I’ve received a lot of travel advice, most of it unsolicited. It seems like everyone has an idea of how, where, when and why you should travel, and yet, if we took even half of the advice we’re given, most of us would never get out of the door. Here is some of the worst advice, that thankfully I never took.
Don’t talk to strangers while traveling alone as a woman. When you’re traveling solo and you’re female, everyone has advice for you. I prefer to ignore 90% of it and just use my instincts and sometimes that means chatting it up with total strangers. I’ve met amazing, interesting people and to me, if you’re not interacting with other people, you not traveling, you’re touring.
Travel before you have kids. Well technically I did travel before kids, but I’m also not planning to stop now that I have a little one. Sure I’m not going to be sleeping in a dorm room at some Eurotrash party hostel, but it’s not like a kid is some kind of live bomb that you can’t get through security. You know, they will let you out of the country, even if you have children.
Leave your dogs at home (or don’t get them at all!). I love my dogs. And you know what my dogs love? Traveling. They love new places, like swimming in the Yukon in August. They really love new people, like the little old men who would coo at them in Spanish in Madrid. And most of all they love being with us, their family.
Don’t eat street food. Everyone has a good “got-so-sick story” from their travels. The other side of that story is the 99 other times they ate stuff and were fine. To me, I’d rather risk the pretty rare stomach bug than miss out on the amazing, delicious and cheap food available to the locals. In two years of travel, I’ve gotten sick once. And it was my fault (apparently microwaving rain water for 60 seconds won’t kill bacteria, duh).
Don’t quit your job to travel, you’ll totally regret all the money you could be making. Ha. Seriously? Hands down worst advice ever. When was the last time you ran into a traveler who was lamenting how much money they could have made if they had stayed home instead.
Apparently I’m not alone! I queried folks on Twitter and here’s what you had to say:
There’s a right way to travel
Never go to an all inclusive (they said) – I went to one and had an amazing time! I still got to explore outside of the resort. We did lay around in the sun, we did drink. However we also spent a whole day at the most unbelievable spa I have ever been to, visited the city of Moron, held crocodiles, went on a carriage ride through a city, chatted with locals and so much more. The food was great, the entertainment was even better and late at night a disco opened at the resort and we would dance the night away with the entertainment staff. I would definitely recommend an all inclusive and would do it again! Travel Yourself | @CailinONeil
It’s too dangerous
While planning a six week trip around East Africa many years ago, I was advised by several friends and workmates not to go – apparently the risk from people, animals and diseases made the area just ‘too dangerous’ to even consider. I went anyway, and got no sicker than I could have in any ‘developed’ part of the world, found the landscape and wildlife totally breathtaking and was utterly humbled by the warmth and friendliness of the people that I met along the way. Put simply, Africa changed my life, and ignoring the naysayers was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. What’s Dave Doing | @driftingkiwi
Take a tour
When we told our friends and family that we’d be going to Tokyo for eight days, you would have thought we’d announced that we were moving permanently to the end of the earth. Certain friends of ours were concerned because we were going without a tour group, and neither me nor my husband speak any Japanese. They couldn’t figure out how we would get around without someone guiding us every step of the way! However, we knew that by doing a little reseach ahead of time we’d be just fine. Sure enough, we had a wonderful time and only got lost once…and no less than three people came over to assist us when they saw us looking confused! Wandering Off | @Wandering_Off
I love to overpack. I would much rather have too much to choose from then fret about not having the right clothes, shoes, etc. for the different activities I might be doing during my trip. Unless I am backpacking, which I have not done in a while, I say, why not bring everything you think you might need – within reason, of course. To me, it just means I will have a bit more laundry to do when I get home. Moderne PR | @jamiewerner
Before I began by round-the-world trip, most of my American friends warned me to stay away from some countries that supposedly hate Americans, most notably Sudan and Syria. Couldn’t be worse advice out there. Some people hate what our government does — I’ve never met people that hate Americans. Most everyone loves the U.S. and many want to move here. Sudan and Syria were two of my favorite stops on my round the world trip and the people were universally and overwhelmingly friendly and wonderful. Mobile Lawyer | @mobilelawyer
Pretend you’re Canadian
Before we left for Ireland in June 2006, several people warned me that we should pretend to be Canadians because European sentiment about America was at an all-time low, in part due to the Bush/Kerry election and the Hurricane Katrina disaster. As much as we love traveling, we are patriots and love our own country. Everywhere we went, from tiny pubs in Donegal to the bustling neighborhood bar in Dublin, people asked us about our views on Iraq, Bush, and Katrina and we (tactfully) asked them about the IRA, Northern Ireland versus the Republic, and orange versus green. We learned about honest Irish beliefs because we shared our honest American beliefs. The Road Forks | @theroadforks
And last but not least…
It seems there are no pat answers to how, where, when or why to travel… what’s some of the worst travel advice you’ve received but are glad you never took?