I’ve signed myself up to teach a class to people who want to travel to Europe. That’s tantamount do declaring myself an Expert. There are self-proclaimed experts on many topics today. But you won’t see a Dummies, Idiots or Complete Moron’s book authored by me anytime soon. I’ll just be down at a local high school, provided at least four people sign up, teaching as part of Jefferson County’s Lifelong Learning Program. Students may enroll in classes such as The Coroners Office – Behind the Scenes (I don’t want to know) or 21st Century Urban Survival. Or, if they have decided now’s the time to finally go to Europe, they can take Traveling in Europe – What You Need to Know, presented by yours truly.
For $79, on four Thursday nights students are assured they’ll learn the following:
More and more Americans are discovering the magic of travel to Europe. This course begins with how to plan an itinerary and budget a trip, and it covers logistics such as transportation, accommodations, money, and sightseeing. Students learn how to avoid mistakes that can spoil the magic of the trip. Also, students learn skills to become self-sufficient and confident travelers – the key to a successful trip.
It all sounds pretty straightforward and it’s all things I know. I just need to figure out how to transfer what I’ve learned from planning and taking eight trips into my students’ brains. That’s the problem – most of what I’ve learned I’ve learned from doing.
Take this for example: I know one mistake is to plan to do lots of shopping for friends back home. Attempting to select meaningful and charming gifts for my family on my last day in Paris once led to a thoroughly miserable and tear-filled day. I told my friend Holly this when I learned she had some special and specific gifts to pick up in Italy when we traveled there together. But how to ruin a perfectly good travel day seems to be something one has to learn for oneself because Holly had to end up in tears too before realizing what a mistake this was. (Though the Sistine Chapel Incident, as it came to be known, will live in legend forever in our friendship.)
My other challenge is to teach travel skills, not the Dana Travel Method. Where do I cross the line? “Always use the free bathroom whenever possible (museums and restaurants for example)” is a hard and fast rule I live by in Europe. OK, that might be a skill.
“Carefully study opening days and times of attractions before you go so you can maximize your time there “– that’s maybe a skill too, but verges on crossing over.
Use your inside voice, do as locals do, don’t wear fanny packs or logo ball caps, don’t eat at American chain restaurants or God forbid drink Starbucks, use the public transportation system, don’t bring up politics, observe customs like not ordering coffee with milk after breakfast when in Italy – well, *I* like to travel like this but I can’t treat this class as a soapbox to preach about acting as an ambassador for our country when you travel. I have very specific rules about how I travel and I have to be careful to impart skills and not judgments.
Despite this little worry of controlling my enthusiasm for the “Right Way to Travel” I’m really excited about teaching this class. Foreign travel is one of the most important, life-changing and just absolutely fun things you can do in life. I can’t imagine my life without travel and I can’t wait to help others take their first steps toward experiencing Europe.
Send your friends.