Lessons From The Road

Improvisation as a Travel Tool

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In a previous post, I discussed the usefulness of duct tape when traveling. Duct tape is the ultimate improvisation tool. However, and some devotees would disagree, it can’t do everything. When traveling long term, solving the problems that duct tape can’t address takes some improvisation.

Ice, the American addiction. If our drinks aren’t nearly freezing, and our cups brimming with ice, things aren’t quite right. And because every American who’s ever visited England requests water with ice for all meals, the British call it the “American Cocktail”. Terri and I are no different. We love our drinks with ice, but the little fridges overseas rarely have ice trays. The solution … improvisation. A couple of baggies full of water, placed strategically in the tiny freezer, then a whack on the countertop, and we’re ready for happy hour.

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Another challenge requiring considerable improvisation is cooking. In our 6 months of travel, a well-equipped kitchen was the exception. And while we love experimenting with international food, sometimes we just want something familiar. So getting the right cooking gear paired with the correct ingredients is rare. Therefore, many of our meals were made from available ingredients, cooked in mismatched cookware. And all were fun and memorable. Our no-bake Nutella cheesecake got lots of comments at Christmas (and a few recipe requests) …

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… as well as our Thanksgiving Greek Meatballs in Santorini.

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And the top of the improv “best of” list, is Terri’s Christmas decorations. We spent Christmas in Athens and wanted to decorate, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on decorations that were going to be thrown away. So we gathered bitter oranges from neighborhood trees, gleaned a few evergreen boughs, bought a few lemons and a pack of cloves … and voila, we had beautiful decorations.

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We both realize that we learned many of our improvisation skills from our resourceful parents, and what seemed like a pain in the neck at the time has served us well. And thankfully, our travels have honed those skills considerably.

Happy Trails,
James

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