TRAVEL NOTES

What would Bill Murray do?

Well, for starters, Bill Murray would say please don’t pack, and just show up at JFK. When you’re standing at that giant Departures Board, choose a city you’ve never heard of — or can’t quite pronounce — and get on that flight pronto.

 

And so, that is the Bill Murray overture of life. It’s unduly spontaneous, slightly counter-intuitive, but will make you feel oh-so-alive again. Too much valuable, precious time is bungled fine-combing for the best possible deals on flights, researching every inch of each hotel on HotelTonight, plane seats on SeatGuru and potential dining establishments on Yelp. I see you with your Excel spreadsheet, comparing airlines, travel offers and deals, and super-duper extra-controlling every moment of every single journey. Bill Murray is shaking his head at you right now. We have been Bill Murray shamed.

 

The actor and your neighbor, Bill Murray, is happy-to-be-famous-and rich, which is why you know he’s that weirdo you wish you could be best friends with. Whether you fell for him in Lost in Translation because your Japan was absolutely analogous, or whether your whole life has been Groundhog Day and you wish you could travel outside of your blessed loop, you just know in your heart of hearts that Bill Murray is adventure. Even when some call him the “Murricane,” you can be sure that he’s a lover, underneath all that tough cavalier. So then, in this Bill Murray travel fantasy — add some peril, peer over the fabulous sunglasses and perhaps dish us a deadpan delivery. Oh look the most essential, and perfect, travel effigy.

 

In Gavin Edwards’ book, an ode to Bill Murray titled The Tao of Bill Murray, we’re fed stories (naturally verified with Google evidence and social media trails #MurrayMoments) of Murray paying a kid $5 to ride his bike into a pool, and Murray crashing multiple weddings and parties in his signature kooky style.

 

And then there was that time, let’s not forget, when he signed his autograph as “Miley Cyrus.” Oh, and remember that one time when Bill Murray made friends with you at the airport, suggested you all walk backwards on the moving walkways, and then flew Southwest with you to Charleston? In fact, it spawned its own epithet: “No-one will ever believe you” sometimes whispered to strangers in traffic by Murray himself.

 

A life lived as Bill Murray, is a life worth living, right?

 

And so, cue a drumroll here please. Edwards presents Bill Murray and his Ten Principles – call it his Tao, if you will. Trust in me, and the power of Bill Murray’s face, that by applying these philosophical tenets to our lives, there is a very large and overpowering chance that you will find “the previously untraveled path to a better version of yourself.” Which life-love fool traveler doesn’t want that?

 

 

The First Principle: Objects are Opportunities.

 

If Bill Murray can somehow negotiate not just a box of popcorn, but turn up with a whole cart, so can you. Well, maybe it’s not only for boring popcorn. Next time you are with some friends in Istanbul, and you decide now was a good time to eat flakey, cheesy börek on the street, don’t just buy one for yourself. Buy for everyone — and an extra few (just in case) for the potential friends you will make right there and then. It’s $5 spent well.  

 

 

The Second Principle: Surprise is golden. Randomness is lobster.

 

Around 1988, Bill Murray picked up a phrasebook by Todd and Erika Geers called Making Out in Japanese. One of the chapters in this handy little book has some colloquial phrases for lovers like: “Do your parents know about me?” and “Do you mind if I use protection?” Of course, this came in handy when he was shooting with Sofia Coppola in Japan. So when you’re downloading the app Duolingo, or picking up a phrase book for your trip to Portugal, think about how much more fun it would be to say whatever you’re really thinking — no matter how weird you are. Nobody wants to tell you where the damn library is anyway.

 

 

The Third Principle: Invite yourself to the party.

 

Bill Murray attended Elvis Presley’s funeral. He wasn’t exactly invited, but then again when last did you get an invite to someone’s funeral? You know that party you hear about when you eavesdrop on the baristas in your hipster coffee shop in Vienna? Don’t think about this at all. Just invite yourself — and make sure you bring a culturally-appropriate party favor of some kind.

 

 

The Fourth Principle: Make sure everybody else is invited to the party.

 

Everyone knows a party is better when the people are both interesting and interested. When Bill Murray attended the premiere party for Moonrise Kingdom, instead of joining the duck pouts and pretense of that Hollywood, he convinced fellow party-goers (including Tilda Swinton) to “Hava Nagila” dance, and told people with cellphones to be in the moment and not to record that. So, you’re in Lisbon, at the coolest speakeasy that nobody knows about — do invite some of the weirdo people you’ve interacted with all day. How about the cute flight attendant on TAP Air Portugal? Or the 80-year-old concierge from the Four Seasons Lisbon? Or the lovely Uber driver who spoke only Portuguese? Oh, and don’t bring your phone — you know why.

 

 

Bill Murray 2

Music, sweet music***Focus Features***

The Fifth Principle: Music makes the people come together.

 

Bill Murray is apparently the patron saint of karaoke. (He was Nick the Lounge Singer, remember?) Even though Murray’s voice isn’t exactly rich in timbre, that’s not stopping him. Ever. And it shouldn’t halt you either. In fact, hereby, you are bestowed the power to make up your own words every time with every single song. Every medium to large city in the world has a bad karaoke bar. Find it and you’ve found a worthy glimpse into anywhere you are. Oh, and here’s a handy tip — anyone can sing a Johnny Cash song.

 

 

The Sixth Principle: Drop coin on the world.

 

Bill Murray insists on picking up the tab, pretty much everywhere he goes. It’s an easy way to make friends really. So do remember this the next time you’re making an entire line of people wait at a bar in Paris, just so you can force your posse to ring their credit cards one by one to expense it all later. If you simply don’t have the money, starve yourself tomorrow please, and just walk the Louvre hungry like a legend.

 

 

The Seventh Principle: Be persistent, be persistent, be persistent.

 

Bill Murray loves golf. Apparently the luminary isn’t very good — but he keeps playing, and playing, and playing “until the cooler’s empty.” So yes, you’re in Greece on one of the most idyllic islands learning to windsurf, or you’re in Berlin and playing “Dance Dance Revolution” in that painfully cool neighborhood. Don’t quit like a loser when you’re not winning. Keep playing, ask locals to edge you on with screams and then call on the native gods to help you. Don’t be that person who only wants to win. It’s not sexy, in any language.

 

 

The Eighth Principle: Know your pleasures and their parameters.

 

If Bill Murray can be throw-yourself-on-the-floor-funny and still be a gentleman when he’s drinking, crashing parties and generally behaving like a jester, well, then, so can you.

 

 

The Ninth Principle: Your spirit will follow your body.

 

“Throw your body into the moment and let your mind catch up.” Sigourney Weaver, who met Bill Murray on the set of Ghostbusters back in the day, tells the story of how the infallible Murray would just walk up to a stranger, and utter “I want to know what makes you tick.” Breaking conventions leads to laughter. So when your seatmate has decided to clip his nails next to you on a Peter Pan bus to Boston, or the hotel’s check-In desk in Siem Reap isn’t letting you check in early — simply be a goofball. Even if you don’t get what you want, you’ll be improving the mood for everyone.

 

 

The Tenth Principle: While the earth spins, make yourself useful.

 

One time Bill Murray went to a house party in Scotland and there were no clean glasses. Instead of moaning about it to his friends, he went to the kitchen and rolled up his sleeves to wash the dishes. So, when someone doesn’t have coins for a ticket at the Metro in Athens, or someone can’t enter the Philadelphia Admirals Lounge because they forgot their American Airlines Executive Platinum Card, or someone has extra luggage when you just have a carry on — lend a hand will you?

 

Bill Murray, “trickster-God,” has some solid life and travel advice for just about any situation. But this one sums up the man, oh-so-perfectly: “If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all over the world, to places that are hard to reach and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.”