It just wears me out that folks think Southerners don’t like to travel abroad just because we basically have it all right here…and it’s true, we have gorgeous beaches, old homes, mountain retreats, historic seaport towns even a few big cities. The South has wonderful food, friendly folks and of course our people live here- what more could you want? Well, we do like a bit of culture and gettin’ out to see the sights, and Travelin’ abroad to Europe and the Islands has always been fashionable, what with sugah plantations and finding out if our ancestors go back to King Charles the first, or whatever… An elderly friend once said her daughter was thinking of moving to New York City of all places- she said, ‘I told her travelin’, seeing the sights and going shoppin’ is one thing but why would you evah want to move up there with all of those Yankees freezin’ to death? If Ida Mae wants to travel abroad, well now, that would be a horse of a different color.’ So, while we never want to move, occasionally some of us get a good case of go-itis and start making plans. Planning ahead and being prepared is imperative. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed seein’ the USA on our vacations, this year we decided to go out of the country, let me re-phrase- goin’ out of the country- Southerners could mean Atlanta depending if you still live on the fah-rm; what we actually mean here, is leaving the confines of the United States. Cruises and tours became immensely popular when televangelists started leading tours to the Holy Land, churches began leading groups on overseas mission trips and country music stars began loading up on cruise ships to the islands. I actually won a trip to Cancun over 30 years ago; when my husband kissed the ground at the Dallas airport on the way back I figured the chances of going back were slim. Yet this year, we headed on a family trip to Cancun! (Yes, we got a deal we couldn’t pass up and it was off-season which I highly recommend there.) The grown children agreed to go with us. I began reading up on it, our hotel sounded insanely wonderful with one exception- Black Iguanas made their home on a nearby ancient ruin on the resort…wait a minute! I called the 800 number and said to a very nice lady- ‘Now, Margeurite- it says right here that y’all have some big lizards on that property, is that right?’ She confirmed proudly that they did. ‘Well, now don’t put me on the ground floor because I might die, just die if I even see one!’ She agreed to put us on an upper floor. Preparations commenced in earnest once we got that straightened out.
- Plan an excursion or two. We took a half day trip to the Mayan Ruin, Tulum- pronounced, Ta-loom. We went there, mainly because I couldn’t pronounce the other one which I kept calling ‘It’s a Chicken!’ (Chitchen Itza) To my dismay, in Tulum, Iguanas roam freely, not tiny either- I wanted to squeal- ‘Kill it Bobby Lee, kill it!’ but I restrained myself. My advice would be to remind yourself that the odds of one running up your pants leg are slim to none. Remain calm, be considerate and make a wide berth around them- then keep sayin’ Iquanas are vegetarians! It was beautiful there! Just incredible, truly.
Here you go, find the Iguana!
- Don’t be a nitwit.As tempting as it is to smell exotic- smearing fruit lotions, cocoa butter and coconut oils- make sure to load up with sunscreen and mosquito repellent. If anybody knows about skeeter bites and sunburn, it’s a Southerner, however before we went, I found out you can look at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta darlin’, look for the region where you are travelling and they kindly list- the risks, act accordingly. It is a traveler’s friend. Zika virus is a risk in Cancun, the region of the Mayan ruins and on Isla Mujeres, which was our other excursion. We took a public ferry there, rented golf carts and had a ball riding around the whole island, we even saw one of the most photographed houses in the world- you know the one that is shaped just like a big ol’ conch shell! Y’all Take Care Now– Staying hydrated is a must, however- the warnings were to drink bottled water only and make sure your waiter brings unopened water to the table. And don’t be ordering up just any old tutti fruitti drinks, just be mindful of food sources is all I’m sayin’. We found the food at our resort and highly recommended places were wonderful, but it doesn’t hurt to bring along whatever your doctor or pharmacist recommends for stomach ailments, and while we’re at it- stow your prescription medications, just the amount you need in it’s labelled container in your carryon or tote.
- Take care of the family jewels, bury the silver and hide your assets. Two words- Cubic Zir-Con-ia. Do not wear the Family Jewels while travelling. Losing Momma’s Cocktail ring or, lord forbid- having Great Grandmother Shug’s pearl necklace stolen will break your heart, don’t risk it. Please call your financial institutions, let your credit card company know of your whereabouts- dates of travel, including the airports where you will make connections. Almost every place will accept major credit cards. Do not carry large sums of cash- Southerners instinctively know this, let’s face it, no other region in this country knows better than the South, that local currency can become worthless- they’re still finding stashes of Confederate money that ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on! Sometimes public transportation is the smartest way to get around; they do tend to prefer their own currency, so be gracious about it. Protect your assets, as carefully as the folks at our hotel were fencing in these sea turtle nests!
- Know who your people are. Your travel documents are vital, and while I wish I could have my passport photograph re-touched, do make at least 3 copies- I made one to leave at home, one for my husband to keep and one to keep with my valuables at our hotel. Always make sure someone you trust has a copy of your passport- you never know what could happen to this important document. It just takes a few minutes to find out where the US Consulate is, and keep your passport in a ziplock bag (accidents can and do happen, in fact I keep a stash of baggies for cellphones, cash or other items.) Hey, Juliette Lowe was from Savannah, become a Girl Scout! Be prepared. If you are of a certain age, you may need to buy travel health insurance, Medicare doesn’t cover foreign travel. Buy a short term travel policy! Avoid trashy liquor laden bars and sleazy locales. Your momma should have taught you that! Stay with your group or as someone said- ‘Develop a pack mentality’ and no lollygagging or wandering off by yourself and it is always good to have a designated pack animal to hold the stuff while the rest of the pack is splashing around or being active. And speaking of language and communication- if you aren’t sure what your cellphone plan covers concerning foreign travel, check with your carrier before you leave and find out. Always know who is squiring you around, we consulted with our hotel for our airport transport and they kindly obliged. Knowing who your people are is important and that includes making sure you have the name and address of your hotel with your other paperwork just in case you get lost. Stay at reputable hotels, ask for local maps- they are invaluable. Pointin’ might be rude, but darlin’ in foreign countries, it might be the exception to the rule! Finally, have a great time but-
- Behave yourself. Real Southerners are taught good manners. Remember to speak kindly, allow plenty of time for each part of your trip there and back, treat people with courtesy, be patient with difference in languages and customs. These might be the most important things you take on your trip!
The folks at Westin Lagunamar Resort and Spa in Cancun were wonderful to us; it is a well run place and in a safe convenient location, I’d recommend it to anyone! And I didn’t see one Iguana on the place!Travelling to Cancun during off season was truly a wonderful time to go. Of course there are a multitudes of tips out there, yet I hope Travelin’ Abroad Southern Style helps you have a wonderful summer vacation!
Love y’all, Camellia