Does dressing up get you upgraded to first class on a flight? Does booking in the middle of the night get you any break on price? Is a woman traveling by herself most at risk in a foreign country?
Those travel myths are more common than you might think. Not that they’re outlandish questions, but just that they seem like something that a traveler might think gives them an advantage or something that could go the other way.
ConsumerAffairs asked Gabby Beckford, travel influencer and expert behind Packs Light, about common travel myths. And she said there are several that simply aren’t true.
Traveling does not always cost an arm or a leg
“There’s a myth that anything that’s not familiar is dangerous and I’ve actually found that it’s the opposite. There are safe people and places everywhere you go that can be found by doing your research and asking locals before traveling,” she said.
But the idea that travel is expensive no matter who you are is far from the truth. Taking a cue from Beckford, ConsumerAffairs found “repositioning cruises” that can take people on a 12-night excursion across the Atlantic for as little as $469 a person as well as flights to Europe in the $500 range.
Beckford says that a lot of these myths are borne out of some marketing whiz trying to make something seem more exciting than it really is.
For example, she points to “you have to book your flight at 4 am on a Tuesday to get the best deal” which sounds a lot more exhilarating than “you should be strategic and plan/book your trip in advance to get the best deal.”
“As for circulating that travel is always expensive, I think that can be a default answer for someone who doesn’t want to invest the time into doing the research to find good deals and to plan their dream trip," Beckford said.
"People often end up taking a more local trip because it’s ‘cheaper,’ but end up spending the same amount of money as they would on a trip abroad."
She cautions that expenses and high prices can definitely be a concern, but there are ways to work around that. As for the myth that travel is dangerous?
“It’s human nature to think that something unknown is dangerous. It’s easier to default to that assumption rather than putting yourself out there, taking a risk and experiencing something new for yourself,” she said.
An insider's tricks
When ConsumerAffairs asked Beckford for some examples from her bag of tricks, she had lots to offer. For example, to find same-day slashed prices on hotels, she uses @hoteltonight and @thriftytraveler for flight deals and error fares.
She's also a fan of Google Flights which has the "Explore" feature that shows highly-discounted fares from a person's home airport.
Another tactic is "travel hacking" – the process of signing up for travel credit cards and collecting credit card points, hotel points, and/or airline miles you can cash in for free flights, flight upgrades, hotel stays, transportation, and more.
This technique is a bit of a rabbit hole, but Gabby and other travel bloodhounds say using your travel to "pay" for travel has a big payoff for those who invest the time.