With so many travel myths out there, it can be confusing to figure out what's actually true or not. Whether you’re traveling for the first time or have many trips under your belt, knowing the difference between fact and fiction can help you make better decisions when you’re on the road.
Here are five most common travel myths:
1. Myth: Dressing up will help you get upgraded to business or first class.
Reality: Even though we all want this to be true, it just isn’t the case. Dressing up is not enough to put you in the front of the plane. Automated check-in procedures put upgrade-eligible travelers on the upgrade list. These travelers have purchased a ticket that allows them to upgrade it or have elite status with the airline. Seats in business and first class, particularly on long-haul flights, cost thousands of dollars. They often include pricey perks like lie-flat beds, high-end food, premium beverages and spacious seats. The airline won't give them away for free to just anyone, even if there are empty seats in first and business class. There's just no incentive for the airline to upgrade someone who hasn’t paid for it or earned access to premium cabin benefits through their elite status.
2. Myth: Traveling is too expensive and I can't afford it.
Reality: Some destinations and some types of transport are pricier than other options. However, you can still book an affordable vacation on a budget, even to great places like the Caribbean. Booking flights with airline miles and hotels with points are two great ways to save money because instead of paying with cash, you pay with travel rewards. Other ways to save on travel include booking flights when airlines are having sales and booking accommodations when hotels are offering promotions. If affordability is your goal, don't travel during peak times, like summer and holidays. You’ll have the most success in traveling inexpensively when you can be flexible with your travel plans.
To save money on activities, check to see if your destination offers free walking tours. You can also explore a city by renting a bike. These options are much more affordable than purchasing tours.To save money on dining, try heading to a supermarket to pick up some breakfast basics that you can make yourself. Save your dining out for bigger meals, like lunch or dinner.
3. Myth: Hostels are loud, unsanitary, and not safe.
Reality: Just like hotels can be high-end or budget, so can hostels. Some hostels, particularly newer ones, offer modern decor, comfortable beds, and well-thought-out finishes (multiple personal sockets near the bed, a reading lamp, a privacy curtain for your bed and spacious lockers, to name a few). If you’re looking for privacy, you can also find private rooms at some hostels.
Check websites like www.hostelworld.com and filter your search results by those with a rating of 8.0 and higher. You’ll be able to filter out all the properties that received bad reviews for one reason or another. Certain hostels (and hotels) cater to a young, party-seeking clientele, while others do not. Read reviews to find out what people are saying. These accommodations can double as a great way to meet other travelers while also saving you money on your trip.
4. Myth: Solo travel is dangerous for women.
Reality: Solo travel isn’t automatically dangerous, and common sense can go a long way. Some people consider countries with low crime rates to be safe. Others can feel unsafe if they're addressed in a certain way when walking down the street. Make sure you know which areas to avoid in the cities you’re visiting. Even in the U.S., you wouldn’t wander into certain areas in the middle of the night. The same applies to cities you may visit abroad. As far as feeling safe from crime, common sense is key. In general:
Don’t leave your belongings unattended or unsecured.
If using a ridesharing app, check that the license plate number matches what shows on the app.
Don’t drink too much or walk alone in the middle of the night.
Crime can happen anywhere; do your best not to be an easy target.
5. Myth: Exchanging money at the airport is easiest and will give me the best rate.
Reality: Although convenient because they're right at the airport, currency exchange shops have inflated exchange rates and won't offer you a good deal. The best way to get the fairest exchange rate is to take money out of an ATM when you arrive at your destination. When withdrawing money at an ATM, always decline the currency conversion rate offered by the ATM because that includes a commission. To avoid paying ATM fees (those charged by your bank and local ATMs), open a checking account with a bank that reimburses ATM fees before you travel abroad.
There are so many misconceptions about travel. Use these common myths to your advantage so that you can plan your next trip with ease.