Things We Learned About Travel by Watching Star Wars

Are you excited yet about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? We sure are!

When someone tells us they’re going to try to travel someplace soon, one of us will usually give them our best Yoda impersonation: “DO or do not. There is no try.”

With J.J. Abrams revving up the Star Wars hype machine again, it got us thinking about how the original films are as much a travel guide as they are a classic mythological space opera. We see diverse lands and fascinating modes of transportation, all in a story sparked by one farm boy looking far, far away to the heavens with wanderlust.

Luke yearns to get away over a binary sunset. (Video: Benguitar9000/YouTube)

So you don’t think there’s a way we can come up with 10 travel lessons learned from Star Wars? As Han Solo once said, never tell me the odds! Here are 13 of them that will teach you a Jedi’s wisdom when on the road, inspired by the thousands of times we’ve watched the original trilogy (no dorks here!).

Han Solo Was the Original Uber Driver

(Video: Daniel M. Kobayashi/YouTube)

Ride sharing was cool in the Star Wars films long before their geeky fans in Silicon Valley thought of it. Obi-Wan didn’t use an app to find Han, but he did go to a part of town where rent-a-pilots were known to congregate, and he arranged to ride a vehicle driven by its cocky owner. Notice any parallels?

When Han found out they were running from the Empire, he even used surge pricing on them! How much more Uber can you get? Can’t you picture Princess Leia calling CEO Travis Kalanick a “scruffy-looking nerf herder”?

Related: Go Far, Far Away to See Where the New ‘Star Wars’ Was Filmed

Also like Han, Uber shoots first at its critics, and it’s known to keep a secret compartment or two. We hope Uber will follow his lead and learn that underneath that bad-boy exterior, the company has a heart of gold. (We’re not holding our breath though.) One thing is for sure: Anyone would give the Millennium Falcon a five-star rating. Right?

If You Must Lie to Customs, Play It Cool

(Video: Daniel M. Kobayashi/YouTube)

Repeat after me: “These aren’t the Cuban cigars you’re looking for.”

Maybe you shouldn’t risk it with American customs, but travel to enough countries and you’re probably going to need to employ some Jedi mind tricks against sketchy border-control people. In my case, it was the officers at the Bangalore airport four years ago, when I had to explain every single item that was in my backpack after they dumped it on the table when searching me. It’s none of your business why I have so many hand sanitizers, bars of soap, tweezers, magazines candy bars and tape. I’m just thankful that was all that was in there that trip. Geesh. Talk about going to the Dark Side.

Pack a Versatile Wardrobe

(Video: Stormcab/YouTube)

We’ve got to hand it to Princess Leia — in addition to being the kick-ass, courageous boss babe of a rebellion against a corrupt government, she can really pick an outfit. When she was dodging Imperial starships in Episode IV, she was dressed in a practical white robe with that iconic hair bun; on frigid Hoth in Episode V, she wore smart layers. And when cavorting with Ewoks in Return of the Jedi? She was all about that camo look, baby. And all this was despite most of her wardrobe getting blown up on Alderaan!

Related: New Star Wars attractions at Disney World

Preadolescent boys were most intrigued by Leia’s Slave Girl outfit while trapped on Jabba’s sail barge in Jedi. What guy hasn’t ask his girlfriend/ wife/ “friend” to dress up like Leia at one point? But we’re not going there, OK?

Resist the Temptation to Have an Unplanned Wedding

(Video: Daniel Ard/YouTube)

Hey, girlfriend, I understand how you feel traveling with that guy you’re dating. He’s tall, handsome, and saying super-romantic things such as, “I don’t like sand.” You’re light years from home and alone with this person, surrounded by digitally enhanced scenery. Sure, he had one bad night and slaughtered some innocent locals, and he hinted at his desire to become a galactic dictator. But just look at those eyes! And it’s like he can read your mind!

Don’t jump into any big relationship decisions without getting back to reality and giving it some thought. Padme didn’t follow that advice, and she got married on the road to a future Sith Lord who knocked her up, then indirectly murdered her.

Don’t Go into Bad Neighborhoods

(Video: joncarr/YouTube)

Luke learns this the hard way when he takes his landspeeder into the Jundland Wastes, chasing after Artoo without even telling his aunt and uncle. True, he wasn’t technically alone, but would you want C-3PO having your back in a fight?

Related: Top-Ranked Star Wars Destinations in the World

We’re not saying you should stick to tourist areas when you travel — some of the best experiences are off the beaten path — but have a sidekick and make sure you know exactly how you’d get out of a hairy situation. Luke got bailed out not once but twice when you include his kerfuffle at the Mos Eisley Cantina, but we don’t all have exiled Jedi Masters looking out for us, now do we?

No, Really, Luke … DON’T Go into Dangerous Places by Yourself!

(Video: schultzstudio/YouTube)

Yup, he did it again in The Empire Strikes Back, only this time in the snow at his tauntaun’s expense. Luke gets bailed out more times than American banks. If you’re traversing any desolate, icy terrain, have someone to help you fight off Wampa creatures, so Han Solo doesn’t need to rescue you.

When Traveling With the Boss, DO NOT Slack Off

(Video: DRMMRI14/YouTube)

It might start with sleeping in before the conference. Then you have a couple too many drinks at the hotel bar and embarrass yourself. Before you know it, you’re pulling out of hyperspace too close and letting your sworn enemies know you’re there. Then this happens, and you’ve failed your boss for the last time. And remember, the Emperor is not as forgiving as he is.

Don’t Crash at a Friend’s House Unless You’re on Good Terms

(Video: Canale di BenguitarBis/YouTube)

We understand Han and the gang didn’t exactly have an Airbnb search at their disposal while ducking Star Destroyers in The Empire Strikes Back. But by his own admission he didn’t trust his frenemy Lando and hadn’t spoken with him lately, yet he chose to fly to Bespin anyway. All that got him was betrayal, electroshock torture, and a frozen date with Boba Fett. Lando did redeem himself by saving Han, but still.

A general rule: If it’s been more than a couple of years since you talked to the person, don’t ask to crash with them if you don’t fully trust them.  

Back Up Your Photos and Video as You Travel … Just in Case You’re Attacked by a Star Destroyer

(Video: QuoteTheGuy/YouTube)

When most of us travel, we accumulate files that we can’t risk losing: a photo of that glorious beach sunset, a video of your kids playing in a Parisian fountain, a blueprint to destroy the same Death Star that blew up your home planet. You know, typical souvenirs.

Princess Leia knows this, as demonstrated by the way she quickly reacted to Darth Vader’s boarding party by saving the Rebel plans inside the most reliable flash drive in the galaxy, R2-D2. Even if you don’t have an astromech droid handy, carry a USB memory stick with lots of space.

You Can Find Zen in Exotic Places … With the Right Instructor

(Video: Canale di BenguitarBis/YouTube)

Luke Skywalker was not into glamping. He flew to an ugly swamp to learn how to untap his spiritual potential from a cranky old guide who was on his back all the time. But what a guide Yoda was, and despite a frustrating start and that one bad trip where he saw his evil father’s face as his own, Luke emerged a far stronger and wiser person ready to take on the universe. Plus Yoda showed him how to get your vehicle out of the mud.

When You’re Shopping at a Mobile Flea Market in the Desert, Inspect the Merchandise Closely

Would you buy a droid from these guys? (Courtesy: Wookieepedia)

While the pre-Jedi Luke Skywalker was trying to whine his way out of the Jawa market — “But I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!”— Uncle Owen was the one who questioned and picked out C-3P0, the most overqualified farm droid ever, because Threepio spoke the right language.

Uncle Owen made the right call. On the other hand, Owen passed on R2-D2 for that defective red look-alike droid without a proper inspection. Thankfully the droid broke down on the spot, so they were able to exchange it for Luke’s future X-Wing copilot.

Related: Eye Massagers and Star Wars Toasters — Odd Gifts From SkyMall for the Holiday Season

Really, Owen and Luke should have known better. It’s not like the Jawas were Amazon, with a credible return policy: They were fly-by-night merchants. When you’re traveling through a strange town and dealing with a street vendor, you’ll never see again; you need to trust but verify.

Be Friendly With the Locals

The cutest secret weapons you ever saw. (Courtesy: Wookieepedia)

I tried going through this article without an Ewok reference — they’re my least favorite part of the original movies, and it’s hard to believe that a family of teddy bears could take down the Empire. Still, there’s a lesson to be learned here: While the Empire threatened the Ewoks, Leia befriended them, which swung the odds in the Rebels’ favor in the Battle of Endor.

A Parsec is a Measurement of Travel Time … or is it?

We confess we’re not sure what the lesson is here, but it needs to be said in any mention of Star Wars and travel. As Han Solo tries to price-gouge Obi-Wan and Luke for a ride on the Falcon, he brags that his ship is so fast, it “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.”

Related: 12 Things We Learned About Travel from ‘Game of Thrones’

Only thing is, a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. It’s kind of like saying, “My car is so fast, I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than 400 miles!”

Either this was a rookie math mistake by George Lucas, a con attempt by Han, or something else: Han shortening the Kessel Run from 18 parsecs to 12 by bravely flying close to black holes. We’ll probably never know, and nerds like me will be debating it years from now in our nursing homes.