop to the best local authors in Arizona. Offering a fat tip to the waiter who just brought you your chips in a downtown London bar may get you an equally fat tip on the neighborhood’s real hot spots. And a warm smile to someone you don’t even know might just be the first step to a new friendship. This may sound like the only reason for being ‘nice’ to strangers is to see how you can benefit. Not at all. Being nice is simply the right thing to do. The other benefits are just good byproducts. Whether you believe in karma or not, the ‘what goes around comes around’ practice has a peculiar way of ringing true.
Entry 14: Divide and Conquer
Just as the smart investor diversifies his funds, so should the astute traveler. Have small denominations of local currency quickly accessible for things like bus fare, a cup of tea or a restaurant tip, so you don’t have to constantly reveal a large stash of money every time you need some. Keep other quantities of money and credit cards safely divided and hidden in other locations on your own person. Travelers have become quite inventive with this. You may want to prepare a false wallet, or handbag, with a small amount of cash, an old I.D. and other invalid, ‘real-looking’ cards. Consider this one the disposable wallet that will probably satisfy a thief but not even put a dent in your financial armor.
Entry 15: Sight and Sound
There are occasions when it is certainly right to stand up and speak out even if you’re standing and speaking alone. This may be the case when you’re certain you or a friend have been robbed, cheated or physically hurt. In such instances, your own judgment must determine how far you should go. While traveling in strange places, however, and when it appears as though everything is running smoothly, it may be best to just keep your mouth shut. Use your senses to learn and share in a quiet, positive and tasteful manner. Be an explorer who knows when to participate and when to observe. You do yourself and the tourist population an injustice by shooting off your mouth and perpetuating the ‘loud and obnoxious foreigner’ bit. There were offensive visitors before you and there will be offensive visitors after you, but you don’t have to be offensive.
Entry 16: Taxi Tactics
Over the years, and in all of my travels at home and abroad, I’ve discovered that the general rule about taxis is that it’s a ‘hit and miss’ scenario. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to catch that sincere, honest driver who really wants to help you out. Other times, it can turn quite ugly. It is not my intention to dishonor the taxi profession or discredit the multitudes of noble taxi drivers that exist around the world but, it does seem that tourists and taxis usually make for an unsettling and costly equation. My advice is simply to find alternate means of transportation whenever you can. While a taxi may be the fastest and warmest way to get to where you want to be, many maintain high fares with hidden, or imaginary, charges that are added when you arrive. This only drains your wallet and causes an argument, sometimes with an exchange of words in multiple languages that only generates more confusion. If a taxi is all you have, be prepared. Then there’s the meter less taxis where you bargain down (or up) to an agreed upon fare beforehand. At least here, you both should know where you stand. In any taxi situation, it’s okay to be friendly to an extent, but be wary of what you’re saying and how much you’re saying to a complete stranger. If your things are not with you in the back seat, leave your door open for a bit while you exit and move around to the trunk to get your bag. Most importantly, never reveal any money until you and your things are safely extracted from the taxi. This goes for tuk-tuks in Bangkok, Thailand, as well.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s edition of Well-Weathered Travel Survival Notes & Other Curious Observations. Check back next month for a new entry. Until then, safe travels. Contact me at Well_Weathered@yahoo.com