For the last 150 years or so, TV’s favorite family has been entertaining Americans, and indeed the world, with their inimitable brand of steadily waning humor. There have been many high spots in their epic run of shows, from the innocent fun of early episodes where Bart’s incitement of authority figures to ‘eat my shorts’ was the height of controversy, to the drug-addled, homophobic, gun-toting craziness of the show’s golden years.

But surely everyone will agree that the Simpson’s greatest episodes have centered on the characters heading off abroad on some flimsy pretense, allowing the writers to indulge in lazy stereotypes, ridiculous plot premises and general xenophobia. But what can we learn from these ill-fated trips abroad? How can your own family vacations be improved with a dose of home-spun wisdom from the family Simpson? Well, read on and find out.

Lesson 1: Don’t Blow All Your Cash

From: ‘30 Minutes Over Tokyo’

When you first arrive in a foreign country, it’s pretty tempting to go crazy with the cash. After all, you’re finally on your vacation, and there are so many new and exciting things to try. However, blowing all your cash on tourist souvenirs (or square watermelons in Homer’s case) before you’ve got a good grasp of the exchange rate will leave you with no money for the rest of your trip. Worse, if you’re stuck in a foreign country you might find yourself having to work in a shrimp-gutting factory or appearing on a torturous game show in order to fund your flight home.

Lesson 2: Don’t Insult People With Friends In High Places

From: ‘Bart vs Australia’

Generally, you should refrain from insulting people at all when on your vacation, but this cannot always be avoided. The really important thing to remember is not to insult anyone who’s in a position of authority, or knows someone in a position of authority. If you do happen to tick someone off, you may just want to back down, rather than escalating the situation as was Bart’s case when mocking Australia. Yes, their MPs may be pig farmers (Simpsons’ words, not mine), and their Prime Minister may enjoy nothing more than laying naked on a rubber ring in a watering hole drinking a cold tinny (don’t we all?) but you still need to respect their authority, or it’s a boot up the bum for you!

Lesson 3 – Don’t Try To Smuggle Drugs

From: Midnight RX

Yes, it may bring a whole new meaning to ‘adventure travel’, but using your vacation to try and smuggle drugs over international borders is a definite no-no, especially if you’ve got kids in tow. After all, it’s not like they can carry much. This is proved pretty comprehensibly in Midnight RX, in which Homer, Grandpa, Apu and Flanders head over the border to Canada to purchase cheap prescription drugs. The group is finally busted after an incident involving a hot cup of coffee leaves Apu screaming incoherently with a towel round his head while approaching a border control point. He’s subsequently accused of ‘expressing his faith’ which leads to a search of the car, the discovery of the gang’s stash and their eventual imprisonment and banishment from Canada.

Lesson 4: Be Careful On the Road

From: ‘The Regina Monologues’

There are many cultural differences to consider when traveling abroad, including language, cuisine and perhaps most importantly, the rules of the road. While making a mistake with the menu or getting your adverbs confused with your adjectives is unlikely to result in any real harm (hopefully), getting into a car and driving abroad can result in some pretty scary incidents. This is perfectly demonstrated by Homer when the Simpsons head to England on vacation and he accidentally blind-sides the Queen before calling her a ‘hippo’ in court and eventually being locked up in the Tower Of London and sentenced to death.

Lesson 5 – Don’t Get Too Wasted

From: In The Name Of the Grandfather

Vacations provide a great opportunity to relax, shake off your cares and truly let your hair down. But while enjoying the local nightlife is a pretty great way to explore a new city or culture, just be careful what you agree to when under the influence of the ‘Green Fairy’ in Paris or a pint (or six) of the ‘Black Stuff’ in Ireland. The Simpson’s trip to the Emerald Isle predictably involves Homer and his dad getting absolutely hammered in a failing Irish bar, and then agreeing to buy it in a drunken haze. In a desperate attempt to lure customers, the pair turn to Moe for advice (always a bad idea), offer patrons the chance to flaunt the smoking ban and are promptly deported.

Hayley is an avid traveler and had been exploring the globe for 5 years.

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