5 Travel Myths That Might Be Ruining Your Trip

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
What’s holding you back from traveling more? If it’s a "can’t," "shouldn’t," or "don’t," it might be worth considering the source of your information. Travel is filled with so many half-truths and flat-out misconceptions that if you listened to all the excuses, you’d never get to see any place other than where you are.

As a rule, I try not to live in fear. The reality is that bad things can happen anytime, anywhere, and without warning. Ditto for good things. That’s life, whether you’re sitting at home or you're off exploring the world. The worst incident I’ve experienced in my two decades as a frequent solo traveler is a stolen laptop. (And that’s only because I didn’t put it in the hostel locker when I came home late one night and didn’t want to wake fellow travelers.) The takeaway: Sometimes, safety trumps courtesy, and you've gotta watch out for No. 1. Think smart, trust your gut, and take precautions, and more often than not, things work out okay.

In the spirit of enabling more informed and empowered adventuring, I turned to some experts in the field to dispel five common travel myths. Read on for what they had to say — it just might help you take the first step on a life-changing journey.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
People often raise an eyebrow when I sing the praises of solo travel — right before they raise concerns about safety. It’s a legitimate worry, as there are countless things that can go awry on the road, especially as a female traveling alone. But as Sherry Ott of Ottsworld points out, “Saying solo travel isn't safe for women is like saying that if you're single, you should never leave your home.” In other words, traveling in most parts of the world is no different than living solo or being single where you already are. “Women do things all the time on our own in our home cities, so what makes travel so different? Nothing,” she says. Ott’s been traveling solo for 10 years. “If I listened to the myth and waited for someone to go with me for 'safety' reasons, I never would have gone anywhere in my life."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
John E. DiScala, aka Johnny Jet, travels around 150,000 miles each year, and says some airlines actually do offer a comfortable coach experience. He encourages travelers to consult SeatGuru before booking tickets to get a full picture of the aircraft layout and seat sizes, and suggests trying to snag an exit row. Legroom varies widely — from Spirit Airlines, which offers the least, to JetBlue, which beats out all domestic airlines. Another option? Upgrade to premium economy. "Premium Economy seating is a hot trend right now for long-haul international flights," DiScala says. "On some carriers, like British Airways, it’s like flying old-school business class."

As far as in-flight amenities, DiScala lauds Virgin America for its overall experience. "You can order food and drinks from your seat through their touchscreen system, and there are complimentary bottles of water by the bathroom.” Another perk that makes flying more tolerable is downloading the airline’s app to stream inflight entertainment from your personal device (United) or track your bag (Delta). If you’re flying Southwest, which adheres to a first come, first served seating policy, DiScala recommends checking in exactly 24 hours in advance. “Even if you have to pay to have the airline do it, you’ll get a better boarding zone — so even if you’re in Zone B, you’ll still get an aisle seat.”
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Repeat after me: You don’t need a benefactor or a trust fund to travel — just a knack for saving and some good planning instincts. Spencer Spellman, founder of Whiskey Tango Globetrot, points out that travel is more budget-friendly than ever, in part thanks to the advent of the sharing economy with services like Airbnb and HomeAway. Still, common sense usually scores the biggest savings. “At the end of the day, the difference between a $5,000 and $2,500 trip is often just when you book it and when you travel,” he says. “In other words, don’t book a weekend trip to Brazil during the Summer Olympics.”

If traveling is a priority for you, then treat it like every other important expense in your life. Would you spend the rent money on dining out? No? Then don't squander your travel fund on frivolous things, either. Sock a little bit of every paycheck away, just as you would to pay for any other important living expense.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Sure, it’s harder to stay out partying all night when you have kids, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun — or that you have to go to Disneyland. “Parents talk themselves out of traveling with kids more than anything else,” says Kayt Sukel, travel writer and author of The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution & Chance (March 2016). She admits there’s some inconvenience in traveling with kids, but it doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. “Kids need to learn how to deal with inconvenience,” she points out. She’s done some of her best and most memorable traveling with her son. “All it really requires is the ability to adapt — which, when you think about it, is a prerequisite for both parenting and travel anyway — and to slow down and just enjoy.” At its best, family travel can be good for the little ones’ development and a great bonding experience.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Clients often ask Raquel Segura, travel agent, tour operator, and president of Je Suis Paris, why they should shell out for travel insurance. Her answer? To protect their investment, of course. “My clients have dreamed about their vacation for some time and make a large investment in money and time spent planning,” says Segura. From when you book your trip to the date of departure and during your trip, many things can happen — things like loss of a job, a sick family member, or an emergency surgery. Many parts of your trip can be non-refundable and good travel insurance can protect you from having to pay for a trip you can’t take.

“As a frequent traveler myself, I never travel without insurance: I have an annual policy, plus at times choose to get supplemental insurance for additional coverage,” she says. “Thus far this year, I have filed two claims, and was thankful for not losing my money after my daughter fell ill right before I was supposed to travel to France.” Simply put, travel insurance, or as Segura likes to call it, “In Case Shit Happens” insurance, is there to resolve issues that threaten to ruin your much-needed vacation. You hope those issues won't arise, but if they do, you'll be glad you're covered.
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