Travel Tips Learned from Game of Thrones
I will gladly admit that I've succumbed to reading George R.R. Martin's, A Song of Fire and Ice series, starting with, A Game of Thrones. Masterfully written (well, at least books 1-3), and entertaining; the entire process by which Mr. Martin must have taken to put together these tome's is exhausting to imagine, and also quite inspirational and impressive.
While reading this series, I was struck by the many lessons that were being taught that could so clearly be connected with traveling. Alright, I can see you sitting there scratching your head saying, "How can some mythical world have anything to do with travel?" Well, let me lay out a few items that I can easily relate to travel:
- You're going to get lost. Keep a map. Throughout the characters' various journeys both by land and sea; they would get lost. Granted, they somehow always seemed to get back on track, but as one character pointed out (paraphrasing, and no spoilers here), "How can we know which lake we are too follow? And how do we even know this is the right one?" Keeping a map and/or GDS system handy is key. Whether you are traveling near or abroad, having reliable directions will be the difference between a wonderful vacation versus one fraught with aggravation.
- Do a bit of research on your destination prior to arrival. Countless characters throughout this series had limited or faulty information about the destinations they were traveling too (and trust me, there is a LOT of movement throughout this series). What seemed like it would be a divine place to go; oftentimes turned out to be (figuratively speaking) one of the seven circles of hell. While some characters believed they were traveling to destinations brimming with food, opportunity and safety; more often than not, their "dream" destination turned out to be a nightmare. The lesson here: don't just believe what you hear from one person, do a bit of your own research.
- Be open to eating different and unique foods. Hmmm, this is a bit dicey because there were a lot of the meals described in the series that I just was not keen on (can we say, horse heart anyone). Suffice to say, there were also quite a few of the meals described, that actually sounded delicious. Several of the wedding dinners and large gathering meals that were described didn't seem altogether bad. There were some detailed descriptions of pies, meats and desserts that were elaborate, and my imagination was able to take over. And, lest not forget the wines. It would appear that no one was without some (weak or strong) ale and/or wine to wash down any of their meals. The lesson here: it may sound trite, but it's true, be open to experiencing something different that you wouldn't ordinarily eat. While fried grubs may not be high on your list of foods to eat, you may be surprised and find out...hey, they do taste like chicken!
- Pack light. (Or you'll lose it.) I think this one is self-explanatory, but always bears repeating. When you are traveling by horseback and carriage, it's easy to see how some items will be lost along the way. It just works out that way. What seems like a good idea to pack on day one, turns out to be a nightmare and pain to drag around by day twenty. Fortunately, this is the twenty-first century, so it's not quite that bad (although, many who travel via the airlines on a frequent basis may disagree). Regardless, less is definitely more. Many hotels have on-site dry cleaners and laundry facilities so there is no reason to pack everything you've ever owned. Also, as I learned at a young age when camping; if you pack something that you don't want to carry for about 10 miles on your back, leave it at home unless it's absolutely necessary.