Even if you face little immediate danger of slipping on a Parthenon walkway or misinterpreting a Spanish motorway sign, I think you'll learn a lot from my friend Janet Keeler's advice today on staying healthy while traveling.
As the Times' travel editor, Janet may get to more exotic places than most of us, but her down-to-earth advice works just as well if your holiday travels take you no farther than over the river and through the woods.
And if you're staying close to home, here's a new local website aimed at helping us all get healthier — while enjoying the ride: FindTheFunNow.com.
Launched just a few days ago, Find the Fun Now is a project of the Pinellas County Health Department. It's part of an effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve health outcomes in 50 communities selected around the country. The idea is to tackle the deadly and costly epidemics of overweight and obesity by encouraging ways to make healthy eating and activity features of everyday life.
And before you think that all sounds like the farthest thing from fun, check out the site and its huge array of options. As the site grows, you'll be able to add your own recommendations, and there's a smart phone app on the way too.
Why is the health department getting into the fun business? Apparently, I'm not the only one who doesn't find scare tactics and dreary lectures particularly motivating.
"Obesity is a national health crisis, but the same old approaches haven't worked to encourage more physical activity and healthier food choices," said Dr. Claude Dharamraj, director of the health department.
So the website lets you search for a fun activity by your location, your budget, whether you want to be alone or in a group, and when you want to be out and about. You can even find places where your dog is welcome.
A database of farmers' markets and fresh produce locations, plus ways to adapt favorite recipes and order wisely in restaurants, can help you make smarter food choices you'll stick with.
The site is Pinellas-specific, but there's plenty of information that's helpful to other bay area residents, too.
For instance, let's say you were thinking of visiting a downtown St. Petersburg museum today. Plug in the date and location, and Find the Fun Now points out some stops you might want to add.
Such as: a visit to the Saturday Morning Market for organic veggies (you can also find excellent breads, pastries and other treats, but I know you'll enjoy them in moderation). Or a swim at the Northshore Aquatic Center. Or a guided walking tour around downtown that lets you into a renovated bungalow in the very cool Kenwood neighborhood.
Tool around the site and I bet you'll find plenty of options that will help you stay healthy — and local.