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Traveler's Checks ... And Balances?

Jan 13, 2008
Going new places, seeing new sights, trying new things - travel broadens the mind. If you don't exercise when you travel, however, it broadens the hips too.

When John and I were first married, we took lots of trips. Then came kids. Then came braces and camp and college funds. John and I still took trips, but they were a lot closer to home. They were guilt trips.

Before we go on a trip John does extensive research. He reads material from the library, he buys books and he searches the internet. I on the other hand - the one holding the pre-addressed postcard labels - believe in learning through total immersion in whatever place we visit. I like to learn about a place by experiencing it with all five senses. Of course, learning from John's research is my sixth sense - my good sense.

Having a generic packing list on my computer is good sense. I check off what I need and then type in how much I'll need. Prescriptions, reading glasses, special pillow - each year the list gets longer. Last year I added "list" to the list. Otherwise, I'd forget to bring all the stuff home.

Whether traveling in another city or another country, I don't understand why people stay at chain hotels or eat in chain restaurants. I want to experience local establishments for better, for worse - and for bugs. When we traveled in rural Africa, I was continually bitten by bugs. When I told a hotel clerk that my spray wasn't working, he said he had something better for getting rid of bugs. Then he brought a three-foot-long reptile to our room. Suddenly, I didn't think bugs were a problem.

When we travel with my mother-in-law, she encourages us to eat things we don't eat at home. Because my mother-in-law is an accomplished cook, eating something different can be a challenge for her. It's not a challenge for me. In fact, it's against the law for restaurants to serve leftovers.

Food is one of the many things I write about in the postcards I send to family and friend. I also send a bland postcard to myself. One or two weeks after I'm home it's nice to receive a reminder I'd been away Tribal masks, wooden shoes, bullfighting posters - souvenirs are reminders I'd been away. Memories can be souvenirs too. Memories are souvenirs that don't end up at garage sales.
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KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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