Travel – either talking about it or actually doing it – is one of those things that can quickly turn acquaintances into friends. There’s nothing like chatting over a beer and laughing about that one time you completely messed up the Japanese trains and turned a 20-minute trip into a 3 hour one (speaking from experience) or bonding over the amazing chili crab you had in Singapore or beignets in New Orleans.
Along with travel talk comes a lot of well-intentioned travel advice, tips and opinions – which seem to be polarizingly helpful or annoying. There’s nothing worse than being excited about a trip for someone to just tear it down with negativity.
Personally, I love research. It soothes me. Ed thinks I’m weird because I’ll spend hours in bed reading about the Uzbek visa process or how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu, even though neither of those locations are on my upcoming travel itinerary. If I make a decision, I’ve generally weighed up the good and the bad, so some guy in a bar lamenting how touristy my chosen locale is will probably just make me chug my drink and leave.
Anyway, I digress. Here is my list of the worst and most annoying travel tips, advice and opinions.
- “Don’t go there, it’s too expensive/touristy/commercialized.” Look,I’m all for having an authentic experience, so by all means, tell me how great the Gili Islands are how surprisingly wonderful Albanian beaches are, but let me make my own choices. Generally, touristy spots are touristy for a reason, and you can’t replicate one-of-a-kind attractions, so if someone has never seen the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, Big Ben or any other location that may be on their list, don’t ruin their excitement.
- “Oh don’t go there then, the weather will be terrible.” Ed and I ran into this one all the time on a trip to England and Scotland a few years ago in January. So many people told us we would be miserable and would have a much better time in summer. This is the thing: we both had inflexible jobs at the time and it was either January or never. We knew Scotland would be cold and likely overcast, but we still wanted to go and we had an amazing time. Traveling is all about getting the most out of life, but that doesn’t always happen on perfect terms!
- “Your itinerary is way too busy, you should spend more time at each spot/cut out a few locations, etc.” The problem I have with this piece of advice is that it insinuates that everyone has the option for multiple or long trips. While I agree – to a certain point – that traveling to too many different spots can be exhausting, some people just don’t have the option to take a month-long trip. Or in some cases, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday and might be their someone’s only chance to see as much of Europe as possible. We would all like longer holidays, but jobs and life don’t always make that possible.
- “Save money by choosing sleeper trains and buses/overnight flights.” Look, if that’s your thing, good for you – but this girl needs sleep. I don’t care whether you’re 20 or 80, don’t ever feel bad for doing what you have to do to take care of yourself while you travel. I’m not one of those people who can sleep anywhere and saving a few bucks isn’t worth feeling awful for a day (or more!)
- “I don’t understand why anyone would ever eat fast food when they travel, it’s disgusting.” This is something I feel surprisingly strong about. Local food is amazing. Trying new cuisine is without a doubt one of the best things about exploring a new place; but not every meal has to be ‘authentic’ and local. There are many reasons to enjoy a Big Mac while abroad. Maybe your budget has hit crisis point. Maybe you haven’t felt well and you just want to eat something you’re familiar with. Maybe you’re missing home. Maybe you’re exhausted from navigating menus and just want to point to a Number 1 and know exactly what you’ll get. Eating a burger won’t ruin your experience, but doing things you don’t want to will.
- “People who cruise aren’t really travelers.” Can we all agree to quell the travel elitism? If a Carnival cruise to Nassau is your idea of hell, don’t go on one. Sure, it’s not the same as really embedding yourself in the culture of a place, but if someone enjoys themselves, who cares? Personally, a Caribbean cruise isn’t really my thing (though I have tried it once), but I would give an expendable organ to do a luxury European river cruise.
- “Just go, worry about the money later.” If someone gives you this advice, they probably use carpe diem and/or YOLO in regular conversation. There’s a good chance they also have a family they can move back in with and limited financial commitments. Odds are, you have a life to go back to and returning home with debt is not a great feeling. That said, there are a lot of ways to have it all and get those wonderful experiences for less, and we’re going to keep telling you about them! So check back regularly for tips on finding deals, earning and using rewards points, and getting the most out of your travels.
So that is my not-so-comprehensive list of the little pieces of unsolicited advice; and I’d love to hear yours! What is the worst (or best) piece of travel advice you’ve gotten? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.