Carry an Artichoke, Blend In and Look Bland: Tips for Traveling Well (and a PSA for Halloween Costumes)

Since it’s difficult/impossible to travel these days let’s talk about traveling because at least now we have candy corn and chocolate marshmallow pumpkins to console ourselves.

A story for you, Darling. When I visited the Seychelles [and Darling, please do work on your openings, “When I was in Des Moines” does not quicken a reader’s attention. “When I was in Des Moines and there was a tornado approaching” is better but still does not have the necessary je ne sais quoi. “When I was in Des Moines and some idiot in a meth lab left a jar of honey open which attracted bears who then ate the honey, meth and all the meth makers” is a perfect opening.]

De toute façon, when I was in the Seychelles I took a ferry from one island to another, then decided to fly to back to Mahe (15 minutes). When I asked the hotel receptionist to help me get a flight, she first told me the cost was 100 rupees. Then once she gave my name to the airline, she told me, “Oh, they thought because it was a booking for one person that you were a native, for visitors the cost is 170 rupees.” So I show up at the airport to fly back dressed in my too-too adorable khaki skirt, too-too chic pink t-shirt, Ray-Bans, canvas tote and Keds (all the other people in line had expensive white linen “resort wear” with designer flip-flops). When I got to the counter, the clerk took one look at me and said, “Oh there was a mistake, they charged you the tourist price. It’s only 100 rupees.”

You see, darling? Trolls blather on about how discuss the importance of clothes too frequently, but here you see the result of careful sartorial choices. Everyone talks about white linen but you should NEVER WEAR IT. Eradicate it from your wardrobe – it’s see-through, wrinkles easily and marks you as one who is not au fait.

You can only be ‘local’ for a very small part of the world, but you need not announce to the world that you are a new-comer. Blend, darling, blend! This is why I always recommend carrying artichokes when you visit a café for the first time. Carrying an artichoke presupposes that you have a kitchen and all 12 necessary implements to properly cook and eat an artichoke. Instant local cred!

And don’t say “I’m not a tourist” – you are a tourist everyone on earth except, perhaps, the block on which you live. But you don’t have to allow “tourist” to take over your persona and don’t you dare try to look local. It’s all about the finding the happy medium – blending in/ looking bland but not appropriating because you were not raised to be wildebeest, Darling.

Allow me to elucidate. Take for example… Hawaii. You get a lei when you arrive. Wear it to the taxi stand or car rental counter with pride. Giggle, take photos, revel in your flower bouquet and then take it off and never wear it again. Short-sleeve, button up the front, collared, cotton shirts with a bright flower print? Yes. Hell yes! Everyone should have six in their wardrobe. But a grass skirt or anything resembling a grass skirt? Hell no. It’s not yours to wear. Leather moccasins to wear for weekend coffee dates? Yes. Feather headdress? Never.

As you contemplate Halloween: Ball gown? Yes. Kimono? No. Stereotype of a country you don’t belong to? No. Mermaid? Yes.

No fez. No sombrero. No religious symbols of a religions you don’t belong to.

Of course, the best idea for Halloween is to go as moi, but I don’t think you have enough pink in your closet to carry it off, much less the jewelry. Or the perfume. Or the feather boas. Ah well, perhaps you might go as an emu as you sister did a few years ago. Very eye-catching. Or you might want to try the Tower of London. Being a historical building is so much fun.

In any case, Darling, let’s review: dream of travel, burn your white linen, be respectful and always carry an artichoke.