Over the years I heard and believed a lot of bullocks, but now that I’ve experienced travelling extensively I’m much better at distinguishing between the truth and misconceptions about travelling and exploring the world. Here’s the top misconceptions that I hear, and my take on how it really is.
1. Traveling is Expensive - While it's true, travel could be expensive, it doesn't necessarily mean travel is expensive. Let me explain: many of my friends would only consider laying on a beach in an All-Inclusive Resort or staying in a 4-5 Star Hotels, and this is expensive, and many don’t know how to effectively search for flights to find the cheapest option. But to assume that all travel is expensive is a whole different story, which is simply untrue. I visited "expensive" cities such as Paris and Amsterdam for around 50 Euros a day, by staying in Hostels and eating in spots off the touristy streets. I found very cheap Airfare by following the right blogs and searching out for deals. Using these money-saving tips I've done a trip to Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria) for 13 days, and it costed me under 450Euros (I was already in Europe so I didn’t have flight expenses). I also always hear that Japan is very expensive, but when I was in Kyoto and Osaka I found that things weren’t higher then average western prices, and food/beer was much cheaper then Toronto prices (granted I haven’t been to Tokyo yet). Travel can be cheap, all you need is a change in mindset and some knowledge with how to search for cheap flights. I flew from Toronto-Paris for $330 Return, and from Paris to Rome for 20 Euros, so flights are not that expensive, and I provide the tools (for free) on how to locate these deals on my Flights Tips page.
2. Traveling is Unsafe - Where are you planning to travel to, Syria? Time and time again I hear things like "Don't go to Barcelona I hear there's lots of pickpockets" or "How can you go to Paris after the attacks" or "Don't walk in Rome at night unless you're looking for problems". This really grinds my gears, because this is not the case when I visited those cities. As long as you're using your brain and avoid problematic situations (like buying drugs alone in sketchy areas), you'll be fine. Of course, it would be best to avoid areas during political unrest, but with the majority of t he world you'll be fine. Even if you’re travelling alone, you can avoid most unsafe scenarios with some common sense. Things do happen and you do have to be careful, but avoiding travel just because somebody told you it’s unsafe is just unfortunate. Googling things like “How safe is _____” is sure to bring up some anxiety-inducing content no matter what the city is, so just take that into consideration before making your ultimate decision.
3. It must be so lonely to travel alone - This one makes me laugh, because for me the the opposite is true. When I'm sitting at home in Thornhill, Canada I have moments where I'm lonely and nobody's around, but when I'm in a hostel somewhere in Europe or Asia there's always people around looking to mingle or party. I met many dozens of people all over the world! Travelling alone puts you into a mindset where you're way more open to opportunities and people and new friends. Travelling with a group is great too, but it might restrict spontaneous decisions or new friends simply because you are already occupied with your friends. Also, meeting locals is way easier when you are alone and countless of times people invite me for dinner, to a club, a jazz bar, or anything else! Unless you're hiding in the corner of the washroom of a hostel, you're not going to be lonely.
4. I'm a girl, I can't travel alone - While talking with a co-worker today I noticed something that really bothered me. We were taking about traveling, but she said she can't travel alone since she's a girl. I told her that is not true, that I met many girls traveling alone during my trips, and saying things like that is suppressive to women since it is limiting an experience just because of gender. She agreed, but said she comes from a very different culture where woman are not as free as men, and she can't come home late or drive the car while her brother can do all that. This opened my eyes to something I heard, but never saw before. It's very unfortunate that this still exists, especially in 2015 (when it happened), especially in Canada. PLEASE, don't let your gender stop you from doing anything you dream about!!! Making the assumption that possibilities are restricted due to gender is just so not 2015. I met countless solo girls (from as young as 17) travelling solo and loving it all over the world!
5. "It's really hard to get a Visa there" - Right after I spontaneously bought my ticket to Shanghai, I proudly announced on Facebook that I am heading to Shanghai soon! I then got a few comments of people hoping I was going on an organized tour because "It's really hard to get a visa there". I was stressing, because although I knew I needed a visa, I did not even consider the fact that my Visa might be rejected. What I quickly learned is that all my worries was for nothing, and it was in-fact very easy and quick to get my visa to China. Once I was there, I asked other people's (from 3 different continents) experiences with acquiring a visa, and nobody had any problems. It might be hard to get a Visa to some places, but unless you research reputable sources yourself, don't trust what you hear.
6. Everyone in Paris is Rude - If I had a dollar every time I heard that, I would be very wealthy. Everyone loves to hate on Parisians for being rude, and honestly if I write that nobody in Paris is rude, I’m sure I’ll get massive backlash of people sharing their horror stories. Instead I’ll share some proactive tips to avoid those horror stories. How would you feel if somebody came up to you and immediately started talking french, assuming you know french, not very good. That’s how some Parisians feel (even though most younger Parisians do speak english), so if you start every conversation with ‘Bonjour’, and ‘Je ne parle pas français, tu parle anglais?’ (translation: I don’t speak French, do you speak English), the locals will really appreciate it. During my time in Paris, I spoke with many Parisians asking for directions, meeting them at events, or striking up conversations on bus rides, and I find Parisians to be sweet and nice. Now, the waiters, that’s a whole different story….
7. Anyone Can Travel - When I started travelling, I started telling everyone ‘It’s so cheap, anyone can travel!’ with giving examples of cheap flights and example budgets, but then I realized I am forgetting something. I am very privileged to be in my position, where I am a 20 year old with the support of my parents (I don’t pay rent and they cover my tuition costs, but I do pay for my trips myself). Assuming that anyone can drop everything and drop even $700 on a trip would be very inconsiderate of me, because I fail to realize the reality of many people’s difficult positions. Some people are drowning in debt, some can’t afford to take time off work, others are supporting their parents, or can’t keep up with rent payments. The reality is that not everyone is in a position where they are able to go travelling. Many people are also uninterested in travel, or would never go travelling alone but have nobody to go with, this is mostly found in smaller rural towns but might happen in urban cities as well. While I love to inspire and encourage everyone to go travelling, I recognize that sometimes stability in life comes first. As long as you work hard, are goal oriented, and become proactive to enter a position where you are able to travel someday, you are doing the right decision. But for those of you that have at least $2000 in your account and the ability to go somewhere for a few weeks, DO IT!
8. Flying is unsafe - I hear this from time to time, even from my mom who begs me to call her before I depart, and the minute I land for her peace of mind. Many are afraid of flying, but I would like to point out some data-driven evidence on how this is complete bullocks, and how travelling by plane is literally the safest method of transportation. There were 32,675 deaths in car accidents in the US in 2014, more then 480,000 deaths by smoking (that’s a crazy high number, not sure I believe it), and 761 deaths by flying in a plane worldwide in 2014 . Statistically speaking, there is a bigger chance to die in a car crash or by smoking! Airlines do everything they can, and invest heavily in ensuring that the flights meet the highest quality of safety control, because even one accident can ruin the reputation and affect revenue of an airline. So take a deep breath, and step on the plane knowing a lot has gone into ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable flight.