Spring break has been over now for a few weeks, and many Vassar students took their first proper vacation in a very long time. The world is beginning to move on from COVID (at least until the next wave sends us all scurrying back into our dark little holes), so seizing the chance to see something new was definitely appealing. But let me ask you, vacationers: was your trip as good as it could have been? Did it live up to your expectations? Did you actually get to fulfill your lifelong ambition of doing jello shots in Cancun out of a surfer dude’s belly button?
If the answer to any of these questions was no, then let me give you the bad news first: You, my friend, need some serious vacation help. If you keep going on these sad, forgettable little trips, then your life will be filled with regret later on when you realize you never made it to any of the really good parts of Europe before it sank below the ocean. It’s time to crank up your vacationing power—and you can do it with these handy tips!
Tip Number One: Select your destination carefully! One mistake many infrequent travelers make is selecting their destination based on where everyone else is going. As anyone knows, though, there’s one thing that’s sure to ruin any dream vacation: the presence of other tourists. You, of course, are the epitome of the respectful, quiet, sensitive traveler, the kind who leaves no trace and carries their trash out with them. They, on the other hand, are bumbling, insensitive buffoons who stumble through treasured cultural gems and bustling foreign locales with all the delicacy and care of an elephant wearing roller skates. For this reason, you should avoid other travelers at all costs. My personal recommendation for a summer trip is Antarctica, where it will be the depths of winter, but if you really want to push it, you could also visit Saudi Arabia’s sand-choked Empty Quarter or Tajikistan’s most remote mountain peaks. You’ll find things are much more memorable when you leave the crowds behind!
Tip Number Two: Be careful with food! Everyone who’s been abroad has a story about a restaurant right on the city’s main square that charged twice the normal price for a frankly awful meal. There are two problems with this kind of situation. First, see Tip One: Why on Earth are you in a city? Second, if you must travel into areas populated by other humans, you need to at least be careful with what you eat. A disappointing meal is the fastest way to ruin any day, either because it tasted bad or because, after consuming it, you experienced symptoms comparable to the time you ate your Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme with one packet of fire sauce too many. You should choose your restaurants very carefully, which requires standing directly in the middle of the street right outside, completely oblivious to traffic and scrolling through TripAdvisor for upwards of fifteen minutes at a stretch. Trust me, this always works!
Tip Number Three: Look for authentic experiences! Baby boomer travelers love to come home loaded down with souvenirs, but we young people are much savvier about what really matters in life: experiences. When you’re traveling, always be looking for new things to discover about the place that you’re in. And I don’t mean elephant rides in India, either; real travel isn’t about clichés. Get off the beaten path a little! Try riding the Paris Metro, for example, with your wallet sticking two-thirds of the way out of your back pocket. Go to Bangkok and give an enthusiastic “Yes!” to the first sketchy-looking man who offers you a tuk-tuk ride. Best of all, travel to an exclusive hangout of the world’s super-wealthy, such as in Monaco or Hong Kong, pull out your trusty feather duster, and see if those security guards really are as ticklish as they look! Come to think of it, though, that one would probably put you on the beaten path, wouldn’t it?
With these handy travel tips, you’re sure to have an experience you’ll never forget. What are you waiting for? Cut out this column, keep it in your pocket for inspiration and start your adventure right now. Just run to the train station and get moving! The only thing stopping you is your inhibitions, and what are those good for anyway? Good luck on your travels—and, just as a side note, if you do end up in Cancun, make sure to say hi to Chad for me. He’ll remember.