Travel and spontaneity are good. Together they can be great. This is the thinking behind a new “Anywhere Travel Guide” from Magda Lipka Falck and Chronicle Books that’s probably headed toward bookstores and Amazon warehouses near you now. The guide is full of creative prompts to try wherever you are, be it Helena or Helsinki. These are random acts of tourism, basically, and they make me nervous.
It’s a charming idea -- a little $12.95 box of 75 cards, each suggesting an activity to bring you into greater communion “with the unexpected, where your journey leads.” For instance:
“Start walking until you see something particularly yellow.” (Anyone who has hailed a taxi in New York may find this activity familiar.)
Some suggestions seem lovely: “Collect shadows.”
Some may be impossible: “Buy a newspaper. Find a beautiful sentence…”
Some are a little too obvious: “Look behind you. Look above you. Look underneath you. These are your surroundings.”
Some may remind you of dares you shouldn’t have accepted in seventh grade: “Drink something hot, something cold, something yellow. Eat something sweet, something sour, something brown.”
But a few just seem like bad ideas, no matter where you try them. Particularly these two:
“Choose a person on the street. Make this person your guide. Follow him/her for as long as possible. See the city through his/her eyes.”
“Get another perspective. Hide in different places throughout the day -- under a chair, behind a wall, between some trees.”
Thank you, Falck and company, for aiming to reawaken whimsy and wonder among travelers too often numbed by airports, hotels, smartphones and earbuds. But I would add two superseding suggestions to your list: Don't get punched in the mouth and don't get thrown in jail.