10) It's unattainable
This one is one that I am guilty of. I heard stories about people traveling the world to ‘find’ themselves and thought that they were a special kind of person. So when I found myself traveling and doing the things I had only heard about, it was surreal.
I am not rich. I am not fearless. I had a desire to travel and reasons to not travel were all worst-case scenarios of the myths listed below. Traveling doesn’t have to take you across an ocean. Start with day trips or weekend getaways. Soon you’ll realize 'jet-setting' isn't much more than budgeting and planning.
9) It’s dangerous
Sadly, I have felt safer in foreign countries than I have at times in America. I've traveled to places that were more strict than I am accustomed.
Your safety is your responsibility, so do your due diligence. Do your research. As the traveler, you are the one who must adhere to the social, cultural, or environmental norms of the destination to which you are traveling.
Each country has its own moral standards. If you don’t think that you can operate in accordance to their laws and customs, take that into consideration when deciding travel destinations.
8) People are rude
Piggy-backing off the previous point: One thing to remember is that you are the outsider. What is acceptable to you at home may be considered a faux pas abroad, and vice versa. I have found it advantageous to let things roll off your back. Often times between cultural norms and language barriers, the slight was unintentional.
Example: In the US, customer service agents are often trained to smile and be cheerful during interactions whether or not the employee feels this way genuinely. Customer service abroad is a bit more practical. If you ask for help, generally they give it, but first they must be asked. They don’t mean to be 'unhelpful'.
7) You will love every place you go
Expectation breeds disappointment. We all have our dream destinations in our heads. We look forward to these holidays and we play them out in our heads as we sit at our desks. Then we get to the hotel and it’s not the view that we imagined. It rained. We didn’t realize the beautiful waterfall we wanted to snapchat is remote and will be an all-day hike to get to.
There have been places that looked great online and in my imagination, but when I got there I thought to myself “This is how horror movies begin…” , Thankfully most of these trips ended up being splendid. I have traveled to places where I splurge and the experience was terrible. I’ve been to places where the accommodations were budget but the experience was great.
Things will happen that are outside of our control. We can only control how we react. It’s up to you to make the most out of it.
6) Tourist areas reflect the history or culture of the destination
Tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry. Businesses and governments actively work to crate desirable tourist destinations.
Whether you like to go off the beaten path or stay at the resort, for better or worse, the tourist area isn’t a true representation of the destination. It's more of a crafted caricature that oft has more internationals than locals.
Example: I'm from Florida. I can tell you that most Floridians (especially me) typically avoid alligators. I have had several out of state friends visit me and request to go see alligators... They had a notion that Floridians keep them as one would a turtle.
5) You will struggle with language barriers
Once upon a time, there was this spunky little island called Britain that invaded and colonized many foreign lands. So much so there is a phrase: “the sun never set on the British Empire”. As of 2019, there are 67 Sovereigns that list English as an official language. That's 67 countries that share your native language.
There is also a saying: Money talks. English is a business language. Many countries that have global interests speak English. I have friends from Japan and Mexico who were taught English in primary school and learned Spanish and Japanese at home with their parents. Needless to say, their English is far better than my Spanish or Japanese.
In my travels I have found that English is less common among older generations and in more rural settings. Sometimes it’s not that they don’t understand you, but they just may not feel comfortable speaking English with a native speaker (not that they have to).
You are in a different country so picking up on certain words and phrases is a small gesture that goes a long way.
4) It's just like America (or your hometown)
Every place you travel will be unique. It will have it’s own history, culture, and cuisine. I think that is the beauty of travel. Even in America, there are so many subcultures, and regional histories. You may find places to be very similar to what you are used to but you shouldn’t be surprised if you find little (or big) differences.
But if you don’t want to experience anything different , then why leave?
3) Nothing like America (Or your hometown)
I remember the first time I felt off kilter while traveling. I had just landed in Greece. I touched down in the Athens Airport and I'd been to several countries that spoke different languages, but for the first time since kindergarten, I couldn't read the signs.
Greece was wonderful and as I have traveled I have found hardworking, kind, fun, family oriented and patriotic people in every country I have visited.
Also thanks to globalization (Netflix,McDonald's, Mars Chocolates, Nike etc), there is likely to be something not too far from you that is reminiscent of home.
2) People "hate Americans”
The first time I left the country, I was a little apprehensive. Living in a post 9/11 world, much of the news rhetoric is that the world hates America. So imagine my shock 😲 when people find out I’m American and they get super excited to tell me about their last trip to or dream to go to the States.
Turns out, that people don't hate Americans, most people can separate the person from the politics. What they do hate are jerks. Just don’t be obnoxious and you should be fine.
1) It’s expensive
One of my philosophies in life is “Something is only worth as much as you are willing to pay.” Traveling is only 'expensive' if you don't think it's worth it.
When you take in the cost of accommodation, hotels, and food, the cost of traveling does add up very quickly. However, there are options for every budget. If you really want to visit a destination, you will find a way.
Until next time,