Everything You Think You Know about Travel is Wrong

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Mar 14, 2011 / 3 comments

Everything you think you know about travel is wrong! REALLY? For Everything You Think You Know is Wrong Day, let's debunk some common misconceptions about travel.

Everything you think you know about travel - is WRONG.

Country X is super cheap.
No Place is THAT inexpensive. In every place around the world, there are budget accommodations and 5 star hotels. You can spend $4/night for a hammock on the beach, or $4,000/night for a beautiful penthouse apartment with an infinity pool. You can eat cheaply, or fine dine for hundreds. It's all about your comfort level, your budget, and your idea of what YOU want from your travels.


It's always beautiful there.
No Weather is perfect. There are earthquakes, monsoons, rainstorms, humidity beyond belief. Do your research, find out when is the best time to go. That way, a sporadic rainshower won't ruin your vacation. And, there's often a rainbow...

Rainbow, Ireland

From our rental home, Pier Cottage, Co. Kerry, Ireland


You've GOT to see the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Chichen Itzla, etc.
It's not all about the tourist spots, with the crowds, hecticness, vendors, stress. Travel off the beaten path, talk with locals. You'll learn much more about a culture and people than you will at the Must-See spots. Visit the library - you'll see what's important for families. Support local grocery stores, and chat up the teller - ask where locals go! You'll find the locals-only beach and revel in the unexpected. Sure, save time for the big monuments, if you REALLY want to.  But I think that those moments will not be as treasured as the ones where you see the absurd, or are invited to a wedding in Ireland.


There are lots of expats there - I'll feel more at home.
It's full of expats. That's a good thing if you'd like to speak English with people from home. That's NOT a good thing if you want to learn from the locals, get less ripped off in the markets, be able to truly learn from a culture. Take a cooking class, a painting seminar, a wine-tasting, or volunteer. You'll have people to talk AND learn with.


Traveling with Kids is challenging.
Well, this IS true. But it's so much more than that. Kids open our eyes to the magic of travel, of being in a new place. Their wonder is truly something to behold (and emulate). Give them a camera. See the world through their eyes. And in some cultures, children are so revered and welcomed that you'll find yourself with new, lifelong friends - just because of your kids.

while rowing, Ireland

while I was rowing across our bay in Ireland, THIS is what our daughter saw

tide detritus

tide detritus makes a perfect tent for LU.


Everyone speaks English.
While it might be true that you COULD find someone to speak English while you're in a different country, you should not depend on it. Take some time to learn the language - carry a guidebook - and be as interested as you can in the language and culture. Language is a window to a culture's soul - isn't it a great gesture to respect a culture like that?


You'll have an authentic experience.
What is authentic?  Do you imagine you'll see lots of kimono-clad women in Kyoto? Be able to jump right into Irish life? See a lion on your very first safari trip? You will probably redefine authenticity after being somewhere - by combining your experiences with the people, diversity, and sense of place.


Communication is easy, world-wide.
Your rental home promised that they would have fast internet. You were SURE your cell phone would work there. The hotel didn't say that while the internet works, the power is only on for 4 hours a day. Although theoretically, the internet has changed everything, there are infrastructural difficulties in almost every country. Again, do your research - and be prepared to adapt.


The food is great.
You may have heard how awesome the food is (or, conversely, how awful). YES, there is great food almost everywhere. Again, you may have to adjust your idea of great. While in Ireland, we LOVED the seafood chowder and the brown bread. we did NOT love the sandwiches, roasts, overdone casseroles. We learned what to order, where. We also bought fresh, organic food from the market and were happy. Was this what we'd expected of Irish food? NO way. On the other hand, we'd heard stories of how awful Scottish food could be. It was far from the truth for us - EVERY SINGLE meal we had was supremely gourmet and delicious. In fact, in all my travels around the world, I ate the best in Scotland.

Mallaig Prawns

Mallaig Prawns


Travel is expensive.
It can be. If you travel during high season, do expensive activities (although some will be worth it, like elephants in Chiang Mai or a helicopter ride in Kauai), frequent tourist attractions. You can also do the complete opposite - travel in the shoulder or off season, learn to live like locals. Stay in a rental home or apartment - GranTourismo has great tips on saving money while self-catering. Couchsurf, do a home exchange, shop at markets or like locals for your food instead of eating out all the time. Find free museums, public art, concerts. Take your kids to parks instead of dragging them around attraction after attraction. Take a hike, explore the outdoors. You never know what you'll find!

location of Hagrid's Hut, Glencoe, Scotland

location of Hagrid's Hut (Harry Potter movies), Glencoe, Scotland - right in the middle, above the trees. We rented a house here, and walked every day by this great lake.


It's a trip of a lifetime.
Definitely not true - it's just the beginning... 




What do you think? Want to bust some travel myths with us? Please share with a comment, below.




  4 New Year, New Places, New List

Every month a group of expert, independent travel bloggers converge on a single topic in a Travel Blog Mob. Our topic for this month? Everything You Thought Was Wrong Day. Check back for links and GREAT articles!

* Everything You Think You Know About Travel Writers is Wrong from BootsnAll

* Opting Out of Full Body Scanners by Wanderlust & Lipstick

* Getting it Wrong from Nerd's Eye View




Comments (3)

  • Nicole Durbin

    13 years 3 months ago

    Thanks so much for linking to my Give the kids the Camera post in your post! :) There are some great articles here. The toilet restaurant is especially hilarious.

  • Beth Whitman

    13 years 3 months ago

    This is such a great list of things that we make assumptions on but usually are not true! Thanks for busting the myths!

  • Amie from Ciao ...

    13 years 3 months ago

    Love the comment about the must-see tourist spots aren't always the most rewarding or interesting. How true! Talking to locals is the best part of traveling for us.

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