Travel brings a lot of opinions, questions, theories and beliefs. Everyone who travels has a different idea of what travel is and we aren’t here to tell you what’s right or wrong but after travelling extensively for the last 3.5 years, we’ve heard the same reoccurring ‘travel myths’ or ‘misconceptions’ and we’re going to attempt to unravel the all too common ones.
Please remember, these are our own personal opinions!
1. Travel is too Expensive
This is THE most common travel myth we hear. “I can’t afford to travel”, “It’s too expensive”. “How do you afford to travel for so long?”. The reasons go on and on. But guess what? Travelling is CHEAPER than living in any major city such as Sydney, London or New York. There are simply far fewer overheads. No mortgage, no bills and no responsibilities aside from each other and what’s on our backs.
If you want to stay in luxury hotels and take private transfers everywhere then, of course, you’ll fly through money, but if you travel smart, you can live on the road for a fraction of the cost that you do at home, especially in places like south-east Asia or Eastern Europe. Not to mention there are so many budget alternatives out there for accommodation these days such as Couchsurfing, House Sitting or private rooms on Airbnb. (You can get $40 off your first stay with that link.)
It’s all about working out your priorities. For us, spending as little as possible on accommodation allows us to spend much more on experiences. Throughout Asia, we spent roughly $200 a week on accommodation. That’s a fraction of the cost of rent in Australia! I guarantee if you count all that you spend for every day living at home, including your bills, it’ll be more expensive than minimalising your life and travelling.
Our Money Saving Tips:
- Share meals! No one likes coming back from vacation feeling 20kg heavier, so don’t eat overeat. Overeating = overspending.
- If you can, cook at your accommodation. Foreign grocery stores are so fun to explore.
- Take public transport over taxis.
- Use budget airlines when possible or overland transport.
- Take advantage of free activities such as free walking tours.
- Do your research prior to arriving.
- Don’t ever book a tour through Trip Advisor or Viator. Their prices are 4x the amount!
- Always be aware of taxi/tuk-tuk/motorbike fares prior to accepting a ride.
2. Travel is Dangerous
Can you see from our facial expressions in this photo how we feel about this topic? 😉
The famous topic of unsafe travel. *eye roll*. First things first. Stop watching the news 🙂 Please. They thrive on sensationalism and over-exaggeration! When you travel you’ll always hear stories of muggings, or pickpocketing or unfortunate events that are simply unavoidable but guess what, it can happen anywhere and it’s often due to a combination of ignorance or pure bad luck.
Despite what you hear on the news every day, or read in the paper, travel is not dangerous. Of course there are some countries and cities that you should avoid but for the most part, if you use your brain and common sense, accidents can be avoided and the world is a far safer place than the media portrays. #1 rule. Don’t listen to people who haven’t been somewhere, they’re only following what they have ‘heard’.
People always ask us “so what’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on your trip!” and it comes with great pleasure that we don’t actually have anything to respond with aside from everyday mishaps like missing transport or losing something insignificant. It’s all materialistic anyway!
Tips to Stay Safe
- Avoid wearing heavy jewellery or large diamond engagement rings, especially in lower socio-economic countries.
- Don’t walk around areas that aren’t lit up at night time.
- Make yourself aware of your surroundings.
- Learn the customs of a country.
- Don’t keep all your money in the one place.
- Don’t leave your wallet or phone in your back pockets.
- Listen to the locals, if they tell you to avoid an area, avoid it!
- Avoid going out drinking alone. You’re a target if you plan to stumble back at 4:30 am by yourself.
- Keep your carry on bags close to you especially when on overland transport.
3. Street Food Will Make You Sick
I’m not here to tell you street food won’t make you sick because sure, it could do. But guess what? So can eating in a 5-star restaurant. At least with street food, you can see exactly how it is being cooked and prepared! Who knows what is going on in that kitchen. Eating street food is one of the best parts of travelling. It is inexpensive, quick and it gives you the chance to try the local cuisine, often alongside the locals. Don’t be too quick to judge.
It may take your stomach a bit of time to get used to the new food or spices but if you exercise some caution with these rules, you’ll be right as rain.
- If you want to eat street food and you’re a newbie to doing so, don’t make your first time a tiny cart in a back alleyway. Instead, seek out and research popular street food areas in the city you’re in. For once, it’s a good idea to follow the crowds.
- Avoid eating ready-made meals. Instead, have it cooked in front of you.
- If it’s deep fried or pan fried, you’re fine!
- If there’s a long line, this means there is often a quick turn over therefore providing you with fresher food.
- Don’t eat food that’s been sitting in direct sunlight. You wouldn’t do that in your own country so don’t do it somewhere else.
- Lastly, use your own judgement, if it looks dodgy or dirty, just don’t eat it! Simple.
4. English is Spoken Everywhere
Whilst it’s true that English is widely spoken, don’t just presume everyone can speak it. When in doubt, a hand signal or gesture of a smile goes a long way, in any language. That’s universal!
We managed to get through 77 countries speaking only English. There will always be someone to help translate for you and if that fails then animal sounds, hands gestures, body language and in this day and age, Google Translate can be your best friend. It even translates menus!
One thing we do have to mention and I couldn’t agree with it more… if you’re in someone else’s country, please, do not get frustrated with them when they don’t understand your English. You’re in their territory, not yours. Learn the basics of hello, goodbye, thank you and please. Believe us, when we tell you… it goes a long way!
5. Luxury Hotels are Worth the Extra Money
If your idea of a holiday is staying inside a 5-star resort and getting waited on hand and foot, then by all means, go for it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bound to have the best holiday ever. Money doesn’t buy you happiness. Personally, we much prefer to spend our money on experiences outside of the accommodation. As long as it’s clean, has WiFi and is located in a safe area, we’re set. You’re in another country, you’re there to visit the city, interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. You can’t do that from the inside of a fancy hotel.
Don’t get us wrong, luxury hotels are a real treat and we’ve stayed in a good handful of them such as Marina Bay Sands (Singapore) over the course of the 3 years but for us, spending hundreds for a night on a hotel doesn’t make our holiday. In fact, it makes us feel guilty! The experiences, the food and being outside of the hotel does. We feel guilty if we leave a fancy hotel to go outside and explore! Maybe this is why we’ve been able to travel for so long?
6. You Won’t Need Travel Insurance
Maybe not, but isn’t peace of mind worth it?
Each to their own but in our opinion, if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. In the 3 years of travel, we’ve only had to make 2 claims (a stolen phone and one hospital visit) but it’s never deterred us from always purchasing travel insurance. We hear too many stories of people getting hurt (mostly in Asia off of motorbikes, or drunken accidents!) and find themselves stuck in an overseas hospital with no way of getting home.
It is the last thing you or your family needs to be worrying about if something goes pear-shaped on your holiday. Like everything else – hotels, flights, tours – you pay before you go and then you don’t have to think about it again. Two reputable insurance companies we use are World Nomads and 1 Cover.
7. Hostels are the Cheapest Form of Accommodation
For solo travellers, hostels are (usually) the cheapest form of accommodation however for couples travelling, or if you’re travelling with someone else, consider looking at Booking.com or Airbnb for a private room as it can often be only a few $ more than 2 individual dorm beds. Hostels are great if you’re looking for an atmosphere but if you’re trying to save money, don’t always steer directly towards a hostel.
8. Women Shouldn’t Travel Solo
More and more women are finding the courage to get out on the road alone and we’ve met hundreds of solo women travellers over the years.
When you travel alone, you’re barely ever alone.
Especially if you stay in social hostels. There are many opportunities to meet like-minded solo female travellers on the road and you’ll often end up carrying on somewhere together or making a lifelong friend. Travelling alone allows you to run on your own schedule to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
If you’re smart and take extra precautions there shouldn’t be any reason to run into any problems. If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t try it in a foreign country. ie. avoid walking alone at night or getting in a car with a stranger. Women have great intuition and even better judgement, so listen to your gut. What keeps you alive at home, keeps you alive on the road, too!
There are some great travel tips for solo travellers in this article “Solo Travel Safety“.
Tip: Group travel is the perfect opportunity to travel “solo” but still have the comfort of people around if you find yourself lonely.
9. Overnight Buses/Trains are the Worst
Three years ago, I would have agreed. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse but believe it or not, after spending 3 years travelling, I’ve come to enjoy (I use this word loosely) overnight buses and trains more than flying.
Not only do you save on a nights accommodation, you don’t waste a whole day travelling from A to B or dealing with the chaos and waiting around that happens at the airports. Most buses, especially throughout Asia and South America have seats that recline to almost flat giving you that extra added comfort, even for a 6ft lady!
I think the longest bus ride we took was in Vietnam and it was 17 hours, yet it honestly felt like half of that. Next time you’re faced with the choice of choosing a flight or an overnight bus/train, consider these options or at least give it a try, once. It adds to the experience!
10. Travel is Easy
Travel is not always easy. There’s a difference between travelling for 6-12 months and taking a 10-day vacation which is why some people may think travel is all sunsets and cocktails. Depending on how quickly you move from one place to another, travel can be exhausting. Especially if you’re working with a budget or a travel blogger who spends every downtime moment on the computer editing photos or writing blog posts. Time zones, different beds, jetlag and long travel days can really take its toll on your body.
Over the years we’ve slowed down immensely allowing us plenty of “downtime” to read, relax and enjoy every moment without worrying about our next steps.
11. Guide Books Know Best
We found ourselves using guidebooks for the first half of our trip, mainly throughout Europe but quickly realised they weren’t the best form of travel advice and here’s why… they’re often out of date, they’re written by people you don’t know, therefore cannot relate too, they’re heavy to lug around, they cost a fortune and the biggest reason we stopped using guidebooks? Each restaurant suggestion that is given, every other tourist in the city is there too! What fun is that?
So what’s an alternative? We may be a little biased because we are travel bloggers, but personally, we much prefer following the likes of a blogger online. Bloggers give first-hand travel tips along with real stories to back up their advice. They generally provide off the beaten path tips and restaurant recommendations as well as local advice. So make the switch and stop lugging around the latest edition of Lonely Planet!
Now you’re a little more aware of some of the truths about travel — stop being afraid or making excuses and get out there and travel!
Where are you off to next?