My advice for parents planning a trip with kids is to remember the Three As: Adventure, Animals and Activities. It works for my four boys and I suspect it is the same for girls. ‘Animals’ is obvious (from critter-hunting in tidal pools to feeding kangaroos). ‘Adventure’ is physical (hiking up the tallest sand dune or learning to ski). And ‘Activities’ is more mental or manual (from learning a few key phrases in Japanese to making a clay shisa lion-dog).
One of my goals is to visit every country before I die. At this stage in my life (44 years old) and travels (120 countries), it’s not something I worry about. In fact, I am utterly confident of achieving it. My other travel-related goal of being conversant in every major language? Probably unobtainable, but I’m going to try.
Robert Major was obsessed with the number of countries that he had visited. On the bus ride from Bonito to Iguazu Falls, we had gotten into a spirited, but light-hearted discussion about what countries “counted” and which countries didn’t. (Initially impressed by our total, he later expressed skepticism at some of our inclusions: “Hong Kong was British before 1997, and Chinese after 1997. It was always a colony of some other country, and shouldn’t count.”) In fact, Robert was in competition with a friend back home. In the next few days, he would be visiting two new countries. He was already planning to send text messages to taunt his friend as he added to his total:
I am going to let you in on one of the biggest scams in the travel industry. Not hidden commissions, or overbooked flights, or rigged taxi meters. I am talking about The Sunrise Scam. Today, in thousands of places around the world, dawn is breaking on freezing tourists who have been forced out of bed at unreasonable hours to watch the sunrise.
I drove over 5000 kilometers in three weeks in Turkey, and can authoritatively say that Turkish drivers are some of the worst in the world. They are so bad that it got me thinking that they must be operating from a different driver’s manual. Sure enough, they are. I had a friend translate the most important rules from the official Turkish Driver’s Guide, which I list below: