If you’re a lover of travel, whether you write about it or not, you’ve probably heard these “lovely” pieces of advice. Maybe a friend has said them, or you read them from an article on traveling “tips.” I’m here to call out some of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad travel advice that is complete s.h.i.t. THERE I SAID IT. My best piece of advice for any traveler, of any race, any gender, any background… do what YOU love to do, and go where YOU want to go. Be safe, have fun, and try something new. But by all means, don’t ever feel pressured to listen to bad travel advice.
“You need to get lost somewhere unfamiliar.”
Do people even realize what “lost” actually means? What getting lost actually entails?! I would truly like to meet a person who GENUINELY finds it fun getting lost in a city they don’t know, in a country where they can’t understand the language; where they have no map and their smartphone doesn’t work; where they cannot read the signs and end up somewhere further away from the city center where nobody speaks your language and/or English. I can guarantee someone would NOT have fun if they did not understand English, they came to the USA where barely anybody here knows 2 languages, and got lost and ended up in a sketchy alley. They’d be terrified beyond belief.
“You need to get lost somewhere in order to find yourself” is really only a shitty fairy tale. Sure, you learn what you’re like when you’re stressed out of your goddamn mind, and problem solving is a great skillset to have. (Though I’ve been lost beyond all belief, and really just angrily wandered around cussing [sorry dad] and GOT LUCKY when I found my way back.) Getting “lost in Venice” sounds romantic and lovely until you’re in a position where all of the above things I mentioned went wrong and then some.
So please, let’s stop telling people to get lost in a new, unfamiliar city. That’s stupid. Let’s tell people how to properly be prepared….and then let them make their own mistakes, yes? Great.
“Here’s what to do to not look like a tourist.”
Here’s why I think this is bad travel advice: unless you have lived in a place/city/region/area a solid portion of your life, and you know the culture, you will ALWAYS look like a tourist. ALWAYS. If you want to be fashionable while on a trip, then you’re more than welcome to wear whatever you’d like. But let’s be painfully real here, unless you’ve lived in the culture and know everything and anything about the area, you’re going to look like you’re not from there.
Instead of focusing on your outward appearance to avoid the “dreadful” (heavy air quotes) tourist look, your time can be better spent in learning about the culture in advance, prepping yourself with items needed for your trip, learn some of the language if you’re traveling out of the country, or familiarize yourself with maps and the general area that you’re visiting.
If you don’t want to be a pain-in-the-ass tourist, then be polite, don’t throw garbage everywhere, respect the culture, learn simple phrases of their language, and smile. People don’t hate nice people. So just be kind and thoughtful wherever you travel. Don’t worry so much about “how you look” because the locals can pick out a foreigner pretty easily no matter what. Just enjoy yourself.
“Don’t go to popular places/during peak season/any “touristy” activity. Do some off the beaten path activities!”
If you read my letter to experienced travelers, I really dive further into this topic. This gets me pretty fiery, but ultimately I say go wherever YOU want, do whatever activities YOU find fun, and go whenever YOU want to go. They’re not paying for your flight ticket, hotel ticket, or any tours are they? Of course not. Everyone has their favorite time to travel, types of destinations and specific length of time that works for them. My recommendation is to try one new food and one new activity. Learn about the culture. Be polite. And have fun. Don’t let judgmental people plan a vacation that you wouldn’t personally find fun.
“You should quit your job and travel for a living.”
Ah… the “milennial dream” (according to Forbes) is to get paid to travel the world. I’ll admit, that sounds pretty cool, and in NO WAY am I dissing the people that do this. Why? Because they work HARD AF. I’m just dissing the people who are telling others they should/need to do this. Whether it’s just temporary, or you want to live the nomadic lifestyle, it’s difficult. I don’t have personal experience in this, so although I understand it’s a difficult lifestyle, I can’t give you an in depth explanation. It’s just not realistic and every individual human is different. Some people need stability; some people want to stay close to family; some people enjoy the familiarity of their own city, state, or country.
If you want to quit your job to travel for a living, by all means… go for it! More power to you! I just believe it’s bad travel advice to tell someone this situation is what they NEED to do.
So tell me.. have you been told any of these? What’s your favorite (or least favorite?) of all of the terrible, horrible, NO GOOD bad travel advice that you’ve heard?