100 Canons for Escaping the Rat Race and Exploring the World
By Bruce Northam
After circling the globe five times in the last 20 years, Bruce Northam has gathered hard-won nuggets of travel wisdom into 100 enlightening recommendations for making the most of seeing the world.
Employing a mix of travel lore, humor, and anecdotes, Northam entertains, advises, and inspires readers to hit the road. 20 black-and-white illustrations are included.
In a book shaped and styled like a passport to fit easily into a backpack, the author advises, for example, to take a media sabbatical (if you haven't traveled widely, maybe there's an umbilical cord attached to your TV convincing you that the world is an unfriendly place. It's not!), to go where the locals go (cops and bartenders know their terrain better than the local chamber of commerce) and to undertake exhausting itineraries with family (no one will have energy left to recycle family debates).
Excerpt from the Book
'We were two people who couldn't have come from farther corners of the earth. After a silent, timeless minute, we simultaneously burst into smiles. Feeling self-conscious yet lighthearted, we continued smiling at each other for what seemed like an eternity.
Then I waved a goodbye and rode away. Before coasting out of view behind a hilltop, I glanced back at her. There she stood, still leaning on her shovel, beaming and waving.
The real essentials [when traveling] are what's in a Globetrotter's head -- background knowledge, resourcefulness, and sensitivity. A vital commodity to bring on any trip is an open mind. Usually, people make a place.
Remember, we are all one. Find out for yourself what a miraculous world we live in, contrary to media portrayals. Realize that, sane or loony, we are all here together, and like it or not, this is it. Boost your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being -- take a recess from the nine-to-five habit and chart your own authentic, unrefined, outward-bound escapade.
Lose the main road. You don't always need a plan. Stay off the interstates; they hide landscapes and people. Sometimes it's a good idea to rove solo, since spending all of your time with anyone breeds dementia.
Buying locally helps you blend in and promotes compassionate capitalism. Honor your gift purchase on the road. An eight-dollar Balinese woodcarving makes a bigger impression than another T-shirt.
If you intend to behold the entire globe, visit the distant lands of undrinkable tap water and shamanism while your immune system is hearty. Save Western Europe for when negotiating stairs is a bitch.
The Incan Code dictates: Don't lie, don't steal, don't be lazy. Note: Thirty seven-foot hunting spears will not fit into a flight attendant's coat cabin. While I was toting those Irian Jayan Highland hunting spears on 34th St., the common push-and-bump pedestrian anarchy parted and cleared a path to allow my uninterrupted passage.At home, don't become a sporting goods store conqueror. Do you really need a personalized odometer/altimeter for that day hike in Norway?
Be sure to take in your surroundings for everything they are worth, even though you may feel uncomfortable or out of place. Resist complaining. Period. Complaining may be a symptom of failing to notice the beauty around you.
If you must whimper, break out your translation dictionary or phrase book and transcribe your conundrum to a local. You may realize that your dilemma is a tad pathetic - and you might even learn the language. You will undoubtedly come across horrifying images, however, the shocking images from around the world are the ones that stay with you.
While visiting a hospital in Delhi, India, I observed a mother carrying her dead infant down a long dim hallway, out the front door of the hospital, and into her gruesomely impoverished neighborhood. Her face was like stone. Part of traveling is accepting that you will surely come across as much bad as good. It is up to you how you will choose to come out of the experience.
We receive the signals and hear the calling but often ignore the royal thundering within, that voice asking what you truly need to be happy. Too many of us spend thousands shrinking our heads. Out there - on the edge of your own Walden -- therapy is free. Wander. Let the woods be your church.
Simplify. "Success" can limit as many options as a failure; the workaholic lifestyle usually comes along with a pair of blinders that buffers us from other opportunities.
No guidebook can tell you how to choose your quest; at best it can catalyze and awaken the quest within you. You can paint by numbers and visit the tourist traps, but you'll never create a holiday masterpiece that way.
A masterpiece demands the spirit and impulse of an artist. To construct the adventure of your life, you need more than travel agents and destination recommendations. You need to generate faith in your own trailblazing competence. Born in your heart, tempered by your own mind, molded with your hands, and walked with your own two feet, the trail you blaze is your remarkable gift to yourself, everyone you leave at home, and whomever you encounter along the way.
Just remember the ten most omnipotent words in our language: 'If it is to be, it is up to me.'
Traveling isn't going where you want, it's wanting to be where you already are. If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. Life is like photography: We use the negative to develop.
So, with that said, 'It's time to reinvent NOMADness on earth.' Nomadic behavior nurtures world peace: a planet where I no mad at you, you no mad at me. Don't get even, get odd. Stagnant people rarely make history.'
Contact Bruce Northam or buy his book at his website, AmericanDetour.com.
Bruce Northam is the author of The Directions to Happiness, a 135-country quest for life lessons, and a Chicken Soup for the traveler — with balls. He lives in New York City. Bruce’s show, American Detour, reveals the travel writer’s journey. His alternative keynote presentation, Directions to Your Destination, reveals the many shades of the travel industry and how to entice travelers. His other live performance, Street Anthropology, is an ode to freestyle wandering. Visit AmericanDetour.com.