Stuff I Learned From Travelling


Summer’s finally/ almost/ nearly/ just about/ over, and it’s time to travel again.  That’s one thing I’ve learned during my years on this planet: never travel in the summer.  Actually, I’ve learned a lot of things travelling, and, cuz I’m a good guy, I’m going to pass some of them along.

The people at airport security have had their sense of humour surgically removed.

When someone with an accent says “No problem!” there already is one.

If you travel far enough, often enough, you will eventually run into a restaurant that serves mystery meat.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “For the love of Jesus, people! Venice is full.  One more busload of tourists and they’re going to change the name to Atlantis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Heathrow Airport was designed by Rhesus monkeys.”

Think about it.  If you can survive a month in Europe living out of one suitcase, what the hell are you doing with all that crap cluttering up your closet?

Advertised discount airline prices are like unicorns: everybody’s heard of them, but they don’t actually exist.

If you do it right, culture shock happens both ways.

The natural habitat of the traveller is sitting behind an adult beverage.  The natural habitat of the tourist is standing in line.

Nobody “wins” a vacation.  Slow down!

Nothing – NOTHING – looks like the website.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, nobody back home is going to give a damn about all the cool pictures you took.

Packing for any trip involves two things, 1) you’re going to forget something essential and 2) you’re going to bring something totally useless.  Oh, well!

Never get too attached to your luggage.

Speaking louder does not instantly make strangers bilingual.

Unless you’re trekking the Sahara, it’s going to rain.  Get used to it!

If you travel from North America to anywhere else in the world (including the Antarctic) you’re going to be held responsible for Donald Trump.  Get used to it!

And finally:

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do — you’re going to need more money.

Happy Trails!


PS – To all my faithful readers: I’m planning to publish a collection of some of my blogs, and I need a few good people to write wonderful things about me for the back cover.  Any volunteers?

Email me at


Europe Is Different (from North America)


Europe is different from North America.  Here are a few things you need to remember.

Waiter (server in North America) is a respected profession in Europe.  It’s not just a stopover for university students and wannabe actors.  These people know what they’re doing.  Take advantage of it.

Criminal is also a profession (although not actually respected.)  There are people who get up every morning and head to the tourist attractions with the sole purpose of robbing you – or somebody else.  There’s no need to be paranoid, but you need to practice a little due diligence to make sure it’s somebody else.

There are two seasons in Europe.  Tourist season, when hordes of foreigners descend on the continent like an army of battle-hardened Assyrians — crowding the streets, cluttering up the restaurants and driving up the prices.  And Season #2 – October 22nd.

I hate to say it, but the days of the super bargains in Europe are over.  Armani suits are Armani suits all over the world, and you’re not going to get a discount just because they’re making them down the street.  Go for the small shops rather than the big labels.

Public transportation is the way to go.  In North America, we get in our cars; in Europe, people get on the bus, tram or subway.  Taxis are fine, once in a while (like from the airport) but if you want to see the real Europe, get on the bus.

European time is not North American time — adapt.

And finally:

The reason you crossed the big pond in the first place is you wanted to try something completely different.  Most times it’s fun but sometimes it’s a pain in the ass.  The truth is, on any vacation something is going to suck (it always does) but when that happens the best thing to do is don’t sweat the details – and keep on moving.

10 Travel Tips (Plus 1)


I love the art of travel.  (Have I mentioned we’re in Italy?)   Anyway, here are a few travel tips I’ve picked up that may help you in your journey.

Packing – Don’t start too early, or you’ll pack a bunch of crap you don’t need.  The accepted rule is 1) pack your suitcase; 2) pour an adult beverage; 3) take out the golf umbrella, the snowsuit, one swimsuit, the extra evening gown and four pairs of shoes; 4) bring the wine to the suitcase; 5) dump everything on the bed; 6) look at the mess you’ve made; 7) cry; 8) finish the wine and throw whatever clothes you can into the suitcase ‘cause your flight leaves in 4 hours.

Stuff you’re going to forget – Subconsciously, you didn’t want to bring it anyway.

Foreign languages – Wherever you’re going, learn to say hi, goodbye, please, thank you, where and how much in the local lingo.  After that, you can get by with a series of gestures, grunts, moans, puzzled facial expressions and pantomime.  Practice in front of a mirror.  (A dog ate my passport is particularly difficult.)

Foreign languages (Part Deux) – Don’t learn too much, and make sure your accent sucks.  If you’re too good at simple phrases such as “Where is the toilet?” the locals may answer you with detailed instructions– and then you’re screwed.

Money — The accepted rule is 1) make a stack of money (5 cm is a good start); 2) pour an adult beverage; 3) double the stack; 4) pour another adult beverage; 5) go all in and remortgage the house.

Airport Security – Don’t sweat the details.  At least you’re not totally naked – yet.

The flight – Getting trapped for 9 hours in a giant aluminum cylinder with a bunch of strangers is no fun.  However, if you can survive that, cobblestones, art galleries that never end, food that looks like it’s already been eaten and the surly waiter who brought it are no problem.

The Hotel – Of course it doesn’t look like the website!  (What are you — a child?)

Sightseeing — After you arrive at your destination, the accepted rule is 1) make a list of all the things you want to see; 2) pour an adult beverage; 3) burn the list.

Souvenirs – Aunt Mamie doesn’t want another snow globe of the Vatican.  That piece of the Berlin Wall – isn’t.  And the miniature Eiffel Tower that plays La Marseillaise whenever the wind blows is going to annoy the hell out of you in three months.

And finally:

Passports – Always remember that when you start to look like your passport photo — go home!