The Most Insane Travel Myths... Busted!
Bigfoot, Atlantis, cheaper plane tickets on Tuesdays… all myths. That's right: Bigfoot's not real, nor is he buying a flight to Nassau midweek to save cash. Since myths have been passed down, embellished, re-purposed, and accepted as truth, we thought it time to gather six travel falsehoods and go all Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman on them (except without all the weird shooting of cannonballs and car crashes).
Everyone speaks some semblance of EnglishYou'll likely be able to get by in major global metropolises, but don't count on a single cab driver, most restaurant staff, or even many hoteliers in Mainland China to have a clue what you're saying. Similarly, there's a romantic notion Stateside that all Europeans are remarkably bi-, tri-, or quad-lingual, but it's not true. Why should the waiter in Avignon speak any more English than your local McDonald's cashier speaks French? The least you can do is carry around a translator; everyone already knows you're a tourist -- own it.
Duty free's a good dealUnless you're scoring a magnum of Jim Beam and cartons of smokes, duty free isn't really a great deal most of the time. About 1/3 of items purchased are high-end products like bags, sunglasses & jewelry; and even though the items are tax free at the airport, they're often marked up beyond what they'd cost in outside stores. Exception: Countries with steep taxes on booze. Landing in Australia? Stock up before catching your 'roo into the city, where pre-gaming's noticeably more expensive.
Pick-pockets run rampantMost destinations where tourism's big are safer than you think. Is there a chance you'll get pick-pocketed on Las Ramblas in Barcelona, or riding the Paris Metro? Of course, but it could also happen in a place like Wilmington, NC, and that's where Dawson's Creek was filmed (mad safe). There are, however, some general rules to follow to ensure your wallet stays where it belongs: DON'T keep it in your back pocket when you're in a crowd, DON'T whip out a map on the street, revealing yourself to be a clueless tourist, and DO wear a wolf t-shirt -- they're badass and no one messes with people in wolf shirts. It's a fact.
Your souvenirs were made locallyUnless you're in Honduras or China, chances are those "authentic" goods the vendors are wildly shaking in your face were made elsewhere… like China or Honduras. While most people say they buy said tchotchke as a reminder of their trip, this is BS; you bought it so you can drop it into conversations back home -- admit it.
Charlie: "Hey, is anyone going to Phil's tonight? I heard it's going to be a great party."
Recently-returned-home-from-traveling person: "I hope no one will think it's weird if I wear my new Thai fisherman's pants and pashmina. Both are wardrobe staples in Southeast Asia."
Charlie: "Who the hell are you?"