If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading travel blogs, it’s that travel blogs love to make lists. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m new here. I could tell you that I’ve been to five continents and to every time zone, but I just don’t feel like I have the authority just yet to tell you which are the 5 ugliest states or what the 7 top reasons to go around the world are. I really want to bring some of my travel expertise to the table though, so here goes. Here are five invaluable travel lessons you can take from the 1993 Steven Spielberg action-adventure masterpiece Jurassic Park.*
1. Look with your eyes, not with your camera.
One of the most remarkable things about Jurassic Park is that after two hours of being terrorized by dinosaurs, no one has taken a picture to prove it. Granted, I guess, this was before Instagram, but in this world, they’ve engineered DINOSAURS! You’d think someone would have a camera, snapping away! (“Hey there John Hammond, take a picture of me in front of this Brontosaurus – careful not to cut its head out of the frame!”) But, look at the wonder (disbelief?) on Grant and Sattler’s faces – these people are actually absorbing what they are seeing in front of them. Sometimes, while traveling, we tend to get caught up in preserving the moment instead of being IN the moment. While on safari in South Africa, I took over 500 pictures of animals that weren’t even dinosaurs! Jurassic Park teaches us to sit back, look, and marvel for a minute – with our eyes.
2. Planning your wardrobe can save space in the backpack.
Dr. Ian Malcolm and Dr. Alan Grant have two different “looks” and each works for him. Dr. Malcolm’s strategy is all-black, which is pretty smart if you think about it because theoretically he never really has to think about what to wear. Dr. Grant rocks the full-fledged adventure outfit (including the adventure hat), which, if you’re going to be roughing it, is the only way to go. Both characters probably didn’t need to pack much – and this is the key to happy traveling. One pair of pants can take you a long way. Lay out what you’re thinking about packing, and then eliminate maybe 1/3 of that. Then, you’re ready to go. I may not have an adventure hat, but I do have “adventure shirts” (yes, I really call them that), which is just a 5-pack of those Hanes Men’s white t-shirts you can buy in K-Mart or Target next to those packs of underwear for like $4. They can go anywhere, do anything, and are completely disposable if you rip them or get them super muddy.
Also, a Hawaiian shirt doesn’t look good anywhere. Not in Hawaii. Not in Jurassic Park.
3. When you’re in a theme park, follow the rules.
When you don’t, you end up falling out of a rollercoaster or being eaten by dinosaurs. Also, you probably don’t want to buy anything in the gift shop. Overpriced.
4. The strong survive. The weak die on toilets.
Okay, this may sound a little dramatic, but I promise it’s practical. Before traveling, I always amp up my workouts as part of the preparation process (in part to build up my strength and in part so that I can run away from whatever may chase me). While you may not run into dinosaurs (fingers crossed) there are many small stressors out there just ready to prey on your weaknesses. Even air travel, which is basically just a lot of sitting around, exposes you to low cabin pressure, dry air, and the sicknesses of your fellow travelers. (Make sure you drink water – not booze – when flying!) It’s important to be mindful of what is appropriate to eat (and not eat) when traveling abroad. Getting sick is no fun. Spending too much time on the toilet can ruin a travel experience. (Thankfully I only lost one night when I got food poisoning in Ecuador, but unfortunately that night was salsa-dancing night!) Remember you may be doing twice as much on half the sleep, so take care of your body!
5. For God’s sake, don’t shine a flashlight in a T-Rex’s eye.
So there you have it, the five travel lessons in Jurassic Park. Book a flight, grab your suitcase, and hold onto your butt.
*I’ve been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace lately, so please permit me the use of an explanatory footnote. On several key occasions this past year, I realized how pervasive Jurassic Park really is in everyday life. In the middle of my 5K in June, when I was feeling woefully out-of-shape, I thought to myself (more than once) “Boy, I’d be really fucked if a dinosaur (or, okay, more likely – a lion) decided to chase me.” And hiking through the Amazon Rainforest? JUST LIKE JURASSIC PARK. (Ask my friends, I must have said this at least six times). So, you can see, this isn’t a completely irrelevant post.**
**Although leading critics may (rightfully) say that I’m 18 years too late in writing this.***
***I hope you enjoy it anyway.