Everything I ever needed to know about travel I learned from James Bond

How many couples have honeymooned at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach after seeing the stunning hotel in the opening minutes of Goldfinger? Or how many travelers have added Lake Como in Italy to their must-see lists after Casino Royale?

“There is no doubt that film enthusiasts have been inspired to travel to Bond locations,” said Anders Frejdh, a Bond expert and founder of the website From Sweden With Love. “I’ve been to hundreds of places and I know other Bond fans who have done the same. It’s difficult not to be inspired, even for the casual viewer.”

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In fact, I personally know a small-town teenager who made it his mission to come to Paris after seeing Grace Jones parachute from the Eiffel Tower. Yes, I’m talking about myself again, sorry. Even though my first Bond film was the tepid A View to a Kill, it still hit me like a thunderbolt. It made me beg my parents to let me go on a class trip to Paris. I made it thanks to Roger Moore, Jones, Duran Duran and my 11th grade French teacher.

According to Frejdh, the Bond films of the 1960s were particularly inspirational for moviegoers because many had yet to travel internationally. Instead of seeing the Bahamas or Switzerland in Aunt Edna’s sleepy vacation slideshow, they were suddenly seeing those destinations on the big screen as backdrops for action, adventure, and lots of unnecessary cleavage.

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There’s another reason Bond films continue to inspire journeys beyond the cleavage, and that’s because the man knows how to be a traveler, not a tourist. Currently, if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch most Bond films for free and see the master globetrotter at work (the streaming service also has a great new documentary on Bond music). Here are some (indirect) travel tips from 60 years of cinematic espionage from Ian Fleming’s enigmatic, horny, and timeless character.

The beach in Kas, Turkey.Christopher Muther/Globe Staff

Check out the tourist sights, but also go off the beaten track.

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In 2012’s Skyfall, Bond (Daniel Craig) visited the Grand Bizarre in Istanbul, but also made time to see other parts of Turkey. When he was on the brink of death, he wisely fled to Fethiye, a city on the south-west coast of Turkey, to recover. This area is a little piece of heaven (of course Bond would land here) and it’s also close to Kas, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Once again, Bond knows best. Follow his example and try to leave a little space in your itinerary to go beyond the guidebooks.

A glimpse into the golden age of travel from Keith Lovegrove’s book Airline: Style at 30,000 Feet.

Don’t dress like a slob for your flights – even if you can’t afford first class.

One of the biggest takeaways from any Bond itinerary is style. You probably won’t be wearing a Saville Row suit on your flight, and sadly, Pan Am is no longer around to offer some of the fanciest sofas in the sky. But just because you’re not an international spy and you’re not in first class doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed and climb straight into your seat. We live in a miracle age where deconstructed blazers are more comfortable than sweatshirts and very breathable and stretchy pants are better for travel than flannel pajama bottoms. Every story I’ve read about getting an upgrade involves dressing reasonably respectably. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’ll keep going. You can’t win if you don’t play. Hell, maybe someday a flight attendant will at least randomly offer me a martini. Speaking of style, try to leave room in your suitcase for at least one semi-chic ensemble. It doesn’t have to be a tuxedo or dress, but a special outfit is always a good idea.

Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever. United artists

Don’t be afraid to chat and make friends with the locals.

Bond never hesitated to venture into unfamiliar surroundings and make new friends, although many of them went by names like Pussy Galore, Plenty O’Toole, Chew Mee, Bambi and Thumper. Unless they had bold names, they were probably trying to kill him. For the average Joe and Josephine, all the killing isn’t usually a problem, so don’t hesitate to join a fencing match with a stranger if it’s offered, or talk to the attractive lady or gentleman seated next to you at the roulette table . More realistically, you’ll find yourself making new friends at restaurants and bars. On a recent trip to Liverpool, two locals chatted me up at a bar and we ended up clubbing until the sun came up. Maybe not the best example, but we all became fast friends and still chat regularly on social media.

Roger Moore as James Bond in the 1974 film The Man With The Golden Gun. MGM/UA Entertainment

Solo travel can be rewarding.

A lot of people think solo travel is scary, and if you’re James Bond, it probably is. However, unless your boss’s name is M., solo travel is also a great way to meet new people (see Don’t Be Afraid to Chat and Make Friends with Locals). As someone who travels alone about 90 percent of the time, I can tell you that friendly and interesting people will come your way a lot more often than if you were traveling with family and friends. The greatest benefit of solo travel is the confidence you gain from tackling unfamiliar territory alone. Don’t you think you can drive in England? Concerned about language barriers? If I can do it, anyone can. If that’s not enough to convince you, think of it this way: If you’re traveling alone, there’s something you can do she want to do and never suffer from the vague suggestions of others.

Joanna Lumley and George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.Handout/ETH Library Zurich, photo archive

Exercise is also important on vacation.

Bond does everything in abundance when travelling, including physical activity. You don’t have to tear up the double black diamond runs like Bond (George Lazenby) did in the criminally underrated “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” but just because you’re away from your peloton doesn’t mean you should while driving into the full Switch sloth mode. Holidays are a time for good food and maybe a drink or two, which is all the more reason to stretch your legs and walk rather than take an Uber. Rent or use a bike-sharing program, maybe try a hike or two, or take that romantic stroll along the beach just a little longer. You know Bond would never say no to a long romantic moonlit walk through the sand.

Sean Connery as James Bond at a Thunderball event.AP Photo, FILE/Associated Press

Keep your wits about you and keep a sense of humor.

Traveling can be stressful, and often that stress is reflected in the way we behave or treat others while traveling, especially when traveling by air. Do you think Bond has ever yelled at a ticket agent or thrown his water bottle at a fellow passenger while checking in? That’s a clear no. Bond dropped quips while fighting for his life and didn’t sweat over the little things. I suggest you do the same. Take a deep breath if you get impatient while waiting at the rental desk. Do not interrupt other passengers when they are disembarking or be rude to waiters if they are overwhelmed and taking too long to bring your dinner. You’re on vacation (unless you’re bleisure), keep calm. Remember you only live twice, make the most of every moment.


Christopher Muther can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Chris_mother and Instagram @chris_muther.



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