I’ve noticed recently that there is a major difference in the mindset of those who are already traveling and those who have the desire to travel, but have not yet made the leap. We sometimes make excuses as to why we shouldn’t do something out of pure fear or uncertainty. The best way to combat this is with knowledge and understanding. Let’s dig into several common travel misconceptions that I’d like to dispel.
Travel Misconception #1: It’s too expensive to travel
I think this is one of the main misconceptions I hear about traveling. This is an inaccuracy. I covered this in another post, but your main expenses while traveling are accommodation, flight & transportation, and food. The honest truth is, all of these things can be found at extremely economical prices. Especially when you compare it to western countries like America, England, Canada, Australia and others like it. There are also more tools and resources available today that make it possible to further discount the price.
As an American, it is my belief that this idea comes from media influence. We’re told how luxurious and expensive certain destinations are. It’s also assumed that in order to travel you must be wealthy. This is just not the case. In fact, since I left the United States, I have been able to live off of an average of $1000-$1200 USD per month. This affords you a lifestyle that would cost three to four times the amount in a western country. It’s also very possible to survive on much less. The added bonus is you can save the difference of what you don’t spend. Even better still, if you can create an income by working online, you can travel the world and never have to work a job again.
Travel misconception #2: The world is a dangerous place
This one drives me nuts! I think every person that I’ve met from the western world is misled to believe this. How do I know? The almost automatic subconscious response when I tell them I’m traveling either indefinitely or to a specific country is immediate concern about the dangers there. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Average Joe: So where you going next?
Me: Vietnam, South Korea, Philippines, Russia, etc.
Average Joe: Oh my god! Are you crazy? Don’t you know that _______ is Dangerous?
Average Joe: Yeah man! How do you not know that?
Me: So you’ve been?
Average Joe: Well, uh no, but everybody knows that.
Me: I see, how do you know if you haven’t been?
Average Joe: Well….umm…it’s on the news.
It amazes me how people believe everything they hear at face value. Even if they heard it from someone who heard it from someone who’s uncle once went there 12 years ago. The reality is the most dangerous place I’ve ever lived is in America. Seriously, if you look at debate.org, 78% of people think that America is the most dangerous country in the world. Here are some quotes:
“Yes, we are the most dangerous.”
“America is dangerous because of its power, and its willingness to use it when necessary. There are certainly other countries that seem more dangerous with their threats and their willingness to have endless internal wars and neighborly disputes, but they are not as powerful as the United States. When there is a region that is becoming really unstable the United States can move into that area militarily virtually overnight and with a large force. Other countries do not have the same capability or the willingness to do so, and as a consequence we have more control over events whether our intentions are good or bad.”
“Built on terror”
“The USA has a racist and genocidal past. The country is founded on violence since the time of Columbus. Their institutions bring them in a state of perpetual fear that’s why they attack in order to avoid being attacked. From the the genocide of native Americans to the enslavement of Africans, the USA is a scary and dangerous country.”
“US government is a bloody empire”
“Not only have more than 1 million been killed by the US government directly or indirectly in the 21st century, but post WW2 the US government(and military of course) is responsible for approx 18 million killed around the world. The US goes to war or props up dictators for natural resources. It’s in your ground it just happens to be ours- is the true motto of the corporate/US government complex.”
In Thailand, I unknowingly left a backpack full of electronics at a cafe. They tracked me down an hour later to return it before I even knew it was missing. This would almost never happen in South Florida where I’m from.
When I first decided to go to The Philippines, everyone on social media told me “how dangerous it was.” I mean this was a normal response from people, but there was an overwhelming response to this country. As I write to you now after being in The Philippines for almost 3 months, I can wholeheartedly say, this is one of the safest places I’ve ever been.
A friend and I are going to South Korea. One of his relatives was actually concerned for our safety because it’s too close to North Korea. As if you can slip and fall and accidentally end up in another country. I don’t remember “accidentally” going to Mexico when I was back home. I mean this is just ridiculous.
The reality is there are dangers in every country wherever you go. There is also beauty in every city and country in the world. Your outlook on life and how you choose to see things is up to you. You can choose to believe what you see all over the news or the worst case scenario you’ve created in your head. You can also use your intuition, be astute and figure out what you need to avoid ahead of time and have an amazing experience. The choice is yours.
Travel Misconception #3: I’m too to travel
I hear people make up excuses all the time as to why they can’t travel. They say they’re too old, too poor, their injured, etc. This usually stems from a fear of the unknown. I mean how can you be too young to travel? I literally had someone tell me they weren’t old enough to travel yet and they were 24 at the time. This makes absolutely no sense. The only way to combat this fear is through knowledge and experience. Go out there, get your feet wet, have an adventure, and conquer your fear head on!
Travel Misconception #4: Traveling is only good if you’re young and single
This is yet another limiting belief. Whereas in the last section, someone made mention of being too young, it’s far more common to hear that you are too old to travel. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” This applies here.
I see older people, couples, and families, traveling all the time. Some older people seem ready to take on the world with more passion and enthusiasm than people half of their age. My own mother has been traveling for years now and has been to 37 countries and she’s 68 Years old. My good Friend CarouLLou and her husband have been traveling together for almost 24 years now. There are travel programs out there that encourage families to travel for a year together. Even if you’re limited in your abilities, you can travel and do the same things as anybody else. Traveling is for everyone!
Travel Misconception #5: You need lots of advanced planning
A lot of people think it requires an immense amount of planning and effort in order to travel somewhere new. While doing some quick research about the city you plan on going to could be useful, it really doesn’t take a whole lot of planning to go somewhere. The only thing you absolutely need to know is visa requirements. I decided to leave the United States in July of last year. By Mid-August I was boarding a plane to start my journey.
Most countries I go to, I just show up and get the scoop on which sights to see, how the economy works, where to stay, work, eat, and hang out. I almost never have a clue what’s in store until I show up. The only thing I briefly look into is the culture and a few things that may be interesting to see while I’m there. While doing some planning can be useful, it’s really not necessary. It’s really easy these days to be spontaneous and adjust your plans as you see fit. It also allows for a flexible schedule. Booking far in advance sometimes locks you into plans that you can’t change.
Traveling Misconception #6: You need to speak the language
English Speakers are so hypocritical when it comes to this. I’ve heard people in the United States get annoyed because the foreigners aren’t speaking English. Yet when they travel to another country, they expect someone to speak English to them. How is this okay?
That being said, the reality is there are several different ways to communicate with someone and you certainly don’t need to speak the language to have a good time. The typical communication breakdown as per famous psychologist Albert Mehrabian’s research is as follows:
If it’s true that only seven percent of communication is what you say then there should be no issue when traveling. Both in Thailand and China where the English isn’t so great, I had no issue communicating. I was able to:
- Have my food prepared the way I wanted it
- Negotiate the right price for accommodation and transportation
- Get directions
- Rent a condo
- Get a proper haircut
- Book several tours
- Partake in deep conversation with locals
- And make local friends in every country I’ve visited
It’s quite easy to communicate without speaking the language, even if it does require a little extra effort. However, just learning a few basic words or phrases to the country you’re visiting can go a long way. Especially if you expect them to speak your language when they visit your country.
Traveling Misconception #7: You Have to travel with friends or in a group
I’ll be honest, when I first started traveling I was a bit hesitant since I didn’t know what to expect. However, I’m so glad that I did it because traveling solo is a journey of adventure, self-discovery and it allows for immense personal growth by permitting yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.
Solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean lonely travel. I’ve been to dozens of cities and I can count on one hand how many I went to on my own. Initially I didn’t know anybody, but by staying in places where there are an abundance of solo travelers makes it easy to meet cool people, mix cultures and cultivate your new social circle of international friends.
I seriously encourage you to begin your journey on your own although there is another option. You can make the transition to solo travel a little more comfortable by joining one of the many programs in existence where you can travel with a group of other solo travelers. I believe Remote Year is the most popular. There are more resources nowadays that make solo travel so much easier. Don’t miss opportunities because nobody else can join you. Go anyway!
Traveling Misconception #8: It must be short term
It is a common misconception in the western world that our vacation time must be limited to about two weeks out of the year. This is due to the simple fact that we’re told from a very young age to follow the typical “recipe for success.” This includes working a nine to five job which limits your travel time. In the last decade, there have been lots of people moving to online businesses as a way to escape the rat race and gain back their freedom. A small section of them also travel full time and work their online businesses from anywhere in the world. Why not you?
There is no hard and fast rule that says your must limit your travel time from a few days to a few weeks. There are the 7 wonders of the world, 7 continents, 196 countries, and hundreds of thousands of cities. The world is vast and there is so much to explore. There is only so much you can see in 16 days per year or put another way 4.4 percent of your time. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but there are already millions of Digital Nomads in existence. Whatever the case may be, I’m a big advocate for exploring new places and broadening your horizons.
I truly hope this has helped clear some things up and dispelled the most common travel myths for you. Let’s face our fears head on and I hope to see you out there on the road someday!