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Liberty Bell old symbol of American freedom in Independence Mall building in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Image: f11photo/shutterstock

Pack your bags, Democrats! After a week of watching D-level celebrities, Trump’s family members, and a handful of GOP politicians suffering from Stockholm Syndrome call for your candidate to be summarily imprisoned or worse, it’s time to head to Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton for the presidency. From now until November, it’s your job to make sure she gets elected, or else we may witness the end of America’s “grand experiment” at the hands of a self-absorbed Fanta-faced fascist. No pressure!

No doubt this has kept you awake at night, fending off nightmares of what could happen if you don’t register enough voters, knock on enough doors with glossy fliers, or cajole enough Bernie supporters into submission with hard-hitting Facebook posts and snarky Twitter memes. To help you manage this tremendous stress, I’m pleased to offer travel tips for Philadelphia, my hometown and favorite city in the world.

Tourism

Philadelphia is known as “the Cradle of Liberty” for being the place where so many key events happened in the American Revolution. Head to Old City to check out the major sites. The Constitution Center has an excellent self-guided walking tour. Highlights include:

  • Independence Hall (5th and Chestnut St.), the old Pennsylvania State House, was where political elites (18th century male versions of Hillary) composed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Be sure to get tickets in advance at the Independence Visitor Center early on the day that you intend to visit Independence Hall. It’s a good place to ponder the fate of the equality that Philly’s favorite son Benjamin Franklin (that’s right!) declared “self-evident.”
  • Across the street, you’ll see a giant glass pavilion that houses the Liberty Bell. Thanks to a Christian zealot from Nebraska striking the bell with a hammer in 2001, you’re no longer allowed to touch it, but you can still get a pretty sweet photo and check out the exhibit on historical depictions of the bell. There’s always a long line for the bell, so if you’re feeling lazy, just admire it through the glass.
  • The Betsy Ross House (3rd and Arch St) is the place where the seamstress/revolutionary supposedly constructed our national banner. You’ll want to enjoy this now, before the Stars and Stripes are replaced with a 5,000-thread count pillowcase depicting Trump’s orange visage and his last name in glittery golden letters.
  • Franklin Court (4th and Market St.) is the location of Benjamin Franklin’s old home. The highlight here is looking down into the excavated privy pit. Just think of Ben sitting on the can, wondering what it would be like to see democracy flushed down the toilet when some real estate tycoon took over the executive branch.
  • The Constitution Center (6th and Arch St.) is an entire museum dedicated to the document that Trump will use as a doormat at his fabulous White House/Executive Branch Casino. The exhibit ends with a giant room of statues of the Founding Fathers, all of whom seem remarkably short, but with standard-sized hands.
  • Christ Church (2nd and Market St) was where many of the Founding Fathers gathered to pray. The adjacent burial ground houses the final resting places of several members of the revolutionary generation, including Benjamin Franklin. Visitors toss pennies on his grave for luck, but since Trump’s proposals would likely collapse the economy, you might want to follow Poor Richard’s advice that a penny saved is twopence dear.

Believe it or not, things have happened in Philadelphia since the late 18th century. Here are some other sites you might want to check out:

  • Bernie supporters tell me that Hillary’s fans love war, empire, and conquest, so if you head down to Penn’s Landing, you can check out the Olympia, Admiral George Dewey’s flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay. While you’re there, gaze upon the Columbus Monument, and ask yourself, “How is that still a thing?” Then, take the ferry from the nearby Independence Seaport Museum to Camden, where you can check out the Battleship New Jersey, which saw service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
  • Baseball fans may want to walk across the parking lot from the convention to tour beautiful Citizens Bank Park, home to the Phillies and the #1 mascot in sports, the Phillie Phanatic, at least until Trump’s “deportation force” decides to send him back to the Galapagos for inconsistencies in his immigration paperwork. Sadly, the Fightin’ Phils are out of town during the convention.
  • The University of Pennsylvania, founded by—you guessed it—Benjamin Franklin, is one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the world. It might be cathartic to take a stroll through the campus and ask yourself, “How could such an august institution possibly have granted a degree to a person as myopic, confused, small-minded, and small-handed as Donald J. Trump?” While you’re there, Penn houses the wonderful Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (33rd and South St.), as well as Franklin Field, the oldest college football stadium still in operation and the place where FDR accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 1936.
  • Philadelphia is a great city for art lovers. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses some spectacular exhibits, but it’s most famous for that scene with the fictional boxer who is supposedly from Philadelphia, but talks with a strange New York accent. Movie buffs should feel free to charge up the stairs singing “Gonna Fly Now” like an idiot, but I would skip reenacting his full run, unless you’re in the mood for a light 30-mile jog.
  • The Barnes Museum is home to one of the greatest collections of modern art in the world, with more paintings by Cezanne than the entire city of Paris. If you talk with locals about the controversy surrounding this museum, it will be one of the few times you’ll hear the phrase “the art of the steal” at the convention without it being a snarky reference to Trump’s ghost-authored memoir.
  • Folk art fans shouldn’t miss the Magic Gardens, one of the strangest and most wonderful exhibits in the country, developed over a span of decades by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar.
  • Thanks to the Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia has some spectacular murals that are worth seeking out. They offer excellent walking, train, or trolley tours most days of the week. Some of my favorites include “Common Threads” (Broad and Spring Garden St.), Keith Haring’s “We the Youth” (22nd and Federal St.), “A People’s Progression Toward Equality” (8th and Rainstead St.), the trippy “Garden of Delight” (Locust and Sartain St.), and a depiction of the Roots (Broad and South St.). Unreformed Bernie Bros can visit his mural in the Point Breeze neighborhood (22nd and Catharine St). If Trump is on your mind, check out the mural of Frank Rizzo (9th and Montrose St.), the former police commissioner and mayor whose strongman inclinations might sound familiar this election cycle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the most vandalized mural in the city.
  • If Trump’s language in discussing women and people of color isn’t gross enough for you, check out the Mütter Museum, which houses a collection of bizarre medical oddities sure to make you feel queasy, including a wall of eyeballs, a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland, and pieces of the brain of Charles Guiteau, the man who assassinated President James Garfield.

Food and Drink

Perhaps your route of escape from the persistent night terrors caused by a possible Trump presidency is to turn to the bottom of a bottle or the end of a hoagie. If so, you’re in the right city.

Philadelphia is the best city for sandwiches in the entire country. The holy trinity of Philly sandwiches includes:

  • The Roast Pork Italian, which in my humble opinion is the king of sandwiches. My favorite can be found at DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch St). Get the roast pork with sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, and long hots. Unlike a protest vote for Jill Stein, you won’t regret it.
  • The Italian Hoagie, which Ed Rendell—the former mayor of the city and governor of the state—once declared the “official sandwich of Philadelphia.” Paesano’s (9th and Kimball St in the Italian Market) is a fairly recent addition to the Philly scene, but their sandwiches are amazing. The Daddy Wad is their version of the Italian hoagie, and I swear by it. Their other sandwiches—including the Arista, their version of the roast pork Italian—are great, as well.
  • And, of course, the cheesesteak. I’m going to ruin some minds here, but the cheesesteak is my least favorite of the three major Philly sandwiches. That being said, John’s Roast Pork in South Philadelphia (Snyder and Weccacoe Ave) makes a delicious cheesesteak (and a terrific roast pork sandwich, if you haven’t tried one yet). Get it with sharp provolone and long hots, if you’d like. It’s the kind of place where middle-class foodies mingle with blue-collar guys on their lunch breaks. If you want to get weird, go to McNally’s and try the Schmitter, the most pleasant path in the world to a coronary.
  • Unless it’s the middle of the night and you need something to sop up alcohol, I can’t strongly recommend going to Pat’s or Geno’s (9th St and Passyunk Ave), the competing old school cheesesteak stands that you see after every commercial break whenever Monday Night Football is in town. If you choose to go that route, though, read the instructions carefully so you don’t get booted to the back of the line. I’d pick Pat’s over Geno’s for three reasons: 1) they have a better claim on the “inventor of the cheesesteak” title; 2) they have amusing billboards, and most importantly; 3) Geno’s is involved in a long-term dispute over the deceased owner’s xenophobia, best illustrated by the charming stickers you’ll see in the window where you order. At any rate, at these stands, I prefer “American wit” or “Provolone wit,” but I know that somewhere there’s a drunk jabroni complaining that I didn’t tell the world to get Whiz. Whatever you do, Democrats, don’t pull a Kerry by ordering it with Swiss.

The other staple food item you’re probably looking forward to is a soft pretzel. If you haven’t been to Philly, you may think you’ve had reasonable pretzels in your life, but you’re dead wrong. Our pretzels are in figure-8 shapes, they come in strips, and they don’t taste like they were made out of day-old pancake batter. You’ll see Philly Pretzel Factory stands everywhere in town, and they’re OK, but if you want the real deal, visit Center City Pretzel Co. (8th St and Washington Ave). They’re open from midnight to noon, though after 11 AM you might be out of luck.

If you’re looking for a break from the endless stream of sandwiches and pretzels, here are some additional suggestions:

  • The Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch St) is a great place to grab lunch. In addition to DiNic’s roast pork sandwiches, don’t miss the moose tracks ice cream at Bassetts or the donuts at Beiler’s.
  • Barbuzzo (13th and Sansom St) features Mediterranean small plates, pasta, and pizza. The salted caramel budino is my favorite dessert on the planet. A waiter once told me that he sometimes knocked back two or three per shift, and that didn’t seem unreasonable. The Open House Store across the street is a nice place to shop for souvenirs.
  • The Franklin Fountain (Front St and Market St) is an ice cream parlor staffed by mustachioed hipsters who serve old-timey concoctions like phosphates and egg creams. The sundaes are epic. Hillary supporters should try the Franklin Mint, which is sure to make them realize just how sweet connections to Wall Street can be. Hungry Bernie supporters should try the Mount Vesuvius, because it’s YUGE!
  • Yard’s Brewing Co. (Delaware Ave, near the Spring Garden stop on the El) has a collection of beers bound to please history nerds. Their “Ales of the Revolution” include beers brewed according to recipes found in the papers of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s Tavern Spruce is my favorite, brewed with spruce tips instead of hops, which were prone to shortages in the colonies.
  • Bon Appétit Magazine recently declared Philly’s Pizzeria Beddia (Girard and Shackamaxon St) to be home to the greatest pizza in the country. If you’re too busy fighting Trumpism to wait several hours in line for one of the forty amazing pizzas they make per night, check out the sauce-on-top square at Santucci’s (10th and Christian St), the giant slices at Lorenzo & Sons (3rd and South St), the pizza museum at Pizza Brain (Frankford Ave and Dauphin St), the New York-style Gennaro’s Tomato Pie (11th and Tasker St), or the call ahead old-school tomato pie brilliance of Tacconelli’s (Somerset and Almond St).
  • Hillary is known to enjoy a good beer, so I hope she gets a chance to visit Monk’s Café (16th and Spruce St), one of the essential beer bars in the world. The bar’s specialty is Belgian beer and food, but you’ll find dozens of beers from around the globe on tap, many of which you can’t find elsewhere in the US. Grab a glass of beer from Tired Hands, a brewery from nearby Ardmore that specializes in funky saisons and IPAs.
  • Isgro’s (10th and Christian St) is the place to go for cookies, pastries, cakes, and cannolis. Don’t miss the lemon ricotta cookies. Unlike a Trump presidency, they have the Pope’s seal of approval.
  • Federal Donuts (16th and Sansom St in Center City, with other locations around town) combines two of the greatest things in the world: donuts and fried chicken. This may sound excessive, but this is America. Embrace the excess. If you come for breakfast, resist the glitz of the fancy donuts and get the hot fresh ones instead. If you order chicken, the chili garlic glaze is spicy and pungent, exactly as you’ll want it. Plus, it comes with a honey donut. ‘Mur’ca.
  • Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time on YouTube, mesmerized by clips of Trump repeatedly saying the word “China.” The only cure: noodles at Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House (10th and Race St) or Han Dynasty, a local chain that specializes in Sichuan food. Let the spices burn that authoritarian vulgarian from your mind.
  • Dirty Franks (13th and Pine St) is a strange and wonderful place. It’s a dive bar filled with art that has been around since the 1930s. Its exterior walls are covered with a bizarre mural of famous “Franks,” including Zappa, Sinatra, FDR, Benjamin Franklin, Aretha Franklin, Frankenstein, and a hot dog. I don’t really know how they’d deal with a horde of well-heeled Democratic staffers invading the premises, so maybe you shouldn’t go. Maybe it’s just enough for you to know that a place like this still exists in our country, and it’s part of what makes Philadelphia a great fucking town.

So good luck, Democrats! Take in the history! Eat like John Kasich in the final weeks of his losing campaign! Drink like you’re attending George Washington’s farewell party at the end of the Constitutional Convention! And please don’t screw up this election. We’re all counting on you.

Travel

Australia survival guide: Everything you need to survive a trip down under so you don’t end up 6ft under

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Sydney
Sydney

image: Wikimediacommons

Australia has a reputation for having a lot of dangerous wildlife. And that is probably deserved, seeing as there are over thirty different species of animals there, from jellyfish to venomous snakes, that will straight up murder you if given the chance.

Just ask this guy, who was bitten right on the dick by the deadly redback spider while using the toilet. I mean, that’s something nobody wants to happen, but you know, occasionally you get unlucky like that. So, not really that big of a story. But here’s the thing that really shows how dangerous the country can be.

About a week later, after having anti-venom shot into his member, the man went back to work, decided to use the toilet again, checked to make sure there were no spiders under the seat (as he will likely do for the rest of his life) and got bitten again, right in the same spot.

That’s some next-level hatred from mother nature right there. It’s like the continent has declared a personal blood-feud against the human race for having the gall to settle there.

That being said, Australia is a beautiful country with some incredible things to see and well worth a visit. So, how do you visit the land down under without ending up underground? Well, let’s do a quick rundown of all the animals in Oz that can kill you and how you can survive it. Finally, there’s a danger rating that rates every risk you’ll face based on how likely you are to encounter it, and how likely it is to kill you.

Spiders

 

Redback Spider

Image: Shutterstock.com/Peter Waters

 

Let’s get this one out of the way, since you’re probably most worried about this one after that story. So, here’s the bad news: There are ten species of spiders that are venomous enough to kill you that call Australia home.

But here’s the good news: Only two people have died from spider bites in Australia since 1981. So, the odds of biting the dust because a spider bit you are astronomically higher than dying in say, a car accident. Most spiders don’t deliver a fatal dose of venom when they bite, and anti-venom is available for several of the most dangerous species. Here’s a little scenario to give you an example of when a spider would be dangerous and how you should avoid it.

Scenario:

So you’re visiting Australia and you’re on your typical drunken tear that always accompanies your trips abroad. You stumble around the beach in a drunken stupor, trying to find that girl you were talking to. She said she’d be back in a few minutes, but that was an hour ago. And despite you pitching woo in your exotic accent, she seemed more uncomfortable than intrigued. And her numerous references to her boyfriend and both his desire and ability to kick your ass was a bad sign.

As you wander around making threatening swipes with a beer bottle at frightened beach-goers, you see an old shirt nestled under a bush. You ask yourself, “Who would leave a perfectly good shirt lying out in the open?” You pick it up and push your arms into the tattered sleeves. After a few seconds, you feel a stinging sensation in your upper arm. It gets worse and worse until you rip the shirt off and throw it on the ground.

A small black spider with a distinctive red mark on its back crawls out. “Oh well, nothing a beer won’t fix,” you think. So you drink until you can’t feel the pain anymore and pass out on the beach instead of getting the appropriate medical attention.

Congratulations, you died drunk on a beach, just like you always promised your friends you would.

How to avoid it:

Don’t go around sticking your exposed skin into places that might conceivably hold a spider. If you’re outside and you leave some clothes or shoes sitting around, stomp on them before putting them on and shake them out, this should kill any nesting spiders inside.

Other than that, the odds of getting bitten by a spider are very remote, and the odds of that killing you are even more remote.

If you do get bitten by a spider, try to catch it in something you can secure and take it with you to the hospital. This will let the doctors decide what kind of anti-venom to give you. Most likely, they’ll just give you a tetanus shot and some antibiotics and send you on your way.

Danger rating:

2/10

Snakes

Snake

Image:Shutterstock/Kristian Bell

Like spiders, snakes are a threat that inspires more fear than is fitting given the risk they present.That being said, there are 21 of the 25 deadliest snake species in Australia. That includes one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, the inland taipan, which can deliver enough venom with a single bite to kill 100 people. But, again, deaths from snakebites are very rare, and the inland Taipan has actually never been responsible for a recorded death.

Slightly more dangerous is the eastern brown snake, which, while less venomous, is more likely to strike and far more common near inhabited areas. Luckily, the mortality rate is only 10-20% because they usually don’t inject venom on a first strike. They typically only use a lethal amount of venom when they are antagonized into striking more than once, which would be an epically stupid thing to do.

Let’s see what that would look like, shall we?

Scenario:

You’ve come to Australia on a working holiday visa, seeking to reinvent yourself after a nasty breakup with your girlfriend. You managed to get a job on a local farm, only to find that the other ranch hands tease you mercilessly about your penchant to stop working every few hours to write in your personal journal with your pink gel pen in loopy handwriting, your “i’s” invariably dotted with hearts.

The other men banish you to clearing brush by yourself since your frequent crying jags have started to really bum them out. Burning with embarrassment and love-sickness, you begin clearing a heavy pile of sticks. As you pull up a large log, you see a brown snake coiled into a threatening “s” shape. Deciding that catching this snake would really show the other guys how tough you are, you reach out to grab it by the neck. It strikes you instantly with its fangs.

Angry and hurt, but still desperate to redeem yourself, you reach out again. It strikes you two more times and slithers off. You stumble back towards the ranch before collapsing on the ground, losing control of your bowels in the process.

Your ex chooses not to attend the funeral.

How to avoid it:

Most snakes are more likely to flee than to strike you, so if you do see one, just back away slowly. And if you are bitten by a snake, place a compress on the wound. Keep it clean and dry and don’t try to suck out the poison or cut into the wound. Both of those things are myths and will do more harm than good. Once the venom is in your blood you can’t really get it out. Don’t try to catch the snake, since you are unlikely to be able to do so without getting bitten again.

Do try to remember what the snake looked like since this might help doctors choose what anti-venom to give you. Be careful when exploring near wooded areas where snakes like to hide and wear high-ankled boots.

The best way to avoid snake bites is to avoid snakes. But the odds of being bitten are generally pretty low.

Danger rating:

3/10

Crocodiles

Crocodile

Image: Shutterstock.com/ underworld

Australia’s coasts and saltwater estuaries are often home to crocodiles, which can be deadly if you end up in the water with them. A saltwater crocodile can grow up to 28 feet and can easily kill you with its death roll, which is when it grabs your limbs in its jaws and spins in the water, tearing off your limbs or drowning you.

In fact, just last year a woman was killed by a crocodile while swimming at night in a remote national forest.

That being said, the odds of running into one are slim if you’re careful about where you swim. Don’t just jump into any body of water that looks appealing, like this guy is about to do in our scenario.

Scenario:

Worried that your poor grades and lack of intellectual aptitude are dooming the possibility of you ever learning a skilled trade, your parents have sent you to Australia to visit your uncle, who is a chicken farmer on the edge of the Outback. It is their hope that you can eek out a meager living while they cut their losses on you and blow through your inheritance with a series of exotic vacations.

Your uncle, frustrated by your inability to even feed the chickens correctly, has nearly given up hope when he discovers your skill with an ax after walking in on you working out your frustrations on a tree you are pretending is your emotionally distant father.

He assigns you to slaughter the chickens, which you begin to excel at, as you resent them for the smug superiority you see in their beady little eyes.

One evening, just after you the day’s slaughtering, you decide to jump into a local estuary to wash off the copious chicken blood and feathers. In the twilight, you see the reflective glare of reptilian eyes as the crocodiles converge on you in the water.

The next day, your uncle begins to pen a letter advising your parents on what happened to you but decides not to bother since postage to Greece is so expensive.

How to avoid it:

Again, the most important thing when it comes to avoiding crocodiles is to stay out of the places they live. Limit your swimming to well-populated beaches. If you do find yourself in the water with a crocodile, try as hard as you can to get onto land. Crocodiles are slower on dry land than in the water. And outrunning the animal is really your only option.

Crocodiles usually kill their victims by drowning them. If the crocodile bites you and starts trying to drag you underwater, your best bet is to start striking it in the eyes and on the nose. These are the most sensitive parts on the crocodile and your best chance of making it let go.

But again, as long as you avoid swimming in remote estuaries, the odds of running into a crocodile are extremely remote.

Danger rating:

2/10

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Image:Shutterstock.com/Chris Troch

Surprisingly, the jellyfish is probably the most dangerous animal on this whole list. Not only is it the animal you are most likely to encounter, with huge blooms of dangerous jellyfish washing up near the shores of Australia’s tourist beaches every year, but it is also among the most venomous.

The box jellyfish is the most dangerous species, and its venom can kill an adult man in minutes. And it’s estimated that twenty to forty people a year die from box jellyfish stings. It’s also not an easy animal to avoid given that they spawn in large numbers every summer and tend to end up in places where people swim. Add to that the fact that jellyfish are inherently hard to see in the water and it’s easy to imagine how someone could get stung by a box jellyfish. Like so:

Scenario:

It was always your husband, Gary’s, dream to go to Australia. And over 30 years of work as an electrician, he’s finally ready to retire. His eyes aren’t as good anymore, and his back hurts, but the money is saved up, and the tickets booked. The two of you are finally going to visit the land down under.

But three weeks before you’re due to leave, he has a massive heart attack while shoveling snow. He never wakes up. Wracked with grief, you hold the funeral. “Mom,” your adult children say, ” you should take that trip. It’s what he would have wanted.”

You decide to honor your late husband’s memory by traveling to the place he always dreamed of and scattering his ashes into the pacific. Once you get there, you wade out into the water with a small tin filled with Gary’s remains. As you pop the top off and dump the contents into the waves, you feel a deep feeling of peace settling over you.

You weren’t sure that there would be life after Gary, but now you think about how strong you are, and how you’re going to get through this. You turn back towards the beach to begin your new independent life.

Just then, you feel an intense stinging sensation in your leg, as though someone had jabbed a white hot knife into the muscle. You stumble back through the waves onto the beach. Within minutes, cardiac arrest sets in as the fatal dose of box jellyfish poison courses through your veins. You die (in a moment of cosmic irony) clutching your chest.

How to avoid it:

Box jellyfish tend to spawn near beaches, and many beaches have signs that warn of the threat of jellyfish. Make sure to pay attention to these signs, and don’t go into the water if there are jellyfish.

If you do get stung by a jellyfish, vinegar can help deactivate the stingers that might remain. Wipe away any tentacles left on your body with a towel, not with your skin. Tentacles can still sting when unattached to the jellyfish. Pay attention to signs like swelling or nausea as these are symptoms of poisoning and if you do contract those symptoms, seek help immediately.

Finally, you can avoid many stings by swimming in a wetsuit or even pantyhose, since the stingers in the jellyfish’s tentacles are activated by the chemicals on the skin.

Danger rating:

6/10

So, as you can see, there is a lot of stuff in Australia that has the potential to kill you. But the reality is that for most people it’s not really all that dangerous to visit. After all, people have been living and co-existing with these creatures for thousands of years.

You’re far more likely to die in a car accident at home than you are to be killed by a poisonous spider or crocodile. So just keep your wits about you and be careful about obeying all posted signs and warnings and you’ll be fine.

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Travel

How to (safely) have a romance abroad

Traveling abroad is a romantic undertaking. In every sense of the word.

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Straight couple embracing on beach

Traveling abroad is a romantic undertaking. In every sense of the word. Why would people do it if not to see if the place they dreamed about can live up to all their romantic fantasies and there are certain places that lend themselves to the inter-personal kind of romance as well.

And as great as traveling alone is, the warm, streetlight-illuminated nights on the Pont Neuf and strolls through the crowded markets of Bangkok are always better with someone there that you care about.

Not only that but all those new friends you make as you travel are bound to result in the occasional romantic attraction. So, let’s say you get lucky and meet the person of your dreams there under the towering spires of Barcelona Cathedral, or along the winding, busy roads of Tokyo, or indeed, even the gross unisex bathroom of a hostel—you fumbling with the lock on your travel bag that your mom insisted you use, and they wrapped up and shivering in an old towel.

Ahhh, that’s real love for you. Vulnerable and soaking wet.

But what now? How do you proceed?

Well, your old friend Men’s Trait, as a renowned expert on awkward international woo-pitching, is here to give you some practical tips that will have you holding hands with your new summer fling as you walk along the Champs Elysee, instead of sullenly sitting on a bench and cursing the other happy couples as they walk by.

For your reading convenience, we have broken this up by gender. Feel free to read both sections, as the insight into the other gender’s situation will give you a valuable tactical advantage in the war of love.

How to Have A Safe Romance Abroad (for Girls)

That’s really the name of the game here. Safety. It will permeate every interaction you have with a stranger in another country, or it should.

As a woman, there will be specific safety concerns that should be obvious. And having grown up as a woman in a world where sadly, you likely had to learn about these safety concerns, even in your own country, there is little reason to get into them specifically, other than to say that extra care should be exercised abroad. While, depending on where you are, the average man is no more likely to victimize you than in America, the fact that you are a foreigner will make you an easier target. People looking to take advantage of you will be aware that as someone who does not speak the language or know the area, you are less likely to go to the police, and that if you did, little would likely be done about it.

Thus, the burden of safety will rest more heavily on you than otherwise. That doesn’t mean the idea of romance is off the table, though. It just means some extra precautions are needed.

So let’s say you run into a guy on the street. He’s charming, tall, cultured. He asks you to let him show you around the city. Obviously, you should take the basic precautions you would at home. Don’t go anywhere where no one can see you. Don’t go out at night. Don’t get into a car. All the basic stuff you no doubt already know about. Now add to that concerns that are specific to this situation. Be concerned if he frequently meets up with other men in your presence and seems to be talking about you in another language. Be concerned if he hangs out with less than reputable looking people.

Ask to see his Facebook page, or search the internet to see if he has an online presence. Give it a few weeks before you agree to go anywhere alone at night with him.

Above all, just don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Trust your gut and know how to say no. If he is the kind of guy worth getting to know, he will respect it.

How to have a safe romance abroad (for guys)

If you’re a gentleman, you might be thinking to yourself that you don’t really have to worry that much about safety. I mean, it’s unlikely that the nice girl from Ohio you met on the street in Rome will drug and rob you.

But that doesn’t mean that safety is something you should discount entirely if you are a man. It means your safety will still be important, both for your sake, because that nice girl from Cinncinatti might still be after your kidney, you never know, and because now her sense of safety needs to be important to you.

That’s not just because you should be the kind of guy who wants the person you’re with to feel safe, though you should, but because if you want her to keep seeing you, you need to make sure she feels like she can trust you. Otherwise, she won’t go out with you. You can refer to the previous section for the reasons why.

That means that empathizing with the object of your incipient affection’s sense of security is both an issue of romantic decency and mundane pragmatism.

When you first meet someone, particularly if you’re into girls, their guard will be up higher than it would normally be than at home and it will likely stay that way for some time. You need to learn to be both ok with this and aware of it.

Don’t extend invitations that could make her feel uncomfortable. Don’t ask her to go somewhere alone with you. Be okay with her inviting friends along. Give her the kind of support she needs to feel safe and accept that it might be awhile before she is comfortable trusting you. Don’t invite her to go out at night or to somewhere she is unfamiliar with. Take it slow, essentially. Consider how you would feel in her situation and how she would want you to proceed.

And we’re back together now for the finish

Otherwise, everyone should act how you normally would. As a regular Men’s Trait reader, we can assume that you are intelligent, charming, and likely an above average lover. Just follow your instincts, don’t be afraid to open up, and take the necessary precautions, and your next trip might include a romantic experience you remember long after your memories of the surroundings fades.

And if you enjoyed that, tune in next week for the follow-up piece: “So the wonderful person I met abroad is now unemployed and living on my couch.”

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Travel

Why millennials don’t road trip (and why we should)

Perhaps a road trip is the best way to travel and this recent generation have just forgotten how wonderful going on a road trip can be. The question then becomes, why have millennials forgotten about road trips?

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Image: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

It’s 9pm on a Sunday night. You’ve barely moved for hours and you see the glowing neon sign flashing open in the 7/11 window. You get out of your car with stiff legs and Cheetos crumbs stuck to your jeans. You and your friends stretch your legs, buy a bottle of water and pile back into the car.

Everyone knows road trips can be long and grueling. You eat too much junk food, fight about what is the fastest route to take, and face a constant battle with boredom. Yet time and time again, long distance travel by car is portrayed in history – and Hollywood films – as one of the most iconic forms of travel. One could even argue that road trips are a defining aspect of American life. The question is, then: is the road trip a dying icon, or does it just need a rebirth of some kind?

As far as the “millennial generation” is concerned, the road trip appears to be dying. Although millennials are seen as a generation who love to travel, we are mostly traveling outside the United States. According to Boston Consulting Group, millennials are 23% more interested in traveling abroad than other generations. So perhaps we’ve forgotten just how enlightening and satisfying it can be to visit places close to home. One doesn’t have to spend $1200 on plane ticket to Europe in order to get adventure, see beautiful places and form connections with new and interesting people.

Let’s assume that American pop culture history got it right. Perhaps a road trip is the best way to travel and this recent generation have just forgotten how wonderful going on a road trip can be. The question then becomes, why have millennials forgotten about road trips?

First off, millennials aren’t buying cars. While most can remember counting the months until getting their first driver’s license, the fact is that people old enough to drive just aren’t getting their licenses. A Washington Post article, “The many reasons why millennials are shunning cars,” gives three reason why millennials are driving less. Essentially, one is that gas is too expensive (although it is down significantly since the article was published), two is that technology has made it possible to get a ride without owning a car (Uber, Rideshare, etc), and third is that millennials are choosing to live in more “walkable” places. The way millennials think about cars have changed which this means less interest in road trips.

Perhaps another reason why millennials aren’t taking road trips like older generations is because technology has changed our concept of patience. Because millennials grew up in the age of the internet, we have trained ourselves to easily jump from Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat in a matter of seconds. A conflict thus arises, as anyone who has gone on a road trip before knows that it requires some level of patience. We require finding ways to entertain ourselves – there’s no free wifi in the middle of Route 66 – and trying out new ways of interacting with others in a small space. Technology has let millennials avoid both being patient and interacting with others in everyday life. Look around any public space – the bus or shopping malls – do you see anyone interacting with one another without their phones in their hands? Road trips don’t mean that you have to leave your phone behind, however after 9 hours in the car and there is nothing left to scroll on Facebook, playing the license plate game in the backseat might seem a little more inviting.

Technology has also made millennials addicted to instant gratification. We can get food delivered to our door or picked up by Uber in a matter of moments. This becomes a problem because there is nothing instant about a road trip. A road trip takes persistence, patience and the willingness to be flexible in the face of new obstacles. Maybe you run out of gas in the middle of Big Sur or maybe you hit rush hour going through Las Vegas, just as your air conditioning goes out in 105 degree weather. All you can do is relax, enjoy the journey and the people you’re with–something millennials seemingly don’t have a lot of practice with.

Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, The Lost Coast, Route 66. Millennials are forgetting about these places when we are addicted to our technology, flying to Europe and not buying cars. We are forgetting the reality that there are unique and beautiful places only hours away from them. The mindset of focusing on places abroad rather than at home can also be detrimental to the support America needs from its young people. More than ever, America is in need of passionate, educated people, and if millennials aren’t interested in the people and places around them, America will lose the full support and energy of a group of important individuals. Gaining interest and appreciation for one’s own country is one of the many benefits of road trips and why road trips should see a rebirth among the millennial generation.

The most confusing thing is that, when looking at the millennial generation, we seem like a generation that could potentially love road trips. Yes, we are reliant on technology, but what better way to find the best place to eat on your way to Yosemite then using your phone to scan Yelp? Millennials are a generation of creative, driven and enthusiastic individuals. We just need to be reminded of “older” forms of travel and just how rewarding they can be. Reminding millennials of how unique road trips can be has the potential to provoke more interest in the issues and beauty close to home. This could bring people together and challenge them to interact on a more personal level, be creative and problem solve together. Road trips should not be lost forever, they just need to be reborn. Perhaps millennials need to be reminded of the child who stuck their head out the car window fascinated with the rocky desert or bright blue ocean flying by.

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