Hello and welcome to Monday, Hailey here with some fantastic news for those of us with a weighty dream and a light wallet! For everyone who dreams of the freedom and adventure of international travel, never fear! For there is absolutely no reason why you cannot explore and discover all corners of the globe from the comfort of the glorified cardboard box that you call home! With the level and accessibly of modern technology, everyone can get to know all of the wonders of the world.
Why, just last week I travelled to Tunisia, Libya and Zanzibar within days of one another!
Come on people! Let’s not discriminate towards the otherwise-located!
For the meek and unsure, I suggest starting with thinking about where you have always wanted to go. Form a strong mental picture of your schema, or basic understanding of the country, and then forcefully defenestrate it! Meaning to throw most of it out the window. Open minds are always the best way to start an adventure!
Next, if you haven’t already, make sure you download Google Earth and fly yourself to your destination of choice. Familiarize yourself with it’s major cities, streets, population, major landmarks, boarders, and explore the photo’s people have posted. If it is a very major city, turn on 3D buildings and get a real sense of what the city is like to stroll through. If you want to really get to know where you are, search it online. I suggest starting with Wikipedia and going from there. Learn about the food, the local religion, fashion, the infrastructure, imports, exports and the history. Have a go at the language, learn a few phrases and sound absolutely ridiculous shouting German poetry at your computer screen. I did it once. It was worth it. Also, to get a really good look at what Google Earth can do, have a look at Mt. Everest, the CN Tower, Paris, London, The Grand Canyon and Rio De Janeiro.
Then to take it to the next level, Google Streetview is the direction you want to go. With this handy tool you can literally walk down the streets, turn and look at shops and the people who happened to get in the way of the vans. There’s also all sorts of quirky interesting things you can see happening on Google Earth and street view. I have a link at the bottom for those interested. To enhance your experience, If you see a shop you like it wouldn’t hurt to see if they have a website, or online store, and if you’re lucky you can even do some international shopping!
When you get hungry, like we all do when we’re on vacation, get creative and look up a recipe from your country or region. If you live in a city, have a look and see if there are any local food establishments boasting your international fare of choice. Then you can get the real taste and smell of the place you’re visiting, and don’t be afraid to try something new! What a country smells like has a lot to do with the impression it leaves on you, so suck up as much of it as you can. What I’m saying is, If you’re experiencing India, please don’t just get Samosas, Butter Chicken and Naan.
So now that you’ve toured, shopped and eaten, all that’s left is to kick back and relax international style. This may be trickier than the other aspects of your at-home travel experience, but can be done with a bit of forethought and planning. You may or may not agree with my method of choice, but it always worked for my group of crazy companions in University. Have yourself a themed party! “WOO PARTY”! Collect yourself a large group of friends (hopefully you know them already, and didn’t just scoop them off the street) and theme it up! With decorations, costumes. cuisine and music it’s easy to create an international atmosphere! It’s also not difficult to look up videos of traditional dance, and music styles, and you may even want to learn some of them yourself. Heck, even an “American” themed party could end in all sorts of hilarity. And you have all the freedom to take it as far as you’d like. If the cast of The Office can bring Morocco to them, so can you!
There are also other simple and less labour intensive methods of at home world exploration. The travel channel on TV is a good start and a personal favourite of mine. It’s rather exciting having travel experts take you along with them to all sorts of places, and let you in on local secrets as well as valuable travel tips. That’s how I went to Tunisia, Libya and Zanzibar! You avoid all the dangers of travelling in the African desert, but unfortunately miss out on a lot of the other sensory experiences. To help with this, It’s also a good idea to supplement with the occasional food network show, to learn how to cook all sorts of food, from your basic Italian, Polish and Mexican to exotics like Caribbean, Japanese and South African “rainbow cuisine”. And just as a word of caution, it may just make you want to actually travel there even more.
So I hope I’ve given you the inspiration and tools to start your understanding of the people and places on our planet. Everyone should know something about a country outside their own, culture is the most important thing about being human (aside from all the other basic biological importances of course). So teach yourself what we are all capable of, and most importantly have fun and keep learning!
Links to handy learning and exploring tools.
Google Earth: http://www.google.com/earth/index.html
Google Streetview: http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/
Google Earth interesting finds: http://www.pagog.com/2007/08/03/interesting-google-earth-finds/
TV Channel: http://www.travelandescape.ca/
TV Channel: http://www.travelchannel.com/
International Cooking: http://recipes.wuzzle.org/
Shopping, not all that out there, but you get the idea: http://www.ebay.co.uk/
Shopping if you’re feeling rich: http://www.harrods.com/
Language and Basic Phrases (German in this case): http://www.speakgerman.co.uk/phrases/basic_phrases
So explore and enjoy!
Till next time!
-Miss Hailey Jane