Travel writers and the so-called experts mean well, I get that. I’ve been there, either writing for an online publication or just scribbling from a place of good intentions sometimes we generate travel tips and words of advice that are just plain incorrect. Sometimes they can be misleading, sometimes they can be narrow-minded or tone deaf and other times they are just flat out wrong. So, I thought it was time to share some more words of advice on travel tips you’d be better off ignoring. (And yes, I realize the irony in all this.)
How to completely eliminate jet lag
Jet lag is an interesting physical malady and is NOT to be confused with general travel fatigue. I hear people all the time complain of jet lag when they’re just tired. That’s fine, they deserve to be tired, but it’s not always fair to blame jet lag. Classically defined, jet lag happens when you travel across several time zones, usually more than three, and when the body clock is no longer synchronized with the local time. This happens because we as humans experience daylight and darkness contrary to what we are used to, upsetting our primal rhythms. This in turn disrupts everything else, from when we are tired, hungry to even the regulation of hormones. When the body can’t quickly readjust to these changes then that, that is when we are truly jet lagged.
It also can’t be avoided, it is what it is. So when you see those click-bait articles promising to eliminate jet lag forever, they’re lying. Or, to be more generous, they’re misstating the truth in order to get you to click the link. While you can’t completely eliminate jet lag, you can mitigate the effects of it.
- Hydrate. Before, during and after the flight drink a lot of water and avoid coffee and alcohol.
- On your first travel day stay awake as long as possible. Plan a full and active day as soon as you land and try to stay awake until bedtime.
- Make sure to spend time in the sun if possible. Light is a key aspect of jet lag and its recovery, our body responds well to being in direct sunlight and it will help you acclimate faster.
How to be a travel blogger
In 2016, it seems that suddenly everyone wants to be a travel blogger. While I enjoy the profession, it’s not an easy one in the slightest and so I can only guess that new people emerging on the scene are looking for quick cash or free trips. They will be sorely disappointed if that’s their goal, but the fact remains that thousands see this as the path to quick success (hard to type through the tears of laughter) and so a cottage industry of classes, seminars and articles has sprung up to take advantage. A few are actually very good and helpful, most notably Travel Blog Success, but many more are worthless. Especially if they’re written by people who aren’t actually successful travel bloggers. This is an industry with no barrier to entry – anyone can attempt to do it. Just because someone says they’re a successful, professional travel blogger doesn’t actually mean they are one, so that’s something to watch out for. But other than the technical aspects of creating a web site, being a blogger really isn’t all that hard. No, instead people try it out, aren’t successful and then look for reasons why and for people to help them. The truth is that the only way to be successful is to have an incredible passion for the subject matter, work harder at it than you’ve ever worked for anything, do this for several years without any expectation of benefit and maybe you’ll be able to build an audience during this time. That’s it really. I wish there was a secret formula because then I could write my own guide, but there’s not. It’s hard work sprinkled with love and a little bit of luck.
Anything that promises to be the ULTIMATE or HIDDEN or OFF THE BEATEN PATH
I hate the word “ultimate,” a lot. That’s because so many writers, or wanna be writers, completely and utterly misuse it. A friend pointed this out to me a few months ago and ever since I’ve seen it everywhere; each new instance annoying me more than the ones previous. Ultimate has several meanings including: occurring at the end of a process; the best imaginable of its kind or a final/fundamental fact or principle. In none of these instances, therefore, should the word “ultimate” be used in the title of a travel article. It’s just not accurate. “The Ultimate Guide to Paris,” isn’t the last guide to be written on the city and I seriously doubt that it’s the best guide ever written, so why then use it? It makes no sense at all to me.
The same holds true for “off the beaten path” or “hidden”. These things simply do not exist. In the travel context there is no beaten path. There’s no definable trail through a city, not really. There are key sites, but insinuating you have discovered something at the same level as a key attraction and yet no one has been there is absurd. Everything is known – this information exists somewhere and I can almost guarantee you that the author didn’t just chance upon it. A better way to present this information is to say “Not often visited,” or “Boring places some people might find interesting.” But nothing is hidden and very little is off of any path, beaten or otherwise.
Only challenging travel experiences are worthwhile
The other day a travel writer friend and I had a social media conversation and while he was joking, he alluded to the fact that staying in a comfortable hotel was somehow a lower form of traveling. I know he was kidding, but only sort of. There exists in the travel writing world a level of arrogance that is simply inappropriate. Most are not average travelers, they’re some strange class of super-tourists and 99.9% of people just can’t relate to them. I heard a TV interview a few months ago and the travel “expert” on the panel recommended destinations so remote and unlikely, that it was actually laughable. It makes me sad though, I don’t think that there’s any real place for arrogance in travel and ultimately it doesn’t help anyone. No, instead what we need is a legion of humble travelers. We need more folks who instead of looking for the most difficult to reach places, visit places that are accessible and in the process help us better understand them and inspire us to also visit. None of this is new, TV programs and print magazines have followed this train of thought for a long time and it is just common sense. Most people travel to certain places, so let’s offer them advice on how to better visit these places. YES, there is a need to broaden people’s horizons, to teach them about destinations they may not have known about and encourage them to visit. But that must be done in moderation with everything else; it can’t be the only song in your playbook. So bloggers, take a cue from our friends the travel magazines and yes, travel to and write about fantastical spots, but also visit and write about more manageable destinations as well.
These are just some of the travel advice mistakes I’ve seen lately – what are some outrageous examples you’ve found?