Travel Skills - Spain

Written by David Sherry

Every time I travel I get a bit better at it. Perhaps it's a skill, like skiing or math.

Mostly this happens by making tourist-like mistakes; being the person who's caught doing something that's not culturally correct, or getting stuck heading the wrong direction on the Subway.

I like to update these skills or ideas when I go somewhere new, which I'll list out some ideas for you below. At the bottom are some photos and locations worth noting in case you make it to Spain.

The Purpose of Travel

When I travel I have two key interests outside of leisure:

First, to notice what Tyler Cowen calls "Cultural Codes."

What are the scripts that other people live by, or use to see the world that are different than my own?

The second, is seeing how Technology or Artistry is experienced locally.

How has technology impacted or changed this location?
What are the artists discussing or creating?


Make Lists

Lists of "Rules" I'm picking up for travel. Lists of differences. Lists of cultural codes. Lists of words that are unique to a location. Lists help me organize and chunk what makes a place unique and memorable.

Here's one from my last trip.

"Rules for Travel"

  1. Schedule places, stays, travel in advance (having a schedule = freedom).
  2. Just go in - if you see something that catches your eye go in and purchase/interact. Don’t hesitate, it might be closed later.
  3. Book a guided tour anywhere possible.
  4. Don’t 100% trust Airbnb photos.
  5. Don't tell people when you're leaving/arriving. Be vague about timelines.
  6. Walk 10 miles a day.
  7. Drink (at least some, a sip) of the local water (where not entirely a bad idea). Drink from fountains/streams if others are doing so.
  8. Get a hair cut during the trip, not before. Buy a clothing item from a local brand.
  9. If you love a cafe or restaurant go more than once.


Notice something small.

AirPods are making the “double cheek kiss” more difficult as people who have them fear them falling out. Most people seem to just quickly remove them before greeting someone (more polite anyways).

Mistakes.

Routine. I just can't break from some simple parts of my routine. Every time I think I can get away with I just can't, and in fact I don't even want to. So keeping some habits in check, especially diet/exercise will continue. There's no right way to travel, and the consistency improves my experiences (everyone will tell you the opposite).