There’s never a bad time to get smarter…

Like they say in the Lion King, what’s in the past is in the past. We’re here to help dispel the silly tips and rid your mind of genuine #fakenews. With so much bad information out there from upgrade tips to currency exchange tricks, there are quite a few myths which need to be debunked to get your next trip started off right.

Here are 10 of the worst travel myths, debunked…

To Get Flight Upgrades, Don’t Assign A Seat

Not only are you not going to land a cushy upgrade with this advice, you’re probably going to get the worst seat in the cabin you paid for. Many airlines charge for advanced seat assignments, but there’s no advantage to not assigning a seat at all when they become free to select at check in.

Long story short: you should always assign a seat as quickly as you can.

Good seats get selected immediately when the 24 hour or 48 hour free seating assignment window opens and realistically, upgrades are dished out to top tier customers or travelers who have been inconvenienced and it’s almost never based on not having a seat. Here’s how to actually get upgrades

There’s One Magical Cure To Jet Lag

If there is, the closest thing is melatonin – but there’s not. Fighting jet lag is about masterfully planning and orchestrating a series of events which keep you hydrated, get your eating cycles on destination time and send the correct signals to your brain about when you’re tired about what time it really is. It’s about light, diet, rest and invigorating your body.

Here’s the very best advice for tackling jet lag. Sadly, it’s not a one word read.

We recently fasted on a long journey to Australia, including alcohol, following the advice above and it actually worked. Here’s more on that, in case you feel like joining the crazy anti jet lag crowd. If you really want to tackle jet lag, you’re going to need to devote an hour to planning.

All Touristy Things Are Bad

There’s a never ending supply of tourist mistakes around the world, but being a snob is one of the biggest. Some places, no matter how touristy, are worth visiting even if just for the view, the scent, the history or the waves.

Don’t be so cool that you miss one of the best attractions and see what makes people happy by thinking you’re Anthony Bourdain. There was only one.

Be as willing to explore the pop culture stuff as you are to jump off the beaten path and you will be rewarded with a wealth of happiness and cultural understanding.

Use Home Currency When Paying Abroad

Travellers throw away billions of collective dollars every year by getting short changed on credit card transactions abroad. It’s called DCC, or dynamic currency conversion. The next time you hear “it doesn’t matter which currency you choose”, they’re wrong and usually lying.

To avoid this frustrating travel myth, always choose the currency of the country you’re standing in – not the currency you use at home. Just make sure you use a credit card with no foreign exchange fees too. Here’s more on all that. Basically: pay in whatever currency is the local currency, every time.

All Hotel Booking Sites Offer The Same Price

Hotels love offering “best rate guarantees”, but those are based on the best rates you can find publicly. The truth is: there are better rates out there in private. Travel agents and private hotel membership can offer rates which aren’t shown to the general public via things called “bed banks”.

Though they sound dingy, they’re worth learning about. They’ve saved up to $1000 on just a three night stay. Never buy a hotel room without checking at least three websites, comparing the price with booking directly and then also looking into any membership sites. Here’s a prime example.

Countries With Travel Warning Should Always Be Avoided

Dreaming of going to Rome, Paris, Turks and Caicos, Cancun or the Taj Mahal on your next vacation? If you follow this advice, you’ll never get there. The United States issues travel warnings on 4 levels, and these “Level 2” countries mean to simply exercise increased caution and be careful in large crowds. Basically, don’t be an idiot – which is good advice anywhere. But also: Don’t let cheap fear mongering headlines ruin travel dreams.

We’ve written a great resource which breaks down what travel warnings actually mean, including links to what they really suggest. Most of the time, they’re just telling you to be careful. They’re not telling you not to go. The world is too amazing to miss.

There’s A Magic Day Or Week To Book Travel

Know this: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no joke, but they’re the very closest thing you’ll find to a magical day to book travel. Hint: it’s not “Tuesday”. To score the best flight deals, it’s often more about when you want to go than when you want to book.

Want to really win?

Think about changing your travel plans to shoulder season months when airfare can be 43% lower or better. Here’s a few tips. As far as magic days, it’s easier to talk about ones to avoid, like any number within 7 days of flying. Also, don’t be afraid to learn everything you can about Google Flights, so you can let the best deals you’ve searched for come to your inbox.

It’s Always Cheaper To Buy Wine When You Visit A Country

Wrong, and to the tune of 20% in some places. It’s true: it’s cheaper to buy (great) wine in France than just about anywhere else on earth, but some countries are far more focused on export than travelers guzzling wine on home soil.

In Australia, it’s actually 20% cheaper if you buy the wine and have it shipped out of the country, which basically means it’s the same price outside of the country too. If you want to stay extra savvy, Vivino is the best wine app for travelers.

The Airport Is The Best Place To Take Money Out

This is flat out wrong. Despite the “no fee”, “no commission” or other alluring sign, you’re getting duped another way. These money exchange services use a consumer rate of exchange which is often 10% worse than the actual current exchange rate offered at that moment.

It’s almost always cheaper to take out one large sum with your debit card abroad, paying just one ATM fee. By doing so, you’ll get a “bank rate” of exchange, which can save 10% or more. Just tell your bank you’re traveling first.

Oh, and here’s a full guide on the subject, since this can get complicated.

The Northern Lights Are Only In Iceland

You’ve gotta give Iceland credit. Despite the Aurora Borealis existing since the dawn of time and covering vast swaths of the upper Northern Hemisphere, travelers seem convinced that Iceland is the only place offering the dazzling, electrically charged light display.

The Northern Lights are best viewed with minimal artificial light, so the more remote you can go the better. There are countless places to find them, like Norway or Lapland too…

Frequent Flyer Miles Are Too Complicated To Bother

Why bother, right? No. Credit card points and airline miles may be complicated, but anyone not bothering with collecting them is simply a fool. At the very least, they’re a rebate towards future travel.

The way the industry is going, points are becoming easier to use and even have more defined value than ever. For example, Delta lets you use 10,000 points to take $100 off a flight. This is a myth too expensive to believe. You need to play the points game, and you can do it without even flying or having a credit card.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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