Posted by Nancy D. Brown
Fellow Travel Writer and blogger Andrew Hayes asked me to contribute a guest post on his Sharing Experiences blog that he writes from Edinburgh, Scotland. I offered four travel tips and shared what happens to someone who doesn't head this very basic advice.
My room mate is driving and I’m co-pilot. We’re on our way to Newport, Rhode Island to check out the swanky mansions. About an hour into our drive from Boston, we realize that we’re New Hampshire bound and heading in the complete opposite direction of our planned destination. As you will quickly learn, my Kansas City room mate and I are both directionally challenged. No matter, we adjust our game plan and decide to visit Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond in New Hampshire.
This was back in the early 1980’s before everyone had a GPS mounted on their car dashboard and iPhones equipped with sophisticated mapping applications. These were the carefree days after college and before marriage, mortgages and motherhood; the days of road trips and cheap, under-funded adventures.
Fast forward twenty years and I’m still saddled with a horrible sense of direction. Amazingly, that doesn’t detour me from my current occupation as a travel writer. Come along on my stumbling, bumbling journey as I share some of my mis-adventures as a world-traveler.
Travel Tip #1: Always carry a map
My husband and I had finished the tour of Germany’s famous Neuschwanstein Castle and were ready to board our bus and continue along our romantic road coach excursion. Young and newly married, my athletic husband decided to walk the 30 minute trek downhill, I opted for the bus. As the bus lumbered down the mountain road, I didn’t think much of the German language being bantered around me. I tried out my limited vocabulary on a passenger across from me and was met with a quizzical look. It appears that I had boarded a charter bus full of school children on a field trip. They were heading back to their village, and I was beginning to realize the error of my ways. Fortunately, the bus driver took pity on me and delivered me back to the castle.
Travel Tip #2: Always check the destination before boarding a bus or train
In Corfu, Greece, my husband thought a motorcycle tour of the island might prove an adventure. As we walked up to the table to inquire about renting a motor bike, we watched the feral kittens scatter as the old man rose from his plastic chair. Smiling a noticeably toothless grin, he waved us in. The motorcycles were a far cry from my husband’s BMW bike at home in California. The battered Honda he selected could seat two people and had working breaks, or so we thought.
As we rounded a corner, me gripping tightly around my husband’s waist, I noticed a series of small, white crosses sticking up from the dirt as we approached a bend in the road. A large, yellow school bus lurched toward us from the opposite direction. I reached out my hand, as if this meek effort would prevent us from crashing into the vehicle. My hand brushed the side of the yellow bus as it chugged past. As my husband maneuvered the bike out of harms way, he realized that the back hand brake on the motorcycle was useless. He didn’t share this discovery with me until we were safely back from our island tour.
Travel Tip #3: Always inspect rental equipment thoroughly
Our first day of a two month backpacking adventure and we were like kids in a candy store. In fact, we were two young adults in Harrods Department Store. As I mentioned, this was the first day of our trip and we decided to shop the area alone and meet up in a couple of hours. My husband heard one location, I heard another. Unfortunately for me, I hadn’t yet changed my money and I didn’t have our room key or hotel address. After several hours of waiting for my husband to appear, I walked to the tube, not knowing where I was headed. As luck would have it, my husband caught sight of me and we traveled happily ever after.
Travel Tip #4: Always carry your own money, hotel key and the address of the property
While these may seem like basic travel tips, described with a sense of humor, I can tell you that I didn't think these first-hand experiences were funny at the time they were happening to ME! What travel tips do you have to share? I look forward to adding them to my list.