Initially, Lansky's sometimes off-color, comedic oratory style received a lukewarm response from his audience. Eventually, however, listeners, perhaps subdued by the barrage of sensorial input regarding Lansky's own travel experiences, began to appreciate the author's off-kilter sense of humor.
Lansky touted travel as a way to see one's own country from a new perspective. He should know: Lansky himself has visited approximately 120 countries. Even with his own extensive experience, the variety of countries to which St. Olaf students will be traveling over Interim and second semester surprised him. Normally, he said, the destinations for college students are often limited to London and Italy.
Travel is not that hard, Lansky said, advising his audience how to avoid the pitfalls of travel while debunking common travel myths. There is no best place to go.
Lansky showed a rough sketch of the Gringo Trail, the areas that have become most popular for travelers, thanks to guidebooks. He said that trips should ultimately depend on what individual travelers want for themselves, however.
He granted permission to bypass trips to the Seven Wonders of the World, and stressed crafting [one's] own adventure. A few other of his suggestions included traveling to destinations in which tourists can participate in new sports, festivals, classes or bathing experiences.
Additionally, Lansky asserted that quality often creates more lasting memories than quantity.
"Transportation is an inherent part of the travel experience - - not just a means of getting somewhere else. Nor," he said, "should it necessarily be a comfortable part of one's journey; to prove his point, he showed comfortable transportation imitations in exotic places such as Disneyworld.
Accommodations are also a factor to consider when planning one's trip. Hostels are a familiar and inexpensive concept available to college travelers. Lansky also noted more unique options, including hotels in which nearly everything is made of ice or salt.
Lansky, blatantly contradicting some common advice for dining abroad, said, "Try everything." But, he warned, "You will get sick."
To deal with such "backside blues," his term for food poisoning and other food-related illnesses, he offered a four-step solution: Drink water with rehydration mix, place a stool sample in a film canister, take the sample to a clinic for analysis and buy whatever drugs are prescribed.
Aside from indigestion woes, Lansky noted another common problem for travelers: overpacking. After listing myriad disadvantages accompanying this common mistake, Lansky listed the essentials, all of which fit into a backpack: a swappable book, day bag, medical and toiletry kits, clothes and a survival bag with odds and ends such as duct tape.
As far as clothing, Lansky advised following the rule of one - - bring one of each item of clothing (except for underwear; here he suggested two pairs for men, four for women).
Lansky disputed several common travel myths, including the necessity of knowing the native language within the country one is visiting (sufficient enough is knowing 'please,' 'thank you,' a few numbers and 'Where's the bathroom?'), that women shouldn't travel alone and that the more ground you cover, the more you'll see.
Lastly, Lansky listed several strategies for safety abroad, including traveling without jewelry and carrying money in a front pocket. Hopefully, Lansky jested, even first-time travelers will have seen enough movies to know that under no circumstances should one carry something across a border for someone else.
With and abundance of travel tips, a sense of humor and a wealth of personal experience abroad, Doug Lansky seemed quite the reliable authority when it came to planning safe and entertaining trips around the world. Any students interested in exploration and travel shouldn't hesitate to heed Lansky's advice.