My goal in life is to have visited more countries than my age (currently batting 80 for 79 — I can die happy), so I’ve traveled a lot. Maybe you know all of what follows, but in case, here are a few hard-earned, sometimes painfully, tips that don’t come under the usual “How Not to Get Robbed” type of travel advisories.

If you’re traveling with someone, know you’re vulnerable to petty irritations. For Louisa and me, it’s at transition points that we tend to get tetchy with each other — checking in at the airport, deciding which restaurant to go to, shall we/shan’t we go on a boat trip that’s about to leave. Knowing in advance our vulnerabilities, it’s easier to stop in mid-stride and say, “Hey, we’re just doing our Transition Dance.”

Be gentle on yourself! Chances are, every time you arrive at a new destination, you’ll screw up somehow — get ripped off by a cab driver, get lost trying to get back to your hotel, tell the waiter in your best French that you love them when you mean to say you loved the meal…it’s happened to all of us when we’re away from home. I have a rule: the first couple of days in a strange place, I’m bound to overpay for something or other, so I make it OK to “donate” $50 or so to the local economy. And those two days figuring things out? It’s not lost time, it’s learning time.

Don’t rush! Soaking in the atmosphere is more important than checking off those “don’t miss” places in your guidebook. For instance, we gravitate to old churches and cathedrals in Europe, not so much for the history, their stained-glass windows and ornate tombs. It’s more about the smell, the atmosphere, letting in the ghosts of hundreds-of-years-worth of visitors, not to mention the hardy, often daring, artisans who built those stone edifices. So we just sit quietly, allowing the sense of the place to come to us, rather than looking for it.

Pride lives! Thanks to a stained glass window between the sun and these azulejo tiles in a 600-year-old church in Portugal. (Barry Evans)

Don’t skimp! You’ve spent a ton of money just to get wherever. If it costs five or ten Euros to visit a monument, so be it. Ditto that bacalhau com natas (salt cod in cream) Portuguese dish that looks so inviting on the menu — it’s spendy, but compared with what you paid to actually get there, maybe it’s not so expensive.

Don’t overplan. Days when you wake up not knowing what you’re doing that day are the best of all. Taxi drivers, Uber drivers, tourist office helpers, front-desk staff — are your friends. Make the most of your time with them. We’ve learned more about a country in 30 minutes in the back seat of an Uber than days wandering around seeing the sights.

Learn the frequent-flyer points game to get free flights all over. Here’s a good place to start. And, since you’ll probably be flying out of (deep breath) the California Redwood Coast - Humboldt County Airport, aka ACV, you should head over to the United Airlines Visa card site, here.

We flew free to Cambodia on frequent flyer miles a few years ago. This temple is near Ankor Wat. Photo: Barry Evans.

Finally, know that trains are how God meant for us to travel. Take them any chance you get.

Heading up the Copper Canyon, Mexico. Photo: Barry Evans.