Here are the phases of my travel lifestyle and some thoughts about the experience I gained from my travels:)
- Dreaming Phase: It’s about generating the idea of this trip in my mind. I ask a couple of questions to my self If I want to go to Europe Where shall I see at first? As I always start with food, there are two main destinations and three sub-destinations in Europe. Italy is the birthplace of European Gastronomy, the first cookbook written by Apicius in Italy and they created a robust culinary heritage which started with the Roman Empire. Second and the most potent destination is France, After Catherine de Medici married with the French King; she took all her skilled cooks to France and the Italian culinary Flag changed it’s placed in France. I know some about Culinary history which are also related to various subjects such as art, music, architecture, etc. So I start to dream about combining those elements with food and beverages. Three other sub-destinations are Spain, Greece, and England for me. You need to Understand Italy and France, then move to Spain, Greece, and England.
- Time manners: Between the ages of 16-25, I was spending my summer to work at hotels and summer camps, so I was not able to travel during summer. I was having short vacations 7-10 days to Europe which is pretty hard to understand the culture and related elements. When I was a senior at the university, I got a gap year which gave me an opportunity to travel more. I hitchhiked all over Europe for five months. Between the ages of 22-30, I started to work and go for more extended periods of time such as 1-2 months which led me to see Europe and USA, understand the way of culture, the way they cook, eat and enjoy to live. I worked on various farms, restaurants, and hotels in the USA and Europe. After I came back to Turkey, I started to run restaurants and also began to work in a University to research food, read more about the transitions of food and beverage items in different cultures. I had a 1-month vacation every year, and I started to visit Michelin Restaurants in Europe, met with the chefs, try to understand their food which also can be explained as the way they see life. I quit restaurants, University, and related consultancy jobs.I traveled to South and Central America for eight months, and I am in Asia for the last seven months. I am planning it to be in Asia around 3-4 months more. As you see, I used to be very affected by time, but right now I have no time manners. I think I wrote a brief example about my time manners, what can you do in a short and extended period of food while you are traveling.
- Planning Phase: If you have a short period, you need to be specific about the place to explore. Let’s give an example from France, Europe. You have 15 days, and you are willing to see France. You probably want to spend some time in Paris, yeah that’s for sure, then let’s assume that you want to visit WWII monuments, so you want to go to Normandie, while there you also need to go to see Mont St. Michel and see Bretagne. Those are the only things you can do in 15 days, but briefly. I have been to France 8 times 15-20 days each. To see Paris in a tourist way takes four days, but if you are a traveler and you want to include the food you need more than a month. Paris, Normandie and Bretagne, you need at least 2-3 months. It’s same for Italy. For me the best part of Italy was Tuscany. Took a lot of time, money and effort for me to understand the culture of that region. So the basic rule when planning, If the time allows: “Get everything.” If the time does not permit, DO NOT RUN to see everywhere. PICK ONE and Have the most fun in that region. Another Example for that is Typical Mass Tourists who go to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague for seven days. Package Tours are providing that service in 7 days. I am very sorry for them:((
- What to pack: I know this may come to you pretty exciting but I usually pack very light, I don’t want to carry extra weight with me- even I calculate grams for my backpack. Instead of bringing all the pants, shoes, sweaters, those toiletry bags. I usually take my couple t-shirts, raincoat, a light pant, flip-flops and a pair of shoes. If I want it, I can always have a chance to buy from the discount stores in that country. People carry 30 kg’s of backpacks or baggage in there hands or shoulders. For me 22 lt. Bag, it’s like a student rucksack, is enough. I saw people going to Asia with too many bags, full of 3-4 pairs of nightdresses, 20 t-shirts for ten days, The main Rule for me is that: I DO NOT HURT MYSELF. Please check those t-shirts or shoe tags, and They are probably made in Asian Countries:).. Go there, Pack Light, If you need anything, Just Buy and use it, then give it to a poor guy who can not afford to buy it. … The marginal cost of packing light and buy whenever you need is much cheaper than carrying 30 kgs of baggage.
- Where to stay: In my point of view, choosing to stay in a hotel is waste of culture and money. I would like to spend the same amount of money to a Dinner in a Michelin restaurant or a well-known distillery. I know it depends on the people’s income and safety issues. I understand that however, the way I travel I mostly like to stay in historic B&B’s, Homestays, Farm stays and also high rated hostels. By choosing these lodging establishments, I feel that I understand more about the local culture and the way of living. To find the appropriate lodging, I usually search from various big website agencies, check the reviews and decide the lodging establishment which I am willing to stay, and then I directly e-mail or call the place. This type of action gives me more flexibility about my reservation. If you want to cancel your reservation or postpone the date, you call them and do whatever you want, other then that the reservation worker knows your name usually gives you a better room because you did not make the hotel pay a commission to the travel website:)
- Transportation: While traveling between the countries I use the plane, try to find the cheap ergonomic options which means I never use more than one stop. If I go from Europe to South America, I never choose to have 2 or 3 legs (stops), direct flight or the most one stop flights are my choices. About finding the cheap flights: I usually do not use search engines or travel websites of big travel agencies. I directly use the sites of the airlines, call them and ask them about promotions. I also am a member of some airline companies loyalty programs. I have the couple of Miles cards of different Star Alliance member airlines, which makes me earn miles when I travel with one of them. I also want to give you a tip about how to find a cheaper ticket from your home country. Let’s assume that you are from the Netherlands, KLM is a Dutch company; you want to go Brasil. You probably can not find reasonable rates with KLM, and You can find inexpensive prices with Air France or Turkish airlines. The reason is simple; you connect to Internet from a Dutch IP. Because of the agreements between the airlines, you probably find a better rate from a different country’s airlines. That is %85 percent tested right action. Another thing I strongly advise is that when you make a reservation, first check it from a big search engine like sscaner, then check the flight number. Search the flight number from the web and understand what the brand of aircraft is. For me, Boeing Planes are much more comfortable then Airbus, so I search the flight code to understand what is the brand of the airplane. I don’t like Fokker types or some interesting small planes. While traveling inland, I want to use day buses or trains, not the flight, because buses or trains let me observe the people I am going with and also lets me observe the life in rural areas of the country I am.
- Choosing the Restaurant or the places to eat: I will write a detailed post about where to look , smell, touch and feel when choosing a restaurant in another post. When I am in a new city, First thing I do in the early morning is that I go to the markets; observe butchers, fish vendors, cheese sellers regarding technique, hygiene, cost and quality of products, which products are mostly on demand by customers. The second thing I do is to observe the same practices at street food vendors and restaurants. I will open another post and try to write what I know about those standards in practice from time to time.