As a species, we absolutely love rumors. The minute we hear something juicy or interesting, we click the “share” button on social media or text someone we know all the details. This, of course, is done without a moment´s consideration on whether what we heard or read is actually true.
And that´s how modern mythology is born.
In today´s post-fact checking society, it´s easy to believe something if you hear it multiple times. Assumptions are the maple syrup of our society; a delicious word-goo that sticks to everything it comes into contact with, creating an unanticipated mess.
The world of travel is loaded with these kinds of “sticky” rumors that have been repeated so much, they´ve become urban legends in their own right.
So after two decades of traveling the globe (mostly as una chica sola), I decided it´s time to address some of these absurdly popular travel myths!
Myth #1: You have to be rich, childless or homeless to travel the world.
This might be one of the most vehemently defended myths of all time (with the exception of the flat earth theory). This is partly because some people don´t want to commit to the many small sacrifices it takes to achieve a passport full of stamps.
The majority of folks, however, genuinely can´t wrap their head around the concept of traveling the world, having a family and owning a home.
I don´t have kids (though I have plenty of traveling friends who do), yet I´ve managed to pull this off without being homeless or rich. It takes serious budgeting and sacrificing a lot of small comforts on a daily basis (Bye, bye Starbucks, Target splurges and Netflix). Also, depending on where you travel, you can get a lot more “bang for your buck”.
Not all destinations come with Parisian price tags.
FYI for my family peeps reading this: There are tons of people traveling with their children (I´ve seen it first hand). People are selling or renting out their homes and bringing their vagabond dreams to fruition every single day.
No fairy godmother is needed, just determination and planning.
Myth #2: It isn´t safe to travel alone as a woman.
Thankfully, I see a lot of my solo sisters out there traveling and enjoying themselves despite the counter culture of negativity surrounding women traveling alone.
Though thousands of women travel alone for both work and pleasure every year, this ugly rumor persists. Well intentioned family and friends will wave Internet articles in your face about women getting murdered or sex trafficked until you start second guessing your dream of going to places like EBT (Everest Base Camp), or the Galapagos Islands solo.
Here´s what all the Negative Nancys seem to forget…
Women can just as easily be murdered, kidnapped, raped and drugged in their home towns. You don´t have to take my word for it, a simple Google search on crime statistics is all that´s required.
The bottom line is: It´s just human nature to asume everything unknown is dangerous.
However percieved danger and actual danger are rarely the same thing. Though it is important to exercise a higher level of personal security in some places, it´s ridiculous to assume that if you´re a woman traveling alone, you are automatically in danger.
Do your homework before you travel and enjoy yourself sis! Take it from someone who has been to multiple countries and continents alone. You got this.
Myth #3: Everyone loves tourists.
This is a hot button topic for many travelers, who will immediately get defensive and say something to the effect of, “Well, I´m spending money in their country so what´s the problem?”
The problem is tourists leave a path of destruction in their wake.
A lot of people adopt the self serving mantra of “I´m on vacation” when they travel, which can have terrible and lasting consequences on animals, local communities and entire ecosystems.
And before you rush to defend yourself with a some predictable commentary like: “I travel with a diva cup” or “I have a reusable water bottle”, therefore making you a travel saint, keep in mind that most people practice some degree of eco sensitivity in their daily lives. Whether it be using biodegradable straws or clothing made from renewable hemp fibers, it´s not the day-to-day, “doing your part” stuff that causes trouble.
It´s the millions of tourists showing up somewhere with an IDGAF attitude because that ONE tiny piece of plastic they dropped won´t be the end of the world, right?
And it´s ok because they recycle back home.
There are even some cities and countries trying to pass laws to limit the amount of tourists they recieve every year. (Venice, Amsterdam and Iceland, to name a few.)
I spent 10 years living in a Caribbean resort economy and have, sadly, bore witness to many instances of thoughtlessness on part of people in “vacation mode”.
Let me be clear: Your vacation does not give you a right to trash other people´s homes or cultures. EVER.
So if you catch yourself trying to justify an act of douche-baggery with the phrase “Well, I´m spending money here…” or something similar, just unpack your suitcase and stay home.
Nobody wants your money in exchange for garbage or disrespect. Period.
Myth #4: Hostels are only for young people who like to party.
I was actually delighted to discover just how wrong I was about hostels in general while backpacking through South America. Like many adults in their 30s, I cringed at the idea of some over-blown, summer camp style lodging with bunk beds and cheap booze (i.e. your average hostel).
Don´t get me wrong, those places do exist.
However as it turns out, there are many types of hostels and plenty of them don´t cater to the party crowd. Most hostels also offer private rooms and the crowd of travelers are more diverse than you may think. I actually shared a 4 bed dorm in Chile with a retired couple who was backpacking their way across the continent. They were in their mid 60s and happily shared photos of their grown children and grandchildren back home.
Hostels are great in a number of aspects, especially for those looking for employment, volunteer opportunities or to make new friends while traveling.
Just read the peer reviews on sites like hostelworld.com before booking and pick one that suits your travel vibe. You will likely be in for a pleasant surprise!
Myth #5: You will get the best price if you book in advance.
While this can be true in some cases, it largely does a disservice to the travel community to let this rumor persist and cheat people out of hundreds of dollars in savings.
Depending on your location and the time of year, you can get crazy cheap deals by booking certain locations, tours and airfare at the last minute.
Some excellent examples of this include:
- Cruises to Antarctica (from Ushuaia)
- The Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
- The Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
I´ve nearly choked over the price some tourists have paid to visit these areas vs. what they could´ve paid had they just done a little research.
There are even last minute airfare deals to popular destinations all over the world for the savvy traveler who can be flexible. It doesn´t always pay to book stuff 6 months in advance.
What´s important here is to play Internet detective before booking anything.
Your wallet will thank you!
I could go on for days about this topic, but you get the idea. These are just a few of the well established travel myths out there, but there are plenty more that I´m certain will make their way to your ears. Just remain open minded and do some fact checking, lest you be cheated out of some truly amazing experiences!
Until next time, keep wandering.