Wanderlust: TRAVEL 101

Opinion by Johnny Bartz
Feb. 4, 2011, 12:20 a.m.

Wanderlust: TRAVEL 101Call it my parting co-term gift, but I’m spilling all my secrets. Travel secrets, that is. Some may consider jetting off to Europe for a few days during winter quarter excessive, or even foolish, but I’ve found that it’s one of the most exhilarating ways to break free of the Stanford bubble, not to mention a reinvigorating way to clear your head before finals. It may be an obsession, or even an addiction, but I’ve got a travel fever and the only cure is more globetrotting.

Yes, there is something glamorous about travel. Everyone loves it, yet always complains about how expensive it is to fly in style, stay in luxury hotels, eat at chintzy restaurants, etc. They’re right — all of these things are excessively expensive. The travel industry is created to take away our hard-earned money, and yet there are so many tricks that I’ve learned that will allow you to have your money/good grades and travel, too. No one can claim to know everything about traveling, or even the airline industry, but I’d like to say that from my experience reading aviation forums, the pastime of searching for cheap fares, making huge mistakes and exchanging tips with other travelers, I know a thing or two about extravagant travel on a dime. And most importantly, I’m going to tell you all about it. Heck, if Jersey Shore is headed to Italy, you definitely can!

Sometimes it means living a dual life — or shall I say — a life of extremes. It’s something like the starving grad student (me!) settling for three days of pasta with red sauce after splurging on a wheel of brie cheese. Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but $5 saved here is a €3 panino on the streets of Florence. Well, I guess €3 doesn’t buy much of anything anymore, but you get the picture. It’s resisting the urge to splurge on the handle of Svedka and going for a Four Loko instead. Well, I guess you can’t get real Four Loko anymore, either. Maybe a better image is fixing your leaky faucet spending habits in order to turn on the fire hose for a brouhaha in Venice. I’m not sure about you, but I’d rather have one real caffè macchiato than an eternity of burnt “lattes,” or whatever else they have around here.

Winter quarter is the perfect time to travel, and over the course of this column, I’m going to share a few of my experiences to give you some good ideas. There are periodic fare sales to nearly all domestic destinations, not to mention that flights to Europe are a fraction of what they would cost during the high spring-summer season. Or sometimes you can score a cheap ticket to Hawaii just in time to relax the weekend before finals, lazing on Waikiki beach. There’s nothing like the healing power of saltwater, tropical fish, sand and sunshine. Of course Santa Cruz could suffice if the weather is nice enough, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Whether it’s a weekend power trip to London or a week of “sick leave” in Brazil, I’ve probably done it. I dream of inspiring new travel-savvy Stanford students. Even if some of you may dismiss my at-times spontaneous and ill-planned vacations as an excessive waste. I am with this. I aim to challenge the traditional Stanford bubble by showing an experience of the extreme — wanderlust. Best of all, these worldly experiences cost a fraction of what you might think. Would you rather be in French House or strolling down the Champs-Élysées? Your pick, just keep in mind that Café Night is twice a quarter (thank God!). Whoever said it was possible to lead a fabulous life of excess without completely draining the bank account was right. I’ve said it once, and I’ll most certainly say it again: Stanford is great, but there is just too much of the world out there for you to see. Everyone needs some time away, even from this Cardinal Nirvana. Fabulous travel is not just for the filthy rich anymore; even a starving grad student like myself can get away — to practically anywhere. You need a weekend trip, so stop agonizing over a problem set or what new pair of shoes to buy, and do as our friend Mr. Twain once said: “throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.” You’ll be glad that you did, and just think of the stories.

Do you have a travel question or just a hilarious story? E-mail “Prof.” Johnny Bartz at [email protected].

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