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This is my first big trip away from home. Any advice for a first-time traveler?

November 24, 2010 | 4 Comments

Hi Mr. Keillor,

I am a Washingtonian walking in the unfamiliar plains of Australia.

My host city is Melbourne, and Prairie Home Companion is the most consistent reminder of America that I have at the moment.

Recently I've been spending time in the magnificent Victoria State Library searching for jobs and listening to PHC on my headphones, and your show has given me a little island of home in this city where I am otherwise on my own.

This is my first big trip away from home. Any advice for a first-time traveler?
- Paul Gibbs
Bellevue, WA


You're a brave venturer, Paul, in the tradition of Erik the Red and Columbus and I salute you from snowy Minnesota. I hope that you're keeping a diary and recording all of your impressions and encounters, because these are days you will want to remember when you are old and cautious, like me. I couldn't fly off to Melbourne, Florida, alone and look for work, let alone the one in the southern hemisphere. So how can I advise you? Well, I'll just do it anyway. First advice is: don't be alone for too long. As you strike up conversations and meet people in your day to day life, try to trot quickly down the road to friendship. A friend is someone you can call when loneliness strikes. A lone pilgrim needs people he can call. Australians, preferably, but expats are good too. Enjoy your independence, an experience you may never have again in your life. Soon enough, you will likely become saddled with property and dependents and duties and deadlines, but for now you are quite magnificently free and unencumbered. Have fun. But do keep in touch with your friends and family back in Washington and don't make them worry more than they need to. I have an old American friend in New South Wales who left the U.S. forty years ago and loves it there. Hope you find what you're looking for, Paul.


4 Comments


I feel qualified by my personal history to weigh in on this. 40 years ago I was sojourning in Melbourne and working as a nursing "sister" as they called RNs. I had many Aussie friends which I treasured but never met another expat "yank" in the 15 months I was there. Do not be afraid to mingle and I am glad you have PHC to remind you of home. I had only "rubber ducky", a hit on pop radio by Kermit the frog (but I had not been home to know what "sesame street" was, alas). I had read, before landing in Aussie, every Neville Schute novel, and enjoyed listening to the books read daily on the radio. Good Luck and enjoy the adventure!!


I listen to your show today It was a succes. I listen to your show every sunday. I am originally from mexico but an american citizen. MAny years ago my father and I listen to baseball on the radio and he actually thouth me how to use my imagination to see the field. When your show plays is like I am sitting in the audience and remember my old man how pass away so long ago. I actually listen in my car your show. I have to see some of the your shows videos and love it. By the way I congratulate you for puting american folk music in your show. I purchase the CD's like the Quebe systers. Now I will get the boys this week. Thank you and long live ur show. Happy season's


I love my city of Melbourne - I am an ex-pat Californinan of over 30 years living here. There is so much to see and do - I recommend you do all the usual 'tourist' things, see the penguins, go the Sanctuary and meet a roo, wind surf down in St.Kilda, visit the Dandenongs, have afternoon 'tea' at the Windsor, take boat ride down the Yarra, visit some of the boutique breweries and lift a jar (or 5) - do all that corny stuff - you will enjoy it all. Ask an aussie friend or work collegue to show you around - most of us here love showing off our city and surronds. Once you have seen some local stuff, hope on a train/plane/bus/car and tour some of this (very wet at the moment) wide brown land.

The really GREAT thing about this country is that it IS diffrent to the States - but they speak the same language (sort of).

And you are lucky - the 10 year drought has finally broken and the rain has come. A little too much today (!) but the hills are green for the first time in years.

I hope you enjoy your time here and learn to love it as much as I do.

btw, I listen online to PTC every week. It is the highlight of my working week and always makes me smile and lightens my heart. I loved 'trees' last week.


To all the wise advice, I add, a walk in the botanic gardens, a visit to the gallery at federation square and a coffee somewhere.

If homesick wait, wait don't tell me is also good.

I'm a Melburnian ( here at the moment) who has lived in ct for 30 years.

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