40 totally doable travel 'must dos'
I love those lists. You know the ones, the fanciful collections of dream experiences that you have to try before you die - although everyone knows you probably won't.
That's largely because a lot of these experiences are the kinds of things that you'll do right before you die. As in, they'll kill you. Things like "kayak over a waterfall", or "BASE jump in Norway", or "wear an expensive watch in Rio".
They allow people to dream a little, but these lists aren't very realistic. So it's time to stow the kayak, people. It's time to pack away the fantasy parachute.
In the interests of realism, and allowing travellers to have goals that are achievable, I present to you: 40 Fairly Standard Travel Experiences You Might Actually Try Before You Die.
1. Complain about an airport
A favourite pastime of every person who's ever travelled, this can encompass the parking prices, the queues, the bad food, the wifi, the seats... Pretty much anything.
2. Get drunk with an Irishman
A highly realistic goal, as - in the same way every city in the world seems to have an Irish bar - every hostel in the world seems to have an Irish bloke who's happy to come out with you and get drunk.
3. Do something dumb in South-East Asia
Rent a scooter despite your complete lack of experience. Get a tattoo. Discover "karaoke boom-boom". Drink booze from a bucket.
4. Eat McDonald's in an exotic location
The pull of the humble cheeseburger is strong, and as soon as you have a small moment of weakness, any tiny hankering for the comfort food of home... boom! You're eating Macca's.
5. Talk too much about home
We've got nicer beaches than this. We do better Asian food. The coffee is way better. Blah, blah, blah.
6. Butcher a language
It's great to attempt to speak the local tongue, but you'll inevitably fail in these attempts, probably laughably. At least you tried.
7. Take lots of photos of zebras
Zebras are amazing! Look at them! Click, click, click ... it's your first time in Africa and you just can't get enough.
8. Delete lots of photos of zebras
Oh wait, there's more zebras. And more. And more. All of a sudden they don't seem that exciting any more. Delete.
9. Do a bus tour
There's no shame - everyone does it. Whether you complete this as a hard-partying teenager or a sedate grey nomad is up to you, but one thing is for sure: it will happen.
10. Have sex in a tent
Much more difficult than it first appears. This is most likely to be completed in a campsite in Venice.
11. Lose a lot of money in Las Vegas
The house always wins. That's worth bearing in mind when you go to Vegas with unrealistic dreams of that big windfall. Doesn't make it any less enjoyable though.
12. Be disappointed by Italian pizza
"Italian pizza is crap!" says just about every first-time visitor to Italy, indicating they had absolutely no idea where to go for pizza in Italy.
13. Rave about Prague
Prague is like the Breaking Bad of the tourism world, a place you're duty-bound to tell everyone how much you loved, even if you secretly didn't think it was all that impressive.
14. Stay in an amazing hostel
It'll happen, at some point. You'll stumble across that gem, maybe in Berlin, or perhaps Lisbon, or Buenos Aires. But it won't last.
15. Stay in an appalling hostel
Likely to happen somewhere in Eastern Europe, or maybe South-East Asia. Thin walls, grotty toilets, uncomfortable beds ... it's a rite of passage.
16. Lie about how you got to Machu Picchu
"Oh yeah, we totally did the Inca Trail. So amazing." No you didn't, you got the train because you didn't book your trek in time. But no one needs to know that.
17. Get robbed or ripped off or fleeced
Another rite of passage. Hopefully you won't get mugged, but you will be swindled into paying far too much for that taxi, or that meal, or that souvenir.
18. Miss a flight. Or a bus. Or a train
Probably because you were hungover and slept through your alarm.
19. Post something incredibly annoying on Facebook
Maybe an overblown status update about what an amazing time you're having in country X, with a smiley photo to go with it.
20. Have a holiday romance
Depending on its quality and length, either boast about it incessantly afterwards, or quietly forget it ever happened.
21. Complain about Santiago
Every traveller's favourite ball to kick, Santiago comes in for plenty of flak. Unless you do your research you'll find it pretty uninspiring.
22. Be frightened by a taxi ride
Whether this is in a clapped out old bomb in Cairo, or a speeding Skoda in Prague, or a maniacal tuk-tuk in Bangkok, it always makes for a great story.
23. Be underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa
"It's so small!" Etcetera.
24. Get lost in Japan
Japan is an amazing place but it's also a fiendishly difficult country to navigate your way through. You will get lost. And someone will help you.
25. Get hooked on pho
Once you've tried pho in Vietnam, no noodle soup, or soup of any kind, or maybe even any foodstuff, will live up to your expectations again.
26. Become a coffee snob
Ha! As if you weren't already. Look forward to a long life of travelling and complaining about the bad coffee they have everywhere else.
27. Hate India
Be shocked by the poverty, be intimidated by the crowds, and be disgusted by the litter. But...
28. Love India
Be touched by the goodwill, be inspired by the monuments, and be awed by the sheer complexity of the whole experience.
29. Exaggerate a brush with danger
"We nearly died, I swear it."
30. Complain about "tourists" without appreciating the irony
Everybody hates tourists. Particularly, as it turns out, other tourists. Don't kid yourself into thinking you're any different.
31. Eat something weird in China
OK, maybe the Chinese don't eat deep-fried scorpions on a daily basis, but that shouldn't stop you from being photographed munching one and pretending it's normal.
32. Plan a reunion that will never happen
Yep, you'll definitely all meet up in Hawaii in 10 years time to recreate this experience. Well, maybe.
33. Speak LOUDLY in English
Even the most experienced of travellers will occasionally catch themselves doing the old "if you don't understand me I'll just speak louder" thing.
34. Do karaoke
If you're not already addicted to doing karaoke when you travel through Asia, then you soon will be. After the first song.
35. Go overboard with security
Wear a money belt every day. Sew cash into your socks. Cover your backpack in wire mesh. Then, eventually, realise that it's not really necessary.
36. Stay at an all-inclusive resort
Sounds tacky, and a little boring (to me at least), but if you're got the right crowd of people this can be a surprisingly enjoyable way to have a holiday.
37. Lose your passport
This potentially costly extreme sport can be executed with the aid of alcohol, or just dopey forgetfulness. Either way, it's a nightmare.
38. Spend far too long in a bus
"Yeah, 30 hours isn't that long at all. And think about all the countryside we'll get to see!" Good luck with that.
39. Get an upgrade
The holy grail of travel isn't an easy one to achieve, but when the stars do align, when the travel gods do smile upon you, ensure you make the most of it.
40. Make friends
Doesn't matter where you go, what you do, or how much money you spend doing it. This is what travel is all about.
How many of these have you done? What would make your list of 'must dos'?
Sydney Morning Herald