I recently read a book titled “Rudy’s Rules for Travel” by Mary K. Jensen, a memoir of Mrs. Jensen of her travels with her husband, Rudy (as far as I remember she doesn’t mention his last name), back in the late 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. Can you imagine traveling without cell phones, Google Maps, GPS’s, on-line reservations, Uber, etc.? Some of us remember our travel experiences during those years and may be missing them. I have mixed feelings about them.
I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it. However, this is not a review of it, but it’s about sharing the rules for traveling, laid out by this particular individual that took his wife around the globe, always with an open mind and a sense of wonder. And perhaps, adding some rules of my own…
Here are Rudy’s rules:
- RUN CROSS CURRENT.
Avoid groups. Schedule your own tour. Shower at night, keep drapes open, rise with first light. Be first at breakfast. At museums, start at the last exhibit and move forward.
- GO IN DISGUISE OR, MINIMALLY, KEEP A LOW PROFILE.
Accept that Americans are not always popular. Study natives’ clothing, haircuts, shoes; outfit yourself at a second-hand store. Speak any language but English, if you can; at least lower voices when dining and on public transit.
- NEVER LET LUGGAGE HOLD YOU BACK..
Use one small, child-sized case or backpack. Prepare to run unimpeded through airports and stations, up stairs, over cobblestones.
Which is closely related to this rule:
- NEVER SHOWER ALONE
Position the day’s dirty clothes under your feet, add soap, stomp, as in crushing grapes.
- RIDE WITH LOCALS, NOT TOURISTS.
A low-cost way to meet the people and their livestock: ride their buses, vans, ferries, colectivos, tuk-tucks.
- SAVE FOR THE NEXT TRIP
You don’t get what you pay for if you miss bargains. Exception: elephant rides.
- AVOID RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS
They will be crowded, pricey, and the food likely mediocre. Choose cafés of the main square, with no tour bus or English menus in sight. Better yet, bring deli food to you room.
- YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN.
Never visit the same place twice: there are too many places. Returning risks spoiling first memories
- SELECT SOUVENIRS BY WEIGHT AND VOLUME
Recommended: earrings, miniature Christmas ornaments.
- RELAX. SOME KIND STRANGER WILL APPEAR.
- PUT THE BUCKET LIST IN ORDER.
Don’t count on tomorrow. You will likely never be healthier than you are today. You certainly will never be younger. Move physically challenging destinations to the top of your bucket list. (Think: climbing pyramids, squatting over toilets, mounting steep stairs without handrails.) Consider moving politically tenuous places higher there may be no better days ahead. Cruises can wait.
- NEVER COME HOME WITHOUT HAVING PLANNED THE NEXT TRIP.
That is what all those hours on the return plane are for.
Rudy’s Rules Modified by Herbert:
Things have changed over the last 30 years or so. We have more tools for traveling, so why not use them? We also have aged (at least I have) and I have also traveled extensively during my life, so the modified rules take in consideration those factors.
My rules would follow Rudy’s pretty close, but I would update some of them. Here my modifications:
- Sometimes it’s not bad to schedule a tour with a group. You may learn more than just being on your own and you may run into nice people, with whom you can keep in touch when you get back home.
- Well, I don’t believe than nowadays, Americans are disliked abroad as they used to be. (Unless they are supporters of Donald Trump.) Then, in most countries in the World, people dress like Americans and are eager to practice their English, learned in High School. So, I think you can forget about this rule. Although, keeping your voices lower in public places is a good advice (aboard or at home.)
- Although, now days, I can’t picture anyone able to run unimpeded through airports, I believe a carry-on or a large backpack should be sufficient for a ten day, or so, long trip. You see, I don’t like to take long trips any more.
- If you have a companion of the opposite sex to shower this is a great rule. If you don’t, and want to stomp on your dirty laundry that’s OK too.
- Definitely, agree.
- This rule seems a sensible one too; unless you are buying souvenirs in China (whatever you get will be broken before you get home.)
- I mostly disagree with Rudy in this one. Trip Advisor is a great place to get recommendations. Of course, you have to balance the good reviews with the bad ones. However, if 80% of the reviewers agree that a place is a good one, I would check it out. As anything else in life, you may get to be disappointed, but Rudy’s places may also disappoint you. So here, I would say: follow your instincts.
- I mostly agree. However, there are some places that merit more than one visit.
- Agree. Although I’m not a fan of Christmas ornaments and I wouldn’t buy earrings for myself. I would look ridiculous with them…
- Agree, absolutely.
- I also agree with this rule. I should have followed it when I was younger and could have visited places like Machu Pichu, the Mayan pyramids or some beautiful hilly towns with wonderful vistas, which I can’t do any longer. Now, my days for cruises are closing in.
- Again, agree.
I have to mention that Mary, (Rudy’s wife and author of the referred book) had a different travel attitude than Rudy (If you read the book and what follows here you will notice that) and she has also some rules for travel. And here they are:
- REMAIN ALERT. ALWAYS.
- EXPECT THE WORST.
Pack door locks, emergency chargers, antibiotic wipes, insect repellent, large flashlights, mosquito netting, emergency phone numbers for doctors, bankers, the U.S. Embassy.
- THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH, (AND) YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
There is a reason that hotel has the best price and that café a seafood special.
- IN PARTICULAR, DO NOT SKIMP ON TRANSPORTATION.
There is no National Transportation Safety Board where you are going. Unobtrusively, inspect tires on buses, vans and rickshaws. If you find a casual way to bring this up, ask how the brakes are doing.
- PREPARE FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCIES.
Pack a case of prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies for any ailment you had in the last five years, as well as for any disease you know to be hereditary. Add megadose vitamins, antibiotics, rescue inhaler, GI-tract remedies for either extreme, bandages, knee and ankle braces. Purchase evacuation insurance.
- PREPARE FOR THEFT.
Carry a list of credit card numbers, leaving out segments of the numbers in case that list is stolen. Leave another copy with a family member at home, unless that member causes concern.
- KIND STRANGERS WILL APPEAR.
So, on your next trip take your pick of the rules to follow: Rudy’s, Herbert’s, Mary’s, or make your own. Also, you can always mix and match. But, overall enjoy your travels. Have fun!