We’ve all heard it, and have probably even repeated it to others: snippets of information and advice that somehow have become common knowledge, until someone finally questions the founding rationale. What exactly am I referring to? I’m talking about all that really bad travel advice floating around! And reading this, you probably know exactly what I mean. It’s that ridiculous person who laughed when you booked a hotel because “you should just find one when you get to your location”, or that person who told you to carry travellers cheques (um…does anyone born after 1975 actually have a clue what a traveller’s cheque is? Because I certainly don’t).
I’ve heard some shockers of bad advice, and here is a collection of the standouts I’ve accumulated over the years, along with some really bad advice given to some other bloggers in my network. Prepare to cringe.
“Establish Yourself Before You Focus On Travel”
Lots of people suggest that you should finish college, build a career, buy a house, start a family etc before you start travelling. While I recognise that everyone’s situation is individually unique, in general I think ruling out travel when you’re young isn’t always the great advice. It’s easy to get tied down once you start establishing yourself – all of a sudden you have car payments, mortgage payments, you want that next promotion, your kids need to be in school at certain times during the year…and so on. Sometimes, it’s easier before you have too many responsibilities.
“Travel While Your Young”
This might sound contradictory to the above bad advice, but like I said, everyone’s situation is different. While I personally fall into the “travelling while I’m young” bucket, I think anyone that suggests someone shouldn’t travel because they’re more mature or established is absolutely ridiculous. Travel whenever you damn well please.
“Always Keep Your Passport On You When You’re Overseas”
Please, please don’t. I mean, yes, carry it when you’re actually in transit, but aside from that, no! I can’t think of an easier way to lose a passport than taking it out partying in Bali or strolling through a crowded market in Manila. Unless you’re in a country that legally requires foreigners to carry their passports (very few), put it in your hotel safe and leave it there until you need it again!
“Use A Travel Guide Book For Information”
I love flipping through a Lonely Planet book to get ideas and familiarise myself with the location, but I’m not going to rely on the information as accurate. It’s not because I don’t trust the accuracy of the writers, it’s because I don’t trust a physical book to be up-to-date. Restaurants close, visa regulations change, hotels move, prices go up or down. Google is amazing. Use it.
“Only The Rich Can Travel”
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from Making Sense of Cents thinks this is the absolute worst piece of travel advice. In her words, “anyone can travel, it’s all about how badly you want to. You can save more money, make money money, find a location independent job, and more”.
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“Always Pay With Cash”
According to Kayti Clayton from Kayti vs the World, “while paying with cash, or having cash, is extremely beneficial for a lot of travel – some circumstances are better suited for credit or debit card purchases. Sometimes train and bus tickets can be purchased at a substantial discount online. And prepaying online so you can skip the giant line in front of popular tourism destinations? Always a win.”
Follow Kayti on Twitter.
“Stay Up Late So You Can Sleep On The Plane”
Anisa Alhilali, from Two Traveling Texans, considers the worst piece of travel advice she’s received to be “to stay up late the night before a redeye flight to Turkey so that I would be tired enough to sleep on the plane. I didn’t get much sleep the night before I left, but I still wasn’t able to sleep on my flight and then was even more tired when I arrived. I don’t like to take a sleeping pill on a flight because of the risk of getting a blood clot. Instead, I use a neck pillow to make myself more comfortable and try to listen to relaxing music”.
Follow Anisa on Twitter.
“Don’t Use The Local Airlines”
Before a recent trip, Mel Adela was told by her mom and a few friends not to use their local airlines for internal flights, because they were most likely poorly run and unsafe:
“Not only was my 40 minute flight seamlessly smooth, the service was great and we got cake, drinks, sweets and a hot towel! Although it wasn’t the cheapest mode of transport, it was the quickest and allowed me the ability to fit locations into her itinerary that I wouldn’t have had time for had I used ground transport”.
Personally, I’m too scared to fly an airline without a good safety rating, regardless on which country it’s in. Check out AirlineRatings.com before you book for safety ratings for most airlines around the world! If they get a good safety rating and are cheap, go for it!
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“Don’t Worry About Money”
So, it’s safe to say that a good chunk of the bad travel advice floating around is money related! The idea to disregard the need for personal finances is one of the worst pieces of advice that Vivian, from Miss Happy Feet, has been given:
“Yes, I agree that the experience you get traveling is priceless and well worth every dime you spent, but I can’t agree with the ‘don’t worry about money’ part unless you are born rich. The truth is, you have to have a “safe” sum of money before jetting off: what if you failed to grab the last budget bus ticket to your next destination? What if you missed your train at night, where are you going to stay? What if you fell sick during the trip? Do you have enough money to visit a doctor?… The list goes on! So in order to make a trip work, I have to earn and save like a mad person before I finally have enough money to feel secured. Although I usually couch surf, there were times that I can’t find anyone to host me at all (usually during peak season). That is why you have to worry about Money, that worry will drive you to work harder towards your next trip!”
Follow Vivian on Facebook.
“Don’t Go There, It’s Dangerous – By Someone Who Has Never Been There”
Claire Martin from Claire’s Footsteps isn’t advising to completely ignore any advice about going to a so called ‘dangerous place’, but “definitely make sure you research into the place, get a few different opinions of it, and ensure to speak to people who have actually been there before you make a judgment. Some places are portrayed extremely negatively in the western media, with countries and cities being deemed ‘dangerous’ because of dodgy neighbourhoods or illicit activities that no traveller would ever get involved in.
Make sure you listen to people’s advice and take it into account, but do always think of the bigger picture and consider the reasons why some people give certain advice. If they’re swayed by news articles or word of mouth, do a bit of extra research. Foreign advisories are great at keeping you aware, but do not let them make you paranoid!
Once you get to see a bit of this wonderful world for yourself, you’ll realise it’s not half as scary a place as many people say!”
Follow Claire on Facebook.
“Don’t Waste Your Money On Bottled Water”
I’m not suggesting you pay $5 for the most expensive and overpriced bottle of water you can find, but get yourself to a grocery store and buy yourself a big, cheap jug of water to have around. While some people can drink local water and get away with it, most can’t. It might not hurt you longterm, but nothing ruins a trip to Phuket like a day spent in the bathroom because you decided to grab a quick drink from the tap!
“Don’t worry about bringing all/enough of the products you need, because you can buy new ones when you get there”
Alicia Mae Webb, from AMae TV says: “sure it make sense to pack light, but not if you’re like me you are going to want to use a certain face wash, SPF lotion, and hair conditioner to remain your balanced and happy self. Buying foreign products can be fun if you like to experiment, but it makes for much happier traveling if you don’t have to do this from a place of need. Not to mention you will not want to have to figure out where and how to buy products quickly when you arrive at a new destination. It can get quite tricky, expensive, and take up the time you’d rather spend having fun! It’s best to bring plenty of the products you love and when you run out you can gradually search for more when necessary”.
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“Don’t bother with any churches in Rome except for St. Peter’s Basilica because the rest pale in comparison”
Erin Faherty, from 10 Miles Behind Me, was once given that advice by a coworker of hers. Fortunately, she didn’t listen and instead “discovered so many amazing small churches with their own works of Michelangelo, fake domes painted on the ceiling, thousand-year-old relics, and more. I enjoyed the smaller churches more than the Vatican, because the Vatican was the most crowded place I’ve ever been in. I could actually appreciate the small churches, written about in this post here. It’s good to listen to other people’s advice but make sure you realize that you aren’t going to have the same travel style as everyone else and do what you feel is best!”
Follow Erin on Twitter.
What bad advice have you been given?!