EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The 'Science' Behind the Travel- What You Need To Know

Sometimes, everybody needs a little 'away time'. It's a natural reaction to today's stressful world. Maybe your relationship is getting you down, or you're worrying about your job. Maybe you're tired of looking at the same old scenery, or need a few days away from the daily grind. Maybe you had a misunderstanding with a breakaway Ukrainian political group over a nuclear reactor, and then spotted some mercenaries camped out in the alley beside your apartment. Maybe you dressed a neighbour up in a white lab coat and asked her to go and collect your mail. Maybe as she was being bundled into the back of an unmarked van, you escaped - terrified - through the kitchen window, with only a spatula and bottle of cherry liqueur for protection.

Well, don't worry. The key thing to remember is that these things are totally normal and definitely not your fault. But sometimes, as I found, getting away is a good idea. So, if you've ever wondered how to communicate in a foreign language, fly a plane, or navigate by the stars, then please say hello (or even bonjour! or adios!) to a special globetrotting Part VII of the 'Science Behind' series.

Who invented travel?

Travelling was invented by J Harvey Travel, a native Bostonian, who had always dreamed of visiting the bright lights of New York City. One day, in his early sixties, he woke up and thought to himself, 'Why don't I just go there?' So he did, and travel was born.

Before the ingenious idea of J Harvey Travel, no one had ever thought of moving around. For years, buses, ships and planes had travelled from place to place, empty; while transport companies lost millions of dollars and their CEOs despaired.

What should I take with me when I travel?

You should take $500 dollars in unmarked bills. You should take a bag - not a large bag, nor a bag that is too small. You should take enough canned provisions to last you two days in a blocked mine shaft. You should take a length of twine, a sack roomy enough to house a guinea fowl, and a sealed packet of raisins.

What differences will I notice in other countries?

First of all, you should be aware that the TV schedules will be different and you are warned that the shows may well be in another language. Apart from that, there is not much to worry about. Obviously, in Europe, you should watch out for hair-thieves. In Japan, never drink water after midnight. In Australia, don't trust the three legged-dog who follows you home and remember, you may lose money to a sailor. But of course, most people will already be aware of those things.

Help! I need to learn to fly a plane - in a hurry!

The easiest way to learn how to fly a plane is to have the right motivation. That means that first of all you should get yourself into a cockpit - preferably with a sick or sleeping pilot or captain.

1.Don't worry too much about the controls. Flying a plane is all about self-confidence. If you believe you can fly the plane, you will.

2.Get comfortable in the seat. Adjust it so that you can see out of the front window. You might want a cushion for your back, or under your feet.

3.Loosen your tie, if you have one. If not, undo your belt. You should probably stop there, though. Okay, pants off too, but really, that's enough now.

4. Put the captain's hat on. Why not? He's asleep anyway and I bet you'd look better in it than he does. Oh yes, that's a spiffy look on you.

5.Fly the plane.

It is just that easy!

How can I ask for help in other countries?

When you are away, you might find that you need to request help from local people who may not speak English. Health worries and concerns about food and accommodation can be exacerbated by a fear of not being able to communicate. Here are some basic signals you can use to convey information:

How do I navigate by the stars?

It is important to remember that stars only appear at night. So, if you're intending to continue navigating after dawn, you might want to jot down on a scrap of paper their rough positions. Of course, as stars all look the same, you will just have a bunch of dots on a page. And neck ache from staring up all night. To be honest, I'm not sure how this is supposed to work. Go left at that dot! Go straight on at this one! Maps in the sky. It's all craziness - and totally unscientific, by the way. Don't be cheap. Buy a map.

Where are you right now?

Why, who wants to know?

Oh, no one. Umm … a friend. Who has a gift for you

No, I'm fine. I don't want anything, really. In fact - wait, hold on a minute. Look over there.

Over where? Over - hello? He-ll-o. … Oh right.

Fun travel facts

© 2007 Emma Rowley

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Emma Rowley is a Londoner. Maybe that's why she loves London Town.