Thursday, September 8, 2022

Ten Commandments of Travel: Savvy tips to help you savor, remember


A hike above Malta's Blue Grotto offered an opportunity for a picnic and lovely afternoon
 for Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers. They travel with joy in each new surrounding.



Plan, but be open to surprise and a spontaneous event. In Tokyo
we borrowed umbrellas at a shrine to stroll the gardens in light rain.

“I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list."

I'M NOT CERTAIN who first uttered this delightful observation, but it applies to me and millions of others who find joy in travel.
We want to see everything there is to see in this wide, wonderful world.
The blue cave of Kastellorizo is one of the
stunning deep caves of the Greek Isles, a famous
attraction. Don't miss the opportunity to tour.

So in hopes of helping fellow travelers, we devised "Travel's Ten Commandments."  We hope it will enhance your travels, give you ideas and inspire you to create your own travel code You can adapt it to fit your own lifestyle and desires.
So here goes:
1. TRAVEL LIGHTLY. Remember, the best souvenir is a good memory, or two or three. Make it your goal to have stories to tell, not junk to show. This doesn't mean you can't pick up a beautiful painting, antique or something on the road that moves you and has meaning. Through the years, we've purchased tile in Venice, a chandelier in Rome, silk in Kyoto, scarves in Portofino and St. Petersburg and an onyx table in Mexico City.  That took seven weeks to reach us -- long after the credit card charge went through.  But it arrived as promised in perfect condition, a fabulous memory of a long-ago trip to a city we love with its world class archeological museum and so much more. Be selective in your purchases. Send things back if they're heavy. Don't weigh down your suitcase.

Cookie delights in an espresso
machine in her hotel room in Lisbon
2. TRAVEL EXPECTANTLY. We believe each adventure is a learning experience. Try a new tour outfit, maybe a small one starting up. That's how we found CBM tours (Cant' Be Missed.) Wonderful find.
Remember, sometimes things will go south.  Roll with it. Adapt.
We've been in hotel rooms where we struggled to turn the lights on.  Sometimes, room lights work only when prompted by the room key which must remain in the wall. We've had coffee machines that call for contemplation; there isn't always a directional guide. Usually with a little patience (not my strong suit) and Keller's engineering expertise, we figure it out.  The espresso machine in Lisbon was a favorite gadget. Tiny espresso balls go into a press -- better than Starbuck's!

Gratitude is important on the road. We tipped
this lovely waitress at La Boella in Tarragona,
Spain. She surprised Keller with birthday cake.

with joy and a sense of fun. Try new foods, take a hike to woods you've never seen.  Awaken each day with anticipation.  What a happy sensation to open your eyes in a new room, new town, with a new language, birds, cafes, parks, museums, churches to explore. We like to take a walk after we check in our hotel -- though the temptation is to take a nap. Get with the new time zone. If your bags don't make it with you, fill out the forms and be patient.
Remember that happiness is a way of travel, a lifestyle.  The destination is second banana. 
4. TRAVEL HUMBLY. Be understated (a challenge for me). Cultivate your listening skills. Don't compare your new surroundings to what you're accustomed to. Don't expect the same ways of doing things -- you're traveling to learn.    
Cookie and Keller await a train change in Italy.
5. TRAVEL COURTEOUSLY. As you listen and learn, you'll find new ways of doing things.  Be thankful for the store clerk who recommends a tiny neighborhood restaurant down the alley. Thank your hotel maid for the extra coffee.  Tip when it seems right -- a few Euros for the bellman who delivers your bags.  A small tip is thoughtful, good insurance for the porter who brings you ice. He'll do it each day if you start out right.  
6. TRAVEL GRATEFULLY and with a generous heart. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer so travel with appreciation for everyone who helps you -- and you'll find your good will is unfailingly returned. 
Sample local fruits from the stand -- wash first.
Here, we bought lunch fixings for a picnic
on the Amalfi coast near Naples.
This cheerful lady in Vietnam became a friend as
 we spent time with her at her family's farm.

7. TRAVEL WITH AN OPEN MIND. Experiment. An elderly fellow traveler -- 85 and still on the road -- says, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." If a server suggests a dish you have never tried, give it a go. Once in a village in South Africa, we asked the waiter to surprise us. He served the house specialty: charred goat's head. We've sampled roasted grasshoppers in Thailand, fried tarantulas in Cambodia, calf's brains in Peru, haggis in Scotland (yes, it's spiced heart, liver and lungs served in stomach lining) and witchetty grubs under the shadow of Ayers Rock in central Australia. The meat from this wood-eating larvae is rich in protein. My Aussie mates assured me it is a nutritious snack when tramping through the bush. I recommend grub snacks only after a couple pints of Foster's ale.  Swallow whole.
In the Canary Islands, the chef, behind Keller
and Cookie, offered a holiday meal and "Wise
Men" hats on Christmas Day in Gran Canaria.
Cookie and our brilliant Rome
guide, Lucilla, who has become
a dear friend through the year
8. TRAVEL WITH CURIOSITY. Be flexible and curious about your new place. Soak it all up. Your job fills your pocket, but travel fills your soul.  We love tours that include a stop in a family farm or village where we actually can meet the people. In Vietnam, we spent a day with a family and still correspond with the three-generation household.  
9. TRAVEL WITH IMAGINATION.  Enthusiasm and optimism are essential elements in any  successful trip. My grandmother Olive encouraged me to live the life I've dreamed of, to find the good in all people and places. The Dalai Lama advised, "Once a year, go some place you've never been before."
Cookie and Keller swam with the manta rays in Bonaire.
10. TRAVEL FEARLESSLY. Now's the time to banish worry. Leave your shy side and timidity at home.  Don't flash big wads of cash around and watch where you keep your Euros (use a money belt or your shoe for large bills and try to limit carry cash and use credit cards.) I've been mugged three times in 57 years abroad. Only the first was successful when the bandits sliced my purse off my arm and I needed stitches. The other two times, I witnessed would-be robbers' hands going for my husband's wallet and yelled for police. The culprits dashed away both times.  
Keller in front of
Notre Dame in Paris.

Yes, we still travel. But we don't open a map on a busy street corner.  We play it savvy, but with worldwide crime on the rise, we try to exercise caution but not fear.
DON'T RETURN home lamenting that you didn't swim with the manta rays or buy the souvenir spoon or shot glass for a friend who collects them.  
Should you take the trip?  Can you afford it? Never be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Think of the stories and memories you'll bring back.  And remember, when in doubt, Paris is always a good idea. 

More on a spirited, small tour company:


Bruce Keller, Christene "Cookie" Meyers on "When and If."

UP NEXT:  We're on the road and headed to Key West, Florida, for a relaxing sailing trip aboard a splendid and artful yacht designed by Gen. George Patton. The World War II hero dreamed of sailing the world after his noble efforts during the war. His exquisite creation, the yacht "When and If," gave him happy hours on the waters and now is berthed in Key West where it takes visitors on a magical sail off the shores of this lovely Florida port town. Meanwhile, remember to explore, earn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, art, nature, family and more:


  1. Great advice on the road -- and in life in general!

  2. Fun tips with your usual sense of humor and adventure!