All of us have strange habits, quirks that make us unique and I’d like to think interesting. This naturally translates to the travel experience and so, in another effort to share more of who I am, I thought I’d share some of what I think are quirky travel habits. I’m not saying that I’m alone in these eccentricities, but they are how I travel and really do reflect my at times quirky personality.
My food habits are complicated and perplexing to most people. They’re so odd that I’ve had to devote more than one post detailing them in an effort to explain my eating habits and to avoid future confusion. It has not worked. The biggest oddity is that I don’t eat any fish or seafood at all in any form. The only time I’ll eat anything from the water is if a cow accidentally fell in. I’ve heard all of the questions so let me answer them in advance: Yes I’ve tried just about every form of seafood and no I don’t like it. Yes, even lobster. Yes, that includes shrimp. No, I don’t want to try [Fill in the blank with your favorite fish or seafood]. I’ve always been this way and I personally don’t think it’s a big deal. We all have things we like or don’t like and for me a major dislike is water-borne foods. After first writing about my no-seafood rule, I had many people reach out to me saying that they too hate fish and seafood and like me, have been ridiculed all their lives for it. Believe me, life would be a lot simpler if I could eat this stuff plus everyone always looks so happy eating it that I’d love to be part of the club. But I’m not, I’ve learned how to deal with it in all corners of the world so let’s just accept it and move on. I’m also not an adventurous eater and tend not to try new things that look weird. Because of that, I don’t like a lot of vegetables. I eat some, like a salad, but not much. Essentially, I’m very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy with ample quantities of bread and cheese thrown in for good measure.
Throughout my travels these eccentricities really haven’t been a big deal, but rural Taiwan was definitely a challenge. There I was confronted with a traditional diet consisting mostly of fish, seafood and vegetables – all items on my do not eat list. I made do of course and stocked up on a lot of snacks along the way, but this more than anything should show you that my travel life would be so much easier if I were an omnivore and while I want to like more things, but I just don’t. One caveat to all of this is that a few years ago I had the chance to eat a 17-course meal at the top rated restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca. Going into it I agreed to try everything, no matter how strange it looks or smelled. They kindly avoided seafood and fish for my servings, but I tried other morsels that I would never try at home. Did I like everything? No, but I was proud of myself for at least trying and for keeping a (somewhat) open mind.
I have always had a phobia of being late. I hate tardiness and pride myself on being on time, or early, to everything – if it’s in my power at least. I get chided by my partner for this all of the time but that gentle joking turns into frustration when it’s time to go to the airport. Being on time isn’t enough for me, no, I like to get to the airport as early as possible – usually three hours before my flight takes off if I can. Originally this had to do with that aforementioned fear of being late for anything, but over the years I have come to genuinely enjoy my laid back time exploring airports around the world. I don’t have to stress about getting through security and I have time to grab a coffee or a snack before taking off. People watching is also something I thoroughly enjoy, and airports never fail to disappoint when it comes to strange and odd people I can casually observe. Some airports are better than others of course, and many times I have been stuck at small airports with little or nothing to do and it’s during those times that I question my early-arrival habits. But those instances are counter-balanced by large and frankly beautiful airports where it’s a pleasure to while away the hours. One of my favorite discoveries was at the Oslo Airport where I found a coffee shop that offered free refills. Needless to say I took full advantage of their misguided policy and was so hyper by departure time that I didn’t really need the plane to take off.
Creature of Habit
Even before I left my full time job I worked from home, so now it’s been nearly a decade that I’ve worked exclusively from the privacy of my study. This has a lot of benefits and while everyone lusts after the ability to work from home, the truth is that those of us who do actually end up working much more than office-based employees. In order to be successful in a home office environment, you have to have a schedule and you have to be self-disciplined otherwise it simply won’t work. I also have the added benefit of owning three dogs who, like me, are definite creatures of habit. The net result of all of this is that I’m fairly set in my ways and like my days to take a certain arc, a predictable schedule allowing me to get everything done and to enjoy my day as well. Naturally, travel throws all of this into a loop and while there’s nothing I enjoy doing more than traversing the world, not having a stable schedule definitely makes me cranky. So I’ve tried to add some elements of my home life into my travel experience, in an effort to ease into the trip more gracefully. Nowadays I’ll get up early when I’m on the road to get some extra work done and, more importantly, to start my incredible levels of coffee consumption. At home I drink a pot of coffee a day, usually before 10am. When I’m traveling, unless I make time for it, I can barely get a cup in before it’s time to go do something. Getting up earlier and drinking my coffee slowly and deliberately allows me not only to wake up, but to enjoy my day more than I would otherwise. Diet Coke is also another important part of my travel life and the first thing I do when I arrive to a new hotel is to find the closest convenience store so that I can stock up on this essential drink. While I can’t really ever get into a daily rhythm when I travel, I do bring some elements from home into the experience.
What most interests me when I travel are landmarks, beautiful vistas and a quirky museum or two. What does not interest me as much, and somewhat bizarrely, are most cultural events. I know, it’s horrible to skip out on these events which do a lot to introduce visitors to a local culture, but I usually find them boring. I don’t go to many shows or concerts here at home and I certainly don’t when I travel. There are exceptions to this rule of course. When I was in Vienna I made sure to see a performance at the world famous Opera House and while I’m not a fan of sports, if a unique sporting event is going on in places I visit I usually like to attend. But on the whole concerts, performances and even most museums don’t interest me in the slightest. Art museums usually bore the crap out of me, instead put me in a history or pop culture museum and I’ll be content all day. No, instead I much prefer to be out and about, experiencing daily life, eating the food and getting to know the destination in a way that doesn’t require tickets or dressing up needlessly.
There you are, a few of my quirky travel habits. Hope you all don’t hate me now, but I wanted to share a few more aspects of my personality with everyone. Don’t make me feel like I’m the only one though, what are some of your quirky travel habits?