Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Care and Use Manual

Every good product comes with a manual extolling how to care for the item and how to use it properly. Even clothes have tags on washing conditions. But travel companions are people, and the best manual you can hope to receive is a verbal one from the person themselves. Finding a self-aware and unreserved travel companion is a tall order. Most people are not good at analyzing themselves enough to know all of their triggers and best options for resolution. In relationships, knowing another person this well takes time. When arriving for a vacation, the luxury of time is not there. You either handle your travel partner well or things start to go poorly.

The care and use manual – or just the manual – covers a range of topics.  Travel style. Hotels, hostels, couch surfing, or camping. Highlights tour or in depth culture investigation. Conscious analysis of people or background compilation. High roller or on the cheap. City or nature. Push through or slow down. Personal handling. Daily showers? Topics to be avoided? Level of conservativism? Profanity? Recovery. Sulking or active? Amount of time needed solo. Introvert or extrovert. Comfort zone.

Some people are more forgiving than others. For some, no specific points matter and they can survive on anything. Others have strong opinions on everything and will only be happy doing things their ideal way. Most of us are in between.

For those who might one day travel with me, the following are a few items from my personal care and use manual.

  • Do not use profanity at me or become aggressive towards me unless prior, polite warnings have been provided. I dig my heels in hard and fight back if I feel unfairly attacked.
  • I need time to stop and process information. This means at least a couple hours every other day where I can sit and think and be free from interactions. Ideally this also gives me café computer time to write.
  • The longer I go without hearing English or music I am familiar with, the shorter my travel stamina. Europe for 5 weeks with no music was too much. Turkey for 3 weeks with music was good. The US for 3 months with music could have kept going.
  • I need to vent about travel companions acting poorly. You do not have to agree, but ideally would just listen. It is only after going through it to someone else that I can put my thoughts in order to bring it up to the offending party.
  • If you only have a few topics or ideas to draw from, play the Silent Bob role and make the few things you say profound. I need novelty and prefer silence to repetition.
  • I am not a one-note character and prefer not to be reduced to a caricature of myself.

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This entry was posted on July 5, 2010 by in Iceland.

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