Nothing is given so freely as bad advice.
Just about anyone who’s interested in travel has sought input from friends and family about where they should go or what they should do. But just because someone says it with authority, it doesn’t mean it’s good advice. We reached out on Facebook and Instagram and asked our readers what the worst travel advice they’ve ever received was. The answers ranged from the humorous (“airplane seats absorb your farts”) to the downright offensive (“it’s not safe to travel outside the United States”). If someone offers any of these answers as advice, know that you should probably do the opposite.
“Don’t go to Mexico.”
There were several readers that mentioned getting the bad advice not to go certain places. Turkey, the Middle East, Cuba, and Paris all came up. But perhaps no destination was more unfairly maligned than Mexico. And since Mexico City and Mérida are on the Go List for 2019; Guadalajara, Jalisco was on the 2018 list; and Oaxaca was on the 2017 list; it’s fair to say we couldn’t disagree more. Not only should you go to Mexico, but you should go again and again.
If someone tells you “Don’t go to [blank],” ask yourself if this person truly thinks it’s genuinely a bad place to visit or if they’re harboring unwarranted prejudice.
“Don’t eat the local street food.”
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Street food is almost always delicious (because you can rarely go wrong with variations on “meat on a stick”). But not only is it beloved by the late night, post-bar crowd but some vendors have been recognized with those most esteemed emblems of culinary greatness, the Michelin star. Not only that but, as is the case with Hong Kong’s uniquely licensed da pai dongs, they represent something unique about the culture and the history of their city.
“Women can’t and shouldn’t travel alone.”
Women can, should, and do. Next.
“Always stay at all-inclusive resorts.”
There’s something to be said for putting your entire being on autopilot and spending your precious PTO flitting between the pool and the bar. It’s fine advice for relaxing, but might be counterintuitive to anyone who considers what they’re doing “traveling.” Their insular-by-design nature can inhibit you from fully experiencing a new place.
“A one-hour layover is plenty of time.”
There is a rare confluence of circumstances in which a one-hour layover is acceptable: 1) You know your connecting airport better than you know the house you grew up in. 2) You don’t mind looking like a wild creature as you flail your way between concourses. 3) You are the pilot and the plane literally cannot leave without you. If you can, give yourself a respectable buffer because you never know when (or how long) delays will strike.
“That’s too far away! How can you stand to be on a plane for so long? I’d never make it.”
No one likes to be cooped up for two hours, let alone 20. And while being trapped on a cramped flight can feel like the worst thing in the world while it’s happening, once it’s over and you’re at your destination, you’re going to be too busy having fun to dwell on the specifics of how you go there. Until they invent teleportation, hunker down and soothe yourself with your millionth in-flight rewatch of “Moulin Rouge!” and the knowledge that you’re en route to somewhere amazing.
“It’s okay to completely wing it.”
Being spontaneous is fun! You’re able to surprise yourself, discover things you might not have otherwise found. But travel tends to involve a lot of moving parts and it’s easy for things to be overlooked. An impromptu international getaway is great, but nothing derails that faster than, say, not realizing you needed a visa to your country of choice. Derailing one of those moving parts can send your whole visit into flux. You don’t have to have every moment of your day set in a stone itinerary, but have a decently researched idea of what you’re doing.
“Only stick to the big tourist attractions.”
One of the best things you can do in a city is searching out its hidden gems. Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Empire State Building are all great, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll start to really discover what makes a place truly special.
You should go.