When it comes to travel advice, some of the most common suggestions are the worst. And trust us, we’ve heard it all. From dubious ways to cut costs to travel strategies that never end well, here’s a round-up of the worst advice we’ve ever received, why you shouldn’t follow it, and better advice to pave your next vacation path.
Treat Yourself, You’re On Vacation!
We’ve all been told to not worry about money on vacation because the experience will be worth it. While that may be true, not everyone can afford to splurge. Sure, you don’t want to miss out on great experiences, but you also don’t want to be hit with a big credit card bill post-vacation.
Do This Instead: From alternative accommodation sites to new booking platforms, technology gives the savvy traveler a variety of ways to save. It’s not too hard to find affordable flights and cheap lodging couch surfing. There are a lot of museums and sites you can see for almost nothing.
Avoid Tourist Traps!
There’s a reason why tourist traps are crowded. The Eiffel Tower really is a marvel to stand under, and the Sagrada Familia does take your breath away. So, before you dismiss doing brave touristy activities, shift your thinking and consider what makes a destination special, then evaluate if it’s worth visiting in spite of crowds.
Do This Instead: If you do chose to brave popular attractions, consider doing it as part of a tour. Many times they offer special access or run at off-peak times to allow participants to enjoy the destination without the crowds. If you can afford to spend a little more, boutique tours or tours with smaller groups are a great way to enjoy an overcrowded tourist destination.
Be Spontaneous With Accommodations!
While it’s nice to be flexible with travel dates, booking accommodations in advance is one thing you shouldn’t mess around with, unless you are traveling for an extended period and aren’t picky about where you’re sleeping.
Do This Instead: Instead, do your research in advance and then you will “be able to land, check-in, and hit the ground running.”
Try To See As Much As Possible!
Sometimes it really is better to follow the mantra “less is more.” When you try to squeeze too much into your itinerary, you may end up with additional flight and hotel expenses, unnecessary exhaustion, missed connections, more transit time, and general frustration.
Do This Instead: Make a wish list of your must-see spots and map out your days realistically. This will give you not only a more relaxed experience, but likely a more authentic one as well.
Travel In A Group!
At some point in time, we’ve all thought it was a good idea to plan a vacation with a large group of family or friends, and then ended up more stressed out than relaxed. The logistics associated with traveling in a large group—as well as the inevitable difference in travel styles—can turn a dream trip into a miserable vacation.
Do This Instead: “While it may be true it’s safer [to travel in a group], it makes planning and getting around a lot more difficult—it’s better to go with one or two people you are really compatible with.
Stay Away From Strangers!
Exploring new cultures can be difficult if you don’t open yourself up to interactions with locals. Locals give a unique and genuine perspective on a destination, and are great resources for amazing restaurants and hidden museums that you can’t find online. Although safety can be a real concern, there are plenty of ways to be safe and engage with the world around you.
Do This Instead: Whether it’s just asking for directions or a restaurant recommendation, you’ll get a better sense of your destination by a asking locals for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask your barista about a great restaurant or your taxi driver about cool alternative tourist destinations.
Book The Cheapest Flight!
Often, the cheapest flights are at inconvenient travel times. And that might save you money, but it will also waste your precious vacation time, especially on multi-destination trips. Red-eye flights in particular pose a problem, since most hotels and hostels won’t let you check in until well after noon, so when you arrive off a 6 am flight, you may well find yourself both exhausted and stuck with your bags for hours.
Do This Instead: Consider your travel style. If you’re like me and can’t sleep on planes, red-eyes are not for you. If you’re the type of traveler who can handle little sleep, by all means go for the cheaper, earlier flights. Make sure to pay attention to connection times, as many cheaper airlines.