Travel like a rock star… or make a fool of yourself trying

By Russ Davis

Last month, I found myself walking through a partitioned hallway inside Brussels Airport, winding my way into the arrivals hall. I met up with my father, who had arrived in Belgium a few days earlier. As I went to meet him, I was wearing aviator sunglasses and walking somewhat off-kilter because of the weight of my luggage. Later that night, he told my mother that I had “the perfect rock star thing going on.”

Huh? was my initial thought.

Apparently, wearing sunglasses and walking a certain way gave the impression that I was striving to be Jon Bon Jovi with (slightly) shorter hair. I’ve never thought of myself that way. I don’t think I’d ever reach that level of awesome. And anyway, as far as the sunglasses go, my guide was more General MacArthur than Bon Jovi (more on that later).

But my father’s words stayed with me. Also on my mind were the words of Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw; in 2012, the two country artists recorded the song “Feel Like a Rock Star,” which encourages listeners to do, basically, “whatever makes you feel like a rock star.” One night, as I was lying in bed, I thought, I’m thousands of miles away from home. I don’t have a whole lot of cash, but enough to treat myself. Heck, why not live a little?

So, I made an effort to spend my time in Europe, well, travelling like a rockstar. I made it up as I went along, but I later wrote down my methods for posterity.

  • Those aviators that I mentioned earlier? I wore them anywhere and everywhere I could, even some indoor locales. My guide here in this area is none other than the late General Douglas MacArthur: He just made them seem so darn cool.
  • I wore my aviators in indoor locales like the airport because it makes me feel like a top secret agent of some sort.
  • One afternoon, I found myself inside AutoWorld, an automotive museum in Brussels. I notice a stylish 1980 Porsche. I pulled my father aside and said, “When I get serious pocket change, I’m getting one of these.”
  • On another afternoon, I go to Amsterdam. While I’m there, I chat with a prostitute, just so I can say I’ve done it. Just chatting—that’s all. I regret nothing.
  • I scarfed down as much chocolate and guzzled as much Coca-Cola as I could. (Both of these things taste different—and better—in Belgium and the Netherlands.) Same goes for street vendor waffles and fries.
  • When it came to gifts for the people back home, I included an empty Dr. Pepper can for my friend Justin, who loves Dr. Pepper nearly as much as he loves his wife and kids. Now he’ll have proof that Dr. Pepper exists overseas.
  • I thanked the airport security personnel for having a sense of humor about said Dr. Pepper can being in my carry-on.
  • While in said security line, I chatted up an attractive tall foreigner I don’t know. She’s from New Zealand; I told her that Oceanic accents are sexy. I regret nothing.

And so on. This isn’t the comprehensive list, but you get the gist. This, just so it’s clear, is my own personal list. As Kenny and Tim themselves say, you need to decide for yourself exactly “what makes you feel like a rock star.” It may take some experimenting.

There are a few boundaries in experimenting. After all, you have to endure time in transit (be it by plane, train, bus, car, horseback, etc.) and have appropriate identification. Otherwise, wherever you travel, keep in mind what I did: Away from home, let it hang loose a little.

It worked for me. Before my flight home took off, I looked out the airplane window and waved, saying, “It’s been a blast—and like General MacArthur, I shall return.”