The Worst Travel Advice Ever

Written by Hank Martin in Travel Tips

When I first started traveling I was young, full of wonder and excitement and ignorant. Today, I'm not as young, still full of excitement, and still ignorant. But, I have learned a few things along the way, and I've also collected a few of the worst pieces of travel advice ever.

1. Be prepared for all types of weather and conditions

I refuse to follow this advice. The last thing I want to do is carry two suitcases with me up and down the narrow corridors and stone steps of Rome. Nothing ruins an experience faster. I always pack light no matter what. I buy most of my essentials upon arrival, that way I always don't have to deal with airport security, and I limit myself to one backpack. No exceptions. ONE BACKPACK. If you can't fit it in to a 3,000 cubic inch backpack you have too much stuff.

2. Carry a map with you at all times

paris_city_mapPlan your routes before you go in public. Nothing makes you a more welcoming target than posting up in the middle of a sidewalk with a map in your hands. If you need to look at it then sneak into a corner or somewhere out of sight and take a quick peak. Try not to label yourself as a tourist.

3. Post your plans online for advice from others

With this massive social sharing experience we have there are plenty of opportunities to utilize the global mind and get some really great advice about your next trip. But, you don't need to include everything. For example, you don't need to tell people specific dates, specific hotel reservations, or any other sort of detailed itinerary plans. I know it's Facebook and you can trust all 417 friends, but just pretend you can't, because it's always that 1% you need to watch out for.

4. Just wing it.

While I've always enjoyed the fly by the seat of your pants travel method I have found that you miss out on a lot, specifically the culture and history. Maybe the building you just passed was the birthplace of Mozart. Wouldn't that be cool to see? A musical genius that added incalculable value to our world, and this is where it all started. And you just missed it because you wanted to enjoy the rush of just going with the flow. Well, you can do that to and still be educated. Trust me, there will always be opportunities for misinterpretations, getting lost, and finding yourself in sketchy situations.

5.  Rely on guides for language barriers and must visit places

Travel guides, the people not the books, are just trying to get by like the rest of us, and hey, let's be honest, who hasn't tried to take advantage of the system from time to time. Instead of taking you to the best shops they'll take you to their friend's shops, instead of finding you the best rates or products they'll gouge you. I've been there. Especially when you don't know a single word of the language or have any directional awareness in a city you're chances of getting taking of greatly increase. It's just like taking a cab ride, you get the long route, the expensive way, because you don't know any better and you're a tourist that can afford such luxuries as an increased bill. But, knowing even a little bit of the foreign language, or having a vague idea of where things are located within a city helps keep people honest. Even good people push the boundaries of what's right and wrong, but if we know someone is keeping an eye on our behavior we'll shape up real quick.

6. Speak English slowly and clearly, avoid slang, and keep messages short and simple

How about you trying learning some of the local language? Don't go into the situation with the expectation that people will cater to your needs. You are their visitor, not the other way around. You don't have time to learn? Well, then maybe you need to rethink your desire to travel: as in seeing new places and experiencing new cultures. Like any other good thing in life, travel takes hard work. It's alright to speak English in a foreign country, but you'll gain much more respect if you try the local language. Even if you suck at it. Plus, doors will open for you. Considering the status quo is speak slower to make yourself heard, how much more attention, and how much more respectable do you think you'll look if you can say "Kanst du mir helfen? Ich bin fur einen Cafe in der Nahe suchen," instead of "Can you help me? I'm searching for a coffee shop nearby." Travel isn't a chance to let your guard down, lay on the beach all day and relax, but an opportunity of luxury to expand your perception of the world.


Hank Martin

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Traveling for a world education and writing about the life lessons learned.


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