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Traveling

Tips to Enjoy Traveling Abroad
By Dave Barry
Delaware County Daily Times

Everyone should travel abroad. Traveling abroad is an excellent
way to meet other Americans traveling abroad and learn interesting
facts about foreign persons, such as how much they expect you to tip.

Many people feel they cannot afford to travel abroad, and as a
result spend their vacations here in the boring old United States,
usually at theme parks. Theme parks are places with names ending in
“land,” “world,” “park,” and so on, as in “Olde European Adventure and
Animal Land World Park.” Theme parks are supposed to resemble exotic,
foreign countries, except that in these particular foreign countries
everybody speaks English and the only visible industries are food
concessions and mechanical devices that turn you upside down. The
idea is that you’re supposed to take the kids and spend the day eating
and being turned upside down, then drive home with strong feelings of
togetherness and stomach discomfort.

Well, for just a few thousand more dollars, you could travel
abroad to a real foreign country with real foreign people and real
foreign diseases. But you have to prepare. The best way to prepare
is to not read travel articles in newspapers and magazines. The
problem is that travel writers usually get everything free, so they
almost never say anything bad about the countries they visit, even the
real rat holes. They write stuff like this:

“If you’re looking for an inexpensive vacation that takes you off
the beaten track, consider visiting tiny Rhumba Tuan Wok, an almost
unknown island paradise off the coast of Southeast Asia. Your
romantic adventure begins the moment you arrive, when you discover
your taxi to the hotel is not a car, but an elephant! In fact cars
are banned from Rhumba Tuan Wok altogether, as the natives firmly
believe in preserving the traditions of their ancestors. The
unhurried pace of their centuries-old lifestyle is only one of the
charms of this enchanting land.”

This is all Travel Writers Code. If the travel writer had to pay
for the trip personally, the way the rest of us do, the article would
say:

“Are you fond of filth? Do you genuinely like the idea of
stumbling into six-foot-high, insect-ridden piles of elephant dung
whenever you venture outside? And how do you feel about people who
serve you raw reptile heads for dinner and on religious principle,
never wash the left sides of their bodies? I mean never. Well if
these things appeal to you, then you’ll love Rhumba Tuan Wok, but for
God’s sake take weapons and snake repellent.”

But you’ll never see this kind of honest travel article, so
you’ll have to do your own research. I advise you to consult a map of
the world. First, locate England. England is a good place to visit,
because you can usually find lots of Americans there and even the
English people speak some English. These two factors pretty much
compensate for the food. If you want to visit some other country,
remember this rule: the farther east you go from England, the more
dangerous and generally foreign the countries get. France is okay
because the French are never there, and wouldn’t talk to you even if
they were. But not far past France, you run into Russia, which
judging from the accounts in the New York Times, is the most boring
country on Earth; and after that you have China and Japan, where most
people cannot even write properly, let alone speak English; and after
that you have California. So your best bet is to stay close to
England.

Also, you should avoid tourist attractions, which tend to attract
tourists. My wife and I once went to a tourist attraction: the Blue
Grotto, which is a famous grotto on the Isle of Capri, in Italy. When
we went there, we didn’t even know what a grotto was, but all the
guide books said we should go because the sunlight filtering through
the water gave the Blue Grotto an air of unearthly beauty. What the
books did not say was that the Blue Grotto is a dank dark cave, and
the only way you can get there is in tiny boats controlled by squat,
sullen men who have memorized incomprehensible guide speeches; and
that whatever unearthly beauty the Blue Grotto possesses is very
difficult to see when you are sitting in the dank, bluish gloom,
terrified that you will capsize and drown and the last sounds you will
hear will be dozens of squat, surly men simultaneously giving
incomprehensible guide speeches.

Wherever you travel, you will have to trade some real money for
some foreign money, because most foreign countries do not deal in real
money. In England they use money the size of bedsheets, which is why
so many English people wear bulky clothing. The most amusing foreign
money is in Italy; it is called the lira, and it is the smallest unit
of measurement ever conceived of by the mind of man. Under the
official rules of international currency exchange, the number of lire
in a dollar equals the number of protons, neutrons and electrons in
the Washington Monument. A newspaper in Italy costs 14 billion lire.
A car costs 156 trillion skillion lire. You cannot buy anything more
expensive than a car in Italy, because nobody can figure out how much
it costs. This is why their economy is in trouble.

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