Travel Tips from a Skewed View

So, here it is Sunday night and, if you are like me, you are wishing you were in France. And perhaps you are reading books on Mediterranean islands, articles on packing, websites with travel gear and toys, and blogs on travel tips. Everyone has something to offer, but here at Wandering France, we take a skewed view of travel tips, i.e., these are tips that contradict the CW (Collective Wisdom).

1. Forget being unique, unusual, innovative and different. There are times when the herd mentality is the right mentality. Those times include crossing the street in Paris, Rome, or Nice. Do not be first or last – stick with the herd. They can’t get all of you in one pass.

2. Similarly, if you see a herd (pack? intrusion? whatever the collective noun is for papparazzi), stay with them. They are professionals, they actually pay people to tip them off to celebrity appearances. Go where they go, look where they look, and get your camera in focus. Later, you can figure out who is actually in your pictures.

3. The same tip applies to bird watching. Find the guy or group with the big binos, the spotting scopes, the craned-neck posture – stop and look where they’re looking. It could be something really rare. When you hear the cry, “Birders!”, stop and check it out. Quietly, please.

4. Those plastic bags you get at stores – little nuisances, they are. Not. Keep them. Here’s a tip from the San Salvador airport. When you return to the US from San Salvador (major stop for TACA from Costa Rica to the US), they will search your carry-ons. By which, I mean, they will go right to the bottom of your smelly, dirty, wet, messy pack and your tragically over-stuffed “personal item”. Make it easy for them. Collect the make up, the dirty socks, the metal objects, the gifts, the bits and pieces and put the collections in those little bags. They lift out the bags, sift through them, and put them back! You will make your flight and, for bonus points, you will know where everything is and you will have made the agent’s day a little easier. The next traveler will benefit, too.

And now back to the blogs, books, newsletters, picture books, maps, and dreams of France.

5. In Rome, look for a nun to cross the street and stay with her.

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