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The Unreliable Guide To… Overseas Holidays

By Nat Shepherd on January 18, 2017 in Other

Photo: Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu

Photo: Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu

We Aussies are famous around the world for our adventurous spirit and love of travel. We love holidays, or so we tell ourselves. When it comes to deciding on where to go, surveys suggest that three quarters of travellers want to visit somewhere new.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2015/16, 9.6 million residents left Australia for short trips. Relate that to our population size and (even allowing for frequent fliers) it means about 40 per cent of us headed overseas last year. But why do we want to go? Turn on the news and ‘overseas’ is a terrible place. Terrorists self-detonate in public places, volcanoes explode and force planes to land, tsunamis wash away beaches and hotels, and killer viruses are determined to wipe us out. Bearing all that in mind, it’s amazing we ever dare to step outside the front door.

If, despite the dangers, you’re determined to set off for new horizons, hold onto your sunhats, The Unreliable Guide is here to help you make the most of it…

DON’T BE SCARED OF FOREIGN FOOD
Be scared of a jihadi revolution. Be scared of an earthquake. Don’t be scared of eating an unusual cut of chicken or trying sweet and sour wasps fried in their own business. Life is an adventure. Sample other cultures. Jump in. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger (just be sure to pack the Imodium).

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND YOUR DISAPPOINTMENTS WILL FADE AWAY
Paradise beaches often have sandflies, local hustlers and obese men in g-strings. Beautiful, ancient cities may have equally old drains and smell of poo. Don’t let this ruin your trip. Perfection is an illusion; be open to the entirety of a place and enjoy it for what it is.

THE DANGERS OF TRIPADVISOR AND WHY MICRO-PLANNING ‘FUN’ IS DUMB
“My Name is Nat and I’m a Tripadvisor addict.” I’ll confess to you now: that site rules my life. I find the perfect hotel online and I’m about to book when I read the one miserable review that says the beds are full of roaches, the cleaning staff dress up in your underwear and the manager sacrifices chickens at midnight. So I begin my search anew. Why must everything be pre-booked now anyway? In the old days we just turned up somewhere on a whim and hoped for the best. Now, every location, hotel and tour must be checked and double checked – it’s exhausting. I say to you, travellers of Australia, just say no! Pack your passport and your credit card and follow your noses (then leave a Tripadvisor review so I know which is the best hotel in Minsk).

TRY SOMETHING NEW, EVEN IF YOU CHOOSE TO STAY AT HOME
The philosopher Kierkegaard stated that habit is the most ‘cunning’ of enemies, because it stops us from truly living. “Love is dissipated in the lukewarmness and indifference of habit,” he said. When we walk the same streets, eat the same foods, and see the same people, the senses are dulled and we experience nothing. That’s why we crave holidays. But do we have to travel to experience? Even if you stay at home this holiday season, do different things. Find streets in your own suburb you have never walked before, or take a slow train to Cabramatta and eat something unpronounceable.

Finally, the Unreliable Guide suggests that if the above has put you off travelling completely, don’t worry. We live in paradise, have a look.

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