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The Worst Travel Advice We’ve Ever Heard

Some travel advice should be followed to the letter, some should be taken with a grain of salt, and some should be ignored entirely. From suggestions that save money (but starve the joy from your trip) to recommendations that could have you sleeping on the streets, here’s a round-up of the worst advice the SmarterTravel team has ever received.

Cliché Touristy Stuff Is Never Worth It

Two gondolas on a canal in Venice, Italy
EMrpize | Adobe Stock

The worst advice that Carol McPherson was ever given was, “That cliché touristy stuff is never worth it! I let someone I was traveling with talk me out of the gondolas in Venice and I wish I didn’t.” Famous tourist sites are famous for a reason—they’re definitely worth seeing.

Smarter Advice: See the cliché sites, but at off-hours (think: The Eiffel Tower at sunrise) to get a less crowded and more magical experience. 

Always Pack a Lunch

Fruit, vegetables, and a sandwich packed in a reusable plastic lunchbox next to a water bottle and a bottle of orange juice
chandlervid85 | Adobe Stock

Clio Flikkema grew up hearing, “Pack sandwiches when sightseeing and don’t bother stopping for lunch.” However, as an adult, Clio never follows this advice, “Because you have to carry the sandwiches all day and you miss out on fun restaurants.”

Smarter Advice: Stop at the pricest and most popular restaurants on your list for lunch—it will be easier to get a table, and you’ll have a much cheaper meal than if you were to visit for dinner.  

Never Travel Alone

Man sitting on rock on rocky beach watching the sunset
EVERST | Adobe Stock

Chris Donais was advised “to not travel alone.” However, he disagrees with this common wisdom, arguing, “you can learn a lot by traveling by yourself.”

Smarter Advice: Everyone should travel alone at least once in their life—you’ll meet new people, gain a sense of independence and confidence, and be able to do exactly what you want on your trip.

Get to the Airport Three Hours Early

People waiting for a flight to board in an airport terminal
Charnchai saeheng | Adobe Stock

Michael Given has heard that travelers should always “Get to the airport three hours early,” but if you’ve checked-in online, aren’t checking bags, and have a mobile boarding pass, that will leave you with approximately 2.5 hours to kill at the gate.

Smarter Advice: Customize your airport arrival time to your specific trip. Can’t check-in online because you have to show a COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination? Three hours could be a safe bet. Have your boarding pass but need to check a bag? Maybe two hours early is more realistic.  

Don’t Book Your Accommodations Ahead of Time

Close up of person booking a hotel room on a tablet on the backdrop of a business desk
MclittleStock | Adobe Stock

Caroline Teel has been told that “Booking your accommodations ahead of time is a terrible idea. Being spontaneous and picking a hotel when you arrive instead saves money and lets you see it in person before committing.” However, getting off a long-flight and having to spend hours dragging our bags to different hotels before finally finding a place that has space and is affordable does not sound like a fun start to a trip to us. 

Smarter Advice: Booking a hotel in advance lets you comparison shop for the cheapest price, and guarantees you a place to sleep—during busy seasons, it’s not uncommon for all of the accommodation in a town to completely sell out, and you could be stranded if you don’t plan ahead. 

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