Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Debunking a dozen travel myths

  1. #1
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    13,468

    Default Debunking a dozen travel myths

    Debunking a Dozen Travel Myths - MSN Travel Articles

    Certain ideas have stuck around for decades like old wives’ tales. No, you can’t make ice cubes faster with hot water, and no, you can’t get in first class just by asking. Here are a dozen of the most widely believed travel myths, along with the truth about each.By Eric Lucas



    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Two travel professionals, my dinner companions in Coventry, England, had just told me that they hadn’t been to London in years. Just a two-hour train ride away from shopping, theater and royal pageantry, and they didn’t go every other weekend?

    “It’s cheaper and easier to get on a plane to Spain out of Birmingham, to tell the truth,” one explained. “Way cheaper, really. So, London versus Costa Brava? Two hundred pounds versus 50? Rain, sun?” He held his hands up in the universal shifting-weight scale.

    That was my first clue that the famous axiom about getting around Europe — that trains are best — is a fable from simpler times. I later verified the truth of this on a three-week family trek around Scandinavia. We rented a car, spent less (far less) than it would have cost us on trains, and had infinitely more flexibility to wander up and down little country lanes.

    When I did a little more research, I confirmed that my friends were right after all. The advent of low-cost airlines has made air travel cheaper, quicker and more convenient than rail. For instance, a flight on Easyjet from London to Paris in September costs $108; passage through the Chunnel on the Eurostar is $195.

    So the European train myth is one of those enduring, apocryphal travel claims that you still hear and encounter in print. These inventions lurk around like old wives’ tales. Here are 11 additional travel myths; learn the truth about each, and from now on you’ll travel more wisely and well.

    Dress well and ask nicely and you might get upgraded to first class: This silliness dates from the Howard Hughes era of aviation, when air travel was glamorous and airlines actually competed on service. Now the skies are ruled by cost structures and loyalty programs, and airlines reserve the front cabin for a select few: customers who buy first-class seats, passengers cashing in miles, elite frequent fliers, regular frequent fliers and passengers with promotional coupons, in that order. Asking? You may as well ask for special odds in Vegas.

    U.S. airlines are required to compensate you if a cancellation is their fault: This fable is based on the so-called “Rule 240,” which no longer exists — thank the Reagan-era frenzy of deregulation. Today, there is no government requirement at all covering canceled flights. What happens to passengers depends on the particular airline’s “contract of carriage,” and these vary widely. You may or may not be rebooked on another airline; you may or may not be offered a hotel if you’re stuck overnight or a meal if it’s an all-day breakdown. Most U.S. airlines, at least grudgingly, provide some level of care, though. At the very least, they do have to honor their contract and get you to your destination, when possible. Want compensation if, say, you miss the first night of your honeymoon? Good luck.

    For somewhat better treatment, fly in Europe, where EU regulations require airlines to perform more humanely.

    Americans are the world’s worst tourists: Not even close. Expedia’s annual survey of 4,500 hotel managers worldwide placed Americans ninth-best among 27 nationalities. Japanese tourists were rated best overall, with Canadians, Australians (another supposedly much-despised group), Germans (ditto) and Dutch among the 10 best. And the worst tourists, dead last behind everyone else? The French.

    Americans, by the way, were rated both loudest and the biggest tippers.

    Jeans and sneakers brand you in Europe as an American rube: No, Europeans from the Baltic to the Mediterranean now all wear jeans and running shoes while they’re out and about during the day. However, you won’t see many Europeans clad this informally for evening events, so put on some slacks and a jacket for dinner. Want to make sure you look like a rube? Wear a polyester track suit.

    Foreign travel is dangerous, especially in the developing world: Crime statistics are notoriously hard to compare, because each country reports differently. But the United States is definitely nowhere near the most law-abiding on Earth, and some measurements put its raw crime numbers at the top of the list. The United Kingdom, Finland, New Zealand and Holland are all, on a per capita basis, more dangerous than Russia, Slovakia, Zambia and Papua New Guinea.

    Street food isn’t safe: Poppycock. In street markets and at food carts, you can watch the food being cooked, and stringent handling requirements have lessened food-borne illness in most countries. I’ve eaten street food in 20 foreign countries and not been sick once; add in the rest of my family, and we’ve ingested street food in more than 50 countries, all safely. Wandering through markets and sampling local foods is a superb way to save money, experience local culture and enjoy the genuine adventure of travel.

    Cruises are all-inclusive — leave your wallet at home: That’s true only if you just eat cruise cafeteria food, sit on the deck in lounge chairs and never leave the ship. Superior dining, shore excursions, Internet access, some types of recreation (including spa access): All these can be and usually are subject to extra fees. Cruising experts suggest the average traveler should expect to spend up to 50 percent more than the base fare; less than that requires spending discipline.

    It’s easy to use your phone in Europe or Asia: Yes, that’s the case if you are a tech genius, can “unlock” your phone, buy a SIM card, manage to open the phone and swap cards, pick the right local network and chat with the “help” staff in Croatian. And the “global” phones being advertised now by U.S. cell companies? These aren’t your ordinary everyday cell phones; you have to buy an upgraded model and sign up for extra-cost service. My family travels in Europe enough that we simply bought a European cell phone.

    Really savvy travel shoppers can fly for less than $10 on budget airlines: No. Never. Only when pigs fly. Yes, there are occasions when various low-cost carriers advertise $9 fare sales, especially in Europe. I was in London last year when Ryanair did this (tickets were 9 pounds, in that case), and the British press slaughtered the event with great glee, booking theoretical tickets all around Europe that, when you added in the fees, taxes, surcharges and other extras, often came to a minimum of 100 pounds round-trip.

    Some budget airlines have pushed the fee frenzy to the point that they charge for making the purchase, a deviously bizarre tactic if ever there was one: Yes, the fare may be $9 one way, but you have to pay an extra $10 fee to buy that $9 fare. In other words, you have to pay to pay.

    You must have an International Drivers Permit to drive overseas: My American license has been sufficient in Germany, Finland, Sweden and the U.K. Generally speaking, visitors to most developed countries may drive with a legal license from their home country, as long as they are there for less than six months (in Great Britain, less than a year). However, it’s a really good idea to just pay the $10 that AAA charges for an IDP — it’s an extra layer of documentation that can allay the suspicions of the local traffic officer in Krakow who believes you were driving 20 kilometers over the speed limit.

    The best time to buy travel is about six weeks before you go: The worldwide travel slump has thrown all such generalities out the window. Airplane seats, rental cars, hotel rooms and other travel items such as tours are commodities — especially now that billions of people worldwide can buy anything online — and commodity prices fluctuate in ways that even Einstein wouldn’t be able to predict.

    Last January, for instance, you could have booked six months ahead for a 21-day South American journey or a 10-day Mediterranean cruise at unheard-of prices, sometimes $50/night. On the other hand, for the past six months I’ve consistently found the best rental-car prices by booking less than a week in advance; often, the same has held true for hotel rooms. It all depends on where you want to go, in what season and for how long. If continually saving money is your goal, continually tracking prices is the best strategy. You’ll learn how the particular market operates, and you’ll learn to recognize great prices when they pop up.

    Now that I’ve debunked all these myths, get out there and start compiling your own catalog of things you thought you knew about travel that simply aren’t true. You’ll be a wiser and better citizen of the world for doing so.

  2. #2
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    fellow traveller
    Posts
    52,513

    Default

    a lot of these are true. however a lot of them need to be nuanced.

    like the trains v. planes one. yes, it's true that you can find plane tickets that cost less than the train. however, you have to book a lot of time in advance. or not care where you go: for instance, if you're just looking to get away and will go to the first nice place that's cheap to fly to. but say you really want/need to go to one city, and didn't book 2 months in advance, chances are the train will still be cheaper.

    Jeans and sneakers brand you in Europe as an American rube: No, Europeans from the Baltic to the Mediterranean now all wear jeans and running shoes while they’re out and about during the day. However, you won’t see many Europeans clad this informally for evening events, so put on some slacks and a jacket for dinner. Want to make sure you look like a rube? Wear a polyester track suit.
    yes, it's true you see a lot of europeans in jeans and sneakers. BUT in the vast majority of cases, point someone out who's wearing jeans and sneakers and i can still tell you without having to hear him/her speak if they are european or american.
    because in 90% of the cases, the euro will be wearing jeans with a more fashionable/euro cut (especially if it's men we're talking about) in a darker denim, with a tighter fit, whereas americans favour baggier pants and you see a lot more light denim, and the sneaker will be of a casual wear style like pumas or adidas or camper, or retro style running shoes, rather than actual gym shoes in bright white.
    you know, this :


    v. what you usually see american tourists wear:


    It’s easy to use your phone in Europe or Asia: Yes, that’s the case if you are a tech genius, can “unlock” your phone, buy a SIM card, manage to open the phone and swap cards, pick the right local network and chat with the “help” staff in Croatian. And the “global” phones being advertised now by U.S. cell companies? These aren’t your ordinary everyday cell phones; you have to buy an upgraded model and sign up for extra-cost service. My family travels in Europe enough that we simply bought a European cell phone.
    are american phones different from phones everywhere else or is this guy retarded?
    i still have the same sony ericsson phone i had while living in switzerland. when i was there, it would automatically work whenever i changed countries, even when i was in brazil for a holiday. a couple of times it didn't work automatically, and then all i had to do was go to the 'mobile networks' section of the menu and adjust it manually. and i'm no tech wiz.

    and when i moved here, i just bought a sim card and changed cards on my phone. it's really not difficult.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

  3. #3
    Elite Member calcifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    3,861

    Default

    i once paid 28€ to go to the south of belgium. most overpriced train ride in my life. but i also once paid 400€ to fly to amsterdam.

    one thing i noticed on my train travels, is that a lot of people don't seem to know that when you travel internationally it's cheaper to get a ticket to the border & then ask for an additional one to cover the rest of your ride.

    and it really sucks that a lot of train connections got cancelled when air travel became cheaper. there used to be a night train to milan but it got cancelled. and there used to be a direct connection ghent - moscow. my dad took it when he went to vladivostok, more than 25 years ago, said it was brilliant.
    a lot of ferry connections got cancelled too since the eurostar became the main line between the uk & the continent. a bit of shame, i liked those ferry connections.

    also, wikitravel is a great site when you're looking for cheap connections, transportation, transfers etc.

  4. #4
    Elite Member cupcake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tampa Bay florida
    Posts
    4,804

    Default

    Dont forget your tips on the cruise another reason to not leave your wallet home. Many people to tip
    My grace is sufficient for you, for my my strength is made perfect in weakness...I love you dad!
    Rip Mom

  5. #5
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    28,353

    Default

    No sput, I bought a really nice cell from vodafone in spain and it would not work once i moved here. I even got some cell phone tech guy try to unlock it and it wouldn't work. Just a useless expensive phone, totally locked up.

  6. #6
    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    34,698

    Default

    My husbands Aunt & Uncle have flown to Europe two times recently. BOTH TIME and in BOTH DIRECTIONS, they were asked if they wanted to sit in First Class (they had Coach tickets). THEY SWEAR TO ME this happened. And the Aunt says it was because she looked 'good'.

    I don't think they would lie about this, especially the Uncle, as he has nothing to gain from it (neither does the Aunt except a 'reputation' to uphold)....so, I dunno if that one is necessarily true or not.

    Damn, I just saw them yesterday too...I will ask them next time I see them again. Now I am curious.

  7. #7
    Zee
    Zee is offline
    Elite Member Zee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Camping with Einstein
    Posts
    5,469

    Default

    I get moved to first class- don't know why I'm approached- usually get two little bottle of gins, pocket them and spend the rest of the flight getting ready.

    Best place to buy sim card is 7 11 in any asian country. Always works and they have dim sum in some stores.

    Absolute worst part of travelling is being on a plane that is grounded on the runway. It's survival of the fittest. I HATE DFW AIRPORT!!!
    Drive a car, drive a boat, drive a plane. What does it matter? As long as I'm drunk!
    pəʇɐɔɐɯnpə ɹ ı

  8. #8
    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Middle America
    Posts
    12,311

    Default

    American cell phone networks are based on CDMA technology and Europe's are a GSM network, and they aren't compatible. At least, that's what I was told a few years ago.

  9. #9
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    fellow traveller
    Posts
    52,513

    Default

    ^^^
    i've always gotten roaming in the US, canada and latin america when i traveled there with my swiss mobile. sometimes if they didn't automatically work i just had to fiddle with the settings and switch the settings but it always worked and this was in the last 4-5 years. and when i moved to south america at the end of last year, i kept my phone and just bought a new sim card.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Debunking myths about the "Third World", interesting video
    By Aella in forum Politics and Issues
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: February 25th, 2008, 07:16 PM
  2. Debunking the 'Liberal Media' myth
    By Grimmlok in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: September 20th, 2007, 11:39 AM
  3. Replies: 6
    Last Post: July 23rd, 2007, 04:56 PM
  4. Replies: 36
    Last Post: May 8th, 2006, 03:21 AM
  5. Replies: 24
    Last Post: January 25th, 2006, 01:04 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •