007: The World’s Greatest Travel Guru Photo: AP)
In every James Bond movie, you know we’re going to see him rock a killer tuxedo. Or do away with a bad guy or several. And, yes, he’s probably going to have sexy time with a beautiful woman. Or several.
But whenever I watch a Bond film, there’s one particular moment I always look forward to: when Bond, freshly arrived in whatever exotic country his mission has taken him to, steps off the airplane and through the airport with that patented 007 swagger that seems to scream, “All right, I’m here. What trouble can I get into now?”
Yes, James Bond may be an alcoholic, womanizing assassin. But you gotta admit, the dude knows how to get his travel on. When have you ever seen him scrunched up in an economy class seat? Or get grief from a snippy rental car agent? Or suffer any of the indignities of travel (except for the occasional international bad guy trying to kill him)? For more than 50 years, 007 has made travel look good. And for my entire life of watching and reading his adventures, he’s inspired my love of travel far more than anyone else, real or fictional.
I may never look as good in a tuxedo as Bond. His movies are probably the closest I’ll ever get to driving an Aston Martin. And let’s not even discuss my record with the ladies back in my single days. But I’ve definitely picked up more than one travel tip from 007, and I’m looking forward to picking up more when I see the latest movie, Spectre, when it opens in the U.S. this week. Here are the 11 Things James Bond Teaches Us About Travel:
1. Always have a suit handy
007 is always ready to suit up! (Gif: YouTube)
When 007 is on an overseas mission, he’s never far from an impeccably tailored suit, if not a full-on tuxedo. Even when he sneaks into a Latin American oil tank farm to blow up a drug dealer’s supply in Goldfinger, he wears a pristine white dinner jacket underneath his black scuba wetsuit — perfect for his post-mission entertaining. Yes, there’s value in packing light (you never do see Bond at baggage claim, after all; Double-O agents carry on). But you should always pack something to wear in case a spontaneous formal event — be it a last-minute dinner invitation, a swanky party, or a rollicking casino night — should present itself during your trip. As James Bond can tell you, it’s never good to be caught unprepared, either when facing a diabolical villain or a fashion emergency.
2. Learn the language
Bond impresses the locals with his native tongue. (Gif: YouTube)
During my first overseas trip with my now-wife, we went to Madrid. Passing a nice-looking restaurant, I asked the waiter — in Spanish — what time the place closed. The impressed look my traveling companion gave me definitely made me feel like I just went full Bond. It’s not a well-known fact, but James Bond is fluent in several languages. We only occasionally see him exercise that skill in the movies (007 isn’t a showoff), but when he does — fooling Denise Richards with his accent-free Russian in “The World Is Not Enough,” joking with a German valet in Tomorrow Never Dies or conversing in Spanish with a pair of crooked cops in Quantum of Solace — nothing makes you look like more of an international man of mystery than being able to speak the local language. And the ladies dig it, too.
3. Try the local fare
When in Kentucky, Bond drinks as the Kentuckyians (Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis)
Yes, James Bond is a fiend for his vodka martinis, shaken not stirred. But being the world class traveler he is, he’ll often ditch his drink of choice for a local cocktail. When he visits Cuba in Die Another Day, he enjoys mojitos with Halle Berry. In Goldfinger, he allows the titular villain to introduce him to THE drink of the Kentucky equestrian scene, mint juleps. And visiting Japan in You Only Live Twice, 007 drinks his share of sake. Bond knows that traveling is a time to leave your old habits behind and try something new. Besides, for a guy who eschews disguises and insists on using his real name during top-secret spy missions, drinking like the locals makes it seem like he’s at least trying to blend in.
4. Know at least one good restaurant in every city you visit
After a harrowing Mideast mission in The Living Daylights that ends with Bond and the female hero narrowly escaping a crashing airplane in a jeep, Bond spies a road sign saying “Karachi 200 km.” “I know a great restaurant in Karachi,” says 007. “We can just make dinner.” Bond knows that after having tangled with the Soviet army and the Afghan Mujahideen, the last thing anyone wants is an endless “Where do we eat?” deliberation. Try to know of at least one good restaurant in the city you’re visiting before you arrive; you can research a few potential spots online or get recommendations from friends. Hungry spies with a license to kill don’t delay mealtimes with exhaustive last-minute Yelp searches. Neither should you.
WATCH: Facts About Spectre
5. Don’t waste money on expensive rental cars…
We often see James Bond tooling around in his signature Aston Martin. But when he rents a car in the Bahamas in Casino Royale, he doesn’t needlessly splurge on a fancy car he’s only going to drive back and forth to his hotel. Instead he opts for a nondescript Ford Mondeo, and rocks that bad boy as if it were a hand-crafted European roadster. Bond knows that blowing your entire travel budget on a car in which you’re only going to spend a limited amount of time is a waste. And when 007 travels, the only thing James Bond wastes is bad guys. (Cue 007 theme music.)
6. … But do get the nicest hotel room you can afford
James Bond’s not one to get persnickety. But when a fellow MI6 agent books them into a fleabag Bolivian hotel in Quantum of Solace, he gets as snippy as Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory when someone sits in his chair. “So shoot me,” Bond snaps at the protesting agent as he walks away from the dive hotel. “I’d rather stay in a morgue.” He then directs them to a luxury, five-star hotel that’s more in line with his standards. Bond knows that, unlike a flashy rental car, a nice hotel room is a worthy investment toward a relaxing and productive trip.
7. Forgive easily
Also in Quantum, to show that there are no hard feelings with his attractive fellow agent due to that hotel spat, Bond seduces her minutes after checking in to their new hotel. A lesson for all of us that when dealing with the disputes that inevitably come up with travel partners, it’s always best to not hold grudges. Speaking of which…
8. Engage in random hookups at your own risk
James Bond’s most ill-fated vacation hookup. (Photo: Bettmann/Corbis)
Even after 50-plus years of having his overseas liaisons end in assassination attempts, betrayals, set-ups, and gold-painted dead blondes left in his bed, James Bond still hasn’t gotten the message that anonymous flings with strangers is a risky venture for any traveler. Just because Bond fails to learn from his most consistent mistakes doesn’t mean that we can’t: Despite the allure of NSA romance on the road, it comes with a variety of risks. We won’t detail them here, lest we sound like a PSA, but keep in mind that when Bond is finally taken out, we all know it won’t be by a megalomaniacal supervillain or a brutal henchman, but because of a hookup-gone-wrong.
9. It’s okay to flirt to get people to help you
Wonder if Bond ever put Moneypenny’s administrative capabilities to good use. (Photo: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)
James Bond is constantly traveling in the employ of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but yet you never see him fill out an expense report. Ever wonder why? I’ve always believed that because of his longstanding flirtation with Miss Moneypenny, he’s been able to sweet-talk her into doing it for him. Sure, it may be emotionally manipulative to play on the emotions of a lovelorn admirer, but anyone who’s had to manage the infernal task of digging through receipts (can Bond expense bullets for his Walther PPK, or does he have to buy them out of pocket and write it off his taxes?) would be inclined to forgive him such a transgression. A little harmless flirting to score an upgrade, a free in-flight drink, or a completed expense report never hurt anyone.
10. Don’t forget about trains
In the world of travel, trains are often ignored, but not by Bond. From his glamorous journey aboard The Orient Express in From Russia With Love to his smoldering first meeting with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Bond reminds us of the romantic, old-school allure of train travel.
11. The right gadget can save your trip
Too bad we can’t get Q to help us pack. (Photo: Keith Hamshere/Sygma/Corbis)
We may not have the option of stopping by Q Branch to pick up some snazzy gear before we travel as James Bond does, but we can make sure we’re we get the right equipment. With my portable charger, my Monoprice noise-canceling headphones (a much better bargain than Bose), my iPad loaded with books and movies, and my Bellroy iPhone case/card holder, my gadget game is tight when I hit the road. But even though Bond has taught me a lot, there is one thing he could stand to learn from me: Unlike him, I always bring my equipment (and my vehicles) back in proper working order.