Surviving the suburban jungle book


Brave warriors from the suburban jungle. Image courtesy of Darnok, Morguefile.

The other day, I combed through my bookcase in search of something to read and came across a book I picked up in a Delaware bookstore. The book is called The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: TRAVEL by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. This book was part of a series that came out about a decade or so ago.

It was great fun revisiting this book. It’s hilarious, although there is an element of seriousness to it. The authors consulted highly trained professionals for their advice about how to act in times of danger, but they pointed out that common sense and good judgment are always your best guides for surviving dangerous situations.

Some of the book deals with situations I’ll probably never encounter. For example, I don’t think there are too many runaway camels to be found on the Beltway or that I’ll be abducted by aliens (I wonder which professional they consulted for that one!). I also doubt the Potomac River hosts many piranhas, so I won’t need the tips about how to swim across a piranha-infested river.

Another part of the book is about situations I hope never to encounter. It’s nice to know that if I have to stop a runaway Metro train, deal with captors, survive in frigid water, jump over a waterfall, get through a volcanic eruption or fight my way out of a car trunk, I’m all set.

But the remainder of the book is interesting for a traveler like me, which is the main reason I bought the book. There are strategies for packing a suitcase, marking your luggage so that it can be identified easily, beating jet lag and staying safe while traveling. There’s even a list of emergency phrases in four languages (Spanish, French, German and Japanese) as well as gestures to avoid in other countries. Staring at someone, for instance, is considered rude in Zimbabwe and making the “okay” sign by bringing the thumb and first finger together insults people in other countries.

I’m thinking that maybe the authors of this guide should probably do another book for surviving the suburban jungle. It could contain tips on driving in metro traffic (strategy: take the back roads whenever possible), finding a seat on the subway train during rush hours (take the seat quick when you find it), dealing with the two major weather seasons (around here, they’re called “winter mix” and “road construction”) and so on. Hey, you never know…it could be a bestseller! *giggles*

A question, blog readers: What is the best survival tip you’ve ever given to or received from a traveler?



Filed under Writing

13 responses to “Surviving the suburban jungle book

  1. gun street girl

    Don’t drink the water… 🙂

  2. Great post! My favorite travel tip is probably don’t wear fancy jewelry. And expect the unexpected – it is part of the fun! I love those worst case survival books! I think they even have one for dating…

  3. Like the person above said, don’t drink the water (don’t even use it to brush your teeth), watch the cab driver’s meter and don’t let anyone through the gate.

  4. There’s a joke where I come from: There are four seasons in upstate New York – almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. Heh.

    Best travel tip I’ve ever given was to my parents on their first trip to Europe this spring: read this Rick Steves’ Paris book I am handing to you, from cover to cover, and do exactly what Rick tells you to do. =) And I shared some “These are typical French customs that are actually polite in France but seem rude to Americans, and this is why they’re considered polite in France” that I think/hope saved my parents a bit of frustration when dining in Parisian restaurants.

  5. I think it’s funny that you quote the book about using common sense and good judgement. That’s exactly what I encouraged people to use when traveling in my post today!

  6. The best survival tip came from one of my college professors in freshman year. As part of the class, we had to follow him on walking tours in Manhattan. When handing us our MetroCards, he told us to avoid eye contact with strangers on the subway. He must have warned us in case some of us were from friendlier regions of the country where it would be rude not to smile at strangers or try to strike up conversation with them. The advice didn’t have too much of an effect on me because I’m from Jersey, but I’m sure a lot of my classmates stayed out of trouble by following that tip.


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