Travel tips you should never follow

As soon as you tell people you’re going on a trip, you can expect to be bombarded with unsolicited advice. While some of it may actually be useful, much of it isn’t.

Pre-plan your whole trip to avoid anxiety
It’s possible to be over prepared. Ironing out every minute detail of your holiday leaves you with little flexibility and takes away from the mystery of travel. Research published in the journal of Tourism Analysis found that pre-planning your trip may lead to anxiety, missed opportunities and could cost you money. Having flexible plans allows you to adapt to your circumstances, follow local advice and gives you more room for spontaneity. 

Don’t visit touristy sites
As travel becomes more accessible, it seems as though each tourist becomes more desperate to have a unique and original experience overseas. But notorious sites, galleries and buildings are crowded for a reason. You may be one of many da Vinci fans, but that doesn’t make seeing your favourite piece up close any less special. Sure, you may not be alone when you visit Angkor Wat at first light, but you’d better believe it’s worth the hype.

Avoid street food
You may have heard this one, or even warned someone else, but street food is usually fine. The key to avoiding food poisoning is to eat where the locals eat. If you spot an empty restaurant steer clear. If you see locals lining up at a street stall, then jump in the queue. The food is likely to be more authentic, affordable and safe to eat.

Haggle to save money
While bartering is a part of many cultures, where, when and how you haggle is important. Haggling may be a friendly exchange between you and a stall owner as you test some of your newly learnt local phrases. However, some tourists treat it like a game, asking for unreasonably cheap prices as they try to save what may only be a few dollars or even cents. It’s important to recognise the difference in currency value between countries. A few dollars may not mean much to you but could make a big difference to somebody else.

Only drink bottled water
Nothing says ‘I hate the planet’ like leaving a trail of plastic bottles behind you when you travel. Contaminated water may be one of the leading causes of health problems for travellers, according to the World Health Organisation. However, by doing your research before you travel and bringing your own reusable bottle that you fill at safe, filtered taps along the way, you can stay safe and avoid the plastic waste.

Travel at the ‘best’ time of year
If you’re not a fan of crowds, then avoiding peak season is a good way to miss them. Travelling in off season also allows you to avoid the price spikes in accommodation and transport. Unless you need to avoid monsoon season or want to go skiing, travelling off peak means things are generally quieter and cheaper. It allows for a more unique experience and the chance to see how the locals live.

Hostels are for young backpackers
Sure, some hostels have age brackets, targeting young travellers who will live up to the stereotype of being loud, obnoxious and don’t mind being stacked up like sardines in 30-bed bunk rooms. But other hostels are social, affordable and often well-located hubs that cater to people of all ages. Hostelworld is still the best place to search for hostels, look for age brackets, read reviews and compare prices.

Say ‘yes’ to advice  
The pressure starts before you’ve even booked your flights. Everyone has their two cents to put in as soon as they catch wind that you’re planning a trip. ‘You must go here’ and ‘you have to do this’ can be hard to ignore, but to make your trip uniquely yours, you may have to. If you just want to sleep on a beach for a week, then so be it. You’re not travelling to live out someone else’s memories or fantasies.

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Written by Liv Gardiner

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