Worst Travel Advice

London from a different perspective. Looking up!

London from a different perspective. Looking up!

I read an article this morning written by a Lonely Planet journalist called “The World’s Worst Travel Advice”.  It was actually published a few months ago but I hadn’t seen it before. In a nutshell, the list goes like this:

1. Women shouldn’t travel alone
2. Don’t eat the street food
3. Take traveler’s cheques for emergencies
4. Italy has the best pizza in the world
5. Plan everything/Don’t plan anything
6. You can’t get on Facebook in China
7. Bringing more clothes means less laundry
8. Bring enough contact lens solution/sun block/tampons/over-the-counter medicine for the entire trip
9. Bring a knife for protection when you travel to (xxx)
10. Don’t bother with a travel guide, you can find what you need online.

The author goes into a bit of explanation on each one. Some of these are common sense, some are myths busted, and the one about Facebook and China doesn’t even seem like terrible travel advice at all, just a statement of more or less fact.

Is this the “worst” travel advice? I probably wouldn’t classify it as such though number 9 might be kind of sketchy. Bringing weapons anywhere in this security conscious day and age will probably bring you a lot more trouble than safety. If you’re worried about your safety somewhere, don’t go!

My own opinions of most of these:
1. I would travel alone to places where I think I’d feel comfortable. I don’t tend to go out at night when on my own though could if it’s a bright, busy place like a tourist area. You take precautions no matter where you are, with or without someone else.
2. I would be cautious about street food as well but apparently in most places, it’s perfectly fine. Maybe I’ll bend on that one a bit. As the author pointed out, you can get sick from food in perfectly good restaurants just as easily.
3. I don’t take traveler’s cheques with me anymore. I take my ATM card and two different credit cards. If the ATM card doesn’t work, one of the credit cards will and most banks will give you cash advances on credit cards like Visa and Mastercard. If you make a payment before you go, putting the card into a credit amount, you won’t pay interest on the cash advance. It’s an option.
4. Does Italy have the best pizza in the world? Maybe, and I’ve had some pretty good pizza there. I’ve also had some “meh” pizza there. It’s like anywhere, I’d say.
5. Now this one speaks to me. I do a lot of planning. I like to know where I’m staying. I like to make sure the rental car is booked and I like to pre-book things like theatre tickets. I know reservations and bookings can still be messed up but at least I’ve got the proof I made the booking. I make lists but I’m also willing to jump off them if something interesting shows up as far as things I want to do.
6. China is bound to be very interesting, even without Facebook. Seriously. Yes, the government there has cracked down on internet access. That shouldn’t stop you from going.
7. It stands to reason, the more you bring, the heavier your bags are. Soap weighs a lot less.
8. Yeah, I agree with the author on this one, you can get most of your basic needs and over the counter meds most places you go or you’ll find something similar. It might not be a familiar brand but a pharmacist won’t steer you wrong and it’s an adventure trying to cross the language barrier. Now that sounds like it adds an element of risk but if it’s really something you need to be careful of, see a doctor.
9. Knife? No, If I feel that uncomfortable, I won’t be visiting there.
10. The author does have a bit of a conflict of interest here. He writes for Lonely Planet, after all. I do love travel guides, though, and I like to buy them for new destinations. There’s so much information, history, hints and tips and it’s all in one place. Scouring the internet can be pretty overwhelming sometimes. I generally use both.

I don’t think I’ve ever been given terrible advice aside from someone once telling me not to eat pasta when I went to Italy. Their reasoning had to do with my taking a bus tour, and the garlic in the pasta would recirculate through the air system on the bus and offend others. My reasoning is that everyone else on the bus would be eating the same thing! Problem solved!

Have you ever been given advice for travel that turned out to be unfounded or untrue? Mythbusting? Or given great advice? Pass it on!

11 thoughts on “Worst Travel Advice

  1. The Wandering Gourmand says:

    The advice that I constantly disagree with is fit it all into carry-on luggage when travelling to Europe. The justification is that only American tourists use big suitcases and they are hard to drag around. I found in Italy, Germany, and Austria that only the American tourists used smaller bags. Europeans had large suitcases. I also had no trouble dragging mine around.

    • Tvor says:

      Well for me, I’m not really able to lift a full size bag up stairs but that’s what taxis are for, getting from airports or train stations to hotels. I can live out of a small case for a week or a little more but for more than that, i have to bring the big case. This coming trip i’ll have the big case as i’ll be leaving for home at the end of the jaunt to Paris and London. Normally, we go off and return to Manchester before I head back to Canada so I can take the carry on case. It’s more convenient to take the small case wherever possible, if only for the less risk of losing the luggage as well but it’s not always possible.

  2. Rusha Sams says:

    I believe you could write articles just as well as the person who wrote that original one!!! And I agree with most of what you said. We went to China last summer, had no Facebook access, and didn’t miss it! Sometimes you just have to unplug and enjoy!

    • Tvor says:

      Heh, well the main reason I like to have internet access is that I travel with the laptop, i can backup my photos and post some travelogues as I go, plus keep in touch with home. We certainly got along fine without it years ago but we’re spoiled now!

  3. CanadianTravelBugs says:

    Hmmm strange travel advice for sure. It is true no facebook, youtube or blogs in China… but there are ways around it. As you say it is not a reason not to come here.
    Street food – I agree DO NOT eat it. I know a lot of people who got very sick from it. If it is meat and no where to keep it cool, steer clear. I have eaten pastry types things on the street. Much safer. A side note in China people were arrested for selling rat and other nasties on the street and passing it off as other meats like chicken. This was just published in an expat magazine here. I agree with the weapon things… not needed. Be aware and be safe. I used to travel with a swiss army knife to make it easy to cut baguettes for a qucik lunch on the go. Now it is more trouble than worth with security usually wanting to confiscate it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Tvor says:

      Yes I’m still dubious about street food. We never did try hotdogs in New York from a street stand though you could see people lined up. Perhaps they would have been fine, regulated etc. but you never know, as you say, with meat products or anything with mayonaise as well. I do take a heavy plastic instrument that has a spoon at one end and a fork at the other with a serrated edge that’s find for cutting breads or cheese or even some fruit and it’s not metal so it gets past any security check.

      • CanadianTravelBugs says:

        I think in the west street food is regulated. In Cambodia people even wore rubber gloves when preparing street foods! That may have been OK. Then there was the spicy snails cooked only in the sun. Our tour driver (a local) said HE doesn’t even eat that! For sure that would be a trip to the ER.

    • Tvor says:

      I wouldn’t put it past someone to advise it if you were heading to somewhere less safe. You could always buy one when you get there! again, not great advice. I’m a wimp. I just wouldn’t go.

  4. Capt Jill says:

    I do miss having my knife with me. I’m a sailor! Its a safety item and so useful for so many things. Yes, it is (supposed to be) perfectly fine to bring one in your checked luggage, but I’ve had too many stolen by ‘security’ to bring them anymore. I try hard to only bring a small roller bag that I can fit on the plane with me. Mostly because I have things I refuse to part with (had important things stolen even when my bag was gate checked). I can fit enough clothes to last a week (with washing). What takes up the space is my camera(s), computer, kindle, etc.

    • Tvor says:

      I can live out of a carry on for a week or slightly longer if i can take a tote bag with me as well :) That’s where i can keep the camera, the laptop, etc lol we get so spoiled! But if i’m away two weeks i have to bring the larger suitcase and a smaller carryon.

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