"If you have never been, you can not know." melosh's Profile
I have long traveled for education, adventure and escape. I travel cheaply by choice, preferring a clean $10 bed over a luxurious $100 bed. I will walk, rather than ride given the choice. When time not money, was my major limitation I still was a fairly cheap traveler. Now that I have more time, I hope to be able to travel even further on the same money.
I do like to share travel hints and experiences with others but generally avoid other tourists on the road. I love being able to take advantage of the unexpected event encountered while traveling as much as knowing something special about what to see or how to see it.
There is a special place in my heart for worried first time travelers, and I find myself likely to try to answer their questions even though they are generally not new or very specific.
I have been visiting Mexico for over 40 years and even lived in Guadalajara for 2 years. Still, I continue to find new places to visit --Cordova, Veracruz is my next Mexican target. I have taken three groups of friends and even a group of nurses to experience some of the Mexico I love. A key to the success of these trips has been focus on a single area allowing time to relax and get a feel for a different life style. The whirlwind tour of Mexico may have its value, but you will miss the best part of Mexico. I believe that the same can be said about multi-city tours in the rest of the world.
Since my trip to northern South Africa and Swaziland October 2012, I have been to Haiti and the Dominican Republic on medical work trips, and even a 6 day trip with my wife (surprise) for the end of Semana Santa in Taxco, Mexico. This means that I just keep getting further behind on my VT travel pages. I do try to post the most salient tips I recall about recent trips, and continue to try to answer questions on the forums. Otherwise my time is being consumed by work.
Next up is spending the month of July in Liberia, West Africa working on the "Liberia Reads!" teacher training program of my wife. We have a lot of work to do in preparation for this trip because we are hoping to be able to introduce a new reader for third grade students created in collaboration with a Liberian artist and Liberian teachers. We are just weeks from being ready for publication in Liberia. One would think that we would be ready for a rest, but my wife has now decided that we are now going forward with a "Liberian Reads to Learn" reading kit for 4th-6th graders. We will be presenting the proposal to the Liberian Ministry of Education in July.
My recent trip to South Africa was part of the recurring "Where in the World is Dr. Bob?" contest at my wife's school. (You see how cleverly I have turned a VT desire to travel into a wife approved obligation!) For these trips I am a VT opportunist. Cheap fares or possible combinations with medical projects have lead me to unexpected destinations. I also use VT to help me survive the travel itch between trips.
Oh yes, latest and greatest? Taxco was certainly the latest, and being there with my wife for part of Semana Santa was certainly great, but it pales in comparison to the October Shandi festival in Zulu land of South Africa.
Ambitious first time travelers usually quickly learn that --Time, Money, Knowledge, Motivation and Stamina -- are the factors which determine can it be done?, will it be done?, and will it be worth the doing? When you ask a question like "La Paz to Quito?" (an actual question that came up on VT), you must look at a map, but first you have to answer for yourself what you want to accomplish. Do you want to experience the places on the road or just get from point A to B and spend your time at these destinations? Do you know enough; La Paz, Baja California in Mexico or La Paz, Bolivia? Do you care enough to ask the questions and research their answers?
Unless it is a very short trip, if you just want to get from A to B and can pay the fare, fly. If you have time and want a true adventure, go overland or over water with lots of stops to taste the food, hear the music and smell the flowers. This will require more time, knowledge and stamina, but usually costs a little less even when food and lodging are included.
From my experience, I have learned that the more time you have, the more you know, the more you care and the greater your stamina, the less your travel will cost. Recently, I have found VT pages a useful source for the special knowledge I seek.
Some people will ask why? Others ask why not? Most do not even think that there is a question to be asked. They will just think you are crazy. Maybe you are crazy, but if you love to travel, you are not alone. The VT pages are proof of that. Good luck on your travels.
There are VT tips for many countries on what to carry, but nowhere have I found a spot with a collection of tips for travel in general. I do not mean the general rules like, "As light as possible." or "No jewelry, or items you do not need and would be hard to replace." Instead, what I intend to list for you here are ideas from VT members I have found interesting or useful. Maybe you will find one which helps enrich or facilitate your travel. If it is not on this list, share it with me.
Backpack straps for your large carry-on wheeled bag. ( This is my contribution, although I have now seen backpacks with wheels which may accomplish the same thing. Another idea is to sew in copies of travel documents into the straps.)
A polaroid mini printer inkless Zinc printer -- to be able to give pictures to people one meets on the road. (epicult) (This idea has improved my people pictures greatly.)
A small micro recorder to dictate observations made during a busy day. (Ian-n-Bangkok)
A small nylon bag for loose items gathered during travel. (Stacyh)
An alternative to the above is a collection of the "new" real zipper plastic bags. (many VT members)
One size fits all rubber sink plug. (Gillian McLaughlin)
Swiss Army Credit Card thing. (Bernishand) Note: you may have to check this in with luggage. It does contain finger nail clippers!
Mini hair dryer with universal electric adapter. (Robin Linda)
One of those coil electric things to heat up a cup of water for coffee. (Robin Linda).
Inflatable neck pillow (dharmabum222)
Ear plugs "never travel without them" (LanceDelacroix)
A palm computer (ahoerner)
A small powerful flashlight (madamx) or perhaps better is one of those clip on reading/head lamps now available operating on watch batteries. (VdV)
For short trips I carry disposable underwear, socks and shirts. The shirt with a stain, the socks with a hole, etc. Between trips my wife helps identify those things that have to go.
For more basic advice see the album "Travel light. . ."
My habit is to try every exotic food 3 times when the opportunity arises before I pass judgment. I always try to learn of the local specialties before I make a trip. The problem can be finding what is authentic. Many local special dishes are based on the least desirable plant and animal parts. Menudo from Mexico, for example, often will have stomach lining etc. The question may be whether to eat "the real thing" or eat the high class (tourist?) version. Is Brazilian feijoada in a small humble place more authentic than one served in a quality restaurant. Is it better? (In my experience both were good.) Price does not always correspond to quality, but sometimes it does. And is it right to avoid what locals may consider the best part and still judge the dish. I remember being given the fish's head in West Africa as a sign of respect and having to suck out the eyeballs because that is what is done. Other times I have been able to avoid the "best" part, but then how can I judge?
Thus, my 'two out of three' rule. But, even this can fail. In Spain for me gaspacho failed this rule, but after years of avoiding it, I have recently enjoyed several good gaspachos in the USA. I wonder if they were authentic.
With meats it can be hard to get the opportunity for three trys. I did with Cuy (see Peru tip), bison, llama, alpaca, water buffalo, Northamerican deer, moose, alligator, armadillo, rattle snake, West African field rodent (rat), snails, grasshoppers, maguey worm larva (fresh toasted are the best), and frog, but I am still counting with African python, Japanese eel, elephant skin, hippopotomas,horse, zebra, giant octupus (avoid the suction cups), termite queen, javalina, dog (hard to know if this is what you are eating), and all kinds of things from the sea. Turtle is off this list of things to still try further, because since I first ate them, extinction has become threatened.
All these experiences and I have just begun to explore China.
Testing out local drinks is easier. Tej- from Ethiopean honey, Chicha- from Andian corn, Pulque- from maguey sap, Palmwine- from a palm tree sap, and too many products from sugarcane to mention. The variation can be dramatic from one place to another. The good thing is that there is usually someone with whom you can share if you wish to switch to beer or another bottled drink.
Whether it is a photo, a tip or a story, my purpose is to remember and to share. To do this the way I want I admit that I have stretched or deformed the categories. My "albums", for example, include a number of discussions where the pictures are just incidental. I do not write real travelogues, instead I either try to relate what I consider mildly humorous travel stories that do not fit into tips, or I create what I label as "photologues" that are more like albums then found in my albums section. I even have difficulty with the tips section where, for example, I will put a general tip about food in the "restaurant tip" section.
Hint: Although there is a lot of serious advice to be found on these pages, if you need a gentle laugh look first to the album 'Miscellaneous stories' or to "travelogues".
As you might expect, the best stories are to be found in my travelogues on Mexico and Peru due to the circumstances of years of travel with friends or family, compared to other places where I traveled alone.
My more recent travels are also more likely to have 'photologues' because of digital photography.
Overall I guess what you find on my VT pages just means that I am a bit of a square peg trying to fit into a round hole who has probably become somewhat of a VT addict.
1)You connect to VT at least once a day.
2)You simultaneously are remembering past trips, planning your next trip and dreaming of future trips to places you read about on VT.
3)You believe that "Hotsauce" really only refers to a lover of chili sauces, and is not the VT name of a really hot lady. (That is what she claims.)
4)You believe that everyone on VT would be someone you would like even if their idea of great travel is a beautiful all inclusive resort. (And for those of the resort crowd, vice versa.)
5)You believe that there are a lot of beautiful women in the world with only half a face. (See VT personal pictures.)
6)Because you would rather spend your money on new travel, your "new" car is so old it does not appear in the used-car-for-sale ads.
7)You tell your friends about VT even though they couldn't care less.
8)You start writing travelogues even though there is no evidence that anyone could find them just going through the site or actually reads them. (If anyone ever reads one of my travelogues send me a comment.)
9)You get one of those stupid stars by your name and wonder what it means, but are too lazy or occupied with other parts of VT to try to find out.
10)You take part of a Saturday morning to start a list that just proves that you are a VT addict.
As one VT member said, "I am not an addict, I can always stop."
Since I really enjoy VT pages where the VT member shares something about themselves --- a picture, a poem, a family history, even a short list of quirky likes and dislikes, I guess I should make an attempt to open up and share a little more than what can be surmised from my travel stories and photos.
1) I love live music in small venues even though I can not sing publicly or play an instrument.
2) I love art even though I can not paint, draw or sculpt.
3) I enjoy dancing but although generally athletic, I am not strong at repetitive steps.
4) I have some foreign language skills due to dogged persistence rather than any natural talent.
5) I am a bit of a 'workaholic' having done 40 years of medical practice in 20 years.
6) I love and respect cultural diversity and strong beliefs but I have too much difficulty with the contradictions and facts of reality to be a "true" believer.
7) I am conflicted between my desire to believe that people are good and the observation that selfish behavior dominates the world. (But for some reason I seem to believe that all VT people are good and sharing souls.)
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- 395 Reviews
- 738 Photos
- 29 Countries
- 24 Cities
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- Posted in Miscellaneous Forum "Re: feels like spam everytime I..."
updated their Profile Page "If you have never been, you can not know."
- updated a Haiti Travel Page "Fascinating and surprising Haiti."
- Wrote a Review Are you going on a mission to Haiti? in Haiti What to Pack
- Uploaded a Photo to "Are you going on a mission to Haiti?"
- melosh and heydelin are now friends.
- Commented on heydelin's profile page
Top 10 Pages
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- Top 5 Page for this destination Mexico Intro, 42 reviews, 15 photos, 4 travelogues
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- United States of America Intro, 45 reviews, 9 photos
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- Manaus Intro, 9 reviews, 31 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Liberia Intro, 10 reviews, 28 photos, 2 travelogues
- Haiti Intro, 7 reviews, 27 photos, 2 travelogues
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