Travel Myths

Travel and tall-stories go hand in hand, often resulting in common misconceptions about the art of holidaying. Sometimes the stories are spot on, while other times they're just entertaining. This week we've decided to look at a few of the more common myths about travelling and to pick apart their authenticity.

Got a popular travel myth to add? Drop us a comment and spill the beans…

Using Your Mobile During Take Off Will Affect The Aeroplane

Using phones on the plane

Short Answer: Depends on how you look at it.

The easiest way to stop passengers from doing something that annoys airline staff is to make people believe it could be deadly. It has been reported that wireless devices do affect the navigation tools and autopilot functions, but not in a way that could render a sober-minded pilot helpless against the interference. It probably won't cause the plane to crash, but would you really want to distract the people who are flying you and your loved ones thousands of feet above the ground? Besides, it's very rude and inconsiderate (not to mention against airline rules) to use your mobile device during the safety announcement. Failing to adhere to the rules will get you a hefty fine and possibly chucked off the flight.

A Nice Tie And A Cheeky Smile Will Get You Upgraded To Business/First Class

Short Answer: Probably not, but there's no harm in trying.

Everyone has a version of the following story: a bloke/ woman rocks up at the check-in counter wearing a nice suit/dress and charms the socks off the person behind the counter, swindling themselves a seat in First Class or Business Class. We've heard versions where sore backs have been mentioned, eyelashes batted, bribes have been offered and undignified begging has taken place, all in the name of that elusive upgrade. It has worked before. Probably. There really is no secret to it, though: you've just got to try your luck and see what happens. The worst they can say is 'no'.

Duty Free Shopping Is A Bargain

Duty Free Shopping

Short Answer: Not always…

Duty free shopping has been the number one time-killer at international airports for decades. It's the perfect tourist trap: booze, cigarettes, perfumes, designer clothing and jewellery without any import tax on the price tag. But since a nasty recession struck and online bargain-shopping has risen to prominence, just about everyone has started comparing prices before spending a penny, and travellers have started wondering whether or not ‘duty-free' still means ‘cheap'. Or if it ever did.

Duty-free isn't always cheaper. At a number of local airports, there is a policy on pricing goods less than at high street stores, but this isn't standard practice. There are reports of the duty-free shops at certain international airports being way higher and lower than in-store prices. The best thing you can do is shop at duty-free stores with your eyes peeled and your wits about you. Don't save your gift shopping for the duty-free zone at the airport, under the assumption that you'll find a bargain. If you spot a bottle of Mexican tequila for a fraction of the price at your local boozer, grab it and enjoy. But don't be surprised if all you can find is an averagely-priced bottles of perfume and the same ties you looked at back home.

I Don't Need A Plan While Backpacking

Short Answer: No, everyone does.

It's one thing to go backpacking with an open mind and a flexible schedule, but to hop off the plane without a clue about where you're staying or what you're looking for is foolish. Europe is slightly more relaxed, because there are trains, buses and budget airlines that'll have you back home within 24 hours. But trying to wing it around the Indonesian jungle or through the Australian Outback will have you calling mum and dad in tears in no time.

The best backpackers do their homework. Know where to go, or at least know what to tell the taxi driver with one eye, facial tattoos and no teeth who offered you a ride from the airport. Camping at a train station in a country you know nothing about will not be fun.

Hotels With Low Star Ratings Are Always Bad

Hotel Stars

Short Answer: Absolutely Not!

The star ratings system is a good place to start your assessment of a hotel, but by no means the last. In many cases the stars are based on certain amenities that physical location will dictate. For example, a really fancy hotel with great rooms, excellent staff and a fantastic restaurant may only be able to get three stars, because it cannot install an elevator – a requirement for four star hotels.

A bit of research and an open mind can have you staying at a 3 star luxury pad, while just going with what the stars say sometimes means staying at glorified bird cage with 5 stars. For a detailed explanation of the star ratings system, check out our article, What Do The Hotel Stars Mean?

You Will Find Dirt Cheap Flights At The Last Minute

Flight Prices

Short Answer: Sometimes.

Looking for last minute bargains can yield some spectacular results, but it's not always the case. One month before departure is the ideal time to fish for deals on medium distance flights, as airlines want to fill empty seats. You'll still have to sift through expensive flights, though. If you are 100% flexible about times and dates of travel, you can hit the jackpot by searching for last minute deals, but the odds are probably as high as hitting the actual jackpot in Vegas - one way or another, the house always wins. For more on why flight prices change so regularly and how to play the game read our Q&A

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Clayton Truscott

Clayton Truscott

Clayton is a comfortable traveller, having grown up in a small city that was far away from everything. He spent lots of time in the car as a child, driving up and down the coast of South Africa on surfing trips with his family. After studying abroad in the United States and spending a year working in London, he moved to Cape Town, where he completed a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. He now works as a freelance writer for various travel, surfing and action sports publications.