Sure, some of these travel tips are basic. But Thanksgiving travel is looking to be an even bigger mess than normal this year, especially around the East Coast. So this 90-second refresher from Samantha Brown and Mark “Hawkeye Louis” could save you hours.
Picking your nose in public and stealing life jackets might be acceptable behavior in China, but it’ll be frowned upon elsewhere in the world. That’s the advice being doled out to Chinese tourists heading abroad.
The country’s National Tourism Administration put together a 64-page booklet called The Guidebook For Civilized Tourism to teach its citizens the dos and don’ts of respectable travel.
Earlier this year, China’s Vice Premier lamented the fact that rowdy behavior by Chinese tourists was tarnishing the country’s image abroad. The new etiquette guide hopes to curb some of the unruly behavior, such as travelers who pee in public swimming pools or leave footprints on toilet seats when using public restrooms.Some of the other insight offered in the guidebook includes instructions for travelers to avoid picking their teeth with their fingers, to keep the length of their nose hair in check, and to refrain from stealing life jackets from airplanes so that they’ll be available to other travelers in the event of an emergency.
However, while some of the tips reflect common sense and general courteousness, others are harder to pin down the origins of. An example? Chinese tourists are told that when traveling in Spain, they should always wear earrings while out in public. If they don’t, well apparently, it’s as good as being naked.
Talk about getting too close for comfort. It turns out a man who was repeatedly getting within reach of a 2-year-old boy at an amusement park in Ohio may have been attempting to snatch the toddler. After he was arrested, police found toys and movies of children in his truck. Then, they came to find out he was secretly recording children all day with a hidden video camera in his sunglasses.
When it comes to kidnapping, amusement parks terrifyingly provide an environment ripe for the picking. But the truth is, there’s a much bigger chance families can get separated in crowded and chaotic parks. To avoid a potential horror story, consider these tips next time you spend a day at the park:
- Establish A Meeting Place: Before you even set foot in the park, map out where you should meet if someone gets separated or in the event of another emergency.
- Point Out Park Employees: Make sure your child understands what a uniformed park employee looks like. This way, if you do get separated, your child can find someone to help.
- Have “The Talk”: Tell your kids about the importance of staying close. This doesn’t mean you need to barrage Junior with stories of kidnappings, but it couldn’t hurt to let them know how much you’d miss them if something happened.
- Stay Alert: Everyone, including children, should should stay aware of their surroundings. This will not only help you stay together, but can keep kids away from running into obstacles like trash cans, barriers or other people.
- Choose Bright Clothing: There’s no missing your child if he or she is wearing Dayglo orange (unless everyone else is, too).
- Get Your Kid a Tattoo: Not a real one, silly. Companies now make temporary “safety” tattoos that allow you to put your telephone number on your child — and it won’t wash off in the wave pool like a marker does. This could also be good if your child has an allergy or medical condition.
- Stick Together: Above all, don’t let your kids get lost in the crowd. This means staying by their side at every moment — from the concession stands to the restrooms.
For the college crowd, spring break typically means one thing: raging parties. For everyone else, however, spring break brings on more of a raging headache.
Those traveling at the same time as the party crowd are faced with a number of dramas, ranging from laying wide awake at night listening to thumping music piercing the paper-thin walls of their hotel room, to having to explain to their seven-year-old why those scantily-clad college kids are puking on the sidewalk. Put up with it long enough and spring break has the ability to break down even the most tolerant traveler.
Is there any hope of avoiding the chaos? Thankfully, the answer is yes – I’ve certainly done it and lived to tell the tale. So, whether you forgot to check the school calendar when making your travel plans or you simply want to take a relaxing family vacation while the little ones are off from school, the good news is there are lots of steps you can take to avoid running into the spring breakers.1. Head to a city. If you still have some flexibility in your travel plans, then pick a destination that’ll allow you to avoid the partygoers. The majority of spring breakers are fleeing the metropolises and heading to sunny, sandy spots, which means now is a great time to visit a city.
2. Steer clear of party beaches. If you’re headed to a seaside destination, beware that certain beaches will be packed with partygoers and plan your stay accordingly. For example, if you go to Miami, you’ll want to avoid South Beach or Miami Beach and pick a quieter spot like Key Biscayne or Mid Beach to base yourself in instead.
3. Choose your hotel wisely. Even if you’re headed to a destination known for attracting spring breakers, you can often avoid the revelry as long as you keep away from party hotels – venues full of college kids there to enjoy the pool parties, live entertainment, and music around the clock. You can figure out which hotels are geared specifically to the party crowd by hunting down the spring break website for that destination. For example, you can see which hotels are set up for the event in Cancun here, and at Daytona Beach here.
4. Arm yourself with noise-canceling devices. No matter how well you research your hotel, you might not be able to prevent a group of noisy merry-makers from setting up camp in the room above you. So to be on the safe side, bring along some earplugs and even a white noise machine to muffle any sound. If you’re a business traveler or need to get work done while you’re in your hotel, noise-canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. It’s also worth asking the hotel to put you in a quiet corner of the hotel, far from any college kids, when checking in.
5. Wake up early. If you want to sightsee and enjoy the destination in peace, get up before the spring break crowd. Most of the partiers stay up late and sleep in the next morning nursing their hangovers, so by getting up earlier you can beat the crowds. Morning is also a good time to enjoy the popular party beaches before the crowds, kegs and DJs invade later in the day.
6. Do activities spring breakers tend to avoid. While many attractions will appeal to spring breakers and ordinary travelers alike, there are still plenty of things you can do where you won’t find a partier for miles. Examples include enjoying a round of golf, a quiet afternoon of fishing, or a private boat ride.
7. Head to the quieter watering holes. The party crowd will be busy hitting up nightclubs and bars offering kegs of beer and mixed drinks by the yard glass, so if you’re looking to sip a quiet drink or two, steer clear of these venues. A much better option is to head to wine bars, intimate cocktail lounges, vineyards and bars attached to restaurants. If you really want to go to one of the popular clubs or bars in town, check their event schedule and those of nearby venues. Depending on where the spring break action is on a given night, some venues can be pulsating and others can become ghost towns – which might be exactly what you’re looking for.
8. Research where the locals hang out. Particularly when it comes to the international destinations, many cities have a main tourist drag that’s lined with resorts and entertainment geared towards travelers (and in the case of spring break, the partiers) and a separate part of the city where the locals tend to congregate. I once visited Cancun, Mexico, during spring break (but not actually for spring break) and was able to avoid the party crowd by spending time at the beaches frequented by the locals and the downtown plazas few tourists ventured into. As an added bonus, these areas had a more authentic vibe, and the food, drinks and accommodation were significantly cheaper.
Have you traveled during spring break? Were you able to escape the party crowds?
Full disclosure: I know Jodi Ettenberg, author of “The Food Traveler’s Handbook.” I’ve eaten with Jodi and explored cities with her; she’s even inspected the spices in my Istanbul sublet apartment. Rather than let my friendship with her just guarantee a great review of her book, I will use it to vouch for the fact that she’s the perfect person to write a food guide for travelers: intrepid, resourceful, curious and (of course) always hungry.
On the road full time since 2008, Jodi has explored the world through food on her blog Legal Nomads. To keep costs down and her palate happy, Jodi strives to eat as locally as possible, chasing down the best street eats, cab driver hangouts and mom-and-pop restaurants. With this handbook, she shares her tips and resources for eating well, cheaply, and safely anywhere in the world. The guide is peppered (pardon the pun) with anecdotes from Jodi and other travelers (blogger Nicola Twilley recommends revisiting a market at different times of the day for different experiences), quirky facts (how about a 1742 recipe for ketchup that will keep for 20 years?!) and guidelines for local dining culture (you’ll keep getting your coffee refilled in Jordan until you learn the proper way to shake the cup and signal you’ve had enough). The book is infused with an enthusiasm and passion for food that’s contagious, and you may quickly find that planning a tour of the world through dumplings seems like a must.Jodi’s travel style may not be for everyone – some people crave familiarity and easy comfort, especially when traveling, and the prospect of eating a mysterious dish at a tiny food stall might be daunting. But for those looking to expand their horizons through food, connect with locals while traveling or just get a good meal without risking food poisoning, “The Food Traveler’s Handbook” is worth tucking into. Just be wary of reading it on an empty stomach, or you might find yourself, as I did, propelled out of bed at 8 a.m. with a strong craving for soup.
“The Food Traveler’s Handbook” is available in paperback and as an e-book for Kindle. Additional books in the Traveler’s Handbooks series include guides for Career Breaks, Solo Travel, Luxury Travel and Volunteer Travel. Additional resources for food travelers can also be found on Jodi’s blog here.
[Photo credit: Jodi Ettenberg]