Despite a dodgy economy, people like me still look forward to overseas travel. I’ll suffer the hassles and prices in order to see someplace new and exotic. To the traveler, the foreign mundane is utterly intoxicating. We snap untold pictures of brown children picking their noses and craggly old men plying their pathetic fishing boats. Why? Because they are foreign.
When I travel, I follow some common-sense rules. Here are some tips to make your overseas trips as sensational as mine.
1. Travel heavy.
You should have a full change of clothes for every day you’ll be gone. For two weeks, that means 14 pairs of camouflage cargo shorts, 10 “Bush/Cheney 2004″ T-shirts, 4 golf shirts with curled collars, 14 pairs of yellowed whitey-tighties, 14 pairs of black socks, a pair of bright white sneakers and a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap. You’ll also need 3-4 faded sweaters and a Michelin Man parka. You can’t be too sure.
Since other countries are universally deficient in consumer goods, just swipe up everything in your bathroom and shove it in a bag. Many countries refuse to broadcast all their media in English, so you should also bring a laptop, a DVD player, 20-30 DVD movies, a Gameboy and an iPhone. The iPhone won’t really work overseas, but you can play with that cool tilted-flame application while you wait in line to see Lenin’s tomb.
Bottom line: what if you think you need it and you don’t bring it? This is the precept that should guide you when packing for a trip.
2. English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?
Foreigners have an irritating habit of speaking funny words. They do this to make you feel isolated and inadequate. Because you’re a stranger they think they can have some fun with you. Some travel guides encourage you to learn a few words of their barbarian tongue, but doing so only emboldens them to babble on in their language and criticize your pronunciation. This whole process is demeaning and hurtful to the traveler, so it’s best to simply demand that everyone who enters your sphere either speak fluent English or fuck off and find someone who does.
3. Itineraries are for faggots.
Don’t forget: you are the one opening up your wallet. It’s YOUR trip and YOU decide when and where you’ll be. As an American, you have an inalienable right to travel freely. Furthermore, booking hotels online is difficult and time-consuming. Thus, the smart traveler follows his nose and demands lodging in the first place he sees. If the clerk gives you any guff about being “all booked”, be sure to remind him that you are an American and with a snap of your fingers an A-10 Warthog will fly over his shitty little BnB and fire an AGM-65 Maverick missile down his goddamn throat.
4. Sampling the local cuisine
One of the biggest pleasures of travel is enjoying the local cuisine. Of course, this is best experienced in Las Vegas, where you can watch foreign people sail down an ersatz Venetian canal while you suck down a half-pound bacon burger. But when you are overseas you will be faced with a bewildering selection of exotic foods. This bewilderment leads inevitably to horror when some Korean waiter brings you a plate of boiled aardvark ovaries. The savvy traveler reads menus posted outside restaurants and nods approvingly, then heads quietly to the closest McDonald’s.
5. Customs and courtesies
Travel is an enriching experience. It’s particularly enriching for the foreigners who get to be around you. Respect is a two-way street. If a Japanese guy bows deeply in greeting you, you should laugh out loud, slap him on the back and shake his hand vigorously. I can guarantee he will never forget the experience. Conversely, Europeans tend to be less formal and a bit stand-offish. Return the favor by ignoring them when they tell you to take your McDonald’s burger off a 12th century statue in the city cathedral. In no time, you’ll find yourself learning a lot about foreign people and the color schemes of their local constabulary. You’ll come home with plenty of stories and your friends will all want to travel as well.
There you have it. I’m looking forward to traveling overseas this year. I haven’t decided where; maybe Scotland, maybe Latvia, maybe Cambodia. Regardless of the destination, you can be sure that I’ll have a helluva time. And so will everyone around me.