Remember when you were a kid and all your friends would throw you down on the ground and begin to beat you till you cried “Uncle!”? Well, apparently I am reliving my youth, and you heard it here first: Uncle!
In my last column, I suggested that there were Twelve Commandments of Travel that Moses seems to have lost as he came down the mountain. I made the mistake of asking if my readers had suggestions for more. Apparently, I struck a nerve. It seems everyone has an opinion about how travel should be conducted.
Here is a sampling of the 1,854 e-mails I have received to date from some of our readers and in the Tripso Forums.
Thou shalt be flexible when the original plans go awry. There is always an alternative that is just as much fun, if not more. Seek and ye shall find! — Jeanie M. Schneider
Thou shalt not pretend to be an expert on the culture when you have only been in the country for five days. — Amanda Branch, Iowa
Thou shalt have thy shoes, metal objects, travel baggies of liquids and gels, and thy laptop out and ready to go through the detector before it is thy turn in line! — Bart Parker
Thou shalt remember it’s not just your vacation. Be respectful of the rights of others and everyone will be able to enjoy their trip more. You’re all probably going to the same place, and you’ll all arrive or get checked in around the same time. — Chris
Thou shalt not complain that the local cuisine is “not like home.” If you are not open to local cuisine, seek out the local McDonald’s and stick with it. — Mary Lowe
Select wisely who you travel with; a friend at home may not enjoy the same “freedom” you feel when you travel. — Judy D. Watson, Georgia
Because something is old and falling apart does not mean that you can take a piece home or destroy it more. It has been there for a few thousand years and could probably last a few thousand more with care. — Jerry Lang
Thou shalt not criticize or disparage another country’s culture. If they don’t eat the meat of the cow, there’s a reason for that. Find out what it is and learn to understand why. — Claudette Sortino, Vermont
Thou shalt remember that although you can preview all the wonderful sites you hope to see on your vacation in mere minutes by scanning the pictures in the travel brochure, the reality of getting to each one of them could entail a full day on a crowded tour bus. Sightseeing can be hard work. Do your homework and don’t blame others because the world is a big place. — James S. Taylor, Portugal
When traveling on a public conveyance, thou shalt bathe first, in soap and water, and not rinse the soap off with cologne. — Anonymous
Thou shalt not be an “Ugly American” and will be courteous, polite and respectful of the countries, cultures and landmarks that you visit (e.g., do not scream conversations across Notre Dame Cathedral to your tour mates!). Represent our country well. –Anonymous
Thou shalt understand that European hotel rooms are usually smaller than American standard hotel rooms before you travel there. Managed expectations will reduce your stress and that of the poor hotel clerks. — Anonymous
Thou shalt understand currency exchange rates before traveling to your destination else you may be ripped off or spend unknowingly. — John Fox
Thou shalt not molest my seat on an airplane for no reason. Thou shalt not lean on it, pull on it, kick it, rest thy knees on it, etc. — Anonymous
Thou shalt not speak English abroad expecting the locals to not understand you. Most of them can. — Anonymous
Thou shalt not complain if thou art a budget traveler and paying only $10 a night for a bed, Internet and breakfast. There isn’t much room for complaints there, is there? — Anonymous
Thou shalt understand that haggling isn’t accepted everywhere that English isn’t spoken. Many people find it rude. — Anonymous
Thou shalt not assume that those in your tour group exist simply to take pictures of you and your family in front of every freakin’ tree along the way. It makes others miss the scenery and new knowledge learned from actually listening to the tour guide instead of looking for your next photo-op. — Jules, Utah
Thou shall not get rudely upset at the hotel staff or anyone else on vacation when you forgot your specific things that you cannot do without and it is at a time when everything is closed. — An Anonymous Concierge
Thou shalt not rely totally on your guidebook to tell you when your favorite tour or event is being held, or what the hours and fees are at the museum that you traveled all the way from wherever to visit. In my experience, at least 20 percent of information in guidebooks is incorrect. Always confirm, and don’t insist to the hospitality workers that this museum must be open or that the tour must take place because it said so in the guidebook! — April Lippert (another concierge)
Thou shalt not whine when you visit a local restaurant in Germany and your food selections are different than at your local restaurant in Texas. You travel for the adventure and experience. If you want the same experience as you have at home, stay home. — Ann Lohmeier
Thou shall not purchase a 3-star trip, then demand 5-star accommodations and service. You should and will get what you paid for. Accept this reality or pay the big prices. — James S. Taylor
And I had to save the best for last. The following comes from Gail De George of the Roaring River Resort in scenic southwest Missouri. All I can say is, “Who knew?”
Thou shalt remember that the hotel/motel housekeepers are just that, hotel/motel housekeepers. They are not your personal servants and their job of cleaning the room after you leave does not give you the right to turn the clean room they left for you when you arrived into a pigsty by the time you leave.
If thy room is going to be serviced by hotel/motel housekeeping in your absence, please store your sex toys before you leave. The housekeepers neither need nor want to know that much about you.
Leave thine illegal drugs at home. Hotel/motel staff don’t need to be dealing with that kind of problem, either.
Now here is the time when I am supposed to ask for more of your commandments, but since I have 1,829 yet to publish, I think I will take a pass!