5 Myths About Traveling That You Need to Stop Believing

This article has been syndicated from Kabi Travels, an InfluenceHer Collective Member. Read the full post here

Travel is something so special — each time is a new experience, a different place. Even revisiting a place doesn’t feel the same. With these experiences come little pockets of knowledge, realizations and lessons that really help for all your future adventures.

When traveling, it’s super easy to be caught up in myths and ideas of what a “proper” travel experience should look like. However, don't let these myths and expectations ruin your travel experience. At the end of the day, it's all about carving your own journey wherever you go. Here are 5 myths to get out of your head before starting your next adventure. 

1. "You have to follow an itinerary"

fullsizeoutput_18371.jpegI’ve never really been one to enjoy routine, but there is definitely some security that comes with knowing exactly what’s going to happen next. Before I travel somewhere, I always make an extensive plan of what there is to do, see, eat, try — but the truth is, there’s rarely been a time where I fully follow this plan. Not only does planning minute by minute ignore contingencies and variables that are out of your control, but it also limits the autonomy of your experience.

One of my (few) life policies is, to have no expectations. Planning a trip to the absolute second could mean that you start to build expectations of the place you’re going to. It is important to allow yourself space to appreciate a place for what it is and not for what you thought it would be, and so traveling without a rigid plan can really help. There are so many little things to enjoy in the unplanned. Spontaneity breeds some of the most memorable adventures! I have managed to stumble upon hidden treasures all because I chose to look up (instead of down at my iPhone map).

2. "Don't ever do the 'tourist-y' things"

I think about my trip to Lisbon. After we checked into our rooms, we strolled around the area, hoping to stumble on a magical street or some sort of incredible building or something. But we didn’t find much — it was all houses, houses, houses, the locals hanging their washing on the window sills of their balconies just like we did at home.

The next day, we decided to go to the main “tourist” place, Rossio Square, and it felt as though the city opened up. We began to see familiar names – H&M, Burger King, McDonald’s, Brandy Melville, as well as herds of tourists who, like us, were walking around wide-eyed (while simultaneously recording the moments on our phones). It's okay to want to go and see the “famous” places. The places that have made you interested or curious about the country, the places that you’ll see on postcards and in movie scenes. Don’t get me wrong: wandering around lesser-known streets without a plan (as in the first point) is some magical stuff right there, but the truth is that any city you visit is not primarily there for your enjoyment: a city’s primary aim is to provide a home to its residents. There are people living “normal” lives in a “normal” house like yours back home and who clean their clothes with the same detergent as you do. However, when you visit a foreign country, you expect — or maybe want — it to be a completely different world, so you can feel like you genuinely left home.

3. "I should only eat/shop locally"

fullsizeoutput_1041When abroad, I’m sure you’ve heard – or even said –  something of the sort, “we didn’t come all the way here to eat the same fried chicken you have at home.” But I feel it can sometimes be justified! Again, don’t get me wrong. Trying out local cuisine is an important part of experiencing new places and it plays a role in supporting local businesses. However, at least for me, food can be a bit complicated. In Lisbon, I wasn’t able to try its famous pastéis de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts) because, well, I’m allergic to eggs. Same story with a lot of French pastries. So I’ve learned not to feel ashamed or guilty if what I really, really want is to have is some KFC.

 4. "You have to do everything there is to offer"

 Okay so you have three days in a new country, you don’t know if you’ll ever get the chance to return, you must do everything. But realistically, you can’t, and you don’t need to. Oh, but that feeling of disappointment when you’re on the flight home and you didn’t even go to the top of the Burj Khalifa or didn’t even get a picture with a koala in Sydney. How do you even explain that you went there? Like, did you really, truly go to Bali if you didn’t take a picture on a swing? You feel like, in some way, your trip was a bit of a failure on your part. But it’s not a failure. The mere fact that you are there, breathing the air of a foreign place and looking around and seeing people and buildings and trees who speak a different way of life than you is incredible enough. You may find that places are further than you thought, so you can’t make it. But all this is not something to discourage. Rather, it gives you a reason to return, and for me, there’s nothing more hopeful than this.

There will always be travel myths floating around the Internet and social media, telling you that you need to do this or that to have an enriching, enjoyable travel experience. But, don't let this noise distract you from living in the moment while you're visiting a new place. That in itself is the best part!

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