Thanks to Doug Mullett, a member of the Travel at 60 Travel Lovers group, for these great tips:
1. “When you visit a place, especially if you have a personal and particular reason for doing so, tell the guide/host. I visited the chapel at the USAF Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado. I wanted to because I had a long association with the RAAF Chapels at RAAF Williams. I explained this to the lady at the welcome desk and got a personal tour through the whole chapel, spoke with a chaplain who had sold electronic organs to service chapels in Australia in his youth and chatted with cadets making a display.”
2. “Respond to a warm welcome from the locals. In the photo below, the girl in the red jacket said, "Hello" to me in English on the TransSiberian Railway. I responded and gave her a kangaroo opal stick pin. She dragged me to her parents and spoke to them. A friend asked if I had given her the pin, then he gave me a bottle of beer. I gave a koala pin to his son. The fathers ended up in our compartment, we all enjoyed vodka together and swapped photos.”
3. "Look around to see things that are interesting, rather than just following a guide book."
4. "Plan carefully, but be prepared to change at a moment's notice!"
5. "Rather than just staying in a "room," stay somewhere where you can interact – like B&Bs or hostels."
6. "Perhaps the best that I've learned from travel is to interact with the locals by smiling and communicating."
Doug is a retired teacher (maths/science) who also taught geography. He travels regularly to Perth from Melbourne to visit family, and in 2008 – the year after he retired – did two big trips:
One took him to the USA, Canada, England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Belgium (with all cars and accommodation arranged on an ad-hoc basis), and an organised tour in Japan.
On his second big trip Doug toured Finland, Norway and Sweden, Russia, China, then took the TransMongolian through Ulaanbaatar to Moscow before flying to Istanbul and touring Turkey, and finally flying to Cairo to do a bus tour/cruise to Alexandria and Marsa Muthra, Aswan and Luxor. Phew!
He also cruised around Australia in 2011; has taken many road trips (by car) within Australia, staying with friends; plus a number of motorcycle trips (Townsville, Tasmania, Perth, Alice Springs) – two of which ended up with flights with the RFDS.
On 4WD trips Doug has travelled across the Savannah Way in Tropical North Queensland (camping with a friend); driven from Cairns to Perth via Australia's longest short cut; and taken loads of trips to the outback, including Kalgoorlie, Mt August, Karijini, the Bungle Bungles, Wolf Creek, Chambers Pillar and the Flinders Ranges. Right now, he's in Cape York.
"Oh, and I've been to Pioneer Lodge at Yulara in the Northern Territory so often that some staff recognise me!"