Article – Paul Gioffi Well Weathered Edition 9Michelle @ ISR2018-03-28T08:39:59-07:00
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 26, 27 and 28 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 26: You’re Out of Line
As an American growing up in New York State, the concept of quickly finding your place in line, defending it, and waiting your turn was drilled into my very essence at an early age. Any subversives to the aforementioned soon found themselves the recipient of body-piercing glares, an earful of foul curses or an out-and-out fist fight. This idea of queuing, or lining up and waiting your turn, extended to other facets of the culture, such as using the automobile. For example, if there’s a multitude of cars all wanting to enter or exit the already crowded parking lot, it’s done so in an orderly, first-come first-serve manner. In most countries, the color red on a traffic light means stop, and most people adhere to this, especially where the vehicular laws are consistently enforced. This is sometimes not the case in other parts of the world. Queuing never seems to move beyond the idea stage. It doesn’t materialize into an actual line where the fellow behind you accepts the fact that you were at the check-out register first. Then there’s the cigarette-laden woman who actually does fall in line behind you but insists on little shoves and pushes against your back, as if that were going to expedite your moving. One of the best ones ever was the day before Christmas, last mad dash for presents in a central Milan department store where gift juggling patrons rushed the register like crazed fans charging the stage at a heavy metal concert. It tuned into a small mosh pit, with everyone reaching over everyone else hoping to have their items rung up first. It doesn’t help that store clerks and local law enforcement, many times, just ignore things they should be regulating. Their ‘why bother?’ attitude trickles down to the masses who translate this as ‘Why should I follow any sort of rule if the next guy isn’t?’ It can be difficult to decide what to do in these situations. You can either be trampled, cut off, plowed aside, interrupted and/or made to wait as if you were invisible, or you can stake your claim, stay your ground and put on your “I was here first and there’s no two ways about it” face.
Entry 27: Back to the Wall
When in the wilds of a back country or small, rural village, you may not need to worry about who’s watching, as there may be no one else around for miles (or so you think). You’re a stranger in a strange land, but space is in abundance and that offers you some security. This is not always the case, however, in the closed-quarters of a city. If you’ve come prepared, you’ll probably have a street map, guidebook, phrase book and some sort of transportation schedule. If you find yourself lost on a busy street corner, it’s probably best not to let everyone else in the neighborhood know this. If alone, find a quiet, safe, side street. Or perhaps a niche at the entrance to a store. Better yet, enter the store where you’re completely removed from the public eye. Then pull out your guidebook and unravel your 3 feet by 3 feet glossy, water-resistant, dual language mega-map. It’s also a huge advantage to be able to speak the local language, as you can calmly talk to the store clerk. If the above is not possible, at least put your back up against the wall of an edifice so you mitigate opportunities for would-be assailants. With two or more people, all of the above is still good practice, and you’ll have extra eyes to keep watch while you figure out where Bartolomeo Avenue is.
Entry 28: Dressed for Success
Beyond the advantages you can gain from the Plan A, Gear head and When to sweat the small stuff sections, you should also be aware of your overall apparel, when traveling, and try to synthesize your own personal flavor and interests with what sort of trip you’ll be taking and where you will actually be. An expedition backpack works equally well in the forests and on the trains between cities, and you’re bound to see them on your travels as their transportability and ‘hands free’ features are excellent. When remaining in mostly urban areas and hiking is minimal, I’ve also used the oversize duffle bag with shoulder strap. Proper footwear is huge and can sometimes make or break your creature comfort factor. With limited space, you’ll need to pack items that can be used in multiple situations, such as a pair of trousers that suit both a day hike outside of Kathmandu, Nepal, and a sit-down dinner at a posh restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic. (yes, trousers like these do exist). For males, a wrinkle-free blazer and necktie spruce things up for evenings out. For females, a foldable skirt (more on the long side) helps. All of these work best if they’re solid, neutral colors. They’re easier to mix and match, and are less ostentatious. Of course you can wear what you like, wherever you like, but my advice is to avoid the flashy, bright colors, or bizarre patterns that attract unnecessary attention. Other items include a compactable rain jacket, small umbrella, gloves and hat. Be aware of cultural norms in some countries, such as covered shoulders and legs for women.
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