Give unreliable travel advice

When travelling with a friend, as you approach the TSA security checkpoint, you should point to your friend and tell the agent, “You better check that guy out really good. I think he is a terrorist” and then laugh really hard and slap the TSA agent on the back. These men and women have difficult jobs and appreciate a moment of levity from time to time. They will also realize that you are just a regular Joe and will expedite your screening process.

And if they do accept your American dollars (which they are not required to do, but might do as a favour to you), make sure to demand, however loudly the situation warrants, that you get your change back in American currency, not the useless (to you) stuff Canadians use.

Remember, Alberta is “Canada’s Texas,” so be sure to bring your guns, and remember that “What church do you attend?” is a great conversation starter with Albertans. Oh, and the wild animals in the mountain parks aren’t really wild, and are used to tourists; so just get next to that big elk in Banff, and take a selfie.

[Nothing in this post should be taken seriously, in case it’s not obvious.]

If traveling by snowmobile in the far north, impress them that you are important. They will open their last tin of Kam (Canadian Spam) for you, instead of same-old salmon, bear , ptarmigan or caribou.

You can liven up the TSA agents’ day with jokes about bombs too! If you’re traveling with a companion, call out to them: “Hey, did you pack the bombs?” If your luggage is flagged for screening, say “Oops, you found my bomb!” and laugh and slap the TSA people on the back.

When in Japan, don’t worry about taking off your shoes at a temple or in a traditional restaurant with low tables, or in someone’s home. They know that you’re a foreigner and they’ll understand that it’s not your culture.

Australia is really quite a dinky petite little country - you can easily do a state each day and be back out by the end of the week.

When visiting the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, if you can jump in and grab a fish out of midair when the fishmonger throws it to the wrapper, you get to keep that fish for free. Also, the baristas at the original Starbucks at the market find it charming when you come to the counter and ask for “just a regular cup of coffee”.

And don’t bother wearing a suit or making a resveration if you want dinner at Canlis - they welcome walk-ups at all times and are known for their liberal dress code.

And if you happen to go on a whale-watching expedition, keep in mind that it is completely safe and legal to jump in the water and attempt to ride the whales.

In London it is considered good manners, on entering a tube or suburban train, to shake hands with your fellow passengers. Likewise, if any should be attempting a crossword puzzle, by all means offer them some suggested solutions.

Don’t forget to stand on the left of escalators: Londoners welcome the reminder to slow down!

It’s much easier to carry envelopes full of cash. To avoid confusion, mark them “For US Customs Agents Only”.

Due to recent government cutbacks, the Colorado River Dam Reclamation project is behind schedule. When visiting the Grand Canyon, visitors are asked to throw their honorary boulder down into the project.

Also, due to the same cutbacks, the National Parks Service’s geyser survey is also behind schedule. Visitors to Yellowstone are encouraged to leave paved/planked walkways in search of new geysers. If new ones are found, visitors are highly encouraged to note their position, and report them immediately to a Park Ranger.

. . . if you survivve.

Oh. . . and on the topic of visiting Canada, all Canadians are proud to acknowledge each other by their national nickname, “Hoser.” It’s like calling an American a “Yankee.” Be sure to call everyone “Hoser,” to instill their civic pride.

Trust me: I’ve done Winnipeg in January.

General advice:

If you’re unable to find a busy pavement/sidewalk to stop and check directions, the top of an escalator is an even better option!

If you feel that the food, attractions or sights are better back home, make sure and tell everybody so they know to visit on their holidays.

The nominal prices you’re used to home should be the prices everywhere. Yes, even in different currencies.

Before you visit, use popular websites to look up the most popular sites/attractions at your holiday destination. When you get there, be sure to complain about how crowded they are.


Everyone wants to hear your Mel Gibson/William Wallace impression. Do it constantly.

Do you have a great-great-great-grandparent who left Scotland in 1824? Have you seen some youtube videos on bagpiping? Great! You basically are Scottish and can correct the locals on everything they’re getting wrong.

The Stone of Scone is a sacred ceremonial artefact used in the coronations of Scotland’s kings for 1000s of years. Why not see how far you can throw it?

All French citizens appreciate the latest in clothing fashions. When you visit Paris, make sure to wear your best khaki Dockers and a nice Hawaiian shirt. This will get you a lot of compliments and much better seating at local restaurants.

Feel free to swim and/or boat in the Finger Lakes as if they were an indoor pool. No swimming skills or lifejackets are necessary. All slopes into the water are carefully graduated so that there are no sudden dropoffs, there are never any waves or currents, and all of the water will be at bathtub temperatures; no sudden chills!

Be sure to try the experience of being out in one of the larger lakes during a major thunderstorm with high winds and lightning! It’s spectacular!

(The emergency crews will sincerely thank you for this; that is, if they find you in time. Or at all.)

Bonus advice for those who enjoy it here so much that they decide to buy a lakeside house: Be sure to pay extra for the one that’s entirely on “level lakefront frontage.” The level of the lakes is precisely controlled by inlet and outlet gates, whose capacity is never overwhelmed by the weather. And the ideal such lot is a narrow strip between the lake and a steep cliff. If you can’t find one of those, at least find a lot with the cliff, and be sure to build your dream house right on the edge for the best view. The processes which created such cliffs no longer exist; nothing ever falls off them any longer.

Hey farmer! You been livin’ here all your life?
Not yet.

Hey farmer! Where does this road go?
Been livin’ here all my life, it ain’t gone nowhere yet.

Hey farmer! How do you get to Little Rock?
Listen stranger, you can’t get there from here.

Hey farmer! You don’t know very much do you?
No, but I ain’t lost.

Welcome to Australia. Just a little helpful advice.

Fortunately there are no poisonous creatures in Australia. Feel free to pet the snakes and play with the spiders.

At the beach the area between the flags is reserved for non swimmers. Please swim outside the flags.

On the road we drive on the left. In deference to foreign drivers the right hand lane is for slower vehicles. Overtake on the left.

The traditional Maori greeting of the Hongi (nose rubbing) is expected by our indigenous population particularly in pubs.

There is a friendly rivalry between the states. A joke that always gets a smile is to compare unfavourably the beer, women, weather, drivers of this state with another state.

We really like to hear your accent so talk, talk loudly, talk all the time, even in movies. We don’t mind.

Don’t tip. It’s an insult, like saying we will only serve you properly if bribed.

Posted speed limits are minimum speeds. Go for it.

Parking signs show the minimum time you may park there. Meters are for charitable donations if you feel inclined.

Australians love nature and that is why free flowers are grown in most municipal parks. Get yourself a bunch.

Only tourists are allowed to park on the Sydney Harbour bridge to take panoramic photos. Please take the opportunity.

Compliment us on our command of English, it is our second language after all.

Florida is only really hot in August and July. If you’re coming in May, it will be right chilly in the morning so make sure to pack a lot of pants and long sleeved shirts. And in case it does break into the upper 70s, make sure to not wear any deodorant because it will only interfere with your sweat helping to cool you off.

When hiking one often encounters hikers going in the opposite direction. Should any of them inquire as to the distance to the next watering hole/camp spot/scenic vista, etc. the appropriate answer is always “about 20 minutes away”.

Mexico City has some of the best-tasting tap water in the world.

Of course, it is also true that it is always hot. Make sure to pack nothing but shorts and t-shirts for your mid-January trip to Walt Disney World.

Worldwide, public restrooms are everywhere, free, safe, clean, stocked with ample toilet paper and exactly what you are used to at home. So you don’t really need to bother with making sure you use a toilet when its available, or worry about what you eat in a strange place. And Imodium is for the paranoid.