When you are venturing to a place away from home (especially for the first time), it is natural to want to seek advice from those who have come and gone before you. Getting tips and secrets from a fellow traveler can be very helpful in making sure that your trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible, but how do you know whom you can trust? These oft-given pieces of travel advice should get a once-over before taking them to heart.
"Don’t eat food from the street vendors."
It’s surprising how many people will tell you that eating street food will make you sick. They are all missing out on some of the best culture that a city has to offer. Sure, there are some cases of food poisoning that may occur when taking a risk on a meal, but the exact same could be said when choosing a restaurant. Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten has come from street vendors. Who could go to New York City without eating a hot dog, or journey to Paris without stopping by a crepe cart?
"Women should not travel alone."
Come on, people. It’s 2015. Yet this piece of “advice” pops up way more often than it should. This is not just false, it’s offensive. In fact, some cities are well-suited for solo travelers. Women travelers may encounter some issues that men wouldn’t notice, but this in no way means that women aren’t able to handle them. The people who think that women need a chaperone have seen Taken one too many times. The safety advice I would give to women would be the same that I would give to men: don’t stray far from the beaten path at night, and always be aware of your environment.
"Don’t go to any attractions that are too touristy.”
Unlike Kim Kardashian and Crocs, some things are popular for a reason. When you are visiting a new place, see the sights (and take lots of pictures). Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist, because you are a tourist. You can still spend time in lesser-known areas, but make sure you see the iconic attractions, too. Those are going to be the ones that your friends ask about when you get back home.
"Don’t talk to the locals."
Locals can be very welcoming if you approach them, and they are normally very eager to show off their city. Culture is made up by people, so how can you expect to understand a culture without interacting with its biggest supporters? Most people who tell you not to reach out to locals while traveling have probably never been abroad. I know you’ve been told not to talk to strangers since you were able to walk, but I think your parents will be okay if you ignore that saying just this once.
"Plan every detail of your trip."
Planning can come in very handy. It’s useful to know which museums are closed on Tuesdays and how far away the American Embassy is. However, if you don’t leave any room for spontaneity, then you might take too much of the adventure out of your trip. Don’t be afraid to just walk around and to get a little lost. You’ll be a much happier person if you toss out the itinerary every now and again. Have goals, but don’t be afraid to be a little flexible.