15 Travel Myths Busted

Anyone who has travelled, considered travelling or even spoken about an upcoming trip out loud will have heard at least one of the many misconceptions that have been born in the era of travel and tourism. From the common myth of cell phones causing planes to crash to the perfect time to get the best bargain on plane tickets, we have compiled a list of the 15 biggest travel myths and why they have been busted time and time again!

Jet–lag is caused by a lack of sleep and can be prevented by dosing up on sleeping pills

Contrary to popular belief jet-lag is not caused by a lack of sleep or the less than luxurious confines of the aircraft but can rather be attributed to the physical shock to our bodies’ circadian rhythms as we travel across various time zones. The Circadian Rhythm or more commonly known as our internal clocks regulate our sleeping and eating patterns and is controlled mainly by our external environmental factors such as the light-dark cycle of day and night. While sleeping pills may help you get some rest on the plane, it will not alleviate the symptoms of jet-lag and can sometimes even delay your recovery. The best way to get over jet-lag is to get into the routine of the locals as soon as possible.

2. Booking plane tickets months in advance guarantees cheaper fares

Airlines are constantly updating their special offers but only release these package deals approximately 2-3 months before the flight date. This rules out the common adage that the best time to book a flight is 6-12 months in advance, by doing this you might very well be paying a lot more for a ticket than if you had have waited just a little bit longer to book.

3. Last minute plane tickets are the cheapest fares availableCommon belief is that airlines are trying to fill up empty seats and will therefore give the seats away at a steal. In actual fact airlines have been known to increase the prices, especially if the flight falls into peak season or is travelling to a popular destination. The best time to book a plane ticket is ideally 6-8 weeks prior to departure.

4. Tourists are easy targets for pick-pocketers and other small-time thugsBelieve it or not local criminals or opportunistic rebels are not out waiting for the next tourist to target. Some bigger cities do have higher rates of incidents; however they are very rarely only targeting tourists.  While tourists are said to be easily spotted, these instances of pick-pocketing and small time crimes can be avoided by staying observant and not flaunting pricey possessions. In all honesty criminals are usually looking for the easiest targets so while that doesn’t necessarily rule out tourists it also does not specify that every tourist will be hit. It is also always advised to not wander into dark and deserted areas, stay alert in busy crowds and/or stations and airports and always keep your possessions securely on your body or safely stowed in your accommodation. Some hotels even offer a service that will contact you to check that everything is as it should be if you have not arrived back by your expected time.

5. English is spoken everywhere in the world

While English is considered a global language there are still many exotic destinations that do not speak English. Travelling deeper into the rural areas of a city or country will actually showcase greater native roots and in most cases acquiring the English language is the last element of urbanisation. As a matter of fact only one third of the global population have the ability to speak the English language making it quite likely that you will find many regions in the world where English will not be understood at all. Don’t let this scare you off your travels though; just showing that you are making the effort to communicate will make for a fun and unique experience with locals that are usually welcoming and friendly.

6. Having a travel gap in your employment history will affect your professional opportunities

Most companies consider travel as a truly rewarding education and usually show interest in prospective employees who have experienced a little bit of the world at large. Be sure to include some details of the relevant skills you acquired during your time away as well as any work experience you chalked up on your travels. Chances are that upon your return you had a wealth of knowledge and a new idea of the world as a whole - and most employers see that as a major plus in any workplace.

7. Travelling is an expensive luxury that few get to experience

While travel was once a luxury that only the rich got to enjoy, it has become an experience that almost anyone can afford with the right preparations. Saving up for a trip abroad can be likened to saving up for any big purchase or experience and should be approached in the same way. But even if you haven’t managed to save a huge sum of money, affordable trips are possible. With couch-surfing accommodations, hostels, guest houses and even budget hotels offering excellent deals –comfortable and affordable accommodation is within your reach. If you haven’t had enough time to save up money or you just want to explore the regions a bit closer to home then car-sharing services are also an option!

8. Bargaining is essential in foreign countriesIt is said that shopkeepers and salespeople can spot a tourist a mile away but that does not necessarily mean they will double the price just to take advantage of your foreigner status. Even though haggling is sometimes a fun and exciting part of the authentic experience, it is not always a necessity. Enjoy the art of a fun negotiation or pay a dollar or two extra if you can afford to - who knows you might be giving the shopkeeper the chance to treat his family to a nice dinner that evening.

9. Your phone will cause the plane’s ultimate demise

While it is true that cell phones and other electronic devices do interfere with the plane’s signals, they do not cause other aircraft systems to fail or result in the plane crashing to the ground. In fact the Federal Aviation Administration, aka the FAA, have recently announced that new technology will soon be available that will allow passengers to use their devices during the flight as well as during take-off and landing. However  until this new technology is in place it is simply bad manners to disobey the airline’s regulations especially when clear airwaves are imperative during take-off and landing.

10. The airplane is a germ infested capsule that will make you sickCommon belief is that the recycled air in the aircraft is the ideal breeding place for illness and disease, however what many do not realise is that while the air might be recycled, it is also filtered. Although whilst travelling, fatigue and a change in environment can make you more susceptible to minor illnesses so remember to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water and wash your hands regularly.

11. Arrive early and avoid the crowds

This mind set is probably one of the most common myths around. While the idea may seem sound, it loses its effectiveness when the crowds have the same thought process. Truth be told, popular attractions are going to have crowds no matter what time you choose to arrive, but if you are adamant about choosing the quietest time to visit your best bet is to ask the locals and/or your hotel’s information personnel.

12. Organised tours are not necessarily the best way to experience the destination

Many people believe that experiencing the destination in its natural and spontaneous glory provides the most authentic experience. While this does give you a sense of the city as the locals experience it, most of the time you are missing out on the tourist attractions that have drawn visitors from all over the world as well as losing some interesting facts and fables that only the tour guides or a few locals might know. If you want to experience a city in all of its true wonder why not try both? Spend a few hours playing the tourist on the guided bus and then get more adventurous as you become a spontaneous explorer of your surroundings!

13. Bottled water is always a safe bet

If you are travelling to exotic destinations or you have been warned about the tap water it is always safer to stick to bottled water. However not all bottled water is safe to drink, some brands bottle the water from sources nearby which might be cleaner than the tap water but only marginally. When purchasing bottled water be sure to check the source of the water and verify with the locals that this is indeed a trustworthy brand.

14. Never indulge in food bought from street vendors

This warning may seem like good advice and in some destinations is most probably a true pearl of wisdom, but in some cities sampling the street food is a part of the authentic experience. It is always a good idea to use your own discretion when choosing to eat food no matter where in the world you are but don’t be too afraid to try a local delicacy or enjoy a once in a lifetime experience while travelling abroad. From hot dogs in NYC to the more adventurous local cuisine in Beijing – trust your own instincts (and the advice of the locals or fellow tourists) before choosing to snack along the streets of your destination.

15. Duty Free offers the best deals

Unfortunately this common belief only applies to items that are usually heavily taxed. In most cases items bought in Duty Free or anywhere else in the airport have had their prices doubled, if not tripled, so be careful what you choose to buy during your last minute shopping jaunt in Duty Free.   

No matter what people say on the topic of travel it cannot be argued that every tourist will experience a destination in their own unique way. So while it may sometimes be wise to heed the advice of those more travelled be sure to take some of those common myths with a pinch of salt and just enjoy your time abroad safely and in your own personal way!

Happy travelling !