Many people hold misconceptions about travel that are born out of rumors, misinformation, and a fear of the unknown. Most imply that you need to be rich, that only certain privileged people can travel, and that common life situations make it impossible to see the world. But safe and affordable travel is actually possible. Here are seven common travel myths that are flat-out wrong.
1. Traveling is too expensive
There’s no doubt about it, traveling can absolutely be expensive. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. If you’re booking luxury cruises and five-star hotels every time you go on vacation, then yes, you’ll need lots of cash. There are endless ways to make traveling easier on your budget, though, and all while enjoying a fantastic standard of living.
Choosing the right destinations is key, and outside of the U.S., many places are far cheaper on everything from food to accommodation. You can use travel rewards credit cards to save hundreds of dollars per year and get free travel perks. And timing your trip is another way to keep costs down, simply by traveling outside of peak seasons.
2. Travel credit cards are bad for your finances
Credit cards are only as dangerous as the person wielding them, so it’s completely inaccurate to assume that the cards themselves are dangerous for your finances. When used correctly, travel rewards cards can actually be of huge benefit for travelers. They’re a great way to earn free bonuses just for doing your everyday spending, and savvy travelers use them to score everything from free flights to free hotel stays.
Rewards credit cards are most suitable for people who are already debt-free and able to pay off their balance each month. It’s also important not to increase your spending in order to gather rewards, as this will rarely make financial sense.
3. Couchsurfing is unsafe
Couchsurfing sometimes gets a bad rap, and people tend to focus on the few horror stories that appear in the news. The reality is that most people have a fantastic experience when couchsurfing, and trouble with hosts or guests is extremely rare. Travel blogger Rachel Jones is a fan of couchsurfing, and has found that it gives her a more immersive local experience. She has even made long-lasting friendships through it. (See also: 13 Ways to Get Free Travel Accommodations)
There are precautionary steps you should take as a guest when looking for a couchsurfing opportunity that is right for you. First, read the host profiles carefully, particularly the reviews, as these will give you an insight into the person you’ll be staying with. Second, always give a friend or family member the address you’re heading to before you go, and arrange to check in with them throughout your stay. Finally, don’t be afraid to walk away. If alarm bells ring in your head, listen to your instincts and leave.
4. Traveling with kids is a nightmare
Traveling with kids can be difficult, and it’s certainly more complicated than traveling alone. But that doesn’t mean that it should stop you from doing it. There are plenty of families successfully navigating the world with multiple kids in tow, and absolutely loving the experience.
Some destinations are more child-friendly than others, so it pays to do your research before choosing. It will also take a bit more planning to find suitable accommodations and ensure you have packed everything you need to make the trip enjoyable for everyone. But there are lots of useful resources filled with great information to help you out. (See also: How to Handle World Travel With Your Family)
5. Traveling solo is too dangerous for women
There’s an entire genre of travel blogging that has grown out of the desire to crush the belief that solo travel is inherently dangerous for women. Not only is it outdated and sexist, but it’s also incorrect. There are female solo travelers making their way to every corner of the globe, safely and expertly.
That’s not to say that there aren’t precautions that solo female travelers should take to keep themselves safe. But they’re exactly the same ones that apply to any kind of solo traveler, regardless of gender. Stay alert, do your research, don’t tell strangers where you’re staying, do let close friends and family know where you’re going, and consider joining a tour group if you’re uncomfortable on your own. (See also: 6 Unexpected Benefits of Solo Travel)
6. You can’t work overseas
While it’s not as simple as packing up, boarding a flight, and finding a suitable position in your chosen country, it’s not impossible to work overseas. For 18–30-year-olds, there are working holiday visas that the U.S. government has set up with New Zealand, Ireland, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia that allow you to work overseas for up to two years with relatively few restrictions.
If you don’t qualify for one of those, then you can still work overseas as long as you have the correct visa. You should also be aware of U.S. tax regulations, meaning you’ll likely still have to file returns. (See also: 5 Tax Myths That Can Be Costly for Expats)
7. You have to have enough money for your whole trip before you leave
If you’re planning on traveling for a long period of time, it can be daunting to save up the exact amount of money you need to cover your whole journey. But the truth is, you don’t have to. It’s entirely possible to set off with a limited amount of cash and earn money as you make your way around the world.
There are countless ways to make money while you travel that are open to anyone, and if you have some skills that enable you to work remotely, then even better. From hospitality work to web design, there are lots of occupations you can do from anywhere in the world. Just make sure you’ve saved enough to get yourself started before hitting the road. (See also: 15 Ways to Make Money While You Travel)