If you’ve never been outside the U.S. you’re in for a treat. There is however, a bit of a learning curve unless you’re naturally sensitive to other cultures or don’t mind being the, “Ugly American”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched an American traveler giving us all a bad name. Some observations which aren’t too far from the truth are that you can generally identify an American traveler by the way they act. Here are some examples:
- The person who’s had too many beers, is wearing cowboy boots, an enormous hat and huge belt buckle, is probably an American.
- The person who incredulously asks the staff at a hotel or restaurant, “What, you can’t speak English?” is probably the American.
- The one who rents a place that’s not up to western standards and complains about the barbaric living conditions, is probably the American.
Well, I assume you understand the point I’m trying to make, so keep this in mind when you travel. You are an ambassador for the United States, act like it. If you expect western standards, you can also expect to pay for it. If you can’t function without all the luxuries and amenities we have in the states, you may wish to restrict your travel to upscale hotels or remain in North American or Western Europe … just sayin.
My opinion is that the intent of travel is to experience a country, its culture and everything it has to offer, not to experience America in an exotic location. I’ve been in countries with other Americans who spent the entire trip eating at American restaurants, staying at American hotels, drinking American beer and merely visit foreign sites. That is sort of missing the point if you ask me. Hey to each his own I suppose but if you’re spending all that money, why not get the most bang for your buck.
Hey, you may be that person or group that just wants to hang out on the beach or patio and relax, watching the locals and other vacationers go by. I do a bit of that as well, but normally I’m on the go, experiencing the place I’m visiting.
You should take some time and go through the pages from countries and cities I’ve visited to get a feel for what’s out there. Make a bucket list for yourself, set some goals, start researching, scheming, saving, dreaming. Make it happen.
There is so much to see and do out there, how much money do you need? I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in my life who tried to earn that last dollar or work one more month, year …. And in the end didn’t travel at all because something was always coming up and eventually they died. Don’t let that be you.
Have you ever dreamed of watching the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle? It’s amazing, being up there and watching the sun go round, no night at all.
How about watching a whale off the coast of an island in the south pacific? Those creatures are huge but you have no idea until you see them in real life.
Ever wondered what it’s like to stand inside a volcano? Hey, you only live once eh?
Ever celebrated Mardi Gras in another country? How about the Fourth of July? New Year’s Eve? Halloween?
It is always fun and interesting to see how other cultures have adopted an event we Americans consider our own. I was in Pristina, Kosovo for Halloween a few years back and I had no idea that they would celebrate such an event or even how due to what I perceived would be religious constraints. But, one evening I went downtown and there were literally vendors along the curb selling eggs to people dressed in their costumes. These people would then turn around and hurl them at traffic, one bus in particular had its windshield covered in eggs.
Now, I would have never have experienced this had I not found myself in Kosovo.
The world is such a diverse place, cultures, languages, holidays, events, geography, history … you name it. Speaking of history, I have a much deeper understanding and love for it now that I lived in England for almost a year. That country is a living testament to history, it literally comes alive when you’re walking through battle sites, castles, palaces and museums. Traveling helped enrich this area of my life, go and visit as soon as you can.
If you truly want to experience the world you need to step outside your comfort zone and engage in activities you that you wouldn’t normally seek out. Now, I’m not recommending you put on a squirrel suit and jump off a ledge from the top of some mountaintop. I am suggesting you consider experiences that are different or at least an alternate version of what you have available back home.
If you don’t take a chance, how will you know if you like something? I have a habit to engage in this activity everywhere I go, eating, drinking, seeking out festivals, points of interest and activities I just can’t find back home. Like when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria and I tried calf brain. Hey, I had no idea this would be the first place on earth where I finally found something I absolutely could not eat. But, there it was on a plate in front of me. That’s not a bad thing either (unless you were the chef or waitress) it only reveals my desire to try new things.
So, as you scour the earth for your first destination don’t just jump at an all-inclusive or a cruise where you’re restricted basically to the ship or pre-selected ports. Those things are great, don’t get me wrong but there’s more out there if you get away from the tourist zones and experience a country and its culture. You’re paying for it, get the most bang for your buck. Get out there and experience life.