If you want to travel, you must wear many different “hats.” Good research is required regardless of where you travel if you hope to have the best time and stay out of trouble. We all know many people who failed to properly research a trip that ended up with less than an optimal experience. It is my goal in writing this article, to give people some insight on how to properly investigate your travel plans.I am an investigator by nature and I accumulated a lot of experience as a Sheriff’s Detective and private investigator for twenty years. I think we all have a tendency to view life through our own lens and I look at travel through the lens of an investigator. Travel is a big investment and it is wise to guide yourself to the best possible experience through a complete investigation of your destination. I decided to walk my readers through part of my own process, because I feel that I have been very successful in my travels. I’ve listed a couple of my tips below.
Travel is often dictated by a person’s desire to visit a particular location. Sometimes people have business that takes them to a destination and they hope to make the best out of the trip by seeing the sights. I think that it is natural to want to get the most out of time spent in a place by seeing all that it has to offer. People are often motivated by visiting landmarks or historical sites, while others are driven by their hobbies even before they leave. I always wanted to take great photography as I spent time in a foreign land. Social media has driven a new kind of sharing when it comes to documenting your travels.
I spent about a month visiting Israel in 2010 and I think I got the most out of my visit. I was staying in Netanya, Israel and studying with the Grand Master of Krav Maga, which is a big passion of mine. I knew that my course time would be about two weeks but I figured that I should see as much of this beautiful nation as I could before going home. I booked the airfare and arrived in Tel Aviv with my bags. After clearing customs, I rented my own car. I always rent a car when I plan to be in a foreign place for any amount of time because it give me the flexibility to do what I want and not wait for a tour or another person to get up and go. I also have a strange habit of not using a map for no good reason other than the fact that I am a guy. Netanya was about an hour’s drive from the airport and I love the roads in Israel. They are better than most American cities and the signs are printed in English, Hebrew and Arabic. It makes getting around the country very easy.
I checked in to my hotel that I found in advance and through investigation. I received a good discount (negotiated in advance) because I came at off-peak times and because I stayed for so long. I made sure that the hotel had everything I wanted, which included an open balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I explored the area with a few friends once I got settled in. I have a habit of arriving a few days before I have any time commitments so that I can acclimate. I had fun walking around and getting rid of my jet lag. The food in Israel is amazing if you eat at the right restaurants. There is amazing street food and it is inexpensive.
I trained from 8A-4P each day and sometimes at night, which left little time to travel during the week. Many countries that I have visited have different customs and I was pleased to find that Shabbat existed in Israel. Foreigners think of it as a “holiday” and it provides for rest from Friday at around noon until Saturday until the sun goes down. It is intended for family time and most stores and businesses are closed. Places that actor to tourists are widely open but this time created a break from my training schedule.
I have friends in Israel and I always like to grab a local to act as a tour guide if at all possible. I like to say that I try to avoid Americans as much as possible when I leave the USA because I want to be as close to a local as possible. I toured many hundreds of miles as a local with my friends. I usually have no trouble finding a local to show me around regardless if I know anyone in the new land. Aside from side-stepping high density tourist spots, getting a guide will allow you to find places that are off the beaten path. I feel better knowing that I can experience a country through the eyes of a person who has lived there as opposed to being at the back of a line of a bus charter.
I am a big history lover and I was able to list many of the types of things I wanted to experience beforehand, which was helpful. Guides will often tell you the places you don’t want to overlook or the places that are best seen at certain times. Guides will also help you avoid troubled spots, if for no other reason than they will risk their safety by shooing you unsafe areas. Safety is a huge concern while traveling and some people have additional risks while traveling alone or with children.
My wife has this quote about safety and traveling with kids: “traveling with kids safely is like having your pants down in a fight.”
I chuckled the first few times she made this statement but I have come to believe its truth. It is hard to watch out for young ones in an unfamiliar place when they are looking for the Easter Bunny and asking strangers for candy. On this particular trip, I didn’t have this concern because I was alone. I felt pretty solid in Israel traveling with a group of Krav Maga instructors and Israeli Army officers.