These days when I’m out and about in a city, I like playing the game of ‘Spot the tourist’. Some people make this game way too easy. If I wanted to make this a drinking game in Paris, I’d get alcohol poisoning within an hour.
The most effective ways to look like a tourist are the following:
My friends know me as the Traveller. Always planning a trip here or there, and who knows where I’ll be any given month. They wonder how I can afford it.
A few years ago, I read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It’s an interesting read, and while I don’t subscribe to all of his advice, some things did sink in for me. For example, he talks about the importance of not leaving all your time off to when you’re old and retired and no longer as energetic as you were in your 20s and 30s. Instead, he recommends mini-retirements. 3 months here and there, perhaps once a year if you can do it. It’s been a lot of fun for the past 4 years.
Now, for many people, this concept seems downright impossible. In fact, if you ask a random American about their plans to travel they’ll usually talk about how they don’t have any leave left after planning Christmas and Thanksgiving and a single week somewhere else.
But taking 3 months off per year is doable. And hasn’t landed me in debt.
As I hang out in London mainlining a steady stream of cups of tea with honey, it occurs to me that perhaps I could share a story about being ill while travelling and general advice for dealing with illness while away.
I’ve mentioned this in the past: I’ve travelled a lot. Sometimes it’s been for long stretches of time (6 months, or 3 months a few times), and with the additional stress on your body, illnesses happen.
Between walking huge distances every day (I often carry a pedometer and walking 30,000 steps a day, 20km, is not unusual while exploring a new city), different and inconsistent meals, jetlag, as well as exposure to different viruses and bacteria, your body often takes a battering and succumbs to illness.
When you travel a lot, especially to a variety of different countries where each one has a different local currency, you end up accumulating a lot of coins and notes of various colors and values. It starts to look like play money.
In November last year I went to Austin, Texas, USA for a long weekend. It was a great experience as I’d never been to Texas before. The Texan reputation for hospitality was certainly lived up to as my host took me to the most important places for a visitor to see in Texas including:
- A Texan Barbeque restaurant,
- A drive through the countryside to see her horse,
- To a trailer which served some of the best Mexican cuisine I’ve ever had,
And yes, on one fabulous evening we went to a local bar – the Little Longhorn Saloon – which indulges in Chicken Shit Bingo games on Sunday afternoons.
It was a beautiful warm summer day in Nice, France and my friend and I wanted a coffee before wandering down to the beach for the afternoon. Considering how touristy Nice is, and how frequently I would be answered in English when ordering in French, we must have found the only cafe in Nice where no one spoke English.