I’m in the advice business. So, I know a good piece of advice when I hear it. I have a few criteria: Is the person giving this advice someone who should be giving this advice? Have they been there? Is this something they would actually do? Is this something I would actually do?
Let’s be honest. Sometimes the people giving advice have no business telling you how to do things! You know a good piece of advice when you hear it, and as such, you probably also know a bad piece of advice. Here are the worst pieces of travel advice I’ve actually heard, along with why you should never follow it!
Just Go with the Flow
Really? No plan? I’m all about taking opportunities that come your way, so don’t get me wrong! But seriously, you need a loose plan. The plan can change, and the plan might not actually work out, so it’ll have to change! But in general, you really need to know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and where you’re going to stay.
We all know those people for whom life just seems to work out fine. Generally, though, those are the people who overpay for things because they’re desperate, they miss their connections, and they end up in shady situations. This is not a 1950s I Love Lucy episode where things just work out and you laugh along the way. Have a plan!
Keep reading: The Best Habits of Flexible Travelers
Only Fly Non-stop
Y’all, this is not possible! Unless you live at a major hub airport and only want to visit major cities with non-stops from your home airport, you will have to connect somewhere, at some point in your life. Non-stop is great if you can get it, but don’t let a layover stop you from taking that dream trip. You might even save some money, too, as connecting flights are (usually, but not always) much cheaper than flying non-stop!
Read this, too: How to Handle a Layover
Pack a Different Outfit for Every Day
If you’ve been reading the blog for more than a minute, you already know I never check a bag! Packing smart and packing light are one and the same, so don’t take this over-packing advice. My mom likes to have three options for every day–THREE! But even she has come around in recent years and is packing smarter. If she can go carry-on only, so can you!
The best tip: Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match or re-wear your clothes. As long as everything you pack can go with everything else, you could potentially have more than enough options for any trip length. Afraid you’ll sweat too much? Buy better deodorant!
Read this: How to pack the Perfect Carry-on
Don’t Go There
You know who says that? People who have never been there! Wherever you want to go, you’ll find crime. You’ll also find wonderful, helpful, hospitable people who are glad to have you visit their city or country! With the right safety strategies and self-awareness, you can travel anywhere. Some of the more “shocking” places I’ve visited include Turkey, Qatar, Morocco, and Cambodia. All were positive experiences, and the people were over-the-top kind.
More here: The Ultimate Guide to Solo Female Travel
Never Travel Alone
You know who says this? People who have never traveled alone! Solo travel can be intimidating and even overwhelming, but once you do it, you’ll realize you’re braver and more capable than you think. It’s not always easy (check out my Surprising Confessions of a Solo Female Traveler), but it’s always worth it, always life-changing, and always fun. Don’t let someone else’s unfounded fears stop you!
Excellent examples: Comebacks for Rude Comments about Solo Travel
You Really Have to Spend a Whole Week or It’s Not Worth It
I hear this way too often about Hawaii, any international trip, and basically any time someone has to cross a few timezones. It’s not true! Americans don’t generally get enough vacation time to be spending a week or more wherever they want to travel. If you can only do five days, do it! If you can only go for an overnight trip, do it!
If you can take a week or two, that’s awesome and you should take that time, but if you only have a few days, that’s way better than none! Don’t skip the trip just because someone else thinks you’re not spending enough of your time there.
Never underestimate a quick trip: The Beauty of Weekender Travel
Never Eat Street Food
Be smart–if you see that something’s been sitting out in the sun too long, skip it. But if you want to try the doner in Adana, go for it! Eating like the locals is part of the travel experience, so don’t be afraid to try it out. Food trucks have become almost cliche where I live in America, and street food elsewhere in the world is no different!
Keep eating: The Most Exotic Foods I Actually Ate
To that, I say, “Why wait?” You could wait until the “perfect time,” until your kids are out of college, until you have more vacation time built up, until you retire, but should you? No. If 2020 and all the time since has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that what’s available and allowed now may not be available or allowed later. Things change, things get crazy, and life takes over. Don’t wait. Take the trip. It may be your only chance!
eep reading: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Traveling
Just Wait to Book It When You Get There
What? Who does this? Some things you don’t need a reservation for: Most restaurants, museums, parks, public transportation, etc. Then there are things you need to check on: Fancy restaurants, events, tours. And then, there are things you must have a reservation for, always, every single time: Accommodations and airline tickets, in particular.
If you’re on the Amazing Race, then sure, get your tickets at the airport and stay where the producers tell you to. If you’re anyone else, get your plane tickets in advance, and reserve your hotel before you leave for your trip! This is not the olden days when you could walk the streets of a foreign land looking for a place to stay.
Also helpful: How to Find Cheap Flights
Pay it Off Over Time
No, y’all. Everyone has to book plane tickets, hotels, events, reservations, etc. with a credit card. But please, make sure you can pay it off without paying interest for the next several months… Or years! Never, never go into debt for travel. You’ll have a good chance of enjoying your trip in the moment, but then there’s an even greater chance of you regretting or second-guessing the trip later. If anyone tells you to “just put it on your card and then pay it off over time,” run the other way and get financial advice from someone wiser!
More here: What to Consider When Choosing a Travel Credit Card
Want more? Check out my Travel Tips Page for the “Advice” tab!
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