People tell me the craziest things. I guess I seem like a sympathetic listener?
They divulge their best travel tips to me at travel and adventure trade shows across the country, international travel markets, at book signings, and I hear them from fellow travel writers and arm-chair travelers alike. Most are wholly unsolicited. And most of these chestnuts I have of course heard before. Originality is sadly rare in this field. Everyone wants to reinvent the wheel every few editorial cycles it seems.
As the Event Director of the annual world travel championship, The Global Scavenger Hunt, I get to see great travelers in action every year while they interact with the world first hand as they circle the globe over 23-days of the competition. They each have to use their own skill sets, innate travel savvy, chutzpah and acquired Travel IQ to overcome the challenges we lay before them on a daily basis if they have any hope of winning and being crowned The World's Greatest Travelers.
Over the last decade, I have noticed that each and every participant comes with their own sure-fire set of tried and true travel tips. But how they compete and how they finish in the event reveals to us whether or not their methods are as tried and true as they believe them to be. And trust me when I tell you that everyone has their own set of travel beliefs.
Of course we all know the commonsense ones, like: Don't eat where you sleep. Don't wear shorts riding an elephant. Don't talk-back to customs or immigration officials. And never present yourself at a car rental desk after a few drinks on the plane. Duh, right?
But here are the ten most politically incorrect travel hacks that I have personally ever heard over the years presented in David Letterman Top Ten List style for your enjoyment:
10. "If you're going to buy drugs on the road, buy them from a Westerner not a local!" Okay, but my guess is that you might be being cast in the new reality-television series Locked Up Abroad!
9. "You know Bill, counterfeit hundreds are everywhere. When I get one I either spend it on a hooker, tip really bi, or buy something worth $10 to get $90 back." I see, musical currency.
8. "I always drink and then refill the vodka and gin mini-bar bottles with water, every time!" And that explains my water-downed drink last night.
7. "I always get a room at a full hotel or table at a busy restaurant because I flash a $100 bill noticeably in the face of a desk manager or maître di...then when I get what I want, I just smile, say thank you and shove the bill back in my pocket." And you admit this in public you lousy jerk!
6. "Whenever I can't find an available hotel room I just head to the Red Light district and make an arrangement with a local sex worker--they always have a room. I don't have to have sex." Right, you'll just play cards; maybe strip poker.
5. "I never pay my mini-bar bill! At checkout I simply say that I did not consume it. I blame it on them: an inadvertent keystroke entry, a restocking issue, maybe the maid drank it or the restocking boy." Beware: I heard this from a traveling salesman (aka road warrior).
4. "Years ago I used to sew any contraband I didn't want customs to know about in my kids jackets--they never check kids!" Nice helicopter parenting here--to get them out of jail!
3. "Once I was running late for a flight and couldn't find a parking space, so I just left the car at the terminal departure curb. Yes, it got towed away, but it was cheaper than missing my flight." A smart business calculation if I ever heard.
2. "Whenever I check a bag I always pack a starters pistol in it. Hasn't been mishandled yet." Remind me to never fly with you!
1. "When I travel I don't make eye contact and never talk to strangers, you can't trust anybody traveling." WTF!? If you can't trust strangers in strange lands why travel? But, the avoiding eye contact works really well jaywalking in Manhattan. I am just saying...
So, what are the worst pieces of travel advice you ever heard?