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The guide to how to get
ready for a journey 

The guide to how to get ready for an unforgettable journey by Laura Cano

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First, you have to be open to any possibility

I love movies, so I always wanted to go to the town where Northern Exposure was set, see Dolly Parton’s amusement park, visit Clint Eastwood’s ranch in Carmel or see Dian Fossey’s mountain gorillas. Animals in their natural environment are something I always try to see on my travels; being the strange element in someone else’s home is always a good reality check.

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Flee from the crowds and socialise with the locals

Generally speaking, I avoid the feel of classic tourism and crowds. I don’t want to see the penguins on the South African beach from a railing with thousands of other tourists; I prefer to go to the sites early in the morning or when I know everyone else is eating. I totally designed the trip we took to Alaska and Canada to avoid the arrival of ferries with tourists when we were in the same town as they were. We got there in a passenger boat, which we adored, followed trails looking for bears in the mountains and then we would go down to the village in the afternoon when the tourists went back to their boats.

This enabled us to have some wonderful experiences, like when the five Mormon daughters of the owner of the flat who had a rock band invited us to their concert at a charitable event only for village folk (Ketchikan); they put necklaces on us, there was a really fun lumberjack auction and then we ended up dancing with them.

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One of the most amazing trips was to Uganda: along with a family of monkeys in the middle of nowhere, crossing a tree trunk to follow them with the river filled with hippopotamuses and crocodiles, and finding the mountain gorillas after traipsing through the mountains for several hours. When these things happen, it recharges your batteries for an entire year.

Be mindful of your budget and your limitations

I also like to alternate luxurious hotels with more picturesque venues, like a pension we stayed at in Canada which was run by a lady who was a painter who brightened our breakfasts by singing Edith Piaf. The minor handicap of not having a car has also led us to peculiar experiences, like when we were trapped on the beach with a partying Philippine family who made us sing in their portable karaoke player, or when we did a bear circuit on bicycle and had to wait for Harry, the only taxi driver in town, to pick us up in the midst of the Smoky Mountains.

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WHERE WOULDN'T I GO BACK TO?

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Las Vegas and Bohol, where our boat broke down in the middle of the sea half an hour from a tornado with a group of Basque women, including one who thought she was MacGyver who wanted to save us by making signals into the void with the mirror of her blush compact

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