Traveling Dr. Who Style
Do you love traveling? No matter where you fall into the spectrum of answers to that question, you can be sure there are some things to learn from Dr. Who. Now, there’s someone who knows about traveling! He’s been everywhere, in every time frame, with a number of different companions, in a multitude of cultures all over the universe—and most of the time, he’s loving every minute. How does he avoid the pitfalls all the rest of us face?
Here are some tips I’ve picked up watching the show.
Dr. Who regenerates, changing his (or her) face periodically, and for each new incarnation, finds an outfit he (or she) likes. For the most part, the Doctor’s always wearing it. And there’s usually something distinctive about it, a bow-tie, a long, knitted scarf, an extremely long trench coat, etc.
It turns out those mix and match, hyper versatile travel outfit pieces are the way to go! Find your style, invest in some durable threads, add a jacket (or cape or trench coat) and some good shoes. Accessorize with a tie or scarf, maybe some glasses or a steam-punk monocle.
You’re going to be seeing and meeting new people all the time who don’t know or care that you’ve worn that outfit before. And actually, it could help them recognize you again.
Find Your Sonic Screwdriver
Dr. Who can handle just about any technical glitches with his incredibly useful gadget, the sonic screwdriver. If these were for sale in any of their various incarnations, they would cost more than most of us could afford. But the principle is worth mimicking. What gadget will serve you best when traveling?
Many of us would say a phone. My guess is that, depending on what you want to accomplish while you travel, there’s a range of electronic gadgets that could work. When making your selection, choose the lightest weight option available that will do what you need it to do.
Either one of these would make a great gadget to have on hand:
- Smartphone. Access maps, translation tools, take pictures, make reservations, transfer money, play games, and keep notes.
- Pad with cell data. Same as a smartphone, only more. Journaling, photography, reading ebooks, video streaming. Optional: add a thin keypad.
Be Ready for Detours
There’s no such thing as a travel fiasco in Dr. Who’s world. Every setback, misadventure, and detour thrown at him becomes a new escapade. He keeps his head and optimism. He’s ready to explore and ask questions, take some risks, and learn some new things. Add to that the fact that he’s pretty smart and has tons of knowledge and experience to draw from… alright, maybe that’s not something we can copy exactly. BUT, we do have some background and experience, too, and we can make the most of it!
When things “go wrong”:
- Be optimistic. Expect to learn or glean something good from it.
- Remember what you know about people, especially in cultures you are less familiar with. Watch people’s faces and take cues on how to behave.
- Be gracious and well-mannered. Everyone wants to be shown respect. Even if you aren’t sure what they consider gracious, give it your best shot.
- Be a problem-solver. Throw complaints and blame out the window. They are of no use to you. How can you solve this problem? The more you do this, the easier it gets.
Melt into local culture
This isn’t the easiest thing in the world. When you travel to foreign lands, you look different, smell different, dress different, and act differently. It can’t be helped. But Dr. Who never lets that stop him, so why should it stop us?
Here are some Dr. Who pointers:
- Smile and appreciate the people. Welcome their hospitality. (This doesn’t apply to merchants who see you as a sheep to be fleeced.)
- Try new things such as food or experiences. Listen to advice on places to check out.
- Learn some phrases and use them. Find ways to communicate, even waving your hands around.
- Read up on the place before you go and heed any advice on cultural mistakes to avoid. Dr. Who already has a lot of this in his head, so this is the next best thing.
Bring a Friend Along
Traveling alone may have some perks but for the most part, every experience is better when shared. Dr. Who has gotten pretty creative in finding companions over the years since his own people died and humans don’t live as long as Time Lords.
Some friends are good company because they don’t talk much… or perhaps because they make lots of good conversation. Some are great about sharing the costs and some may be awesome at carrying stuff and doing the work of travel.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about finding someone to travel with:
How much do they talk? How much do they spend? Do they like museums and cultural experiences? Food and local cuisine? Exercise and adventure? Fun and laughter? Will they want to walk, take buses, trains, cars, bikes, planes or boats? How do they relax?
Dr. Who was able to enjoy the company of very different kinds of companions, but one of the biggest common denominators was that he found someone who could balance whatever his current problem was—and it was always someone he could trust.
I’m only adding this because it has to be mentioned. There just isn’t anything to match the Tardis, a compact, incredibly handy travel machine that takes the doctor wherever he wants to go in time or space and brings everything he could possible need.
Somebody let me know when we have something comparable for travel.
Speaking of travel… are you the kind that likes vicarious travel? There are some great adventures to read in Rogue Skies that include travel through all kinds of times and places that you are sure to enjoy.