There are quite a few people in my circle of friends who either travel rarely or never at all. Some of them are absolutely comfortable with that, having decided for themselves that traveling just isn’t their cup of tea, while others tell me that they would like to see more of the world but can’t for various reasons.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that the same reasons are being stated over and over again by different people and that I haven’t found a single one of them to be true or a valid reason not to travel. Thus, I’ve decided to compile the five travel myths I hear most often and tell you why they’re absolutely no excuse to stop you from seeing the world.
The 5 most common travel myths
Traveling is too expensive
Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you’ll always be able to travel one way or another. Sure, you might not be able to afford a stay at a luxury resort on the Maldives (neither am I), but trust me: there are destinations around the world that suit every budget. People without much travel experience usually have a completely wrong idea of how affordable it actually can be. For example, friends of mine were shocked when I told them that my daily budget in most South-East Asian Countries was 10 to 15 € (about 11 to 17 $) and I usually stayed below that.
“But not every part of the world is as affordable as that” I hear you say. True, but there are always plenty of ways to cut the costs. Don’t have the money for expensive hotels? Try couchsurfing! Can’t afford to eat in restaurants every night? Do some self-catering! Renting a car isn’t in your budget? Go by local bus or hitch-hike! Travel magazines and Instagram posts will make it seem like the only way to travel is by staying in luxury resorts. Well, guess what? It’s not and by isolating yourself in a beautiful golden cage, you won’t have a chance to truly experience the culture of your destination anyway.
If you’re really hard pressed for money, you can always try to do Work and Travel or Volunteering. While it means that you’ll have to work for a part of your trip, it also gives you the opportunity to visit places you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Traveling is too complicated / I’m inexperienced with traveling
It really isn’t complicated. Sure, you’ll have to invest some time to plan your trip but overall, it’s very manageable. Get a guide book, get suggestions from the internet on what to see and do and just plan your dream trip. Some people like to not plan ahead at all, to just travel to a country, and see where they’ll end up. While that can be fun for a couple of days, I usually prefer having a bit of a plan, lest I miss stuff that I really wanted to see.
So I recommend that you build yourself an itinerary for your dream destination but don’t make it too tight. I usually book an accommodation for the first night and then sort out the rest when I’m there. That way, I’m more flexible when it comes to staying longer at places that I like. It’s something that wouldn’t be possible if you booked all your hotels in advance. It also means, that you don’t have to worry about pre-planning all these accommodations before your trip.
Most importantly, allow for the unexpected – things will not always go as planned. Public transport will break down, hotels will be full and museums will be closed for refurbishment. Try to go with the flow, don’t adhere to your schedules to strictly and allow for some spontaneity. Once, you’re in travel mode, you’ll automatically become more relaxed and what seemed complicated back home, will all of a sudden be a cinch.
Traveling is too dangerous
I hear that one a lot, especially if you talk about places that most people consider unusual travel destinations. Friends of mine with little travel experience usually assume that most places outside of Europe and North America are risky to visit for one reason or another. The fact of the matter is that you’ll be fine if you employ some common sense, just as you would at home: don’t flaunt your wealth, don’t carry all of your money and valuables in one place, watch out in traffic, don’t climb over the handrail for that one perfect selfie.
If you’re still unsure and feel like worrying will spoil your trip, consider joining a tour group. That way you’ll be able to experience first-hand, how easy and safe traveling can be and perhaps you’ll decide to go independently the next time. Just keep in mind: Traveling is not more dangerous than life in general;-)
I can’t travel a country without speaking the language
Again, not true at all. Yes it can be easier and much more rewarding if you speak the local language fluently but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to travel to a place without being able to do so (Otherwise nobody would ever visit Papua New-Guinea, which is notorious for having over 800 spoken languages;).
When you choose a destination, I recommend that you try and learn a few basic phrases to show people that you respect their language and try to make an effort to speak it. That said, I’ve had entire conversations by gesturing with my hands and mimicking what I wanted to say and trust me: It works and usually leads to a lot of laughter from everyone involved. Don’t let the language barrier detain you from traveling.
I can’t travel on my own
Yes, you can and as a matter of fact, it’s one of the most rewarding ways to travel. Of course, it’s fun and enjoyable to travel with a partner or some friends but traveling solo has tons of advantages, too. For one, you won’t have to cater to other people’s wants. You’ll be the only on deciding on where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do, where you’re going to stay, when you’re going to eat, etc. The more people you travel with, the harder it is to reach a consensus when it comes to things to do.
That’s why it’s not only possible to travel solo but it’s the preferred mode of experiencing other places and foreign cultures for many people. As Henry David Thoreau put it in Walden: “[…] the man [or woman] who goes alone can start to-day but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.”
Traveling on your own usually also allows for a much more authentic experience. The more people from home you travel with, the more you’re moving around in some kind of a social bubble, which makes it so much harder to actually experience the local culture. Traveling solo makes it so much easier to come into contact with local people, who I’ve found are much more likely to strike up a conversation with you if you’re on your own.
See also: The Pros and Cons of Solo Travel
There’s no valid reason not to travel
As you can see, many of these “reasons” not to travel are actually self-perpetuating myths only spread by people who lack the experience. Just take the plunge and you’ll realize that traveling can be easy, safe and affordable , while at the same time being fun and hugely rewarding.