Experimental Travel

Have you ever heard of experimental travel?  It’s essentially a collection of ways to travel based on method over destination – many don’t even require you to leave your hometown!  A few years ago, Travel gurus Lonely Planet published a book on the subject.  It is now out of print, but remains a hot topic of travel conversation across the web.

Here are some of my favorite “travel experiments” (though I haven’t tried them all!)

ABC Travel – This blog’s namesake!  Pick a letter of the alphabet and go around town doing only things that start with that letter.  Good choices are ‘B’ or ‘M’.  Alternatively, you could go through the whole alphabet in one day/trip but doing things that start with the next letter of the alphabet.

Lucky Number – pick a number and use public transport based on that number.  For instance, take Bus or Train line number 5, get off at the 5th stop, walk to the 5th building and go in, etc.

Barman’s Knock – Look through TripAdvisor, a guidebook or the yellow pages for a nearby (or far away) bar.  Go in and order your usual drink.  Then, ask the bartender where their favorite place to drink is and what they typically order there.  Go there next and order the recommendation.  Repeat until inebriated.  If you are staying for a while in one city, you coud also do this with restaurants – giving yourself a local foodie’s perspective of the city (obviously spacing your meals at regular intervals still).

Travel by Night – Travel somewhere so that you arrive in the evening.  Spend the entire night exploring the city and then depart at daybreak.  Good cities for this include Las Vegas, Paris, and Buenos Aires.

Tourist at Home – Stay in a hostel or other shared accommodations in your own city. Make friends with other people staying there and go along with them to do whatever they want to do.  A great way to get a new perspective on your town!

Sector of the Map – Predetermine a sector of the map (ex. D2).  Travel to the edge of that sector and spend a day doing everything in that section of the map.  The next day you can pick a different sector if you want.

Travel by Chance – Use a die (a D-20 is useful for this) to decide where you go and what you do.  Roll first and use that number to pick a train or bus line or street number.  Roll again to determine which building to go into.  Roll again and order that item off the menu, etc.

Last Minute Deals – great for extended travel – travel only by last minute deals.  Specify a time period for travel, and the week before you leave, book a last minute flight/train/bus ticket to the cheapest destination.  Once there book last minute tours. When you’re tired of it, book a last minute deal to another destination.  And so on, until you have to go back to “the real world”.

These are just a few of my favorites that are pretty versatile.  For more ideas, check out some of the sites below:



A couple of years ago, I wrote this post on Budget Airlines around the world (and particularly for trans-Atlantic flying).

Now check out this updated list from Travel & Leisure: http://www.travelandleisure.com/flight-deals/cheap-airlines

I have flown on quite a few of them, and know people who have flown on others.

Learn to Love Layovers

Many people stress over trying to find a direct flight (and the cost of some of those direct flights).  I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t.  Embrace layovers.

As you may be aware from my previous post on finding bargain airfare, most of my flying had previously been booked by my company – who would fly you the wrong way around the world to save $5.  I learned to use this to my advantage though.  They once flew me from Florida to Amsterdam to Hong Kong – but with my five hour layover in Amsterdam, I was able to take the train into the center and meet up with a friend for a canal tour.  When I got to Hong Kong, I also had less than a day before I was leaving again, but I managed to go out with some friends.  The second time I had less than 24 hours in Hong Kong, I used it to go to Disneyland and Victoria’s Peak.  My job working on cruise ships was often like a bunch of long layovers strung together – a few hours in this city, a few more in that one.  With the right mindset and a bit of research, you can use layovers like a bonus mini-holiday! And you don’t even have to pay for a hotel.

A few years ago, Iceland Air started a “stop over” campaign (stop overs being more than 24 hours between flights) – allowing you to spend time in their country before travelling on to Europe or North America.  Finland’s Finn Air announced something similar last year.  There’s an entire websites, such as layoverguides.com and sleepinginairports.net with guides on what to do with long layovers in airports.  Or you can download the Smart Layovers App.  Some airports, such as Korea’s Incheon-Seoul Airport offer layover specific city tours based on the length of your layover.  (Check out this blog for a list of cities offering FREE layover tours.) A new site called airwander.com actually lets you pick your flights based on where you can stop over and tells you how much extra it will cost – and in many cases it’s cheaper to stop over (hotel not included)!

The key to utilizing layovers (which are less than 24 hours) is to give yourself enough time to get into the city, do something, and get back through security before your ongoing flight.  This site will tell you some of the cities in the world with the closest airports (and this is a good one for Europe).  If you have time and energy, try planning for 8-12 hours layover, particularly during the day (then you can sleep on the flight!) Do your research in advance (so you don’t waste your precious layover hours!) Know the best option for getting to the city/attraction, and allow double time for getting back, plus time for security lines.  Also be sure to research visa restrictions for leaving the airport!

As I said before, I easily did this in Amsterdam, where the city centre is about a 15 minute train ride from the airport.  It’s a similar situation in Copenhagen, which if you fly Norwegian Air (again, see my previous post) you will likely find yourself with a few hours in Copenhagen.  In Hong Kong, it’s about 15 minutes by Taxi or 35 minutes by metro to HK Disneyland.  In San Diego, I managed to take a taxi from the airport to the renowned San Diego Zoo, where they even provided left luggage facilities, and enjoyed a lovey day at the zoo before flying on.  There is always something to do with a few extra hours – even if it’s just to go get a local lunch!

My rule of thumb is that you cannot check a place off if you never even left the airport (or cruise port for that matter!).  I know many of you are on strict time constraints, but consider a long layover on your next holiday – you’ll feel like you’ve seen so much more and it won’t have cost you anything extra!

Has anyone else had that moment where you get in the shower after a long day and realize that…. your face wash is from Curaçao, your body wash from Germany, your scrub from Korea, and the boots and sweater you just took off you got in Chile, the soaked through raincoat was from Scotland, and your earrings you just took out are from American Samoa.  And I don’t mean imported, you actually bought them there. Anyone else? Just me? #worldnomad #cantstoptravelling #souvenirideas #showerepiphanies

“I would not have done anything differently. All of the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have taken, every success I have enjoyed, every blunder I have made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I am not saying that they were all good or that they happened for a reason…but they have been right. They have been okay. As far as revelations go its pretty lame, I know. Okay is not bliss or even happiness. Okay is not the basis for a new religion or self help movement. Okay won’t get me on Oprah, but okay is a start and for that I am grateful. Can I thank Bhutan* for this breakthrough? It’s hard to say […] It is a strange place, peculiar in ways large and small. You lose your bearings here and when that happens a crack forms in your armor. A crack large enough, if you’re lucky, to let in a few shafts of light.”
~ The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

*For me, replace Bhutan with Nepal – same effect!

What Do You Want to Know?

Okay, so having just recently renewed my efforts in this blog, I have many ideas for topics to write on, I just don’t know where to begin!  So I have decided to ask my readers, family, and friends – what would you like to know more about???  Certain locales? Or a specific topic?

While you’re at it, subscribe to ABCTravelEye by email so you can see the resulting articles!
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Here’s two surveys – so please vote! (You can choose up to 3 choices on each!)

An American in the Rest of the World

Since about four years ago, when my travels finally took me out of North America, I’ve become a weird hodgepodge of customs and terms from the places I’ve visited and the people I’ve known, and so, I’ve written you a little poem.

I’m American by birth (don’t hold it against me!)
But I measure the temperature in Celsius degrees.
I still measure lengths and heights in feet and inches,
but mountains I measure in metres.
I measure my weight in pounds and stones,
and I measure volume in ounces, but also in litres.

My phone is set to 24-hour time,
(when it has power)
I measure distances by kilometers,
but still know the speed limit as miles per hour.

I calculate times zones in my head,
but I never have a clue what is the date.
I know dozens of currencies,
and usually the current exchange rate.

I still say “y’all”,
but also say “jumper”,
I’ll use “elevator” or “lift”,
but I avoid the word “chips” all together.

I can “take” or “make” your photo,
and get Pidgin and Spanglish, si?
But around some people,
I will still be a ‘Grammar Nazi’.

I’ve learned many religions,
even practiced a few,
but at the end of the day you’re most likely to find
me at a theme park or zoo.