life

“Money matters but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.”
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

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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:

 

 

“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!

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.

 

I had the realisation the other day, that this year I am kind of living my ABC Travel idea.  I spent the first half of the year sailing from Argentina through Antarctica and eventually on to Alaska (A’s). I started my holidays by visiting family in Tennessee and Texas (the T’s). I will finish my holidays by travelling to the Netherlands and Nepal (N’s). Ok, so maybe I’m living the ATNs, ha! In any case, just goes to show that it can be done!