Like fruit cake at Christmas, bachelorettes wearing pink boas, and Uma in a Tarantino movie, most clichés are best avoided. Yet there is one aspect of life into which I highly recommend injecting as much cliché as possible – travel.
The savviest of travelers know that to truly experience a culture you need to venture off the paths outlined in the guidebooks and steer clear of the tempting golden arches; but does it really count as a trip to Pisa if you don’t get a picture of yourself kicking over the Tower? Can you call it a vacation in Syndey if you don’t hop around the Taronga Zoo like a kangaroo?
The art of enacting travel clichés goes far beyond simply wearing a beret in Paris or eating fish and chips in London (both of which you simply must do). To ensure you make it home with a few amazing memories to accompany your Hard Rock t-shirt, I have a few recommended clichés that my trips wouldn’t have been complete without:
The Sound of Music Tour: Run through the hills of Salzburg whilst singing the Hills are Alive and eating crisp apple strudel. Unfortunately, a few years ago, a nice old lady broke a hip as she leapt from bench to bench in the gazebo, but you can pretend.
Theater in London: Just don’t see Cats – everything you’ve heard is a lie.
Ride random animals: There are swimming horses in Cancun, friendly donkeys in Turkey and camel escorts to the Pyramids, but nothing felt as bad-ass as being carried up the hill overlooking Angkor Wat by an elephant a la Coming to America.
Monkey Forest in Ubud: Never has the phrase “watch your hat, glasses and loose articles of clothing” been so relevant.
McDonalds in Berlin: Grab a beer and a bratwurst then redeem yourself by having dinner somewhere legit.
Attempt the local sport: I’ve skied (poorly) in the Alps and surfed (poorly) in Bali and paraglided (awesomely, yet no talent required) in Nice. I hear you can also get pushed down a mountain inside of a giant beach ball in New Zealand so that might be cool.
Eat like a tourist: Be warned that Belgian waffles are not made by Eggo, pho is really a breakfast food, and Italian pasta is not made by Olive Garden master chefs – whatever their commercials may tell you.
Tour the factories: I came back from one trip to Europe with a year’s supply of Cadbury Cream Eggs, six wheels of cheese and a cuckoo clock. Beat that shot glass!
Wine in Italy: In case you needed a reason.
While my future adventures are TBD, I’ll continue to knock out travel clichés like a crying mouse-eared kid at Disneyland. In fact, maybe it’s time I start planning a hunt for the Loch Ness Monster after a swim with the dolphins.