Travel has changed more since the turning of the millennium than it did in the 50 years previous. Thanks to the Internet, travellers are finding and booking trips to destinations they may never have thought to visit before, and they are doing it more quickly and easily than ever.
But even with all of the changes in how we plan and book travel, there are certain myths that still persist no matter how many times they’ve been disproven. While buying into one of these untruths isn’t necessarily going to ruin your trip, it might keep you from enjoying your holiday as much as you could have.
So before you book your next getaway, consider whether one of these common myths is influencing your planning and preparation.
Myth #1: Women Should Not Travel Alone
This myth often extends to simply “don’t travel alone.” When you announce that you’re taking a solo trip, reactions generally range from “Aren’t you nervous?” to “Are you crazy?” While certainly in some places a woman travelling alone may be an easier target for criminals, the same could be said about anyone going anywhere alone. In general, though, it’s perfectly safe for a woman to head out on her own. Just follow your instincts, and take precautions such as staying out of sketchy neighborhoods and not wearing expensive jewelry, and you’ll be able to enjoy your destination without trouble.
Myth #2: Avoid Touristy Places and Guided Tours
Those who consider themselves “real” travellers often scoff at guided tours, believing that they are filled with loud and obnoxious tourists and that tour groups will only scratch the surface of a city’s treasures rather than exploring the culture. While not all tours are created equal, for someone visiting a destination for the first time or who has limited time in the city, a guided tour can be a great way to catch the highlights. Spending the first day of a multi-day trip to, say, Rome on a guided tour can help you see major attractions and determine what you want to explore on your own during the rest of your visit. A tour can also make it easier to access certain sites, and you may learn quite a bit from a knowledgeable tour guide.
And as far as visiting places deemed touristy, ignore the naysayers. If you want to see something, go — it’s your vacation after all.
Myth #3: You Have to Book Your Flight on Thursdays for the Best Flight Deal
If you are looking for cheap flights, you’re probably willing to try anything. There are so many “tricks” to finding the best rates out there that you could conceivably spend weeks searching for the lowest rate. The truth is that great flight deals can appear any time, although the lowest rates usually appear earlier in the week. If you’re flexible with your travel arrangements, try a few different combinations — you might just find the best deal is something unexpected.
Myth #4: Stay Away From (Fill in Country Here)
There are certainly parts of the world that you may not wish to visit; in fact, some places, like Iraq or Afghanistan are all but closed to tourism for obvious reasons. However, some places get a bad rap due to isolated incidents or unfounded rumors. The truth is that most parts of the world are safe for tourism if you use common sense and take necessary precautions.
Myth #5: Avoid Street Food
Noshing on local cuisine is one of the most enjoyable parts of any vacation. But some travellers avoid local fare out of fear of spending the rest of their trip in the hotel bathroom — or worse. The truth is that street food is generally safe, especially if you take precautions. Only purchase from vendors that have a steady stream of customers, and pay close attention to how the food is stored and cooked. Stick with vegetarian options when possible, and avoid fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in water that’s undrinkable. But don’t jump in to your culinary adventure with both feet — if you are used to a diet of mild foods and suddenly start munching on spicy foods in India, you may experience some tummy trouble.
When you’re planning your next vacation, don’t let outdated myths influence your plans. Skipping the guided tour of Paris and or the street tacos in Mexico could wind up being your biggest vacation regrets!
About the Author: Julie Shepley is based in New York City, but considers herself a citizen of the world. When she’s not exploring the ancient ruins of South America or European art museums, she’s a freelance writer for several magazines.