The end is nigh… And so the road is about to get rough before it gets smoother.
To clarify: I’m referring to the end of this series, not your life. I mean, I can’t comment on your lifestyle (those gas station breakfast burritos will most likely be your end, but it’s you life), but I’m sure you’ll be fine for at least another six months. Moving on…
After all the planning and preparation, you’ve finally arrived. After a final speech to the little ones (and maybe the spouse) “Behave or I swear to God, I’ll turn this car around and you’ll be walking funny for a week!”, you get out of the car and pass through a set of sliding doors, eager to begin your adventure.
The Muzak (“Muzak: the official soundtrack of Hell!”) emanating from the lobby doesn’t exactly get your heart racing with anticipation, but you pay it no heed. You shuffle on, and in a moment you feel it; that low rumble that can only come from the cacophony of hundreds of voices violently colliding to form a soundtrack of humanity – at its most confused. Hesitant but filled with resolve – you’ve come too far to turn back now – you turn the corner and your worst fears leave the dark recesses of your mind and come to pass…
You are instantaneously surrounded by the “Horde”, hundreds of fellow travelers, all of them as confused, weary, hungry and cranky as you. Choose your actions carefully, for they will determine the course of events to follow.
Since we’re not permitted to shoot the mindless zombies we encounter during our travels in the head, we need to adapt to their presence.
When traveling, always take heed of these truths:
- You’re going to encounter crowds, some of them will be bigger than you’ve ever dealt with, aside from Walmart at Christmas, of course! There is NO WAY around this!
- You’re going to spend some time in lines – much more time than you’re expecting – so carry a bottle of water and practice taking a series of cleansing breaths. Trust me, it helps.
- Not everyone you meet is going to be a “shiny. happy person”, that goes for service personnel as well…
Don’t get me wrong, you’ll meet some great people while traveling, but you’ll also encounter some real brain donors, that’s simply how life works. The only way you can ensure that your life is filled with nice, decent people who recognize your value as a human being is to never leave your house.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t get dragged under by the “Horde”? I’m glad you asked.
1) Get organized. This starts as soon as you arrive; check with the doorman/valet and determine the best place to unload. You’ll want to avoid having to backtrack through the crowds, so if you’re self-parking, unpack and get the family out before you park. Garages are not the safest place to drag your rugrats around while you try to find your way to the front desk….
2) Use a cart. Of course, this only applies if you’re going the thrifty route and staying at a self-service property. If so, use a cart and keep everyone close together. And if your destination doesn’t have carts or bellmen? Get back in the car!
3) Use a bellman! Yes, I’m biased, but we not only help ensure you don’t have to drag a pile of luggage through a sea of humanity, we know everything (where to eat, where to party, etc.) and we can give you the skinny on which “tourist traps” to avoid.
4) Eat where the locals eat! It’s a classic travel tip for a reason. Not only will your taste buds thank you, your wallet will stay a little thicker – though not for long!
5) Take the road less-traveled – always. I’m going to cover this in greater detail next time, but for now remember this: ask the right questions! Check with the staff and determine the best routes (through the hotel, city or wherever) that will allow you to avoid pile-ups.
6) Start your day early! If you want to avoid the crowds that is. If want to sleep in, be my guest, you are on vacation, after all. But the early bird can hit the buffet first, he can skip the line at the most popular attractions and he can bypass the vengeful – and hung-over – check-out horde. And most importantly, he’ll have more energy (waiting sucks the life out of you) and time for whatever nocturnal activities he plans on engaging in…
7) Be happy! I was going to preface that with “Don’t worry..”, but I just couldn’t do it. I’ve already covered the importance of letting go of your worries -temporarily – and giving yourself over to the joys of traveling, but one encounter with a a surly tourist or a disgruntled clerk can wipe away your newfound serenity instantaneously.
So what can you do to maintain that travel buzz? Never forget these three simple words,”I’m on vacation”. Let other people be cranky, you’re on vacation! So what if the clerk is overworked and underpaid, and they want to take it out on you? You’re on vacation! The hardest thing about traveling is dealing with other people, but so what? You’re on… well, you get the point.
Like the late, great Patrick Swazye said in Road House:
“I want you to be nice.. until it’s time..to not be nice.”
We’ll wrap this up next time by discussing the importance of… doing your homework and asking questions?
See you in the lobby, kids…