29 December 2010

Pepper talks about enjoying your adventures without paying a fortune

Today I’m talking about how to have some adventures yourself without paying a fortune. I’m not talking about going first class here. That’s a vacation, folks, not an adventure. Now, I’m not saying you can’t have an adventure on vacation. Of course, you can. But from my own experiences, I can promise you, the ones where you don’t go first class are the ones you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. So take a chance and live a little. You’ll save your funds and have some experiences money could never buy.

Now, how do you start? The easiest way is to work your way around the world. That’s not as easy as it used to be even a decade ago, but it is still possible to do and/or to find other inexpensive ways to travel. If you like boats, or think you might, contact the marinas along the closest coast to where you are. And join the local yacht club. Both will put you in contact with boat owners. You’ll usually find at least one or two privately owned pleasure cruisers that are looking for crew. Sometimes, a single person sailing to someplace specific may just want some company for the trip as sailing by yourself is a lonely proposition. If you’re a male, handy with your hands, and willing to work it’s fairly easy to snag a ride to almost anywhere in the world. If you’re female, it’s a bit harder, but it’s still a possibility. Especially if you can cook. While I was working as a researcher in Mexico and the Caribbean, I met a number of people who had hitched a ride on a yacht as a cook or crew member. Something to remember: some yacht owners can’t afford to keep their boats as pleasure yachts all year round. So they hire the boat out to couples or groups and provide the crew, including the cook. And some of them pay you fairly decent salaries. So you would live aboard on the yacht, crew, or cook for the paying customers, and get well paid for it. And see some really beautiful places.        

Don’t want to get on a yacht? No problem. Check ads in the backs of adventure magazines for other jobs in foreign countries. And don’t forget the internet. But check the jobs out carefully before you commit. And if you’re visiting in a foreign country, go for the cheaper modes of travel to get around, like trains and buses. One of the most memorable adventures I had was when a friend and I took a train trip across Mexico. We paid for first class, which costs us about $10 for the whole three-day trip, but we spent most of our time in second class, fascinated by the people and the things they had brought with them on the train: live chickens and pigs, baskets and barrels of exotic fruits, and whatever they’d bought at the market wherever they’d been and were dragging home with them. I remember one guy had a porcelain toilet he was taking home. It was quite the attention getter. I think the guy felt like a hero with all the compliments he got on the silly thing from the other passengers. My friend spoke excellent Spanish (I didn’t) but she translated for me, and we got to know some of our fellow passengers and heard some amazing stories of survival. In one place where the train stopped for dinner, my friend and I got to help the restaurant owner prepare our meals as she was overwhelmed with all the customers and two of her cooks were out sick. While it’s not really the kind of thing you might equate with an adventure, it was a fascinating experience, one I would have been unlikely to have any other way. And it was certainly one I never forgot. As a writer, I gleaned a wealth of characters and story material for my novels.   

In the years I lived and worked in third world countries, I found the local people were generally very friendly and willing to help a stranger as long as I didn’t act like I thought I was better than they were. My team members and I got caught in storms, stranded when our vehicles broke down in the middle of nowhere, and faced a dozen other misadventures, but the natives were always willing to help us and shared what little they had if we needed it. I have found that in any adventure, it’s the people you meet and the friends you make that cause the adventure to be special.

Now whether your idea of an adventure is the same or different than mine, I’ll share the following tips with you that I believe apply to all adventures:

DON’T GO ALONE. Whether you’re male or female, but especially if you’re female, don’t go off alone. Bad things can happen to people in that situation, and I’m not talking just about getting mugged. But that can happen, too. Plan to take a friend or two with you when you go if at all possible. If not, make some friends going your way and tag along. That way if something happens, you have some help.

MAKE SURE SOMEONE KNOWS WHERE YOU ARE. People can disappear in third world countries, so make sure that someone knows where you going when you leave Point A and when you’re expected to arrive at Point B. That way, there’s a chance if you get hurt or stranded, that someone will look for you and, hopefully, find you.

DON’T PUT ALL YOUR MONEY IN YOUR WALLET. Wallets can get lost or stolen. So have a money belt or pouch to keep your money in and transfer it in small bits to your wallet as you need it. Then if your wallet goes missing, you aren’t stranded without any funds. I always carried any credit cards I had and most of my money in a money belt and only kept a few dollars in my wallet. Nothing ever happened, but if it had, I would have been prepared. And I always figured it was because I was prepared that nothing ever happened.

LEAVE YOUR PREJUDICES AT HOME. Strive to have an open mind about the people and places you encounter during your adventure. Yes, they’re going to be different than what you’re used to. And they may well seem primitive and crude by your standards. But hey, folks, if you hadn’t wanted to experience something different, why did you go on the adventure in the first place? If all you were willing to experience is what you already know and are comfortable with, you might as well have stayed at home. Give the people and the experiences a chance. You won’t regret it.

KNOW WHERE THE NEAREST CONSULATE IS. Whatever your nationality, know where your nation’s consulates are located in whatever country you’re visiting or working in. Shit happens, folks. Believe me, I know. So before you leave, get on the internet and find out what cities have one of your nation’s consulate’s offices. Another helpful thing to know is where the marinas are if you’re on or near the coast. Marinas can collect mail for you and put you in touch with people who can help you in an emergency. Make a list of this important information and keep it with you. You may never need it, but at least you have it if you do. It may not be possible to access the internet if you need the information later. So be prepared. 

MIX WITH THE NATIVES. The beauty of immersing yourself in the culture you’re visiting is that you truly get to experience what life is like wherever you’re at. If you’re friendly, most people will respond, and when they do, they’ll not only tell you where the real bargains in lodging, food, and entertainment are, they’ll take you to some of the private places that tourists never get to see or experience. 

If you any of you have questions about any of this, you can contact me through my website at www.pepperoneal.com and I’ll try to answer them for you.

Tomorrow, I’ll be interviewing Roman, a werewolf/vampire cross breed shifter, from my upcoming novel, Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny. Hope to see you there.

I know that Ms O'Neal has included some of her experiences in her stories, so with adventures like these, you know her books are packed full of action, adventure and tons of atmosphere and emotion.  All the ingredients for 'must read' books, if ever I saw them.

Don't forget to come back  and discover more about Pepper O'Neal's hero Roman in Chasing Destiny tomorrow.

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