Lessons that have proved valuable in real life:
- always carry a business card from your hotel
- carry enough money in your socks to cover a phone call and cab fare
Allow me to share a true cautionary tale. During a trip to China, Jim and I taught James (our one and only child) these two hacks.
Subsequently James, now aged 14, was on a school trip to Italy (the school will remain nameless for obvious reasons.) It never seemed he was listening, but thankfully James remembered these two travel hacks. In Rome the school loaded the bus at the hotel and off to the Vatican they went. Tour, tour, tour – finally ending up in the gift shop. Suddenly James looks up from perusing some postcards and doesn’t see a familiar face anywhere. Bus is gone along with all his classmates and chaperons.
This is before cell phones. James figures out how to place an international call from a pay phone using some of the money he has in his sock. Calls Jim’s office phone in California because he knows no one would be at home this time of day in the US. Well Jim’s not there so his excellent secretary, Barbara answers the phone. Has a conversation with James and assesses the importance and patches the phone call through to where we (Jim and I) are staying in New Hampshire. Within seconds James is speaking directly to Jim. Jim asks if James has a card from the hotel, answer is yes thank God. So Jim instructs James to show the card to a cab driver and he’ll get to his hotel. James asks, “But Dad what if I don’t have enough money?” Jim replies hotel will probably help out, at least you’ll be back in a safe place. James now feels calm since a plan has been established. Jim instructs James to call us a soon as he gets back to the hotel.
Hours go by and no call. Jim tracks down hotel number calls James’ room and James answers very calmly. Jim is yelling because James hasn’t called. James replies, he had to take a shower because he was really funky. Teenagers!!!
These two hacks remain true to this day. No pick-pocket is going to dig around in your socks in search of money. And a business card written in the local language with correct formatting will always get you back to where you want to be. Also when teenagers appear not to be listening, they are, so keep on talking and sharing your knowledge.