Sorry to leave you all in the dust for a hot minute — the last few months have been particularly busy. But we’re not about excuses here. We’re going to catch up, get back on schedule, and stay on schedule.
The only way to catch up is with #content. Let’s start with a story — I went to Paris. This was my first time out of the country.
The first part of this I wrote live (back in February). I’ll let you know when I transition to the retrospective.
Wish I could say this Paris story starts on a good note. Really wish I could.
But right now I’m waiting on a train, lost, hoping I’m going in the right direction on this subsequent trip. The paper map in my hand is a constant reminder of my frustration. It’s not France’s fault — I could just as easily get lost in the United States. But right now it’s just not fun.
I’d rather know where I’m going.
To be fair, everyone along the way has been incredibly nice to this Paris gaijin. The only guy who’s given me a hard time thus far was the dude checking out passports. He legitimately made me panic, to the point I answered him in Spanish instead of just saying, “I don’t know WHAT THE **** IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW, SIR!”
Everyone has been nice, but my gut response to this travel abroad thing is that it might not be for everyone: it’s stressful, it’s easy to get lost, it’s easy to have things jacked from right under your nose, and there will be situations that arise located well outside of your comfort zone. A drug dog got ALL up on my leg at the airport, and I watched a guy get busted not long after. Day 1 and part of me already feels like calling it a wrap.
I can’t remember what exactly caused me to stop there.
Maybe I was no longer lost on the metro?
Maybe I got stopped since I had nothing nice to say at the time?
Maybe my phone battery reached an uncomfortable level of low (as it often did over there)?
Either way, it’s been a month and, by some miracle, I’m still alive. While the trip was positive overall, there were a couple of spots I’d like to take a mulligan, if given the chance. Talking about the trip can come later — let’s have a candid discussion on survival tactics.
1. Don’t cheap out on roaming data
Let’s get it out the way. Verizon is a terrible company. AT&T is a terrible company. T-Mobile is a terrible company. Whoever your mobile company may be: they are a terrible company.
“Congratulations! We noticed that you have arrived in Paris. For $10 a day, we will provide you with unlimited data. Otherwise, the following rates will apply: *cue **** off expensive rates for calls, texts, and 3G*.”
Really?! You couldn’t even give me a minute to appreciate the foreign air before harassing me with this passive aggressive attempt at my wallet?! The last thing I need 800 miles away from home is the reminder that you have me and everyone else by the balls with your repulsive service.
But seriously though, take these losers up on their offer. There’s nothing worse than being low on battery and not knowing how to resolve an issue that could be EASILY alleviated via a quick, simple Google search. You’ll spend the 10 dollars playing detective-on-the-ground trying to solve the problem, and it’s EFFING NOT worth the hassle.
2. Je Cherche = MVP (Most Valuable Phrase)
This simple phrase “I’m looking for…” became my right hand man during this expedition. You wouldn’t believe how multi-purpose this phrase is when push comes to shove. Je cherche Saint Lazare; je cherche WiFi (pronounced we-fee); je cherche McDonald’s; je cherche *point at thing *. It might be a bit of a cheat, but this life hack saved me more often than I probably deserved to be.
3. Maps will **** you off
Holy cow, maps are dumb — Especially physical ones! You look, and look, and look, then catch yourself gazing into the abyss. Comprehension always comes the moment after you need it. Unfortunately, there’s not a great solution to this unless you have data. That way, Google, Siri, or whatever flavor of digital God you’re praying to that day can tell you to make a u-turn, you dumb***.
4. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BRING A BATTERY PACK!!
I always scoffed at the concept of a battery pack. They always seemed like a Millennial avocado toast-esque cry for help just to stand out for the sake of BEING a Millennial… because, for whatever stupid reason, merch and memes make up an overwhelming majority of Millennial culture. And I’m not about that life. With the vast availability of charging ports around home, work, the car, and everywhere in between, why would you EVER need one? Who is ill prepared enough to let themselves get in a situation dire enough to need one? More importantly, who can’t survive for a couple hours without their phone?! For the most part I stand by all of the above accusations — Millennials are chicken wusses and battery packs are for goons. But in the case of foreign travel, they are an essential (battery packs, not the Millennials).
Phones are devil devices designed to let you down at your lowest moment! Roaming data will eat through your battery faster most Americans go through a box of Thin Mints! And the LAST thing you need is to find yourself — alone — away from ALL of your contacts — out in the middle of the night — in a place you don’t know without a phone.
Not that I’d know…