Dueling and travel go hand in hand on “Game of Thrones.” (Courtesy: HBO)
You may not have noticed it amid all the violence, palace intrigue, and orgies on “Game of Thrones,” but the people on that show do an awful lot of traveling. They’re always venturing to King’s Landing. Or to the Wall. Or away from The Wall. Or to some battlefield. In fact, half of each episode usually consists of two or more characters – sometimes thousands more – road-tripping from one place to another. It’s like “Game of Thrones” is less of a fantasy adventure series and more of a fantasy travel series. With dragons.
As we watch the “Game of Thrones” folks traverse the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, there are some important lessons we should heed for the upcoming summer travel season. Here are the top travel tips you can pick up from the show:
1. Plan activities for the kids!
The three-year bloodbath that is “Game of Thrones” began because some kids got bored on vacation. In the show’s second episode, young Arya Stark got into a vicious stick/sword fight with bratty visiting Prince Joffrey while their fathers were off discussing royal business. The day ended with Arya’s young playmate dead, Joffrey’s soon-to-be legendary brutality vindicated, and young Arya developing an equally legendary thirst for vengeance. Don’t make the same mistake Arya and Joffrey’s parents did. Plan some structured activities for your kids during your trips. Or they might get all “Game of Thrones-y” on each other.
2. Try the local cuisine
When young bride Daenerys Targaryen learned that eating the raw heart of a stallion was crucial to her being accepted by the nomadic Dothraki tribe she’d married into, she didn’t insult them by asking for a burger instead. No, she chowed down on that bloody horse heart and practically begged for seconds, winning some serious street cred and the Dothrakis’ respect. Sure, we never saw her eat horse heart again. But we DID see her eventually become the Dothraki leader. Proof positive that when you respect the local cuisine, the locals will respect you.
3. Business travelers: Never forget that you’re on someone else’s turf
Ned Stark, Arya’s dad, learned this lesson the hard way. He traveled to the capital city to begin a job at the King’s request and immediately started poking his head into the palace intrigue. The result: the locals quickly outmaneuvered him, betrayed him, and… well, he doesn’t have a head with which to poke into anything anymore. So if you’re sent to work in, say, the Cincinnati office for a week or so, until you learn the lay of the land it’s best to just to keep your head down for a while. Poor Ned.
4. Use your rewards programs wisely
Arya saved the life of a mysterious stranger who made her a deadly offer in return: he will kill three people at her request, no questions asked. All she has to do is name them. Arya quickly used the first reward to treat herself to some nice payback by proxy (there’s that vengeful streak again). But then she took her time redeeming the last two rewards, using them at critical moments to save the lives of her and her fellow fugitives. Consider taking a similar “saving-for-a-rainy-day” approach with the airline, hotel, blood oaths, and other rewards you rack up during your travels.
5. Make sure your vacation romance remains just that: a vacation romance
How many of us have experienced the sticky situation Jon Snow found himself in? While on an out-of-town adventure you meet an intriguing stranger (in Jon’s case, cute redhead Ygritte). You go on some long hikes, thrilling mountain climbs, and even a sexy spelunking session or two. But despite what you demonstrate to your new paramour, you have every intention of going home and NO intention of taking her with you – a fact your new friend learns at an extremely inopportune moment. Before you know it, she’s shooting you full of holes with her bow and arrow. Vacation flings can be tricky so it’s best to be as upfront as possible. Or else suffer the slings and arrows of outraged exes.
6. Don’t be the kind of tourist the locals hate
You don’t want them greeting you like you’re an invading force in Blackwater Bay, do you? Learn the local rules and customs and follow them. Especially if you’re going to New York.
7. Be nice to the people ferrying you
Ticket agents. Flight attendants. TSA officers. Like it or not, they have total control over your fate when you travel. So no matter how stressful your trip may get, it’s best to keep things nice and civil when dealing with them. Jaime Lannister got all cocky with the guy taking him from Point A to Point B and paid the price. We’re not saying mouthing off at a ticket agent will cost you your hand. But it may cost you your checked bag. Why risk it?
8. Negotiate Group Rates
Daenerys and her band of nomadic travelers eventually numbered well into the thousands, creating a darned impressive sight whenever she showed up at a city requesting an alliance and/or shelter. Not saying you need to bring a football stadium-sized crew with you next time you go to Vegas. But hotels tend to be more hospitable (and flexible on the price) if you’re rollin’ with a big group, Daenerys-style.
9. Keep your pet crated…
… especially if they’re out-of-control dragons
10. Always have a backup escape plan
Despite your better judgment you agree to go away with that handsome but slightly creepy guy you don’t know very well. Before you’ve even unpacked, he makes an awkward pass at you and confesses his undying love – for your dead mom! – right before shoving his wife (He’s married?!?!?) into an abyss. And now you’re stuck with him in the middle of nowhere. Bad move, Sansa Stark. If you’re going on a trip with someone new, have a backup escape plan (money for a last-minute plane ticket, the number of a local car service) just in case things go bad. Which they often do on “Game of Thrones.”
11. It’s OK to say “no” to destination wedding invitations
Now that prime wedding season is here, you may find yourself swamped with invitations to out-of-town nuptials. If you’re not 100% eager to mark “YES” on the RSVP, really give some thought to graciously begging off. Destination weddings are inconvenient and expensive. And as “Game of Thrones” fans know, they do have their drawbacks.
12. But don’t skip too many weddings or you might miss something you’ve spent years waiting for.
Like catching the bouquet. Or this.