Category Archives: Lists

The 10 Most Unbelievable, Ridiculous Injuries in Sports of All Time

The life of a professional athlete is demanding, let’s be clear; but, every now and then we, as chesterfield participants in our favourite sports, get reminded that some of our most idolized stars are, indeed, only human themselves.

Such is the case today with the Toronto Blue Jays’ outfielder, Kevin Pillar; he’s to miss at least 10 days of play because of a sneeze that resulted in an oblique strain that he suffered early Saturday.  While this, on its own, is certainly chuckle-worthy, there is a veritable laundry list of ridiculous injuries in professional athletics, and so… it begins.

#10. Kendry Morales + Bill Gramatica ‘Break a Leg’

As far as professional sports injuries go, you really can’t fault a player for getting injured during a game… whether during the action or between plays, shit happens – but sometimes, more bizarrely, it happens when you’d least expect it: while celebrating.

Morales, who played for the MLB’s Angels, broke his frigging leg while jumping up and down in celebration and meeting his teammates at home plate after a grand slam home run.  Similarly, Cardinals’ kicker Bill Gramatica suffered an injury to his ACL while celebrating a relatively routine field goal kick that only gave the team a 3-0 lead over the NY Giants in the first quarter of a regular season game against them in December, 2001. – what can I say, the man appreciated the art of celebration.

“Yahooooo, yah-OWWWWW!!”

See above for similar comment.

#9. Orlando Brown Takes a Flag in the Eye & Ken Griffey Jr. Pinches his Ball-bag

Next on the list of surprising, but understandable (though still somewhat ridiculous) injuries to pro athletes comes a couple of hurts courtesy of sporting equipment.

Ken Griffey Jr., one of baseball’s most celebrated heroes and who, of course, has several video games named in his honour, managed, somehow, to pinch one of his testicles – I assume he’s got both, here – between his jock and body.  Naturally, this kind of treatment of your testicles is frowned upon by pain receptors, and Griffey required a bit of time off for recovery.

Orlando Brown, a former NFL player who played for both the Browns and the Ravens, and who died inexplicably at the age of only 40, was similarly injured by sporting equipment; however, his particular injury was completely out of his hands.  While playing for the Browns, Brown was hit in the eye by a referee’s flag, which was thrown in his direction on a play, and that got through his facemask.  Brown left the field on his own, but returned to physically assault the offending referee, and he was subsequently suspended from the NFL until it was revealed that he had been rendered temporarily blind by the errant flag.

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There is nothing subtle about an eye injury.

Brown was let go by the Browns, later returning to the league to play for the Baltimore Ravens, but only after suing the NFL for upwards of $200 million dollars for the flag incident, and to buy a more fashionable eye-patch; however, he apparently settled for far less than this amount.  Look at that thing.

#8. Moises Alou Falls off a Treadmill

Houston Astros outfielder, Moises Alou is known for a great number of things:  playing on a great number of teams other than the Astros, being named Moises, and falling off of a treadmill.

The Astros were dealt a serious blow to their offence when Alou, then 32 years of age, fell off his treadmill while training for an upcoming season at his home in the Dominican Republic.  The injury, which one can imagine looked a lot like any number of these, resulted in a torn ACL and a great number of missed games.

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“I told you not to wear your uniform on the treadmill, Moises.”

#7. Jeff Kent Breaks his Wrist Doing… Something?

When San Francisco Giants’ second baseman Jeff Kent announced that he’d broken his wrist while washing his truck, the sporting world was in a spectrum of hysterics.

How could this happen?  Was the soap super slippery and Kent fell?  Was the sheer force of the water too much for Kent’s wrist as he tested the water temperature before taking the hose to his vehicle?  Whatever the case may have been, Kent took a lot of flack from just about everyone regarding the story and got was getting frustrated with it.

Long story short, some reporters in the San Francisco area dug up what seemed to be a more plausible story – that Kent had been screwing around on his motorcycle, popping wheelies and such, and when shit inevitably went south, Kent made up a more innocuous story to avoid the wrath of the MLB and his fandom.

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Almost certainly what Kent’s wheelies looked like before he crashed.

#6. Joel Zumaya + Lionel Simmons Can’t Stop Playing Video Games

What do a Detroit Tigers pitcher and a Sacramento Kings forward have in common outside of an inherent ability in sports?  That’s easy – an equally inherent ability to become addicted to video games.

Both Joel Zumaya and Lionel Simmons, of the Tigers and Kings respectively, were so addicted to playing video games that they were sidelined due to injuries sustained by their continuous play.

Simmons missed two games from his rookie season after developing tendonitis from too much GameBoy playing, and Zumaya, who cannot be faulted for loving great music and kickass video games, had to miss the 2006 ALCS due to a wrist injury that he developed by constantly playing the Playstation 2’s smash-hit Guitar Hero.  The addiction was apparently so concerning to the Tigers’ organization that Zumaya was actually forbidden from playing it; however, when Guitar Hero II was released, Zumaya was mentioned in the credits:   No pitchers were harmed in the making of this game. Except for one. Joel Zumaya. He had it coming.” Awesome.

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It’s not a photoshop.  It’s a problem.

#5. Bret Barberie, Kevin Mitchell, and Dustin Penner Can’t Eat Food Good

When us non-athlete types sit down to dinner it typically comes after a day of the mundane – we got up, left for work, did our thing for eight or so hours, and then came home and prepared a little sustenance so that we could rest easy and do it all again tomorrow.

When pro athletes make something to eat, however, it’s a special occasion.  In the case of Barberie, Mitchell and Penner, these weren’t just regular meals and snacks that they were getting prepared to devour – they were professional meals and snacks.

Barberie, like any average joe, loves himself a plate of nachos and had prepared himself one hell of a plate to sit down to.  Before going completely Mexican on that nacho plate, however, Barberie decided to put in his contact lenses.  This, for most non-professionals, is a simple task, and it is likely the mundanity of the action that lead to Barberie’s oversight: he neglected to wash his hands after previously loading said nacho plate with all kinds of hot sauce and peppers.  Naturally, his retinas could not handle to intensity of the Mexican dish that he himself had prepared, and Barberie was sidelined for a number of games.

Similarly, Kevin Mitchell, a former Mets and Giants player, and who has been accused of both rape and beheading his girlfriend’s cat during an argument (not, however, in the same instance), broke a tooth on a donut that he’d microwaved from frozen for so long that it over-hardened.  Previous to this incident, Mitchell had also strained a stomach muscle in a bout of vomiting.

Penner, meanwhile, was simply sitting down to a plate of his wife’s fantastic pancakes when he strained his back.  The incident was so widely reported on that Penner wrote an open letter to the media LA Kings’ fanbase explaining the incident, and even outlining his hopes of getting an endorsement from Denny’s or IHOP.  Annnnnd this is why I love hockey.

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Typical goal celebration, or breakfast?  You decide.

#4. Glenallen Hill Has a Terrible, Terrible Nightmare

We’ve all been there: you watch Arachnophobia, maybe have a drink or two too many, and then fall asleep only to wake up several hours later screaming your head off, smashing your way through a glass-topped table covered in dreamworld spiders.  Amirite?!?!

Well, regardless of your own experiences, such was the case with pro MLB’er Glenallen Hill.  Hill, who is reported to have some serious arachnophobia, woke up in the middle of a terrifying spider dream and went on to suffer injuries all over his body after smashing a glass table, and the falling down the frigging stairs.  Hill wound up missing about half a month of play and earned the moniker ‘Spiderman’ for his efforts which, of course, I’m sure he appreciates immensely.

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This spider, meanwhile, suffers from baseballophobia.  Poor little guy.

#3. Jimmie Johnson Falls off the Roof of a Golf Cart

Despite only admitting to being “in” the golf cart at the time of the accident, NASCAR super-driver Jimmie Johnson is reported to have been on the roof of the golf cart when his driver made a sharp turn and he flew off.  Johnson, who landed on and ultimately broke his wrist, was then unable to drive a car for four weeks.

For his next stunt, Johnson is rumoured to be attempting to surf atop one of his very own NASCAR vehicles – that is, unless he realizes that he isn’t in any way athletic.

 atomicwedgie

Oh, please be how this ended.

#2. Brian Anderson, Mark Smith, + John Smoltz Can’t Use Home Appliances

There are a lot of things that pro athletes do well – there’s no doubt about that – but with all of these abilities, not to mention having had things done for them for many steps along the way, there are just some things that elude the pro athlete’s mind.

Like how to use an iron, and just how air conditioners work.

Brian Anderson, an Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher and John Smoltz, a pitcher for the Braves, both had run-ins with irons in their careers.  Anderson, needing to iron a shirt, tested the warmth of the iron on his face, while Smoltz reportedly, though adamantly denies, that he attempted to iron a shirt while he was wearing it.

Smith, on the other hand, simply jammed his pitching hand into an air conditioner to see why it wasn’t working properly.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, my garbage disposal is making a strange whirly noise.

#1. Plaxico Burress + Chris Hanson Should Not Carry Weapons

As a professional athlete, one must be able to protect oneself and feel like a confident, strong, and capable individual.  Sometimes this means carrying a weapon… and sometimes it means using it.  If, however, said pro athlete is not truly accustomed to carrying and using such a weapon, problems may indeed arise.

Such was the case with Hanson and Burress, two athletes who, in different ways, damaged themselves and their reputations by accidental use of a weapon.  Yes, I said accidental.

Hanson, at the time a kicker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was simply spending time in the Jags’ locker room when he attempted to participate in coach Jack Del Rio’s physical motivator: a wood stump, left with an axe as a symbol to the team’s players to ‘keep chopping wood.’  Hanson, in his attempt to chop said wood, instead chopped his foot and was sidelined for the remainder of the 2003 season.

Burress, a former Super Bowl hero and NFL star, had carried a handgun into a New York club called LQ.  While attempting to move between floors of the club via staircase, Burress missed a step and tripped up the stairs.  His gun, which was tucked into his waistband at the time, slipped from its position and it was only when Burress reached for the gun to stop its sliding down his leg that the gun went off, shooting himself.

Burress realized the trouble he was in immediately, and eventually spent 21 months in prison for the mistake.  He also fully admitted the stupidity of his actions and eventually made a comeback in the NFL.

His name, however, is still ridiculous.

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“I’d like my one phone call.”

*BONUS / Alternate #1.* Adam Eaton Stabs Himself in the Stomach Opening a DVD

Eaton, a pitcher for several different MLB teams over the course of his career, injured himself in what can only be described as the most average, non-professional, ridiculous way possible: opening a DVD.

In what was no doubt frantic jubilation over his recent purchase, Eaton accidentally stabbed himself in the stomach with a paring knife while attempting to open a dual-pack DVD.  The movies in question?  Backdraft and Happy Gilmore.  All that’s left now is to find out which one he watched first!

**Final thought:  What the Hell is with MLB pitchers?  Seriously, get it together.

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Friday’s Tweet Trends 03/01/13

Each Friday I’ll be analyzing Twitter’s tweet trends as after a busy week people, generally, like to take to the internet to bitch, moan, or commentate on world goings-on.  Here are your tweet trends for Friday, March 1st:

#JediMindMeld  –  President Barack Obama yesterday, speaking on something related to budget, American debt, or something else equally unimportant to the average man, uttered the phrase “Jedi mind-meld” with reference to his desired ability to become one-minded with people that are opposing his relatively rational strategies.  The problem?  The term ‘jedi’ is from Star Wars whereas ‘mind meld’ belongs in the Star Trek universe.  Whoops.  Comedian Rob Delaney no likey:

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… but would a Jew-Pope with a lightsaber be acceptable?

#weakfor – while most people took this as an opportunity to express their increasingly terrible ideas of romanticism (see: “#weakfor him when he smiles that sweet smile at me”), tweeter Becky Riley opted for a, well, better approach:

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Like, “orca” fat.

#NileRanger – Newcastle United’s former English footballer was all the rage on Twitter Friday as well, as news of his departure from the club spread like wildfire across the Twittersphere.  Ranger, at only 21, is famous for his multiple run-ins with the law including, but not limited to, robbery, assault, drunk&disorderly, homophobic slurs, and criminal damage.  Fans, devastated by his departure, have tweeted such things as the following:

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“That sonovabitch burned my house down!”

#DancePonyDance – UK mobile-device company Three launched a new ad campaign recently featuring a dancing pony In one of England’s more scenic locales.  Three’s official twitter account paid homage to the screaming goat and sneezing panda before it, tweeting the following:

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Credit where credit is – BAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

After first post this video link was changed to an AD for Three Network.  Shame on you, 3.

#BeliebersHatePaparazzi– And, finally, Justin Bieber’s 19th birthday has been ruined by a combination of security at the nightclub he attended in London, his good friend Lil Twist (wtf?) getting pulled over by cops in Bieber’s $100 000 hybrid Fisker Karma for making an ‘unsafe lane change’ and, of course, the paparazzi.  Like all good followers, Bieber’s famed (and terrible) ‘Beliebers’ took to twitter using the previously mentioned hashtag and had much bitching and moaning to do.  Ugh.

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I ask you, does this man LOOK irresponsible?  Case closed.

That’s it for this week, folks – see you next Friday with next week’s tweet-trends!

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The Internet: You’re Doing it Wrong

There are people out there, believe it or not, that just don’t know what the hell to do with the internet.  The average person spends several hours a day connected, and yet if asked what they did the entire time they were online most people, I think, wouldn’t even know what to say.  Everyone gets basic features like search engines, Google maps, or even Google Earth, but when it really comes to actually using the Internet to find content that we will like and appreciate I think the vast majority of people are still doing it completely wrong.  This, my friends, is your salvation: a quick guide to some of the best websites out there for using the internet as it’s meant to be used: wasting time productively and hilariously.  Don’t question my logic.

 a8cd030ee537f2337c0e2d4e5b6e076c StumbleUpon – Ever heard the phrase “surfing the internet?”  Most people take it to mean making random searches or following links on the few websites that we frequent, then stumbling into other websites that may or may not captivate us.  Unlike “channel surfing,” which is well defined by a pre-established bracket of channels (ie. 1-99, or 1-999 or what-have-you, depending on your cable provider) surfing the internet is a practice that is too often unsuccessful because of the sheer amount of content that awaits us.  Let’s face it too, a lot of the stuff that’s out there is total crap and, unfortunately, could even be a ghost from Internet’s past – that is, one of the thousands of Geocities sites that plagued our online existence for years when the internet first went mainstream.

Enter StumbleUpon – a website designed specifically for ‘surfing the internet.’  You create a profile and tick a bunch of boxes that relate to things you’re interested in.  For instance, I ticked off photography, film, entertainment, video games, etc. because these are the things that interest me most.  Once you’ve taken 2 or 3 minutes to create an online profile with the website, all you need do is “Stumble!”  Clicking the STUMBLE! button, then, uses your interests as a guide and instantly directs you to a semi-popular website pertaining to these interests.  After a cursory view of the site you can either “Like” the page to save it in your StumbleUpon history, dislike it to better teach SU your interests, or simply click Stumble! again to get your next taste.  Even better than this is the fact that the sites approved to appear on StumbleUpon are ones that are recommended and liked by the sites own users so you’re almost guaranteed to be spared anything horrible.  Amazing!

If you’ve never used StumbleUpon it is an absolute must for internet users, and I would encourage you to get on it straight away.  DO IT!

urlPinterest – Pinterest is gaining steam/popularity for all the right reasons: it is completely dependent on your own expectations and usage of the website, and can be tailored to each individual person.  Pinterest is a website for creating ‘pinboards’ online.  Simple, right?  Once you join Pinterest your first task is to set up your very own virtual pinboards – as an example, most people create a board to horde everything they find online that they think is hilarious.  Once you’ve created your board you can either browse Pinterest by category (humour, etc.) to view things that other people have pinned to the website, or you can use the “Pin it!” button that can be installed in any web browser to pin any image, video, or website to your online boards.  While this might all sound overly simple or a waste of time, consider this: have you ever found something on the internet that you liked?  Of course.  Have you ever went to look for it again, perhaps months or a year later and not been able to find it?  What about wanting to share things you find online with friends?  And what if you make your own content and want to see if it will take off?  Pinterest.  Pin it!

At the very least give it a try – there is literally something for every single person out there on this website… and if the off chance that there isn’t and you’re just that original, you can Pin It yourself and share it with the world.  Conversely, you also have the ability to make “private boards” for anything you want to keep a secret (wedding plans, baby stuff, disgusting fetishes etc.).

url-1 Reddit – Amounting to basically a bulletin board system, Reddit users post anything and everything, from pictures to video, opinions, news, and even music.  The posts are then voted on by users and the site’s main page is populate by the most popular, viewed and liked.  In addition to this, users can sort posts by hot, new, controversial, rising as well as the top posts of all time.  Suddenly internet pop culture is making a little more sense, right?

url Cracked Touted to be America’s Only Humor Site, Cracked.com is a collection of writings from highly skilled comedy and satire writers.  The articles, typically, take the form of lists and are about as funny as anything else you’ll find on the internet.  While the sort of humour is a little vulgar, to those who don’t take exception to the occasional F-bomb, Cracked’s articles are well worth your time.  From The 7 Most Ridiculous Rough Drafts of Famous Brand Logos to its mind-blowing Images You Won’t Believe Aren’t Photoshopped pieces, Cracked should be a staple in any and every internet user’s repertoire if not, simply, your browser’s homepage.  Get on it, thank me later.

Now, while I do realize the popularity of these websites, this post is written purely for those people who are not already in-the-know.  These four websites I consider essential to the internet experience, and I want to share them with you and those less fortunate… because staring at a screen without great content, online or not, is something that no one should have to suffer through.

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Friday’s Tweet Trends 2/22/12

As a weekly feature, should it prove interesting enough, I’ll be analyzing Twitter’s Friday trends as after a busy week people, generally, like to take to the internet to bitch, moan, or commentate on world goings-on.  Thusly, Friday Tweet Trends is born and the world (at least as far as social networking is concerned) is put under a microscope.  Here are your tweet trends for Friday, February 22nd:

#hall  –  not sure what exactly brings the fairly pedestrian word “hall” into our hashtag super-search, but here it is.  A cursory view of the trending tweets also elicits no real reason for it trending this week, however, the best tweet amongst the lot?  That’s easy:

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Because anything LESS than an ‘XL Fart Bomb’ would be probably smell delicious.

#TheMostAnnoyingThingsInLife – Twitter has given people the habit of finding collective ways to bitch and moan about things in group-list fashion.  Today, our most annoying things in life is the most popular group-bitch of choice.  Rounding out the best of the tweets?  Restaurant, Wendy’s official twitter account with this beauty:

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1. Aren’t you on a diet?      2. LAY OFF ME I’M STARVING!!

#DontBotherMeWhenIm – Our second group therapy session focusses on how precious how personal bubble and alone time is.  Responses ranged, mostly, from terribly lame stuff like “texting my boyfriend/girlfriend” or “angry, because I will actually, seriously, cut or punch you.”  The categories best response, however, is a little more… graphic.

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#ThingsIHateAboutSchool – Because, apparently, the only people that really use Twitter are high school teenyboppers (who are obviously filled with angst), our next category focusses on school and, well, why they hate it so, so much.  Our winner comes courtesy of comedian Adam Sandler, who probably noticed a lot of this during his forced return to school in Billy Madison.

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“I think it’s popcorn, but it might be apple skin.”

#NationalMargaritaDay – Last, but certainly not least is a bit of helpful information for you:  not ONLY is today Friday, coincidentally enough it is also National Margarita Day!  Who knew?!  Resident Twitter-Betty-White-Impersonator “BettyFckinWhite” had this to say:

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No caption needed.

Perhaps it’s best we leave it right there… yowza!

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5 Tips for a Jaunt Around the World

As a student, in 2010, I was lucky enough to be have the opportunity to study abroad – specifically, I did a Master’s degree in Australia for roughly 11 months before coming home to complete the last third of the degree on Canadian soil.  In this time I had the good fortune (and sense) to make the most of my time overseas by doing as much traveling and sight-seeing as I could so that, in the event that I never get back to that side of the world, I will have seen as much as possible.

Leaving Australia in late 2010 (November 23rd, to be exact), I had a gameplan for my next two and a half months of travel, but how did it all come to fruition, and what are the biggest tips that I can pass along to any would-be circumnavigators of the globe?  Below are the five biggest reasons my trip was a success – from the planning stage, to execution, to arriving home safely.

1. Develop a plan with a skeleton.

Two months before I left Australia I had the ambitious notion of an “around-the-world” trip.  After bandying this idea around with friends and testing their interest in being a travel companion, I began to realize that a) my idea was a popular one, but b) it was a “great idea” for me to do, but not something the average friend would be interested in signing up for.  It felt good to share this plan with them, and positive feedback was a boon to my spirits and ego, however, it lulled me into putting off actually booking that first flight for some time because I had already received some pre-trip praise and experienced the brief thrill of the thought of traversing the globe on my own.  Once I realized the erroneous nature of these feelings I snapped out of it and gone down to business.

I started looking into websites with Around-the-World tickets and found, very quickly, that not only were my destinations quite limited with this option, but the price for so few stops was also quite egregious.  Instead, I opted (over the course of two back-to-back days) to decide on the basic route that I would take home to Canada, and then book all the flights individually.  This meant, in some cases, that I was booking into a country in one location, then out of the same country in another (eg. in to New Zealand’s Christchurch on the South Island, and out of the North Island’s Auckland).  Figuring out the middle bit was the true adventure anyway, and the bigger details (rental cars, specifically) I worked out before my flight into the country, as a general rule.

From here I went on to book 20 flights over 16 countries, and then let the possibilities stir in my mind.  I knew only the general route I’d be taking and, most importantly, when I needed to be in certain places for departure and, ultimately, how much time that gave me to experience whichever country was at hand.

The route, for those interested, was as follows:

Gold Coast, Australia –> Christchurch, NZ  (rental car to Auckland, NZ, with a ferry trip in the middle), Auckland –> Cairns, Australia –> Bali –> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia –> Phuket, Thailand –> Chiang Mai, Thailand –> Bangkok, Thailand –> Cairo, Egypt –> Athens, Greece –> Rome, Italy (trains, busses, etc. to Florence, then Venice), Venice, Italy –> London, England –> Amsterdam, Netherlands –> Berlin, Germany –> Brussels, Belgium –> Madrid, Spain –> Marrakech, Morocco –> Paris, France –> Nice, France (bus to Monaco and back) –> London, England –> Toronto, Canada.

It was a whirlwind journey for sure, and I was criticized at times for the speedy nature of the trip (66 days), however, while I didn’t learn everything there is to know about each of my destinations, I got a taste for each place – and that’s all I was after in some cases.  Developing this basic skeleton gave me the knowledge ahead of time that would help me plan all the finer, in-between details, like what to see first and, moreover, what things I refused to leave the country before seeing.  This, then, gave me general structure to follow once I landed in each airport – that is to say, I’d hit the ground running.

2. Ask Questions, Ask for Recommendations, Ask for Advice

One of the greatest assets you have, as a traveller, is also the single most abundant resource on your travels – the people indigenous to each country you visit.  Nine times out of ten they will have useful information to share with you, and I am literally unable to count the number of times I was pointed in the direction of something totally awesome by someone just because I had the courage to ask, simply “if there are any stops nearby that I should make,” even of people whose jobs were totally unrelated to tourism. When in a country that doesn’t use English as a first language, this can be slightly more difficult, however, there is a Plan B: your fellow travellers.

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No big deal, right?

Showing up to a hostel after self-navigating an entire metropolis on foot or via confusing bus/tram routes (I’m looking at you, Hiroshima), only to find your 12-bed sleeping quarters populated solely with the bags of fellow adventurers can feel a tinge lonely and leave you scratching your head.  It’s tempting to sit, relax, and try and catch your bearings in this new and strange environment, but the first thing you should do is grab a book or your travel journal, and find the lounge / eating area in the hostel.  Anyone that is currently recouping from a long day of sight-seeing or just planning their evening is typically hanging out here and, perhaps not surprisingly, most speak some semblance of English.  Finding out what they’ve done so far with their time in the area can be invaluable, and they may even alert you to tourist-traps to watch out for.  If they aren’t able to contribute any of that, they may, like you, have only recently arrived and might (fingers crossed) be up for a mutual adventure in the near future.  “Fast friends” must, truly, be a term created by travellers because it has no truer basis.

Ultimately, every connection you make – whether it’s with locals or backpackers alike – means a higher chance of enjoying your trip to the fullest.  While one tip might lead you to the most extraordinary view, another might point you to the best, cheapest food in town, and yet another to a worthwhile excursion.  These, as every traveller knows, are the essential building blocks to one massively successful adventure.

3. Invest Appropriately 

While this may come as common sense, as a traveller you must understand which areas you’re willing to sacrifice, and which must be up to a certain standard.  I think, importantly, a safe “home base” to arrive at each day or night or sight-seeing is as important to me as most people, however, what different aspects constitute the definition of “safe,” and what else should we be looking for in this particular area?

While I didn’t particularly mind coming “home” to a room full of 12 or 15 strangers, snoring and talking in their sleep at different volumes, everyone has a different standard of privacy they are willing to accept.  What I think, however, is a mostly static desire of most travellers, is the desire to feel safe in this environment, not only in the physical sense, but in the monetary sense as well.  Travellers (and outright tourists especially) are some of the easiest targets for expert thieves, and you would be smart to be wary of some of your fellow travellers, and of hostel staff, on top of the general populous.  For this reason, finding accommodation with lockers or some other means of storing your valuables is downright essential in my opinion.  Being able to leave some of your most precious valuables (ie. passport, spare cash, etc.) in a “safe zone” while you’re out exploring is one of the ultimate traveller’s luxuries as it frees up the entirety of your mind for enjoying the day at hand and the sights in front of you.

Similarly, consider your tolerance for food and travel in your budget and spend accordingly in these areas too.  While I was almost always fine to grab a “take out” rice and sushi meal from one of Japan’s many 7/11’s, it may not be for everyone, and finding a cheap restaurant may be the best alternative.

In any case, figure out what is most important to you in terms of comfort, and invest accordingly.  This can be assisted by virtual trips to websites such as Hostel World.com.  I, for one, set my personal hostelworld “comfort zone” at an 80% overall user rating or higher – and that worked out just fine for me.

Furthermore, one of the greatest pieces of information that I can share is the affordability of flights around Europe.  My eight flights in Europe / Morocco between leaving and arriving back in the UK were a combined $280 CDN dollars; this, importantly, is because I travelled with only a carry-on bag and flew with carriers RyanAir and EasyJet.  Flights with these guys can start at less than 10 Euros (yes, I said 10), and while not the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have in your life, you’re riding a goddamn plane for the monetary equivalent of a couple of pints of beer.  Be advised, however, that this carry-on-only policy restricts any excess beyond your one bag: no purses, camera or laptop bags etc. – I was even made to remove my Canon T2i from hanging around my neck and cram it into my already overpacked bag just to avoid a 30 Euro surcharge!

4. Common Sense and Intuition are Your Best Friends (That Don’t Visit Often Enough)

Too often do people get themselves into terrible situations because they are too trusting, naive, or just generally lacking so-called ‘common’ sense.  We are all guilty of getting ourselves into a situation that could have gone south at any moment, then somehow escaped unscathed, but in getting into these situations we all do a form of risk-assessment that is important to making the decision to go through with something or not.

When I landed in Marrakech, Morocco, my biggest concern was finding the riad I would be staying in before the sun went down.  The streets, even in daylight, were chaotic, heavily populated, and confusing at best, and finding the one obscure doorway I needed to find in a maze of beige/brown corridors would become a near insurmountable task as twilight fell upon the city.  Once we made it to the central market we became targets for any locals looking to make a few extra bucks by guiding us to the riad – we were, for all intents and purposes, completely lost and our only option, it seemed, was to trust a complete stranger to guide us deeper and deeper into dark, twisting alleyways on our search.  When our impromptu guide got us lost and phoned his friend to help us out, thereby putting us in a two v. two situation should anything bad happen (not to mention the prospect of the two men leading us into any sort of ambush which could have lay around any of the corridor’s numerous blind turns), a feeling of unease washed over me.  We were, after all, two white dudes that were (very obviously) carrying a lot of stuff – most of which could likely be inferred to have some significant value.  We followed the men, though at a distance of three to four paces so we might have the time to react to any potential attacks, and eventually found the riad.  Luckily, our fears weren’t realized and, ultimately, seemed a bit silly in retrospect – however, people are robbed or hurt and perhaps killed in situations like this every day, and while we were lucky in how our situation turned out, not everyone may be.

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Hey mister, can I pet your dog?

The bottom line?  Use your head.  If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that it isn’t, or at the very least that it could be.  If you’ve already committed to something, however, take any precautions to can to minimize your risk from that point onward; it could just save your life (or your wallet).  We avoided any kind of harm or personal loss in this story, but there were other times where I was literally scammed out of hundreds of dollars, almost had my wallet stolen from right in front of me, and was tricked into paying far more than appropriately value for something, so always be on guard!

5. You Hesitate, You Die!

One of the philosophies that I developed while traveling through Europe was the notion of “you hesitate, you die!”  This mantra had applications that ranged from something as simple to crossing the street, to more significant actions like deciding on excursions (eg. overnight camel-treks into the Sahara dessert, or using a 10 hour layover in Cairo to get to the Pyramids and Sphinx).  While this does seem to potentially contradict the previous tip, hesitation should actually be considered your number one enemy as it is the biggest reason for not doing things, meeting people, or going places.

People hesitate for any number of reasons, but when traveling it is vital to seize the time that we have, wherever we may be, and to use it create the memories of our trip that will last us a lifetime.

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