So, we all read articles on the internet written by seemingly glamorous travellers and yearn to be somewhere exotic. Whether we believe their claims or not, there are some facts we except as gospel. Well here are 12 facts about travel that get thrown around where the reality is not quite what we are lead to believe.
Travel will make you cultured:
Travel like everything else in life is what you make of it. Come on we have all seen unwashed backpackers drinking downtown. These very same people who would nick your shoes from your doorstep believe that the fact that they have drunken in every pub from here to Timbuctoo makes them more cultured than you. Cultural understanding and education of world events and history can certainly be a by-product of travel but it is in no way guaranteed.
Travel is unsafe (particular for solo women):
Safety is a very relative concept, though some countries have a higher crime rate than others, being sensible and self-aware is the single biggest step to staying safe anywhere in the world. When people use safety as an excuse not to travel it makes me sad. I have certainly been robbed, threatened and harassed significantly less on the road (and I am a believer in couch surfing, hitchhiking etc.) than in my “safe” hometown of Auckland, New Zealand and the statistics back me up.
Working holidays are a blast:
Now I’m not suggesting that you don’t work but let’s be realistic here working while travelling, whether that be a seasonal job or something online is a drag. Full-time work quickly becomes so enveloping you quickly forget you are supposed to be on a grand adventure. You are too tired to explore on weekends, you have to deal with foreign tax forms, inconsiderate hotel roommates and jobs which are often at the bottom of the ladder. Everyone needs to work but try to schedule yourself some non-working holiday too so you don’t miss out on everything your new country has to offer.
Duty free is a good deal:
Everyone wants you to pick them something up coming through duty free but unless cigarettes or booze is heavily taxed in your country, this is not the deal you would expect it to be. Sure you don’t pay tax but most items are the same prices in other shops sometimes even more as companies must pay a special tax on goods sold at the airport. So check out the tax situation before you spend your travel dollars in duty free shops.
You have to book far in advance:
This was true back in the day but with so much competition on popular routes the best deals are now often to be found 6-7 weeks out, with airlines trying to fill seats. This means that you don’t have to plan holidays far in advance and gives you a tonne more freedom to organise last minute short getaways.
Travel is expensive only the wealthy can do it in any sort of style:
This just isn’t true, if you are travelling through a country with a currency weaker than your own then daily living is in fact cheaper than back home, full stop. Even if you’re not into backpacking and deal searching. Simple options like house sitting, Airbnb, and travel reward cards can make travelling style achievable to people who could never afford the same level of luxury back home. Acknowledge this one as the excuse it is.
Street food is unsafe:
Fear of food and water contamination is a common travel problem. Readily available bottled water and a few purification tabs in your wallet for emergency takes care of water but its food where people are most uninformed. Street food uses simple fresh ingredients cooked to a good heat in front of your eyes. Ordering western food from a restaurant however produces a meal where you have no knowledge of how long the ingredients have been sitting (sometimes a long time if you’re the only westerner they have seen this week) or the state of the kitchen used to prepare them. I know which I would rather eat.
Anyone can start a successful travel blog:
There are a LOT of articles out there on starting and running a travel blog but take it from me it is not the easy money it’s made out to be. The main things that get glossed over in these articles are the facts that blogging seriously impacts your style of travel, doing something at super speed so you will have time to blog about it before the local net café closes is no fun. Secondly it takes time to build an audience and by time I mean years, years that you are writing as a part time job and never seeing a cent. 95% of new travel blogs fail and as much as I love blogging you need to be aware that a travel blog is not an easy way to earn a living.
It is easy to meet friendly locals:
There is a lot of talk about authentic travel, of getting off the beaten track and I like to get away from other tourists as much as the next girl but the fact is it’s not always that easy. In many countries women my age are at home caring for their children and men are justifiably confused at why I would want to speak to them. Sometimes locals who are exposed to obnoxious tourists just don’t want to interact with you at all despite your good intentions. I have found couch surfing with locals and taking up local activities to be a good gateway but you need to be aware not every local person you meet will greet you with open arms and that’s ok.
You won’t get lonely:
So this is another favourite internet myth. Solo travellers don’t get lonely. You can surround yourself with hordes of backer friends or share tours but sooner or later, in your room alone at night or captured by the unspeakable beauty of some vista with no one to share it with you will start to feel pangs. The thing is this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, ok it’s not so pleasant but learning to be with yourself, of being self-sufficient and confident in your opinions and decisions is one of the great lessons of travel. So you will get lonely but it won’t last and you might even learn something about yourself.
Seeing more makes you a better traveller:
If you are on the road for any length of time you will meet other travellers who with nothing in common with their companions start a game of one-upmanship. Where have you been? How long were you there for? The thing is, being to more places does not make you inherently a better person or a more cultured traveller, in fact the more places someone has been the less depth they have probably experienced in each location. Drinking beer in 27 countries does not impress me. So next time you’re planning an itinerary slow down, it will be cheaper and you will see things that none of those mouthy travellers ever get to experience.
A ticket home will solve the problem:
So you have been out on the road for a while, you have weathered the lonely lows and the life changing highs, you have seen a good part of the world but your tired and want to come home. You catch your flight, hug your family and everything is perfect for a day or two and then you start to feel low. Reverse culture shock is one of the least talked about parts of travel. Feeling despondent, depressed and trapped are very common feelings after a long term trip. Give yourself time to re- adjust the way you would in a new country. Organise distractions for yourself, start saving for your next trip, just be aware these are common feelings and will pass with time.
So that is my top 12 not so true facts about travel, I hope my forthrightness with my own experiences will help a few people be a bit more informed about what to expect when travelling.