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live like a gentleman

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El Paso artists paint the town red – and just about every color.  More than a hundred murals dot the city, capturing the region’s cultural pride with depictions of community leaders, religious figures and other symbols.  Segundo Barrio (a neighbourhood along the USA – Mexico border) and downtown bear the lion’s share of these public art pieces; the neighborhoods themselves have become fitting places for art walks.

A 1975 mural in Segundo Barrio, at 513 Father Rahm Ave., is one of the oldest outdoor art pieces in the city.  Artists Arturo Avalos, Gabriel Ortega, Pablo Schaffino and Pascual Ramirez painted the Aztec geometric patterns that adorn the wall.  It’s become a symbol of pride for the area, nodding to El Paso’s close ties to Mexico and indigenous peoples.

Many other murals reflect the city’s cross-border cultural connections, like Animo Sin Fronteras (Spirit Without Borders), which features Melchor Flores flexing his muscles in the hear of downtown at Mills Avenue and Stanton Street.  The mural, by artists David Herrera and El Mac, captures the universal struggle for justice.

Also downtown, Reflection of the Desert, painted by Creative Kids, a nonprofit educational community-based art agency, showcases the desert landscape and the local ethos – a woman gazes across the horizon with determination El Pasoans are known for.  You’ll find this mural along the pedestrian walkway to the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Centre.

Murals in Union Plaza, a restaurant and nightlife hub next to Southwest University Park, present El Paso iconography, from the Star on the Mountain to “La Equis” in Ciudad Juárez. El Paso Wings, for instance, is a hidden picture hunt.  As you gaze at the work, Mount Cristo Rey, Aztec figures, the UTEP Miners’ pick, and other images reveal themselves – all reflections of the city’s vibrant culture and pride.

 

Being a gentleman in our modern world is more than being polite; more than holding a door; and more than knowing which fork to use.   A gentleman also means more than a dashing wardrobe.  The character of a man and his actions every day, all day throughout the year.  

What’s true is the traits are common sense, though I’ve been fortunate to have wise men in my life.  Some of the men were fathers, teachers, random people I’ve met while travelling and one man in particular.  Mostly, this one man  influenced me in so many ways, and during particular situations I find myself asking “what would Bert do?”  Then, I act accordingly.

Please have a look at my Ultimate List of A Gentleman’s Rules To Live By – a Guide To Being a Modern Gentleman, if you will.  As you read through, keep in mind each of our lives and life experiences is different.  What works for me, and what I think a gentleman may be, could very well be different to you.  Feel free to add to the list or even create your own list that suits your life.  The following 50 Rules for Being a Modern Gentleman are what works for me.

  
1.    Be yourself and yourself only.  Don’t try to be something you think someone else wants you to be.

2.    Don’t do or say anything that makes others feel uncomfortable.   

3.    When someone tells you something in confidence, let that secret stop with you.  Never share anything someone tells you.

4.    Learn the art of conversation.  Be able to talk about almost everything.  If you’re unsure, “I don’t know” is a respectable answer.

5.    I might not like what the truth is, but it is the truth I want to hear.  Truth can be understood and dealt with in a civil manner.

6.    If you are going to impress, be sure to impress in the way you intend.  In other words, be natural and you’re sure to impress.

7.    Never cancel at the last minute unless something drastic happens and you genuinely are unable.  And very importantly, don’t accept an invite then say no with a lame excuse at the last minute.  

8.    Don’t be late unless your tardiness comes with an honest and genuine excuse.

9.    Not every moment is golden (and successful).  Try to get ‘it’ right the first time, and if you don’t, make the second time count.

10.  Remember your good manners at all times even at the most inopportune times.

11.  Be interested and interesting – be the man people want to associate with.

12.  Be a genuinely good listener.

13.  Know your alcohol limits, and respect them.  And sometimes, know when not to drink alcohol at all.

14.  Avoid anger without reason.  Don’t ever ‘fly off’ the proverbial handle in public.  Just don’t do it.

15.  Know when and how much to tip.  A dollar isn’t enough.

16.  There will be times you’re wrong.  Don’t be afraid to admit it.

17.  Don’t give advice unless you’re asked for it.  You’re not an expert in someone else’s life.

18.  Never turn up to a party, friend’s house, or dinner empty-handed.  Always have a host/hostess gift even if it’s simple.

19.  Be loved and liked by those who know you.  It’s ok if everyone doesn’t like you.  Not everyone will.

20.  Practice chivalry and understand that courteous behaviour is not at all dead.  It IS ok to open the door for someone.

21.  No one likes arrogance especially when it is not warranted.  It’s not at all attractive.

22.  Don’t ever be too proud to apologize.

23.  Saying thank you goes a long way.  Say it.  And always send a written thank you note.

24.  Don’t judge based on other people’s judgments.  Give everyone a chance – your chance.

25.  Don’t strive to be the centre of attention.  If it happens, let it be.

26.  Don’t regret the things you’ve done, only the things you haven’t.

27.  Television and the internet are the biggest black holes of our time.  Live and experience life firsthand in real time.

28.  Take risks.   Break out of your comfort zone. 

29.  Learn to go with the flow.  Let ‘it’ be.

30.  Be confident and realistically believe in yourself.

31.  Watch what you eat, take care of what you wear and have pride in how you conduct yourself.

32.  Confront boredom by making a change.

33.  Travel whenever possible.  Follow passions and indulge in guilty pleasures even if you want to run naked on a beach.

34.  Be spontaneous.

35.  Take a compliment as well as you can give one.  

36.  If you invite someone  for dinner or drinks, do not ask, suggest or expect to split the bill.

37.  Allow yourself to be challenged.

38.  Life’s too short to only work, eat and sleep.

39.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask for directions.

40.  Remember that most people do what is inspected and not what is expected.  So true.

41.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

42.  There are a time and a place to use English slang; otherwise, use the English language properly.
S’up is not acceptable.

43.  Have your own thoughts and beliefs based on your own personal experiences.  There are too many sheep in the world.  Don’t be one.

44.  Be original even if you’re quirky.  And if you are quirky, embrace it.

45.  Wherever you are in the world, be inclusive.  Division by any means gets us nowhere good.

46.  If you think you have the skills, creativity or means to help someone, do it without wanting anything back.

47.  Learn when and how to say no.

48.  Know when to keep your mouth closed and when to be quiet.

49.  When you first meet someone, look them in the eye when you shake their hand.

50.  If you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it.  Don’t let your words be hollow.

World Book Day is tomorrow as it is every 23 April.  Commit yourself to reach back to the classics, then begin reading.  Some book titles included in this list are expected, though there are a handful of surprises.  And, if you’re thinking what to read during a general free time on the sofa, or by a pool or an ocean, I’ve got you covered.  

A well-read gentleman is also a good conversationalist.  It’s the perfect excuse to get lost in a good book.  

Self-Control: Its Kingship and Majesty by William George Jordan

The turn of the 20th century was the golden age of personal development books. In contrast to the self-help books of today, which are filled with flattering, empty, cliche platitudes, they’re direct, masterfully written, and full of profound and challenging insights that centre on the development of good character. Even in this golden age, one author stands supreme: William George Jordan. His Self-Control is full of beautifully written wisdom on self-reliance, calmness, gratitude, and more.

Self Control It's Kinship and Majesty William Gordge Jordan

 
How to Be A Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners by John Bridges

Being a gentleman isn’t just being a nice guy, or a considerate guy or the type of guy someone might take home to meet their mother.  A gentleman realizes that he has the unique opportunity to distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd. He knows when an email is appropriate, and when nothing less than a handwritten note will do. He knows how to dress on the golf course, in church, and at a party. He knows how to breeze through an airport without the slightest fumble of his carry-on or boarding pass.  And those conversational icebreakers―“Where do I know you from?” A gentleman knows better.  Gentlemanliness is all in the details, and John Bridges is reclaiming the idea that men―gentlemen―can be extraordinary in every facet of their lives.

How To Be A Gentleman A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners John Bridges

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my favourite books of all time.  This New Orleans-based novel won author John Kennedy Toole the Pulitzer Prize. Its perfect comedy of errors is centred around the character of Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy and socially ignorant, but very intelligent man, who still lives with his mother at the age of 30. A Confederacy of Dunces serves as a guide for what a man ought not to be while providing sound entertainment all the while.

A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole

 

Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt by Tristan Egolf

A literary sensation published to outstanding accolades in America and around the world, Lord of the Barnyard was one of the most auspicious fiction debuts of recent years. Now available in paperback, Tristan Egolf’s manic, inventive, and painfully funny debut novel is the story of a town’s dirty laundry — and a garbagemen’s strike that lets it all hang out. Lord of the Barnyard begins with the death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased-pig chase at a funeral in the modern-day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, and a lone tornado, as well as appearances by a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional poultry plant, and one autodidact goat-roping farm boy by the name of John Kaltenbrunner. Lord of the Barnyard is a brilliantly comic tapestry of a Middle America still populated by river rats and assembly-line poultry killers, measuring into shot glasses the fruits of years of quiet desperation on the factory floor. Unforgettable and linguistically dizzying, it goes much farther than postal.

Lord of the Barnyard Tristan Egolf

 
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw the theatre production of Treasure Island at the National Theatre not once, not twice, but three times.  Then, I read the book again with much delight.  Pretty much everything we think of when we think of pirates comes not from the pages of history but from this book: treasure maps with “X” marking the spot, deserted islands, peg legs, parrots, and more. Published as a children’s tale (and a rather adult one at that), American novelist Henry James praised it as “perfect as a well-played boy’s game.”

Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson

 
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Read Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, then read the Constitution.  Composed of 85 articles, The Federalist Papers served to explain and encourage the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The majority of the essays were penned by Alexander Hamilton and originally published in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet. While the Constitution lays out the laws of the land, these essays provide the 18th-century version of the ballot/blue books we get the mail around election time, explaining the laws that are being proposed. It is essential reading for any civically minded American.  Forget the theatre production.

The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton

 
Your Car’s Owner’s Manual

Yep, that dusty book in your glove compartment. Come on, bring it out and get to know your car better. So, it’s not exactly “literature” but it’ll teach you something that will come in handy.  Guaranteed.  By the way, I was shocked to learn the battery in my Mercedes is located under the driver’s seat.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The fundamental work on free-market policies: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Want an education in economics?  This book is a great start.

The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith

 
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The granddad of books about people skills, the advice found in How to Win Friends and Influence People is still sound and applicable 80 years later. Carnegie writes about skills like making people feel valued and appreciated, ensuring you don’t come across as manipulative (which happens unintentionally more than we think!), and essentially, “winning” people to your viewpoints and ideas. While it can sound a little disingenuous in its description, these are true skills that people use every day, and this book is a great resource for boning up your social game.

How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie

 
The Republic by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and how a just city-state should be ordered and characterized. It is the great philosopher’s best-known work and has proven to be one of history’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates and other various interlocutors discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man, as well as the theory of Forms, the immortality of the soul, and the role of the philosopher in society.

The Republic Plato

 
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Robert Jordan is a young dynamiter in the Spanish Civil War. He’s an American who’s volunteered to fight against Franco’s fascists and is sent behind enemy lines to take out an important bridge to impede enemy forces from advancing. He lives in a rudimentary camp with anti-fascist Spanish guerillas and comes to embrace their hearty way of life and love. And of course, there are some incredible battle scenes, which were informed by Hemingway’s own time as a correspondent in the Spanish Civil War.

For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway

 
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

A defining novel of the Beat generation, On the Road, is fictional, but a semi-autobiographical account of two friends’ road trips across America, against the backdrop of a counter-culture of jazz, poetry, drug use, and the drunken revelry of back-alley bars. Along with their travels, they’re searching for what many young men are: freedom, ambition, hope, and authenticity.  

On the Road Jack Kerouac

 
Travels With Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colours and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.  With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way, he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers. 

Travels With Charley In Search of America John Steinbeck

 
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s.  A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

 
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

After a terrible storm, the Swiss family Robinson becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island. With teamwork, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, the group strives to overcome nature’s obstacles and create some semblance of community and civility within their new environs. A truly classic survival and adventure tale.

The Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss

 
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

While there’s plenty of political, moral, and economic philosophy in this book, it’s coated in an action thriller of a story. Set in the near future, our protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who’s invented a revolutionary new alloy. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase “Who is John Galt?” Though this book is associated with passionate libertarianism, the story is an interesting one to ponder no matter one’s political persuasions.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand

 
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The ultimate tale of betrayal and revenge. Edmund Dantes, days before marrying his beloved Mercedes, is brutally betrayed, arrested for treason, and consequently taken to a prison on an island off the French coast. The story goes on to tell of his escape from prison (don’t worry, it’s early in the novel and doesn’t ruin anything) and his becoming wealthy and re-entering society as an educated and sophisticated Count. He plots his revenge, eyes reclaiming his love, and ultimately…well, you’ll just have to read it.

The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

 
Self-Reliance & Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance” contains the most prominent of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophies: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and personal inconsistencies, and to follow their own instincts and ideas. You’re to rely on your own self versus going with the ebbs and flows of culture at large. Other essays in the collection focus on friendship, history, experience, and more.  Is it just me, or is this Self Reliance a necessity in today’s world?  I’m anything except a conformist.Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

There is nothing more manly than a bout with the Devil. Mikhail Bulgakov wrote this entertaining commentary on the social bureaucracy in Moscow during the height of Stalin’s reign. Lucifer himself pays the atheistic city a visit to make light of the people’s scepticism regarding the spiritual realm. The novel also visits ancient Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate’s rule. Even for the non-religious, this book will provide plenty of food for thought.

The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov

 
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

This 1897 play follows French cadet Cyrano de Bergerac. He’s a poet, musician, and expert swordsman — a true Renaissance Man. Unfortunately, Cyrano has a tragically large nose, which hinders his confidence to the point that he’s unable to profess his feelings to Roxane and feels he isn’t worthy of anyone’s love. What is a man to do in such a situation? Read and find out.

Cyrano De Bergerac Edmond Rostand 
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

It’s all well and good to be a dreamer, but a man must also be grounded in reality. It’s a lesson that Don Quixote comes to learn in the 17th-century eponymous book, which is widely considered to be the world’s first novel. Quixote, along with his squire Sancho Panza, travels the world in search of grand adventures and heroic deeds which would earn him the title of Knight. He continues against all odds, and in some cases, against all common sense. It’s funny, surprisingly easy to read given the fact that it’s over 400 years old, and can provide a man many lessons on the aspirations of heroism.

Don Quixote Cervantes

 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This short, but ever-popular tale is a young woman’s take on humanity and horror. Mary Shelley was just 21 when Frankenstein was first published in 1818, and the book is widely regarded as the first popular science fiction/horror novel. While you surely know the monster and the story of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein bringing him to life, it’s a much darker and more philosophical book than what pop culture has made it out to be. You learn about science, ego, pride, and ultimately, what it means to be human.Frankenstein Mary Shelley

 
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dickens should be a part of every man’s reading life, and A Tale of Two Cities is a good starter. It’s set in London and Paris during the French Revolution and depicts the plight of the French peasantry, their turn to violence towards the aristocrats who marginalized them, and the parallels to London society during the same period.A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

 
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

In this travelogue, Paul Theroux recounts his 4-month journey through Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia on the continent’s fabled trains: the Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express and the Trans-Siberian Express. His well-documented and entertaining adventures have come to be considered a classic in the travel literature genre. This journal satisfies the vicarious traveller and inspires the adventurous man.The Great Railway Bazaar Paul Theroux

 
The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer

These epic poems are some of the world’s oldest pieces of literature. They’ve been read, enjoyed, and studied for thousands of years, and for good reason. They are not only beautiful to the ear, but contain lessons that every man can learn about heroism, courage, and manliness. The Iliad takes place during a few weeks of the final year of the Trojan War and details the heroic deeds of both Achilles and Hector, as well as a variety of other legends and stories. The Odyssey, a sequel of sorts, is about the great warrior Odysseus’ voyage home after the Trojan War. He faces various obstacles in his return to Greece, and we also see how his family back home dealt with his assumed death.The Iliad and The Odyssey Homer

 
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The novel that catapulted Hemingway to worldwide fame and success. The Sun Also Rises follows Jake Barnes and a group of ex-patriot friends through Spain and France, with plenty of wine-drinking and bull-fighting. The novel is a bit semi-autobiographical in that the main character is trying to deal with his war wounds — both physical and emotional — and escape to the supposed romanticism of travelling and eating and drinking to your heart’s content. Does Jake find happiness? You’ll have to read to find out.The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

 
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

While the book’s plot centres on an ageing, disinterested father and his three adult children, the substance found within goes much beyond that. Dostoevsky’s final and greatest novel, this book also involves spiritual and moral dramas and debates regarding God, free will, ethics, morality, judgment, doubt, reason, and more. It’s a philosophical work clothed as a novel — which of course makes Dostoevsky’s weighty ideas easier to digest. The McDuff translation gets rave reviews.The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Written in the early 1500s, this is the classic guide on how to acquire and maintain political power (even if those methods are sometimes unsavoury) — a so-called “primer for princes.” Its precepts are direct, if not disturbingly cold in their formulaic pragmatism. It asks the classic question: “Do the ends justify the means?” A worthy read for any man wishing to better understand the motivations and actions that tend to rule modern politics.The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli

 
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set among New York City elites in the roaring ‘20s, this book is considered one of America’s great literary products for a reason. Narrator Nick Carraway is befriended by his mysterious millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby, and proves to be a crucial link in Jay’s quixotic obsession with Nick’s cousin, Daisy. The metaphors, the beautiful writing, and the lessons one can garner about reliving the past all make The Great Gatsby worth reading, again and again. Our interview with NPR’s Maureen Corrigan is worth a listen. She is the author of So We Read On: How To Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures. We discussed her research into why a novel was written about Jazz Age New York that resonates with Americans nearly a century later.The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

 
1984 – George Orwell

Read 1984, then go delete your Facebook account.  Perhaps the most essential to re-read today, 1984 sets stage in an oppressive futuristic society monitored by the ever-watching Big Brother. Protagonist Winston Smith goes to work every day at the Ministry of Truth, where he rewrites and distorts history. However, Smith decided to begin a diary — an action punishable by death. Amid modern-day data mining, the fall of Net Neutrality, and lunatic leaders, we cannot forget the toll of tyranny and totalitarianism.1984 George Orwell

 
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Another assigned high school read you probably didn’t appreciate when you were sixteen, it’s time to revisit the ambling of George Milton and Lennie Small, migrant workers who search for jobs throughout California amid The Great Depression. And with all great novels, it’s been banned time and again for its mention of violence, swearing, racism, sexism, the works, but it’s an essential commentary on the nature of The American Dream, the dichotomy of strength and weakness, and the loneliness of isolation.Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Often called “the greatest American novel,” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn proceeds Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and is renowned for its use of written vernacular in imitation of southern antebellum society. The story follows teenager Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer as they navigate themes of race and identity. So, yeah, you should re-read that one today, especially given that the original novel has been the subject of censorship in schools for years.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

 
The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

If you need an “excuse” to read some of the best love poems ever written about oceans and women and the earth, say you’re brushing up on your dating one-liners. But the words by Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician Pablo Neruda are so much more than kindling. They are pure fire and combustion. This book will wake up your soul. It also mends broken hearts.The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

 
The Stranger – Albert Camus

An ordinary man finds himself on trial after committing a murder in one of the greatest novellas of the 20th century. A dissection of morality and the philosophy of the absurd, The Stranger is particularly relevant today as we face a world of heightened sensitivity and, perhaps, a society that makes no sense to us.The Stranger Albert Camus

 
The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Try this: Take the novel on a long, boring, or otherwise dreaded journey. Close the last page a changed man (it’s that phenomenal) with a new outlook on struggle and bonds. Set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, London writes of Buck, a dog that is abducted and forced into the chaos and brutality of frontier life. In a word: rugged.  Secretly: a tear-jerker.The Call of the Wild Jack London

 
Lord of the Flies – William Golding

A band of British boys are shipwrecked on an island and try to maintain order and normalcy the way governments do. As you might guess, it all goes terribly, terribly wrong. Lord of the Flies, the first novel from Golding, is a perfect glimpse at the nature of savage inclination. It’s a short read but it’s a damn good one.Lord of the Flies William Golding

 
Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger

We’ll bet you first glimpsed the vibrant red cover of Catcher in the Rye some time in high school. But don’t let your memory fool you into thinking it’s a kids book. Possibly the best coming-of-age tale in all of literature, Salinger writes of the young and relatable protagonist Holden Caulfield and his first-person commentary on the world as he struggles between embracing adulthood and hiding in his childhood memories.The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger

 

How To Be A Gentleman

One of the great lessons while traveling is keeping one’s eyes and senses open to all of the quirky, fun and beautiful things in our world.  It’s often the “small things” that make us smile or laugh.  We might even have our Western sensibilities challenged.  What is normal and acceptable in the destination you’re visiting might be just the opposite in your own home town.

Finding the quirks in the world is one of the great parts about travel.  And when I say quirks, what I really refer to are the things we are not used to.  I talk a lot about how travel is the best education anyone can receive and it’s true.  It is the unexpected moments that we witness, smell, taste, hear and even step over that we will remember long after we’ve left a place.  This is travel and what travel should be.

Have you had these moments?

I’ll never forget going to my first full moon ceremony in Bali.  I had just arrived, turned the corner and saw a pig’s throat slit and watched its blood drain into a bucket.  Sure it was alarming at first, but the act is also a common part of the ritual during the ceremony.  The Balinese are fine with the sacrifice and I shouldn’t be the one to judge their traditions. 

Eid Al-Adha is a ritual in Islam when a sheep, cow or a camel are sacrificed in the memory of Abraham who was stopped from slitting his son’s neck on Mount Arafat by the angel Gabriel.  Abraham was willing to slay his son at Allah’s request as a supreme act of faith.  The angel, Gabriel, prevented Abraham from going through with it, saying he had already demonstrated his love for god.  Instead, a goat was slaughtered.

The traditional ritual continues today.  I’ll never forget the chorus of bah, bah, bah from sheep who were kept in everyone’s home the night before the slaughter.  The King of Morocco is the first to commit the act on live television.  Once the king sacrifices his sheep, the rest of Morocco can follow suit.  After countless slaughters, I was stepping through rivers of sheep blood as I walked through the Old Medina.  Believe you me, I’ll never forget this experience.

Not all travel memories are so dramatic.  I loved the little boy standing next to a British guard at Horseguards Palace for a photo.  Curiously, the boy peered behind the guard then turned back with a huge smile.  In Tokyo I saw a sign outside a barber shop with a menu of prices pinned to the door.  Instead of price list, the sign read “Price Rist.”  I found that charming and couldn’t resist going in to have my hair cut.

I also loved the woman walking down a Tokyo street wearing a Geisha outfit.  We don’t expect to see sights like that in our modern world.

There are a lot of moments waiting for you as you travel – moments that make you go “Hmm…”  So, keep your senses on high alert.  Don’t be offended or startled if something you experience doesn’t meet the criteria of the Western world.   Embrace everything you see, hear, touch, taste and smell as part of your experience.  Be ready to be challenged and grow from your travel.  You might even have a travel experience of a lifetime.

As you travel around the world or even in your own city, you’ll want to take some of the best travel photos you’ve ever taken.  Consider the following iPhone travel photography tips so you can take great photos.

You Can Zoom in the Dark
One of the best upgrades on the iPhone X is its better 2x lens, especially in low light. That means you can use both lenses, regardless of the lighting conditions, without sacrificing image quality.

Try Brightening the Scene With a Flash
We typically think of smartphone flashes as cold, harsh, and [unflattering]. But the iPhone X’s new technology, called Slow Sync, has made it possible for the camera to capture beautiful, warm images while using the device’s cutting-edge Quad-LED True Tone flash.  Give this a try in a dim restaurant or outside, after sunset.

Play With New Live Photo Effects
While capturing live photos — or images with a few seconds of video before, the iPhone X has a trio of effects utilizing this technology.  Now, you can blur the action like a DSLR camera with the Long Exposure setting (for smooth waterfalls), create a continuous Loop, or make a Boomerang-like Bounce that plays the action backward and forward.

Try Portrait Mode on Food
The iPhone X made major advances with the Portrait mode.  In addition to capturing beautiful portraits with blurred backgrounds,  try the setting on food photography.

The iPhone X also has five new lighting modes for Portraits, including natural light, studio light, contour light (for dramatic shadows), stage lights (to illuminate subjects against a black background), and mono (to produce stage light-like photos in black and white).

Experiment With Burst Mode
For your best chance at the perfect shot, use the phone’s Burst Mode to shoot 10 pictures per second. To use this feature, simply hold down the shutter button in your Camera app.

Travel photography is often about capturing a fleeting moment.

Don’t Forget About Video
If you see amazing clouds slowly moving across the sky, for example, you might use time-lapse mode.  But if the scene features super fast motion like birds landing in water, you should try slo-mo.

 

How does a gentleman travel?   The answer is simple.  A gentleman travels the easiest and most convenient way possible.  In the literal sense, a gentleman travels by commercial plane, private plane, his own plane, a friend’s plane, big boat, small boat, privately chartered boat, SUV, chauffeured driven car, Business Class and First Class, over mountains, over oceans, up and down escalators, on foot, subway, train, metro, cable car, and even a camel or a mule.

In a deeper sense, a gentleman travels to discover the world.  The sights, sounds, aromas, tastes and touch of an unfamiliar place expand the knowledge of anyone who travels.  You can travel across your neighbourhood, your city and even around the world.  No matter where you go, you’re sure to receive an education you’ll never find in a classroom or a book.  You can learn a wee bit from television tho’ television really is a black hole that steals your time away from more meaningful things in life.

The cultures and the people we meet along the way teach us that we are all just trying to make it.  We simply try to make it in different ways.  But everyone you meet along the way will teach you something you didn’t know before.  If you’re lucky, you will learn a lot about yourself as well.

Travelling around the world with my camera I am afforded stunningly beautiful opportunities to capture what is before me.  I am often awestruck at man-made structures.  I’m often in complete wonderment being amongst Mother Nature’s magical creations.  But, what moves me most are the genuine souls of varying cultures who unconditionally help to uncover special parts inside of me.

Whether a divining wind sways me, or a guiding hand shifts me, I always find myself in the path of strangers who sequentially become my brothers or sisters.  Perhaps this is sheer luck.  Perhaps I have a sign on my back that says – “Hey!  I’m a nice guy.  Come talk to me.”  Perhaps not knowing why is of no great importance and I accept my good fortune without question.  

There is a peacefulness with this which I hold very close to my heart.  Quite honestly, these are moments never obtained with the click of the shutter.  These moments of building new bonds stay etched in my mind.

Travel is one of the most rewarding and powerful gifts we can give ourselves.  You can obviously give the gift of travel to others.   I’ve said this many times throughout this blog tho’ I’ll say it again.  Travel is one of the best educations you can ever receive.  There is no substitute for travel.

So, how does a gentleman travel?  A gentleman travels with an open heart and an open mind.    He travels with eyes wide open.  He rarely travels with a set agenda.  A gentleman travels with few expectations.  And, he takes each day as it comes.

 

 

A visit to London will undoubtedly feed your mind and soul.   It is impossible to leave London and not be inspired, tired, or challenged.  London’s effect on you are great.  She seeps into every part of your being without you noticing.

A visit to London is like a love affair that never really ends.  The city is always on your mind.  You crave her and everything London offers long after you leave.  You miss the sounds of London, the rumble of the London Underground, and navigating the crowded streets.  Crossing over London Bridges remains in your memory.  Iconic places such as St Paul’s Cathedral or Trafalgar Square stay etched in your mind.  Maybe the views from Waterloo Bridge or the wide spans view of London from Primrose Hill are still in your mind when you close your eyes.

You’ll always remember London.  

My affair with London began more than thirty years ago.  The city has made a huge impact on me.  I often like to say – “Everything I’ve Learned About Life I Learned From London.”

My love of live theatre began in London when I saw “Daisy Pulls It Off” at the Globe Theatre, which is now the Gielguld Theatre.  I saw magic when the curtain went up and I was captivated until the finals bows and the curtain came down.  Even today I attend live theatre performances like most people see movies.   Theatre taught me a bit about being dramatic and I use the lessons I learned in my photography.  Funny that.  Right?  It also taught me how to string together words in a particular way to make a point.  

London is a mecca for art and museums.  If you have an interest in the world’s artifacts, head over to the British Museum.  If you love paintings from Monet, Manet, Seurat, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens and a myriad of other masters, go to the National Gallery.  If you love modern art, head over to the Tate Modern Museum.  And what’s more is you’ll find a plethora of independent art galleries throughout the city.  

Studying the masters of art is a fantastic way to improve your photography.  Painters are masters at presenting light which is what photography is all about.  But, also pay attention to the use of textures, leading lines and other composition elements.

Perhaps you love fashion or interior design.  Fine art at any museum could inspire you to redecorate your home or design your next outfit that no one else will have.

A walk past Fortnum and Mason’s window displays will bring a smile to your face, tho’ it’s entirely possible you’re creative energy explodes.  You could be inspired to create your next masterpiece.  Or maybe you’ll get a warm feeling and think of the person who is not with you but you love with all your heart.

The gardens and parks throughout the city offer a sanctuary from the loud noise and madness that is London.  One of my favourite places is St. Dunstan-in-the-East.  The moment I walk into the remnants of the old church all of London’s noises go away.  I feel peace and everything seems to be right in the world.  I’ve sat on the park bench for hours and sometimes with a lunch.  It’s a place where I can actually think without distraction.  Problems are sorted through and even my next project is pieced together while at St. Dunstan’s.  There is no other place of solitude like it anywhere in London.

Soho is a splendid place for understanding and inspiration.  This area of London is one I’ve spent countless hours with my camera.  I’ll typically wander through Soho at night and into the wee hours of the morning.  Great photographs are a dime a dozen in this area of London, but if you stop long enough, you might end up in a conversation with someone you would not normally speak to.

I met a man drunk as could be who wanted me to celebrate the birth of his grandchild with him.  I spoke with a young heroin addict who described what it was like to be homeless and sleeping on the streets.  A prostitute offered me her services.  Although I declined, we had a good jovial chat in Wardour Street and she told me where to capture the best photographs.  She also warned me to keep my camera safe.  

Not everyone in London are like the people I described.  The point in sharing these experiences is that London taught me to keep an open mind and listen.  And trust me, if you listen long enough, you’ll hear everything.  The key is avoid judging anyone or projecting your own life’s beliefs on someone else.

Don’t be surprised to see a woman walking down the street wearing only her bra and a pair of shorts.  You might even see a man jogging in his tiny speedo.  Whatever you see, take it all in and realise that you can be anyone and anything you want to be because London tells you that you can.  Many of my own inhibitions went away because of the sights I’ve seen on London’s streets.  Be who and what you are without worrying what others may think or say.

I especially love Jermyn Street between St James’s Street and Regent Street St James’s.  The street has been gentrified lately but it keeps the authentic gentlemanly traditions it is known for.  The statue of Beau Brummell reminds us that Jermyn Street catered to London’s gentlemen long before we arrived.  Feel civilised and have a shirt tailored for your next special occasion, have a shave or become a connoisseur of cigars and fine art.  Almost everything you need to know about being a gentleman can be found in charming Jermyn Street.

If you’re visiting from the United States, a walk through London should remind you how young your country is.  So many of London’s buildings date back a thousand years.  That’s four times the age of the USA.  It is sort of mind blowing when you think of London that way.  As you walk along London’s streets, know you are walking amongst history.  If you know a bit of London history, take yourself back.  Try to visualise what Piccadilly was like in the 1700’s.  What was Westminster Abbey like when it was on an island in the Thames River?  Or what were the views from London Bridge when it was the original London Bridge?

London has something for everyone no matter what your tastes or interests are.  Your challenge is to be aware.  Be aware of what the city has to offer.  Be aware of what is in front of you because you never know how London will move you to be the person you always wanted to be.  Open your mind and let London shape you.  London is a hard cold city on the outside.  The truth is, however, London will take good care of you.  She will teach you about life and help you understand that you are more.  London will teach you how to love other people, too.

 

 

The year that was in travel is the year that is.  And, it’s the year ahead in 2020.

Every 31 December we ask ourselves – “Where did the year go?  It feels like January was just yesterday”.  Why does time feel like it slips by so fast?  

Is it because technology steals so much time from us?  Our work days find us in front of computer screens and in our spare time we are always tip-tapping on our mobile phones or tablets?  Our meals are delivered to us quickly in restaurants.  And, we better hurry because “this deal” won’t last.  It seems as if we are continuously in a race against time. 

Is time the friend of anyone amongst us?  Time is certainly no friend of mine.  There is never enough time in my days, weeks or months to check off my to-do list.  I’m fairly certain my to-do list grows faster than the things I get done.  Is there anyway to slow time?  Is there any way to make 2020 move slower so we can savour the days?

2019 was a remarkable year in more ways than one.  I use the term remarkable as it can refer to both good and bad.  Everyone’s year is filled with both good and bad so I can’t very well say my circumstances are special.  They are unique to me, however.

People come and go from our lives.  Life becomes fresh as new and interesting people come into our lives.  There is a lesson to learn from every person who crosses our paths.  It is up to us to decide what to do not only with the lessons but the people we meet.  

Richard Bach said it best in his book, “Illusions” – one of my favourites.  Bach said, “Every person, every event in our lives is there because we have drawn them there.  What we choose to do with them is up to us.”  

I read the book and the quote more than twenty years ago.  The words made such an impact on me, I remember and use them today.  The quote refers to the good people in our lives, tho’ unfortunately, the bad people as well.  I won’t go into details but I can say I’ve been betrayed, told I was loved when I wasn’t, used, taken advantage of and  lied to as well.  At one point it got so bad I had to question what is happening in our world.  Where did all the good people go?

I still wonder and sadly I’ve had to become weary and cautious.  I’m a genuine sort of guy who prefers to see the good in people.  I’m kind and I’ll do almost anything to help you, if I can.  I won’t change they way I live and see life.  I’ll simply be smarter in 2020 and beyond.

When you travel like I do, my travel experiences are also my life experiences.  I talk a lot about opening your mind and heart while travelling.  Throughout the blog I talk about the good people I’ve met.  I stay away from talking about the not so good people I meet along the way.  Today I’ve chosen to only refer to the bad seeds.

Instead of harbouring feelings of anger and hurt, I turn to myself.  I’m always comfortable with who and what I am.  I’m also aware I can always be better.  What can I do to improve?  I take stock of myself and take steps to become a better person.  I want to be better not only for myself but for the people in my life as well.

All that said, how can I put a year of travel into one video?  Over 4,000 travel photos – all with an iPhone – in one fast paced video.  Four minutes and thirty seconds.  That’s a lot of time in our fast-paced world.  Thanks for taking the journey with me.  I hope you enjoy.

Best of Luck to Everyone in 2020.

The Caribbean.  An Island.  Abundant Sunshine.  Beaches.  Crystal clear blue or turquoise waters.  Maybe a few umbrella cocktails.  This is Curaçao.

Do I love Curaçao?  I’ve been twice and each time I was on the island for a month.  I also explored every inch of the island.  Again, do I love Curaçao?  No.  I didn’t even love it the first time  I visited.  Why did I return a second time?  Good question.  

The only reason I can come up with for a second visit is the resort where I stayed was closed so the owner could go on holiday himself.  He agreed to let me stay so I literally had the resort to myself.   I arrived, he gave me the keys, he left the next day and I left the resort keys under a bush when I myself left a month later.

Will you find beaches and plenty of sunshine in Curaçao?  Of course you will tho’ I wouldn’t give any beach rave reviews.  The turtles are cool except the tourists who chase turtles aren’t so cool.  I saw that happen plenty of times.  

There are three beaches on the north side of the island that are off the beaten path.  Locals are really the only ones who are aware of these secluded beaches and they are not easily accessible.  You have to know where you’re going and be prepared for a lengthy and bumpy ride.  Once you’re there, you’ll basically have the small beaches to yourself.  If you want to go au natural, go for it.  I did and had a relaxing time and I did this more than once.

Otherwise, there isn’t much to Curaçao.  The capital city isn’t so exciting and you’ll find typical high priced tourist fare one after another.  A drive around the main road is nice for a relaxing day out.  Any good restaurants are few and far between.  The large refinery as a backdrop isn’t so tropical beautiful nor is it 

One would think Curaçao is one of my top go-to destinations but that’s only because you’ll find numerous blog posts about the island on this blog.  Let me just say – when you stay on an island for a total of two months, you know a lot about the island and can write a lot about it.

I’ll add this as well – when you go where the locals go, don’t expect a friendly reception.  I’m an unassuming kind of guy.  I’m quiet and reserved and more than respectful to anyone I meet.  I say this to say I’m not a loud obnoxious tourist.  Unfortunately, I was met with a lot of looks of disdain and downright rudeness.   Locals who work in the shops, hotels and restaurants will, of course, be kind to you.

Will I return to Curaçao again?  More than likely I will not.

Wherever you travel you’ll want to capture some fantastic travel photos.  Consider the following tips for your next adventure wherever it might be.

1. You should almost never use flash …
Natural lighting is more flattering for photos.

Not only does flash wash out skin tones, it also gives iPhone photos an artificial look.

Take advantage of good lighting.

While the iPhone flash can provide the light you need in a pinch,  it’s often too bright and leaves the background underexposed (i.e., too dark)

Quite frankly,I would only use a flash if there is practically no light … like in a power outage.

2.  never use digital zoom.
Instead of zooming in, get closer to your subject.

One of the biggest mistakes you could make while taking pictures with your iPhone is zooming in.

Basically, if you zoom in with your iPhone camera, you end up losing a lot of data … and wind up with a low-resolution photo.

Instead,  get closer to your subject,  Learn to zoom with your feet.

4. In low-light conditions, adjust the exposure on your iPhone camera before taking a picture.
Don’t rely on the iPhone’s autoexposure feature.

You can change the exposure level on your iPhone camera before taking a picture.  To take a good picture in bad lighting, start by tapping the brightest spot you see on your screen.

A small yellow box with a sun icon will pop up to mark your focal point and default exposure level.

To make your image brighter or darker, tap and swipe up or down without lifting your finger to increase or decrease exposure. You should see the sun icon move up or down with your finger.

In general, adjusting exposure gives you more control over your shot.
The exposure adjustment feature also comes in handy when taking pictures of high-contrast scenes, such as landscapes.
Adjusting exposure levels helps you get the perfect shot.

Adjust the exposure level  if you’ve got a scene with really bright areas and really dark areas that the iPhone’s autoexposure sensor may have a hard time balancing out.

5. Another easy way to balance exposure is to use the iPhone’s HDR feature.

The HDR feature on your iPhone automatically combines three pictures of the same scene — one slightly underexposed, one normally exposed, one slightly overexposed — into one optimized shot.

The HDR feature is handy in extreme lighting situations where the scene has deep shadows and bright, bright highlights.  Use HDR in the late afternoon and evening when the light gets a little low.

Then, tap “Auto” or “On.”  If you choose “Auto,” your iPhone camera will automatically analyze a scene and turn on HDR as needed.  If you choose “On,” your
iPhone camera will permanently shoot in HDR mode until you turn it off.
6. Take better photos by following the natural lines of objects in your shots.
Line up your shot with your subject matter.

Follow lines in your horizon.  Follow lines from buildings and structures.

7.  AN EASY WAY TO FOLLOW LINES IS TO TURN ON THE GRID LINES

Grid lines can help guide your shot.

Simply go to Settings > Photos & Camera on your iPhone and tap the toggle next to “Grid” to turn on grid lines.

When you open your iPhone camera app, you should see lines that split your screen into nine rectangles of equal size. To make sure your photos are straight, just line up objects in your shot with the lines in the grid.

These grid lines are “great” for iPhone compositions.

8. Use the iPhone’s autofocus feature to control the subject of your shot.
Use the AE/AF Lock to make sure your subject is always in focus.

When you tap on your iPhone screen to set your focal point, you also set your shot’s exposure level by default. Learning how to separate focus from exposure, however, lets you control the subject of your shot.

For example, if you’re taking a picture of your friend, and someone walks by in the background, your iPhone camera may automatically focus on that stranger.

To make sure your subject is always in focus, tap and hold on the screen to lock your camera’s focal point. You should see a yellow rectangle pop up on the screen that says AE/AF Lock.

9. Use Burst mode when taking selfies or portraits.
Get the perfect shot with the iPhone’s Burst mode.

An overlooked feature on the iPhone is Burst mode lets you take several pictures in rapid succession at once.

To take bursts, just tap and hold the capture button on your iPhone camera screen.  Burst mode is perfect for [capturing] fast moving and fast changing situations.

10. To keep your camera steady, use the volume button to take a picture instead of pressing your iPhone screen.
An easy way to avoid taking blurry pictures.

A steady hand is so important when taking pictures with your iPhone.

A simple and very effective way to avoid shaking your camera is to take a photo using your iPhone’s volume key. Instead of tapping the capture button on your iPhone screen, which can shake your camera, hold your phone horizontally with both hands and press either the volume up or volume down button.

11. Even better, try using the volume button on a pair of your headphones.
Put your Apple headphones to good use.

If you have wired Apple EarPods, press the volume up or down button on your headphones to snap a photo when your iPhone camera app is open, Darren Boyd recommends.

This may also work with other compatible headphones, although you should check before buying a pair for this purpose.

12. Or use your Apple Watch to take better selfies and group shots.
Make the most out of your Apple Watch

The default photo app on the Apple Watch is very handy when organizing selfies, group shots, and long exposures.

To use your Apple Watch to take better iPhone photos from afar, open the camera app on your iPhone.  Then, open the camera app on your Apple Watch.

This will turn your Apple Watch into a remote display that shows a live view of your iPhone camera. Finally, tap the shutter button, the timer button, or the burst button to take a picture, take a timed picture, or take a series of pictures in burst mode, respectively.

You can even tap your Apple Watch screen to focus your iPhone camera remotely.

No matter how, when, why or where you travel around the world you are sure to receive one of the best educations of your life.  The lessons you learn may be small and unnoticeable or they may be huge and life changing.

A foreign culture may make you realise something you didn’t know about yourself and sometimes even move you to tears.  My visit to Bhutan took me to a state of peacefulness I’ve not found anywhere in the Western world.  I can’t begin to describe the effect the tiny kingdom had on me except to say when I viewed photos and video from the journey, tears rolled down my cheeks.  It’s a mystery to me why the tears came even today.  All I know is Bhutan touched me beyond measure.

The taste of new food, aromas, colors and even travel sounds can leave an impression on you well after you leave a destination.  The sensory elements of travel may inspire you to add them to your own creative adventures in cooking or music or handicrafts.

You may be in awe of Big Ben or Mont Saint Michel glowing against the night sky.  Istanbul’s Blue Mosque or the Old Medina in Marrakech send your senses into sensory overload.  A sunset on a beach in the Caribbean or Bali may change the way you look at the world.

But most of all, it is the people you meet along the way who will touch you in ways you never though imaginable.  Maybe you’ll understand that we are all just trying to make it in this world.  We just happen to speak differently or pray a little different.  Inherently, we’re all good people.

And so when I wanted to show the many places I’ve travelled throughout the world, I decided to do it in one go in one epic video presentation which I’ve titled “Travel Around The World With The Gentleman Wayfarer.”  There are approximately 3000 photos in the fast-paced presentation that span all the way around the world.  The places and people I’ve included have impacted my life in one way or another.  This is my tribute to every one and every place that has made a difference in my life.

Travel with an iPhone or any mobile phone is very common today.  If you are keen to improve your travel photography skills, a mobile device is a great way to do it.  Phones are easily accessible, they fit in your pocket and you really don’t have to think too much.

Consider these iPhone Travel Photography Tips during your next journey.

1) Strengthen your travel photos with different focal lengths.

The iPhone is equipped with two lenses, a wide-angle 28mm and a portrait lens, 56mm. Different focal lengths tell different stories. A wider angle generally gives a better sense of place, while a telephoto brings the viewer into the details of the subject.  Consider this while you’re shooting and experiment with both.  And remember – one key element to great photo composition is filling your frame.

2) Keep Using Your iPhone in Low Light

Some of my favorite images have been shot well after the sun has gone down.  I love the challenge of low light photography.  In the past, I would have put my iPhone away thinking the images wouldn’t be usable, but now with a new sensor and faster aperture (f/1.8), the iPhone autofocuses and captures substantially better in low light.

3) Be In The Moment But Also Think Ahead

Travel photography is about capturing the unknowns and unexpected.  Always be looking forward, and consider using the iPhone’s burst mode so you don’t miss a moment as it happens.   To use burst mode, press and hold the shutter button until rapid fire begins.

4) Buy An Unlocked iPhone So You Can Switch to Local SIM Cards.

Communication is super important while traveling.  If you’re roaming internationally, the cost can be astronomical.  Buy a local SIM card as it allows you to make new plans, call someone, google something, and more, while you’re on the go. In photography, this means your GPS data will be recorded with your photo.  The iPhone’s memories feature can organize your images together by location and create simple and fun video vignettes.

Later, you can also look on a map in Photos and see exactly where you captured different photographs.  I use this feature as I don’t always remember the names of the places where I’ve taken photos.

5) Bring a Small Tripod

A small, compact tripod can be helpful and is a great way to capture time-lapses, low-light images, and more. While the iPhones now all have a stabilizer built in, the extra support from a tripod can be especially helpful with the iPhone optical zoom.

Keep in mind that shooting with a longer focal length, like the iPhone optical zoom, amplifies camera shake.  You’ll find it will naturally be more difficult to get a sharp clear shot while shooting with 2x, especially in low-light environments or unstable foundations, like a moving vehicle.  To compensate, use a mini-tripod or experiment with burst mode. Sometimes I’ll shoot a 20-shot burst just to ensure that I have the sharpest shot possible.

6) Upload Your Photos to the Cloud Daily

Thanks to a the iPhone’s water-resistant feature, you won’t be losing our pictures during accidental swims, but it could be left at a hotel, or worse, picked from your pocket, which happened to me in Ecuador. At the end of the day, the iPhone can be replaced, but your pictures can’t. Don’t get two weeks into a trip only to lose them all in a moment.

If you don’t have your laptop because you’re traveling light, consider a SanDisk iXpand.  It’s essentially a USB flash drive with a Lightning connector, so you can quickly and easily off-load your images each day.  I love mind and take it everywhere I travel.

Be sure to keep your backup and your iPhone in separate bags for extra safety.

7) Play it safe.

Don’t put your iPhone—or any valuable—in the tray when going through security. Instead, put it in a pocket of your bag before sending it through the x-ray.  This way it’s protected from being accidentally—or intentionally—carried off before you get through the metal detector.

8) Play To The Strengths of the iPhone

One of the greatest strengths of the iPhone as a camera is its agility.  You can focus on getting to the best shoot spots instead of worrying about lugging gear. Don’t weigh it down with a bunch of unnecessary DSLR lens adapters.

Try leaving your DSLR at home and travel super light.  The iPhone  doesn’t replace your DSLR, but it’s plenty powerful and a really fun way to experience and capture the environment around you.  You’ll love leaving the extra chargers, batteries, lenses, and big tripod at home for a change.

Having travelled the world so much, I’m all too familiar with tourists and how frustrating they can be.  Sure, most are friendly and upbeat once you have the chance to meet them, but they don’t walk or talk with consideration to the locals, they’re finicky and tough to accommodate in restaurants, cause a cringe-worthy scene whenever a celebrity is around, and tend to display a general lack of situational awareness.  And what do they usually all have in common? They haven’t done their homework on local culture, which is the only way to seamlessly blend in with native strangers in unfamiliar territory.

Feeling at home in a new city can be simple once you’ve studied up a bit, and it doesn’t take a ton of effort to appear respectful, in-the-know, and completely comfortable in new surroundings.  No matter the destination on your suitcase tag, you can bet that a bit of preparation will make your transition go a lot more smoothly.

Study the Local Manners

Most people who haven’t ever left the United States would be shocked at how something as simple as a handshake can have all kinds of nuances depending on where in the world you’re travelling.  So keep in mind that every country has its own unspoken social rules, manners, and customs.  You can’t take it for granted that even your best manners will be understood or properly interpreted abroad.

Before the landing gear deploys, you should be familiar with the local dos and donts of navigating and interacting with your temporary home.  Learn how to greet people casually and respectfully, get familiar with proper local table manners, study up on what culturally taboo topics you’ll want to avoid, and memorize a few foreign language keywords you’ll need to get around to avoid fumbling through a translator app every time you need to ask for directions.  This’ll make it simple to avoid stepping on any toes and will help to make each interaction with strangers a positive and memorable one.

Dress the Part

While you should always be comfortable and dress to your preference, it’s embarrassing (and potentially dangerous) to be labelled a gullible tourist at first glance.  Looking too casual or travel-ready (I’m talking cargo pants, big backpacks, and gym sneakers) are dead giveaways.

You can’t go wrong with well-fitting, slightly dressed-up gear in neutral colours.  If it fits well and it has a collar, chances are it’ll look great no matter where you are.  And avoid wearing flashy jewellery and accessories, or risk being a target for pickpockets.  Yeah, your Rolex looks great and makes being on-time easier, but it’s probably not the best idea to flash it in a foreign environment where your street smarts are lessened.

Plan Your Menu

Authentic, local food is indisputably one of the best parts of travelling.  And while playing it safe and sticking only to stuff you’re already familiar with (I’m talking to you, picky eaters) isn’t necessarily disrespectful or rude, it’s a massive missed opportunity.

A trip to a new country is the perfect time to experiment with new cuisines impulsively, but it doesn’t hurt to get familiar with some of the local delicacies, and the way they’re commonly served and eaten before you arrive. So do a bit of research, make a short list of a few dishes your host city or country does best, and gravitate towards those when you bib up at a new restaurant.  No need to memorize every dish or local ingredient; if you’re lost on what to order, it’s always an option to ask your server for a recommendation as long as you’re polite.

With those details in mind, you’ll get more out of your trip – and then return home a more experienced, well-rounded traveller.  Now, have fun out there.  And don’t forget to grab meaningful memories to share with everybody back at home.