Street Smarts

This year's popular posts

I'm very happy to report Nomadderwhere has come a long way since this time last year, when I moved from a simple blogspot to a bonafide domain of my own. Since that time I've changed my writing style and topics, grown a readership of surprisingly many (thanks to you), won the most amazing internship known to man, and turned this online outlet for my travel thoughts and work into something that may one day sustain me. For those of you just stopping by for the first time, this is probably the best post at which to start. According to my stats and Google analytics, these are the top posts for Nomadderwhere.

The Makings of a Travel Video

The Makings of a Travel Video

...I didn’t study telecommunications or video art in college, nor did I have a good operating system while making my application video last year. If you’re new at this, like I was, don’t worry because if you have a computer, some travel footage and a passion to produce, you can make some mean videos...Bottom line is to be aware of the story you are crafting and make sure it gives people a reason to watch beyond 10 seconds and a reason to stick around until the end. The music helps me monumentally with this step of the process.

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

Ten Great Ideas for Chicago

...I received word from two different people that Cafe Ba-Ba-Reebas! in Lincoln Park had the greatest and most authentic tapas in the city. Since my cousin is a budding foodie and my other friend lived in Spain and learned to cook there, I took their advice as fast as I took down my sangria. Rioja short ribs with manchego mashed potatoes, house meat plate with serrano, salchichon, chorizo, chicken & artichoke paella, crispy spicy potatoes with sun-dried tomato alioli, and warm potato & onion omelette - everything tasted so flavorful, even my friends who had been here before were amazed and raving. The thrill of good food doesn’t get old...

My Friend, Evan Witty

My Friend, Evan Witty

...But he found more appeal in living with 100+ kids in a country he had no ties to. He wanted to move people and make physical and emotional necessities available to anyone. With that desire and an experience such as the one he had at Palm Tree, his life work was destined to be hugely impacting and awe-inspiring, and I'm so sorry we don't get to witness his next steps.But he passed with people who loved him and he loved in return, in his sleep on the beach in Cambodia...

Things I Didn't Know Before Coming to Greece

Things I Didn't Know Before Coming to Greece

...The Greek and Italian languages are nothing alike There’s no avoiding cigarette smoke in Greece…It’s everywhere In Greece, the party starts well after midnight and can continue into brunch time The water really is that blue...

Sometimes On the Road...You Miss Out

Sometimes On the Road...You Miss Out

...For some reason unknown to me and my surrounding web, I've decided it's okay to miss the things that matter most in order to blaze literal and personal trails towards anything from failure to success. This travel path can sound illogical and like a waste, but when I realize the passions I've acquired and the maturity I've obtained, I fear where I would be without all those 50+ flights to global destinations and potential moments of learning...

What is Nomadderwhere?

What is Nomadderwhere?

...Nomadderwhere is a philosophy: it doesn't matter where you are, it matters that you're always learning and flexing with your surroundings, whether you're traveling or stationary. To capture this idea is to capture the art of travel, to know the importance of movement and to become self-aware...because you are the only constant in your world...

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

...“So I know we agreed on 40 rupees to the Siliguri bus station, but I know you’re going to forget this deal, even though I wrote the fare down on my hand. I’m really hoping you’re an honest and swell guy who claims he has change when he really does.” With this sort of dialogue, it’s all about tone and appearance. Speak kindly and smile the entire time. It doesn’t work any other way. And a word from experience: the more you make them laugh, the better the fare becomes...

The Irony of my Lifestyle

The Irony of my Lifestyle

...Since I returned from a round-the-world trip on August 17th, I’ve done very little besides sit in front of screens – computer, TV, what-have-you. I seldom leave home or drive my car unless it’s purely necessary. Rarely do I step outside if not to summon my cat in at twilight, and the most exercise I get comes from group fitness classes at the gym down the street. I spent one weekend in northern Indiana with my best friends eating guacamole and floating on one long raft around Lake Tippicanoe, but that certainly can’t be all the excitement I can handle over a two month period. Why do I not carpe the diem when I’m not traveling?...

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

Reviewing Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild

...What was certainly magnified by Krakauer's text was the reality that we humans harbor primordial desires, and it's on a sliding scale how much we allow these feelings to be heard and acted upon. It is my belief that travelers, adventurers, nomads and those hopeful to detach from the man-made structure of modern civilization are more responsive to those "calls of the wild." Unconventional living forces a constant reevaluation of one's life [and one's mortality], and when we are closer in mindset to our own expiration, it seems we connect closer to the motivations of our primitive ancestors...

Cruises, Destination, and the Authentic

Cruises, Destination, and the Authentic

...Within the open ocean is a sea of 60-40 couples, incredibly perky cougars on the prowl, families with seven year-old twins and recent divorcees taking back their lives, not to mention a slew of Rascals scooting about. Of course, every cruise liner caters to a different demographic, which accounts for the vast differences among the commercial cruising fleets, but what they all share is the sense of ease that, in the mind of a “bare-bones” traveler, strips the so-called adventure down to physical displacement and cognitive retirement, which is in many cases the whole point...

Interview a Traveler: The Ski-Crazy Humanitarian

Interview a Traveler: The Ski-Crazy Humanitarian

...I work in an environment where people are stuck in one mindset. The monotony of everyday life can suck you in and but also give you the comfort of stability. I want to stimulate my mind and mix things up. My entire senior year of college I saved for my trip to Europe, and everyday I think back to the crazy things I did and the knowledge that I gathered and feel proud. Being young and having a flexible (and seasonal) job is a plus. So spending my money on travel is why it’s there...

The Birth of The Nakavika Project, Part 1

The Birth of The Nakavika Project, Part 1

...L: “I found an amazing flight deal I want to look further into. If the price is right, would you consider dropping the road trip idea and heading to Fiji to live in a village? We could do our own thing there, use our skills to start some effort from scratch, and I know we’re already invited and welcome to be there. I talked to them a week ago.” G: “Wow, Linz, you’re turnin’ the tables on me! This could be such a huge opportunity. Let me think it over…(30 minutes later)...I am completely, 100% behind this idea...

Plummeting Towards Earth

Plummeting Towards Earth

...We landed perfectly, a few steps to a complete standing stop, and I yelled my amazement to all the men at the bottom who hear these exclamations every day. And that was it. I jumped out of a plane. Nuts. Simply nuts...

Street Smarts: Transport Scams

Rickshaws in India

Rickshaws in India

Walking around India with glowing blonde hair, parachute pants, and the backpack/daypack humpback/pregnant belly combo is a sure-fire way to indicate, “I’m not from around here.” What does this mean to the rickshaws slowly following your swagger or the cyclists hoping you’ll turn around and want their transport services? Some might see an honest service opportunity while others will only see dollar signs. Unfortunately, many cabbies, rickshaw drivers, and transporters have found ways of making ends meet through games of haggling, deception, and tugging at the heartstrings of traveling passers-by. Even catching a taxi on the streets near your hometown watering hole can prove difficult. All it takes is practice and charm to avoid a driver getting the best of you.

Striking the Deal

Each city, or country, has its own transport scam trends. The best way to identify them is to find someone you can trust – one who does not have an affiliation with transportation. Hotels, clubs, fancy restaurants and many like-establishments have an allegiance to drivers who charge more than the Average Joe Cabbie in order to supply the referrer a commission.

With six hours to spend in Bangkok before flying home, I wanted to shop, eat, and get to the airport by 4:00am in the most economical fashion. I utilized the rapport I created with a patch vendor on Khao San Road to find out what I should be paying for everything from taxis to Thai massages. In the midst of the haggle, I had his full attention as a customer with needs. He had no affiliation with the resident cabbies and nothing to gain from leading me into a scam. He just wanted to make the sale and move his merchandise away from my toxic, penny-pinching ways.

Anticipate the Game

Even if you do discover the correct price for a ride from A to B with a willing driver, with un-metered taxis you’ve only just begun dealing with the mind games of transportation. Some drivers sense your discomfort and attempt to exploit it for the reaction: “I’ll pay anything; just get me outta this cab.” Others may tap into your compassionate side and share their lives, accentuating the struggles, to bump another dollar on the fare. And then, there’s the classic lost-in-translation method that makes a cabbie agreeable and understanding when a price is set and miraculously lose his memory, or language skills, upon reaching the destination.

When it comes to drivers anywhere, I’ve found two things pay off: being amicable and ever-so chatty.

Hot Buses in Brazil

Hot Buses in Brazil

Travelers who make small talk tend to be more comfortable with the situations they’re in, and when we appear comfortable, we seem savvy and less vulnerable to instant inflation. If I strike a connection with my cabbie, the likelihood of getting swindled lessens a considerable degree. Some respond to conversation very well, as to a breath of fresh air amidst a stuffy list of customers. Though you’ll find some that couldn’t be bothered to mumble, not everyone gives the driver the opportunity to share how he’s doing.

This, however, is his perfect chance to recommend places in town that commission him for your visits. Drivers can make the local bargain market seem like a myth.

It helps to anticipate what they may try and call them out beforehand; displaying your awareness of the games they play.

“So I know we agreed on 40 rupees to the Siliguri bus station, but I know you’re going to forget this deal, even though I wrote the fare down on my hand. I’m really hoping you’re an honest and swell guy who claims he has change when he really does.” With this sort of dialogue, it’s all about tone and appearance. Speak kindly and smile the entire time. It doesn’t work any other way. And a word from experience: the more you make them laugh, the better the fare becomes.

Cyclists in Delhi

Cyclists in Delhi

And when you’re back on North American soil, be sure to watch the meter for extraneous button-pushing for luggage or extra people. Chances are, if you’re taking a cab at home, you know the best routes to take; so you’re likely to notice if your driver is taking you for a costly ride. Again, be a charmer and call him out with a wink and a smile.

When a driver begins telling you things that don’t make sense, making side comments on changes in the route, note the impending inflation tactics. “There’s lots of traffic this way” - “I’ve got twenty-two kids” - “I must go all the way around to the other side” - This is when you assure him how pleased you are that he’s a swell guy who is surely taking the best route and charging the fair amount upon which you both agreed.

The Transaction

When abroad, it’s important to make the final transaction with five simple steps:

1. Thank the driver kindly; 2. Ask any questions you may have about where to go next while you still have his money and, therefore, his attention; 3. Ask for the change beforehand, or as you hand the cash, making sure he knows you’ll wait for it; 4. Thank him again and compliment his integrity while shaking his hand; 5. And, if he gives you problems with the change, don’t let go of his hand and keep smiling (since so many drivers are softies for a smile).

I now look forward to the little battles because it’s not just my mission to pay the right price but to befriend and amuse the driver for the short time that our paths converge. Looking at these moments in your trip with dread will take away from your opportunities to make great exchanges several times a day. It’s unfortunate we’ve come to expect dishonesty from those on which we must rely abroad. Reward the drivers who exhibit their integrity, and hopefully this act will ripple to benefit future travelers looking for a ride.