This is a guest post by Dave Dean, who grew up in a small town in New Zealand, which was the perfect incentive to get out and see what the rest of the world looked like as soon as possible. Fifteen years later he still hasn’t quite figured out how to stop. He blogs about travel technology at Too Many Adapters and the highs and lows of life as a long term traveler at What’s Dave Doing?
This post is a part of Geek Takeover Week 2013.
I’ll admit to having been a Star Wars geek for, oh, about thirty years. One of my favorite school memories was swapping Return of the Jedi cards with my classmates, trying to mix and match to get the full set of 132. And yes, I do remember exactly how many cards there were … and that number 88, Baby Ewok, was quite rare. Oh dear.
Now that I’ve apparently reached adulthood and have a few other things to think about, I haven’t had much of a chance to ponder important matters like Star Wars for a while. As a permanent traveler, though, one of the big decisions I need to make is my choice of companion as I wander the globe. Combine these two loves, and we end up with what is obviously the most important question on the Internet in 2013: Which Star Wars character would be best to take a gap year with?
Everybody’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca, has a lot to offer the fresh-faced traveler as they head out on their gap year. For starters, he’s over seven feet tall and incredibly strong – you’re unlikely to get mugged after a night at the pub with Chewie. He also doesn’t speak any human languages, which is both a blessing and a curse – while it’ll be a challenge to get him to ask directions to the nearest hostel, he also won’t annoy you with incessant babbling on that 20 hour bus ride.
On the down side, his hairy coat will be a nightmare to maintain after a few days on a Thai beach, and the smell of wet Wookiee will get pretty overpowering after he has been skinny-dipping at the full moon party.
There are several good reasons to on a gap year with Jedi Master Yoda. His sage advice will come in handy in all kinds of situations – “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose” for instance, as you’re trying to pack your backpack before you leave, or “Patience you must have” as the train is delayed for the seventh time that day. He’s very small, meaning that you won’t be crowded out of your seat when you sit beside him on a budget airline, and his Jedi mind-control skills will undoubtedly be useful when negotiating for a cheaper room rate.
On the flip side, Yoda is around 900 years old – he’s far more likely to be sitting at home with a cup of tea and reading Lightsabers Weekly than be out downing buckets with you and partying til dawn. Fun he is not. Sleep he must.
The great thing about traveling with Princess Leia is that you know it’ll never be difficult to meet new people in a hostel or bar – she’ll attract them (especially male ones) wherever she goes. Sharp-witted, quick to act and handy with weapons, she’d be useful in a crisis – and if she can stand up under torture to Darth Vader, you know she won’t even break a sweat when being questioned at immigration. Oh, and she looks far better in a metal bikini than any other Star Wars character. Especially Jabba the Hutt.
The problem will come, however, when you need to get up and leave in a hurry to catch an early-morning flight. There is no way a hairstyle like that is going to take less than an hour or two to sort out, leading to heated arguments when the plane leaves without you.
There’s really only one reason to drag this tall metal droid along with you on your gap year, but it’s a good one. C3-PO is a protocol droid, so his sole purpose in life is to assist with etiquette, customs and translation – three of the biggest issues that any global traveler faces. He regularly boasts that he’s fluent in over six million languages, so you know that you’ll be able to order a drink and find somewhere to stay whether you’re on the streets of Paris or in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. Now that’s handy.
Unfortunately, C3-PO is also just downright irritating. He’s kinda annoying and definitely a know-it-all, neither of which are traits that likely to endear him to fellow travelers. He’ll be the reason that you stop being invited out on pub crawls after a couple of days – everyone will be sick to death of having him around. There’s not much point in being able to understand everything that is being said to you if nobody wants to talk to you in the first place.
So, while all of the above characters have some compelling reasons to bring them along on your gap year, none of them are stand-out candidates. No, it seems that if you’re looking for the perfect traveling companion from the Star Wars universe, there’s really only one person that fits the bill. That person is, of course:
Smuggler, pilot, adventurer and gun-slinger, Han Solo is the kind of practical, fun-loving guy that you want to have with you on the road. He’ll be the life and soul of every party, and then be able to sweet-talk you both out of whatever trouble he creates.
While those leather pants aren’t the most useful item of travel clothing in the world, his ability to stay cool under pressure makes him the stand-out choice. Sure, you might eventually lose him to a girl that he meets along the way – it is a bit of a weakness of his – but until then you couldn’t ask for a more loyal companion. I mean, if he’ll go in to battle for his friends against evil Sith Lords, morbidly obese crime bosses and armies of storm troopers, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll pay for his share of the drinks bill and then make sure you get home safely at the end of the night.
Just make sure that he puts his blaster into his checked luggage before going through airport security. Explaining it to the TSA might prove too much of a challenge, even for a general of the Rebel Alliance.
So that’s that Star Wars character that I’d choose to come with me on a gap year. Who would you pick?
Thank you Dave for using the Force to bring us this excellent guest post. You can find more of Dave’s writing on his blogs: Too Many Adapters and What’s Dave Doing – plus follow him on Facebook and Twitter @DriftingKiwi. (All photos in this post are Creative Commons from Wikipedia and Wookieepedia.)