17 Well-Intentioned but Terrible Pieces of Travel Advice

Some travel advice comes from a good place but, depending on your situation, is probably best ignored! Here are 17 examples…

Travel advice is great from people who a) know you, b) have your best interests at heart, and/or c) have recently been to wherever you’re going. Unfortunately, it rarely fulfills all three criteria! Moreover, it’s often unsolicited, outdated, biased, just plain wrong, or ignores the fact people have different tastes…or all the above.

Today, we’re highlighting 17 travel tips people give with good intentions but should be taken with a pinch of salt.

1. Skip the Touristy Places

Leaning tower of Pisa, Italy
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Sharing an attraction with giant crowds of other tourists is rarely fun. They cause queues, cramp your style, and ruin your photos. Likewise, seeking out secret, off-the-beaten-track attractions you don’t find in the guidebooks can be fun.

However, most “tourist traps” are usually touristy for a reason! They’re beautiful and historic and offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If you go to Rome, for instance, are you really going to miss the Colosseum? Sometimes, putting up with crowds is worth it.

2. A Short Trip Isn’t Worth It

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Many people will tell you to only go somewhere if you have a certain amount of time to explore. For example, “Don’t go to France if you only have a week; it’s just not worth it.”

In an ideal world, money would be no object, and unlimited time would be available. Yet that’s not the reality for most people. Moreover, adopting that mindset means you’ll miss out on incredible opportunities. Surely seven days in France is better than none?

3. Don’t Do [Insert Activity], It’s Lame

Hiking in Dolomites, Italy
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Seeking out activity ideas is a natural part of trip planning. Unfortunately, some people are all too willing to give their opinions on what should be on your itinerary!

Again, we’re in “pinch of salt” territory. Just because someone you know didn’t enjoy something doesn’t mean you won’t, and just because someone adored something doesn’t mean you will. Consider doing more research to see what others think. Alternatively, bite the bullet, do it anyway, and decide for yourself.

4. Avoid Crowds

Ireland small group tours
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Crowds have a terrible reputation in the travel industry. It makes sense. Given the choice, wouldn’t you want to have that beautiful destination or attraction to yourself rather than sharing it with the masses? Likewise, peak season means higher prices overall and more competition for accommodation.

Yet it also has the best weather, and the main attractions should be open. If those two factors are important to you, visiting in the shoulder season or off-season to avoid crowds might negatively impact the trip.

5. Don’t Eat There If the Menu’s in English

What To Do for Your Birthday When Its a Big One
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If the menu is in English, you’re not getting an authentic dining experience. The restaurant is obviously catering to tourists, so you’ll pay more for a clichéd approximation of traditional food from that country. Or, worse, you’ll pay lots of money for food you’d eat back home.

That’s the idea anyway, but it isn’t necessarily true, fair, or worth heeding. Is it a busy restaurant? Are the online reviews good? Well, it’s obviously doing something right – whether it has an English menu or not. Equally, if you’re famished and want to know you’ll enjoy what you order, being able to read the options makes a difference.

6. Relax, It’s 100% Safe

Tour in Rome
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Remember, you only hear about the horror stories. Regardless of their reputation, most places are safer than the media makes out.

However, that doesn’t mean nothing bad ever happens. Nor does it imply you shouldn’t be vigilant and steer clear of certain places. Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism if someone tells you a notoriously dangerous destination is safe just because they visited and had no problems.

7. Always Pack Light

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In general, “pack light” is good, well-intentioned advice. There’s less to lug around, lose, and worry about while you’re away. It can also save you money on flights by avoiding checked luggage costs.

But, like all travel tips, it will only suit some. For instance, you might enjoy wearing multiple new outfits each day or despise doing laundry on vacation. In that case, trying to pack light can be a burden.

8. Do This, That, or the Other (Based on Outdated Information)

Florence cathedral in Italy
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You know that person telling you what to do somewhere? When did they last visit? If it was more than a few years ago, their tips might be worth discarding. After all, hotels and restaurants close, activities stop running, transport schedules change, and prices go up.

The same is true for general travel tips. For example, traveler’s cheques may have been the best way to pay for things abroad in the past. But nowadays, you can often make do with your debit card.

9. Don’t Do Too Much

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Slow travel is all the rage. The idea is simple: take your time in new destinations. If you rush too much, it’ll be harder to experience or appreciate everything.

Again, it’s often sound and good-hearted advice. Then again, some people like being busy.

They have limited time, don’t know when they’ll be back and want to see as much as possible. That’s fine, too! Cramming lots in is less fun if you’re constantly in transit rather than exploring. But it’s your trip. If you want a whistlestop tour, go for it.

10. Women Shouldn’t Travel Solo

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It’s an unfortunate reality that solo female travelers are more likely to experience attention and challenges their male counterparts will never have to worry about – especially in some parts of the world.

However, traveling alone as a woman is incredibly common nowadays. Moreover, the overwhelming majority will have nothing but positive experiences to take home with them.

11. Save Your Money, Hotels are Only for Sleep

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This tip makes sense if you’re traveling on a budget. If you care more about what you do during the daytime than where you rest your head at night, saving money by choosing cheaper accommodation makes sense.

Not everyone’s a budget backpacker, though! For some, paying extra for higher-quality accommodation will be worth it. Staying in nice hotels might be a treasured part of the vacation experience. And the better sleep will help you feel rested and energized each day.

12. Dress Your Best for a Chance of Upgraded Flights

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If only this was true! Alas, arriving at the gate dressed to impress doesn’t increase the likelihood of being upgraded to a business or first-class seat. Instead, it’s a one-way ticket to being uncomfortable on the plane. Much better to prioritize comfort – especially for long-haul journeys.

13. Don’t Make a Plan, Just Go with the Flow

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Lots of travel advice on blogs or vlogs comes from people who have the luxury of traveling often and for extended periods. Going with the flow, staying spontaneous, and exploring without a plan can be an excellent adventure in those situations.

However, it’s also a recipe for getting lost, missing critical transport connections, finding out everywhere is fully booked, and realizing your “must-do” activity isn’t open that day. None of the above is ideal when you have limited time to spare.

14. You Only Need a Credit Card Nowadays

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Paying by card is almost always possible in developed countries. It’s not a universal option, though. Travel off the beaten track, and there’s a much higher chance card payments won’t be possible.

They may not accept your particular card, for instance. Or perhaps they’re still cash only (this is very common in places like Southeast Asia). Either way, assuming you can pay via card, phone, or watch can get you in trouble. It’s a good idea to have some cash, too.

15. Put Your Smartphone Away

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It’s easy to spend your entire trip on a phone. You use it to take photos, navigate, read reviews, find activities, and – of course – make calls. That’s why being told to put your phone away isn’t always bad advice! It forces you to speak to people and use your eyes.

Equally, your smartphone can be a godsend. It’ll simplify logistics while abroad and help things run smoothly; the photos you take will be a treasured memory for years to come. Sure, don’t spend all day on it or look at everything through the screen while snapping photos. But don’t feel guilty about using it either!

16. Book the Cheapest Possible Flights

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Similar to saving money with cheap accommodation, cheap flights are a lifeline when you’re on a tight budget. However, they can also be miserable. Spending hours cooped up in economy class with crying babies, no legroom, and questionable food is nobody’s idea of fun.

Some people get immense value from paying more for better seats. That might mean premium economy, business or first-class, or even just standard seats but in a better airline. Either way, the extra expense can be the difference between a miserable journey that exhausts you and an easy, pleasant, and memorable part of the trip.

17. You Don’t Need Travel Insurance

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It can be tempting to save money by skipping travel insurance. You tell yourself everything will be fine – the flights won’t be canceled, you won’t get sick or injured, and there’s no chance of a natural disaster.

Unfortunately, these things do happen, and more often than you think! They also have very expensive consequences. It’s not worth the risk. Get some travel insurance from a reputable company, just in case.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.