By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin
America now stalls in a crisis of political stalemate as the prospects of a federal governmental shutdown looms in less than a day. Why does the President seesaw back and forth about immigration goals/policies that he will support to prolong this crisis? Why does Congress require an impending catastrophe to motivate them to pass a viable, budgetary plan? How much does our country’s image suffer at home and abroad in the current divisive atmosphere of hate and blame?
Similarly, our worldwide travel experiences have taught us that waiting to the last moment to prepare for unfamiliar wanderings can result in unintended negative circumstances. Becoming aware of the challenges of cultural difference, border entry/exit and weather unpredictability, for instance, requires mindful diligence in our trip pre-planning efforts. Several lessons from our traveling past come to mind to more proactively plan our journeys beforehand.
When Communism reigned in Eastern Europe decades ago, our innocent arrival as backpacking novices to Prague, Czechoslovakia brought us a rude awakening about how to travel independently. Expecting to book a hotel room for a few nights as the city eerily darkened in early evening, we realized that certain, missing travel documents required for stay in the country would leave us stranded there without opportunity of booking a room. Finding little use for our English language as well as facing a frightening encounter with police ultimately ended with an uncomfortable stay at the American Embassy. We would now learn to familiarize ourselves beforehand with travel restrictions for visiting an unfamiliar country.
Another crisis would be encountered in Spain on a Metro Underground train to and from major sights in Madrid. On July 4, in the early 1990s, I drew attention to myself with my trendy, American sports hat, loose, waist bound fanny pack, and pockets of sloppily protruding map collection in a densely packed, subway atmosphere. Approaching a busy station, several young men working together suddenly sprung on me. They then quickly managed to restrain my arms, spray my eyes with irritant, cut the straps, and “make off” with my fanny pack through the now open, exit doors. Unable to stop their timed getaway, the whereabouts of these valuable possessions would never be found. Wearing our fanny pack inside our clothes, selecting travel attire for function not appearance, and knowing the most dangerous locations in cities beforehand would soon become our norms when traveling by public transportation in densely packed, European cities.
I vividly recall as well a weather anomaly we experienced on a thirty day camping tour across the “Outback” Of Australia. Not realizing that July in the Southern Hemisphere meant the presence of winter, we were unprepared night after night for the cold, inland regions of this vast continent, at this time of year. Shivering in our frozen tent or in unheated, campground laundry rooms, we learned a hard lesson as tropically accustomed South Floridians to check out our weather tolerance for engaging in future outdoor adventures beforehand.
In a few weeks, my wife and I will embark on our 5th road trip cross country from South Florida.Some featured visits this year will include Seattle, Big Bend and Glacier National Parks and Eastern Canada. Our latest priorities favor improved navigation through online apps/website channels, packing less, and mindfully staying in better contact with our close friends and aging family. I hope you will continue to follow my travel blog as I relate my insights of the present moment in “Snippets of the Traveling Mind.”