I would also consider myself a "good" traveler. Even with no signs or guidance, I can pretty much figure out what is going on and where I need to go. Now please don't get the wrong idea, its not so much a gift as it is an education. The key is to keep your eyes open, keep your mind clear, and expect the unexpected. Its being open to "learn" at every step in the process.
A key component in the travelers education is a review, or debrief process. Looking back on the trip with great analytical detail will really help you in the future. Also, sharing of information and experience is vital. So I would like to share some things I gleaned from my latest journey home.
Hope it helps.
If you are going to do a missions trip to the third world predicting the end of the world in 2011 and your entire team is going to sport matching shirts proclaiming the same, try not to wear the latest shoes in the Air Jordan series. While you may believe there are only a few more months on earth until Judgement Day and what better way to invest in the kingdom than a pair of comfortable basketball shoes that will NEVER see the hardwood, those "natives" looking at your $180 kicks may just see a couple months food for their family.
Likewise, after boarding the plane, in the same end-o'-the-world shirt, you may want to cover it up, or take it off if you are sitting in first class. Nothing like showing the world how us missionaries like to live large on Jesus' dime. I must say, that really attacks the idea that we must suffer for Jesus.
I know that we all have our own quirks, but when you are using the urinal in the public airport bathroom try and NOT brush your teeth. I know connection times may be short and dental hygiene is of the utmost importance, but ew! Nobody wants to see that.
When you are flying in to pick up your kids for your visitation, and your ex-wife or baby's momma is trying to console the children before you head off to show how much you love the kids by buying them whatever they want, don't fire off smart ass little comments that are going to make her cry. It was hard enough for the kids living in the middle you two before the split, but they really don't need to see it continue. For goodness sake, you don't even have to live with her anymore. Let it go!!
If you are waiting for your flight in the part of the terminal surrounded by folks heading off to Nicaragua, Los Angeles, and Mexico, and you want to talk shit about someones beard or their earrings, don't do it in Spanish. You need to at least think that even though the gentleman may appear a stupid gringo, the very place he is sitting is a clue that just possibly he speaks your language and understands every word you are saying. It is also possible that he doesn't say anything because a small tear is welling up in the corner of his eye.
Finally, if you are crossing the border into a third world country at midnight, regardless of how hungry you may be, DON'T EAT ANYTHING!! I don't care how good it looks, just walk away. It may not affect you right away, but it will, and it won't be pleasant. It may give you horrific diarrhea, excruciating gas, and an overall uncomfortable start to your holiday visit home. (more to come on medical care during your travels, or how a fixed my tummy in a future post)