Photo: Dmitry Molchanov/Shutterstock

7 Travel Myths That Need to Die

by Matt Hershberger May 7, 2015

You can only travel when you are young or retired.

You know how you get your kids to love travel as much as you do? You travel with them. And there’s never a “right” time to travel. When you’re young you won’t have any money, but when you’re older, you won’t have any time. Just make it a priority and find your way around those problems.

”But doesn’t [insert country] hate Americans?”

This is almost universally untrue. Most people aren’t idiots: they can tell the difference between Americans and their government. You should still check the State Department’s Travel Warnings, but don’t travel paranoid. Most people don’t suck.

Women shouldn’t travel alone.

Wrong. Women might face a few challenges men don’t have to face, but there’s no reason women can’t travel.

Travel has to be expensive.

Travel is movement, plain and simple, and there’s usually a way to move around for free or for a very low price. Don’t like paying for planes? Try busses. They’re cheap and they’re one of the most consistently green modes of travel. Don’t like paying a ton for hotels? Go with dorm hostels, Couchsurfing, or crash at friend’s houses. Travel can be expensive, but there are people like Rolf Potts who have made a career out of affordable, long term travel. Learn from them. Travel cheap.

You should fit in as much as you can into a trip.

Hard truth time: you’re going to die someday, and you’re going to die without seeing a lot of the world. So just accept that fact and learn to take in what’s already around you. If you travel too fast during a trip, you are actually experiencing a place less fully. Take your time. Travel slow. I promise it’s better.

Travel makes you a better person.

Not necessarily. Travel certainly exposes you to more of the world, and travel has been linked to higher intelligence, but that could be because more intelligent people tend to wander more by nature. But these things on their own do not a good person make. Travel offers the opportunity to empathize, but many don’t seize on that opportunity, choosing rather to use their experiences abroad as a way to confirm prejudices.

So do not listen to Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” and instead, remember what Thomas Fuller said: “Travel makes a wise man better and a fool worse.”

There’s a difference between “traveler” and “tourist.”

For whatever reason, travel’s snobbiest debate continues to this day: a “traveler” does authentic, non-touristy things, while a “tourist” is tacky and predictable and boring. First: there’s nothing wrong with going on tacky, touristy tours or visiting touristy places like the Eiffel Tower or Times Square. They’re popular spots for a reason. And second, as long as you’re being a courteous guest while you’re visiting a country, no one gives a shit what you do. Just don’t be a dick.

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