You, Me and The Dock would like to start out by thanking all of you for following us. I hope you are enjoying the travel articles seen through our eyes. We have experienced so much being on the adventure trail and not only in the United States, but also abroad. With this in mind, we will be periodically publishing a few travel tips that we have learned along the way. These suggestions will help you be prepared mentally, physically for the curves that will be thrown your way before, during and at the end of your trip.
When Maureen and I decided to travel for long periods of time, we started preparing months in advance. This includes being mentally and physically ready. For this article, being our first, I would like to keep this discussion simple and geared towards these two subjects. Knowing where you are going will help you research the areas traditional cuisines, typical weather conditions and cultural demeanors, as well as the local hospitality.
Let’s start with foods. Let’s say you live in the Midwest and are eating hearty meals like steak & potatoes, freshwater fish and/or rice and pastas. Let’s just say for grins that you are planning a vacation to the southern state(s). You better be prepared for your stomach to be in a bit of a shock. The southern states, especially the deep south and/or gulf shore states use lots of Cajun spices to cook with. They are also very proud of their deep fried cuisines and southern BBQ. They typically eat more pork products and fish that mostly comes from the ocean, unless its crawfish – fresh water lobster as they name it, and river caught catfish.
To combat this culture shock to your digestive system you can either consult your doctor, buy antacid tablets or do both. I found that if you ask the server to grill your food and lighten up on the spices, most of the time they are more than happy to accommodate your request. They might chuckle for a moment, but it’s not the first time they have heard this type of request. Even with these suggestions, you will still notice a difference in, how do I put this easily, your bowel movement. Enough said. I would google the state(s) you’re going to be visiting and see what their mainstream menus offer. This is especially advised for international traveling as well.
Local customs and hospitality. Local traditions are very important and will make your visit more enjoyable if you understand the dos and don’ts. There are lots of old traditions that are hung onto, especially in the Deep South. These traditions include but not limited to religion, demographics and life style. The south is known for being the Bible Belt of America. Try to refrain from using foul language in public. If you are a person of faith, it is recommended to research a church that practices you beliefs before visiting your destination.
Demographics can be a very touchy matter. This is more prevalent in the southern states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and surrounding areas. Please use common sense when addressing people and think before you speak. Because what is acceptable in your neck of the woods, might not be readily accepted where you are visiting. Be very cautious of your surroundings. Common sense says to be polite and use ‘Please, Thank you, and your Welcome’ when possible. There is nothing wrong with being nice to people you never met before. Again, this is especially true for international travels. Practice ahead of time the above phrases in the country’s language(s) you plan to visit. Traditions are much more prevalent in foreign countries. Like it or not, US tourist walk around with a target on their back. We have a reputation for being arrogant, sometimes demanding and lack social mannerisms. Make your trip more pleasurable by “winning over” the locals. Do this by using respect and kindness. Trust me on this one.
Weather conditions and typical climate. I would have no doubt that you would look up temperatures (using Mobile, AL as an example) and climate conditions in your selected vacation destination(s). There are a couple of things to remember or might have possibly slipped your mind. This might sound silly, but make sure you are looking at the week/month you are planning on going. Using the Southern states weather as an example can change from hot to very hot on a whim. The summer months are very, very hot and usually have a high heat index because of the humidity. The temperatures could read 87 or 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but with the humidity factored in, let’s say it gets pretty darn hot. Sweat will be pouring down your face and soaking your shirt. If your destination has a colder climate, it is recommended to research its weather conditions as well.
Unless you want to spend most of your days in air conditioning or be a traveling night owl, I would try a few of these suggestions. Use plenty of sunscreen and make sure you use a lotion on your face that doesn’t sting your eyes. Sweat will be running down your face, especially if you are outside visiting attractions and/or sightseeing. Try to wear looser fitting – non clinging clothes. Wear cotton clothing verses polyester or rayon. This also goes for under garments. Ladies, stay away from padded bras and silk underwear. Guys might want to consider boxers shorts instead of tighty-whities. Probably the most single important advice I can provide is drink lots of water. Such beverages like pop, beer and cocktails do not replace good old H2O. Again, remember to do your research when visiting a colder climate.
Take this as a warning; if you live in a state that has moderate to low humidity, please don’t try to think you can handle the heat for a few days, let alone a week. Heat stroke or sun poisoning is not fun and can land you in the hospital. If you have any health and/or weight conditions or take medication, please consult your physician.
Summary. If this type of information is helpful to you and/or someone you know who is planning a trip, please let us know. You can contact us by visiting our site, www.youmeandthedock.com and select the Facebook or any of the neighboring icons on the site’s info bar at the bottom of the page. You can also email us directly by going to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would really appreciate the feedback and/or answer any questions you might have.