10 Commandments of Travel in the Age of Covid

I am as easily annoyed by late flights and slow elevators as the next crotchety old lady. Maybe more. But come on people, get a grip on reality. If you travel to a foreign country, learn a few words in their language, such as please, thank you and pardon me.  (Where’s the bathroom, how much is that, check please and no hot sauce, also help.)

It appears that Covid has made folks forget their manners. Trust me, overseas, bullying because your flight is late lands on deaf ears. Also, foreign laws are not suggestions.

Not to mince words here, but it really gets my drip-dry travel panties in a wad to be around that “Ugly American”. The knucklehead who demands that an entire country change their language, food, art, music or eye color to suit them. If that is you (and I am sure, dear gentle reader, that it is not you) but if there is a scintilla of chance that you know such a person, tell them not to travel. They can watch the travel network, watch Rick Steves drink wine made from the intestines of a snake or watch a 007 movie. Bond always jets to at least 12 interesting countries. If words such as different, regulations, unexpected or cancelled, cause you to break out into a case of the willies, travel is likely not for you. If you are not willing to sleep in an airport overnight, miss a meal or live three hours without the internet, stay home. Why? Because you will be miserable. And while misery loves company, company has no use for misery.

And also because I (and a plethora of old ladies with me) am getting to be of the age where I may not be able to prevent my twisted, gnarly, veined, paper-thin-skinned hand from flying out of control and whopping you upside the head. Call it the physical equivalent to Tourettes. My hand will just blurt out of control. I will, of course, apologize profusely later. Seriously, keep your misery to yourself or — wait for it — choose to be happy. Yup, you can look at the bright side of every travel calamity. Be flexible, adjust, have a back-up plan. Be like a mother who travels with kids carrying snacks, games, and a blankie in case of delays. And that toddler is you. It’s actually all of us over 50 who travel.

To make it easy on me and you, here is a list of travel dos and don’ts. And I mean they are like the 10 Commandments of Travel in the Age of Covid.

  1. Wear the dang face mask. Just do it. Over your charming nose and your rosebud lips. Do it.

Only wear blue paper masks. Sorry, no points for creativity. Cloth masks aren’t allowed.

  1. Get your vaccine and/or tests ahead of time. Just do it. (Hotels even offer tests nowadays).
  2. Do not take a bad meal out on your waiter. Because unless you are dining standing up at a food truck, I very much doubt your waiter cooked that meal for you.
  3. If you do not know how to get to your hotel, print out directions BEFORE you leave home to hand them to the driver or learn how to use a translation app. Screaming in English louder and louder expecting comprehension isn’t really a thing.
  4. For the love of gorp, pack your 3 oz liquids in a 1-quart size zip-plastic bag and store it in a handy-to-grab place in your carry-on WAY before (weeks before) you get within sight of an airport.
  5. Expect that new foods, water, and fancy cocktails can give you intense intestinal interference. Pack meds to counteract that. Or your $500 a day stay will be examining toilets around the world.
  6. Sensible shoes. If I see one more tourist hold up the line with her high heels (his flip-flops) caught in a boat ramp, escalator, mountain swinging bridge…see paragraph three above.
  7. Be polite. Learn to say thank you. Say it often. This is not your country. You are a guest, albeit a paying guest. However, paying does not include buying the staff in order to abuse them.
  8. If you are going to get knock down drunk, do it in your room. No one wants to hear you, see you, or smell you in that condition. Reality check: You are not sexier drunk, funnier drunk ,or wittier drunk. You are just a public nuisance. Don’t take my word for it. Ask the police who lock you up. Also, pickpockets look for old drunk codgers. It is a slam dunk to bump into a swaying senior fumbling with cash. In fact, they will go home and brag about what an easy mark you were.
  9. Be kind. This is common sense, which is not all that common these days. Wait your turn. Don’t cut in line. Learn to adapt. You will never get the trip you expect, or think you paid for. Instead, you will get an adventure of a lifetime. If having all your plans disrupted terrifies you either go with a well-known tour company, a seasoned traveler, or travel near home.

Can I get an Amen?

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause


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