There are many handy tips, bits of helpful advice and invaluable ”insider knowledge” that we all seek before we embark on a journey. Nonetheless, how much of it is actually helpful? Do they really make a difference to our experience? To help you decide here are a few of my most frequently heard travel myths – unmasked.
1. Travel is a luxury.
How do I travel so much? As a blogger and freelance writer my life (thankfully) is not fixed around a 9-5 schedule. I’m the girl working remotely on a plane, in the restaurant, at the beach, in the desert or in my hotel.
A significant consideration is to know that ”travelling” is not the same as ”holidaying”. “Holidaying” implies a break from you regular life – a short indulgent time of leisure or recreation. “Travelling” is not a short lived time of excess. There’s no requirement for special clothes, special diets or “bikini bodies”. It’s being fully present wherever you are, doing regular things as you would at home. Master ”travelling” and you’ll never need another ”holiday” from your life.
2. Duty free “bargains”.
It’s of course tempting to browse in “duty free” shops at airports while you wait. That is after all, why they were created. However, you’re not necessarily paying less for anything. It only means that you’re paying no tax. I often find skin care, perfume, confectionary and wine at much lower prices at home in London.
One thing I do to match cost in various countries is to use one of my daily skin care products (250ml facial cleanser) as a measure. In some countries I find it better value in terms of cost per size but in many places the ”saving” is negligible.
3. Long transits are a waste of “vacation” time.
If you have a transit in excess of 5 hours at Changi Airport (Singapore), Narita Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Incheon Airport (Seoul, Korea), Taoyuan Airport (Taipei, Taiwan), Ataturk Airport (Istanbul, Turkey), Salt Lake City Airport (Utah, USA) or Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar) you’ll be in for a treat.
They offer visa free heritage tours in their respective cities for transit passengers. If you have less than the required time it’s still possible to enjoy in-airport tropical gardens, cinemas, spas, swimming pools and even museums. While there are conditions attached to city tours other facilities can be enjoyed even on a brief lay over.
I enjoyed the 25 meter, temperature controlled indoor pool at Hamad International, Doha during a long transit. After a relaxing swim, I sipped orange juice and fell asleep on one of the cosy loungers. It was absolutely worth the £40 entrance fee. When your airport offers a gym, hydrotherapy tub and squash courts which stay open 24 hours a day, every day, you can turn even the most merciless lay over in to a mini vacation.
4. Jet lag.
Jet lag does not need to be a part of travelling. It’s caused by sleeping at the wrong time rather than a lack of sleep. Short naps are fine on short haul flights. However, if you want to avoid jet lag, only sleep if it aligns with the slumber time at your destination.
When I’m on long haul flights I adjust my sleep accordingly. Being in sync with my destination when I arrive lets me get the best out of the day as I often have to go straight into ”work mode”. Try it on your next trip to escape the groggy, detached feeling of jet lag.
5. Cash is best when you travel.
I almost never carry wads of cash when I travel. This is to avert the risk of losing it, misplacing it or having it stolen – ALL of which have happened to friends or relatives (sometimes within hours of arriving at a new destination) which doesn’t make for a good start.
Using my debit card allows me to keep track of my spending via mobile banking. Major banks helpfully offer the choice of paying in your own currency OR the local currency when using cards abroad. This means I know EXACTLY how much something costs in £Sterling BEFORE I pay. It’s a great deal more convenient than working out the exchange rate every time. Banks further offer preferential rates to loyal customers thus reducing the fee per transaction. Many credit cards have perks such as no foreign transaction fees and % back on purchases. Add to all of this the convenience of 24 hour helplines and I am sold.
This post was inspired by Gilbert Ott’s 8 Travel Myths, Debunked.