I had lunch with my niece the other day. I haven’t seen her in ages so it was lovely to catch up with her. The great thing about our lunch was that we talked about her upcoming overseas trip. As a traveler myself, I shared some travel advice. As we were talking about her trip, however, I realized there is a lot of not-so-great travel advice and opinions out there.
People can feel pressured or make assumptions about their trip based on other people’s travel advice. The truth is what one person considers a great trip might not be the same as someone else’s definition.
We are all different and have our own travel agendas and dreams, so depending on what we want there is some travel advice that we should feel free to ignore.
Let’s have a look at some travel advice to ignore if you choose to.
You have to go to here, here and here
As it will be my niece’s first time in Europe, she was originally thinking about visiting what’s termed Western Europe (France, Italy, Spain, and the like)
After all, it’s what most people do. It’s also what a few people told her she had to do.
After doing her research and reading up on places she was interested in, she realized she was far more interested in Scandinavia, Iceland, parts of Russia, and Northern Germany, which is exactly what she is planning on doing.
Don’t let people tell you that you have to go somewhere.
On a side note – when you are on the road traveling, you will meet lots of people who will suggest going somewhere because they found it incredible. You will get lots of – you have to go here it’s amazing – types of comments from fellow travelers. This stuff is great to listen to, though again feel free to tailor suggestions to your own needs.
This is one of the fabulous reasons your travel list usually gets longer when you travel (not shorter), you find out about a whole bunch of incredible places you want to add to your list!
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Your trip has to be better than everyone else’s
This one isn’t so much advice, more an attitude you might have to deal with.
There can be a downside to other people’s travel stories. This is a side of traveling that people don’t often talk about.
It can be competitive.
I’ve written about the ‘competitive backpacking’ phenomenon before on this blog.
When you are backpacking, sometimes no matter what you do, there’ll be someone competing to tell a story or have an experience better than yours. It’s a you climbed Kilimanjaro – they climbed Everest type of deal.
It’s kind of silly and not something you want to participate in.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to backpacking, it can apply to traveling in general. You might tell someone you stayed at a particular hotel only to be informed in a bragging manner that they stayed at a far more expensive one.
Be aware that some people like to stay in certain places or hotels because they think it gives them bragging rights. If they want to do that fine, just don’t play into it.
You shouldn’t do a tour
If you follow travel websites that specifically focus on independent or solo travel, you might feel like that’s the way to go and that doing a tour is frowned upon.
My first big trip overseas to the United States involved two Trek America tours and a Contiki tour and I had a total ball. My first trip to Europe was a Contiki tour.
I have since done several solo trips to Europe as well as trips with friends.
My advice – do what is right for you at the time.
You might want to do a tour, go alone or travel with friends. You might want to do a combination of all three.
Due to safety concerns, in some countries and in some cities for that matter tours might be the best option. Safety always comes first, so do what’s best for you. What’s best for you might also translate to what you are comfortable with and that’s okay too.
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You have to go overseas
Whilst I do love going overseas myself (and in all honestly I would strongly encourage it), I realize that not everyone yearns to explore another country.
Many people are much more interested in exploring their own country and that is perfectly fine.
Don’t let people pressure you.
If you want to travel your own country from top to bottom, then do it.
You can’t go to the same place more than once
Talking to a coworker in the office one day about travel, I mentioned that I had been to New York City 4 times (I was preparing for my 5th trip when we had this discussion).
My coworker’s response went something like – “There are other places in the world you know.”
I replied that yes I did know that and had been to quite a few of those other places.
For me, New York City is like my second home. I love it. I wouldn’t take back those 5 times and in fact, I’m sure there will be a 6th!
My point is don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t go somewhere more than once.
The beauty of this whole amazing travel gig is you can do whatever you want (as long as the Government will give you a visa and you are not doing anything illegal naturally).
Related post – 10 Tips for Traveling to New York City by Yourself
Travel is for young people
This one is total rubbish and you shouldn’t listen to anyone who says it. (I’m getting a bit forceful with this one because it really rubs me up the wrong way).
I don’t like the notion that traveling is mainly for young people.
Yes I fully agree that you should travel when you are young but hey I think you should travel at all ages/stages of your life
Travel isn’t just for the young. It’s also not just for singles or only for couples. It’s not just for people who don’t have kids.
It’s for everyone who wants to explore and have an adventure.
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Don’t bother going if you can’t go for a long time
Some people believe if you can’t go for a long time, why bother going at all?
I must admit I used to fall into this trap myself when it came to visiting South America. I thought if I didn’t have six months to visit the country then it wasn’t worth doing. I think the sheer size of a country can make people feel this way.
The size of a country and a shorter time frame for traveling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.
What it does mean is that you should focus your time and energy on a specific area or specific countries (preferably ones close together if you don’t have much time). Instead of deciding you don’t have time to visit South America, decide you have time to focus on a few highlights in Brazil and perhaps fly to one city in Argentina. You can go back and do a separate part of the country next time. (I haven’t gotten to South America yet, in case you were wondering but it’s on my list).
Sometimes the having lots of time idea is tied up with how far away you are from your destination. Take being an Australian for instance, if we want to go to London, it’s a bit of a trek time wise. It’s not something you would do for a weekend trip.
Part of the you have to go for a long time, is feed by the theory that you have to see it all at once.
Here’s a big tip that will save you a lot of stress traveling.
Accept from the get-go that you won’t see everything all at once the first time around.
If you go in thinking you will see everything, you might rush around ticking things off your list and miss out on the experience itself. Only then to be frustrated by the fact that you didn’t see everything anyway.
You have to be on the move all the time
Don’t let anyone tell you, you have to be on the move all the time. This one is particularly relevant if you are traveling for a long time.
If you want to stay in one place, do it – if you want to move to a new place every day then do that.
Of course, if you book a tour, then yes you need to stick with the tour, the bus will not wait for you! If you want to take a tour, yet still have some independence, look for tours that have an element of exploring by yourself.
One point on moving a lot, particularly when airports are involved. Airports and flying can really cut into your itinerary if you choose to fly a lot. I’ve had fairly short flights but because of the time involved getting from one country to another, I have pretty much written off the whole day.
You have to pre-book everything
Years ago I remember one of my friends was going to Europe for six weeks and every single day was booked out down to the last couple of hours.
His itinerary was heavily and completely regimented. While I appreciate this worked for his personality type, I remember asking him what would happen if he wanted to stay somewhere longer or do something different from what he planned.
In a nutshell, he said that wasn’t an option. While his initial plan might have made him feel more in control and less stressed when the reality hits the road and something doesn’t go to plan (which could be as simple as a train being late) most likely it would send him into a spiral of stress and anxiety.
While booking accommodation in certain cities (particularly at certain times of the year and for long periods of time) is recommended and will in some cases save you money, booking everything down to the last detail is not required or recommended.
On my third trip to Paris, I wandered off the airport bus without a hotel reservation. I knew the area I was interested in, threw on my backpack walked around, and found a well-priced small hotel (I had already done my research so knew exactly where to start looking).
On my 8-month trip through South-East Asia and Europe, I booked my first few nights in Bangkok but nothing after that. You don’t need to book it all in advance.
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You have to do the touristy stuff
I have seen people arrive at cities with a list of tourist stuff to do, run around ticking things off their list, and then proudly declare they have seen all there is to the city.
Okay, no judgment here but I have to say there is always so, so, so, so much more to see in a city than what pops up on a tourist book or app.
You shouldn’t do the touristy stuff
This one is the complete opposite of the point above. Some people will tell you not to do the tourist stuff at all.
I think the key is to find the right balance.
For example, if you are in New York, you will want to check out Times Square but that doesn’t mean your hotel needs to be in the area.
There are iconic sites that are worth seeing (despite the crowds) that hold so much cultural and historical significance for a city. Don’t skip these just because of the other tourists.
You have to go luxury
I hate to admit this but sometimes you might hear this from older people.
While I appreciate that as you get older you might prefer certain luxuries (I personally like to have my own bathroom nowadays) there are certainly no rules on having to pay more.
If you want to go luxury for certain trips, in certain places, or for special occasions by all means do it but don’t feel like it has to happen all the time in every place you stay at.
You need a lot of money
You don’t need a lot of money. How much money you need depends on where you want to go, what you want to do while you are there, and how long you will be traveling.
Don’t let people tell you, you have to be rich to travel. So not true. You can Google right now and easily find a hundred websites dedicated to people having an amazing time traveling who aren’t wealthy.
It comes down to it, this is your vacation, your holiday, your grand adventure and you can spend it how you want, doing what makes you happy.
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