To help combat the misinformation out there, We want to expose 5 of the most common travel myths We’ve encountered over the years. Forget what they say about the best way to travel safely, happily and on a budget by scratching these five travel myths from your memory.
1. Always Trust Local Knowledge
How many hotels have you stayed at in your hometown? Just as you probably don’t know the ins and outs of the tourist industry in your city, it’s unlikely that a local in a foreign city will know the answer to a tourist’s every question. For stuff like hotels and sightseeing, your best bet is to ask fellow travelers, either in person or through the Internet. Further, if you’re looking for directions, local advice can be hit or miss: they might know where you’re going but the language barrier can be a problem. On the other hand, locals tend to give good recommendations for places to eat. Everyone loves a good meal.
2. Duty Free = Good Deal
The appeal of duty free has no doubt relieved many an uninformed traveler of his or her stash of travel cash. The reality is that duty free goods often cost no less than when bought at your local shop. It is true that you don’t pay taxes, but the baseline price for luxury perfumes and sunglasses is often higher than normal in the airport. The big difference is with heavily taxed items, of course, like cigarettes and booze. You can certainly save some money on these items, but if you’re looking for a steal at the airport, a gallon-jug of Chanel No. 5 is not it.
3. The Best Hotel Prices Are On Travel Sites
The boom in sites like Priceline and Expedia has resulted in the misconception that the only way to get a good deal on a room is to use one of these online third-party bookers. In fact, many hotel chains, like Inter Continental and Wyndham, offer rate guarantees and encourage customers to book directly with the hotels. Hotels will also frequently have discount or perk offers that third-party websites aren’t privy to and it’s generally far easier to deal directly with the hotel than with a booking agent. On top of this, hotels give the upgrades, not booking agents.
4. You’ll Avoid Crowds If You Go Early
“If you want to avoid the crowds, go early,” reads your guidebook – the same guidebook that was purchased by several million other tourists. There are only so many heritage sites, monuments and parks in the world, but a practically unlimited supply of tourists. The inevitable fact is that Angkor Wat or Yellowstone will always be crowded, and your guidebook’s suggestion to go early will be followed by every other visitor. The trick is to go not early, but when no one else wants to go, like the middle of the day – when the sun has chased away the weaker tourists.
5. Street Food is Unsafe
Countless travelers prefer to sit down in a restaurant for a bite to eat than stand up in the street with the rest of the country. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a little air-conditioning, but the idea that food is healthier because it’s prepared in a “proper” kitchen is dubious at best. First, you really don’t know what’s going on in that kitchen, because you can’t see inside. With street food, you can see the ingredients being prepared directly in front of you. And since street food is often deep-fried, stir-fried, or barbecued over very high heat, it’s likely that even if anything nefarious was in the ingredients, it’s long since been seared out of your meal.