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The Worst Advice

Some but perhaps not all of us have received bad trip advice based on preconceived notions or based on the experience of others.
Most if not all turn out to be false and one day in the middle of the trip you realize just the opposite.
I was told people on Europe could be rude and not speak to me in English even though they had the ability to do so.
Did I encounter a few rude souls? Heck, I don't need to leave my town to do that.
But most people I met we're warm and friendly and made the trip that much more special.

Posted by
5019 posts

Take a night train instead of spending money for a hotel.

(In fairness, I suspect this technique was probably discovered by it's author back when he was a young backpacker, it probably seemed like a neat trick at the time, and in those days saving a few Deutschmarks may have been more important to him than getting a few hours sleep - for me, it has only made me miserable.)

Posted by
20634 posts

I have seen little bad advice based on experience. Have seen a lot of bad advice based on reading three guidebooks or an internet search leading someone to believe that they are an expert. Or someone who takes one experience and expands it to cover everything. Some are classic. And, most important, always consider the source for the advice.

Posted by
852 posts

I took a couple of night trains in my younger days--good memories! It's about adventure as much as saving money/time. You wouldn't want to do too many, and these days many routes have been discontinued.

Posted by
915 posts

Don't go to Turkey, it's way too scary there. We went the week of the Boston marathon bombing and it was odd to watch news coverage of an event taking place in a "safe" area while we had a very lovely and uneventful time.

Public transport is hard to figure out-use taxis. Said by a woman who's been to Europe multiple times but has never taken public transit-not even in London.

Don't go there-it's way too touristy. Probably because the place has some amazing sites.

Posted by
6543 posts

The more you smile, the better you will be treated.

Posted by
3318 posts

Take US$. Them foreigners love real money. Foreign money is too hard to figure out anyway

From an uncle who was in Berlin during WWII and the Korean and Cold War eras as a driver for a General.

Couldn't have been more wrong in today's world.

Posted by
1573 posts

I can’t think of bad advice just advice I didn’t take because it didn’t fit me.

Don’t go to Naples as a woman alone. I did and it is a favorite travel memory.

Don’t go to Turkey: I’m going in October.

Posted by
321 posts

Don't make reservations. Buy a Eurorail Pass & travel when and where you wish. Be free!
Of course this was 25 years ago. Still, almost ended up spending the night in a park.

Posted by
5318 posts

My mother -- "You want to go to Europe? With the war on ??"
This was 1969. Never did figure out which war she referred to, but we went and it was wonderful!

Posted by
1084 posts

"Don't travel solo, you're a woman."
I've done it for years, and always have a great and safe time.
"Everyone speaks English."
Well, they don't always; and isn't it much nicer to see someone's face light up when you try and speak to them in their language?

Posted by
40 posts

Regarding travel in Germany:
1. Get an international driver's license (rented a car for a week, didn't need it)
2. Gas stations only take cash and are only open until 6
3. Most hotels and AirBnBs have US outlets

All of this came (unsolicited) from a friend who lived in Germany for 3 years!

Regarding other parts of Europe
4. You can use American money
5. Don't take cash from an ATM, get it at the airport.

The worst advice ever was my own: I had visited relatives in Germany as a teenager. During college, my sister and I traveled there together. I told her not to pack too many shorts because everyone wore pants, even the teens. Well, when we arrived at FRA our teenage cousin was wearing shorts. My sister wanted to kill me! We each wore the same pair of shorts almost daily. She still hasn't forgiven me!

We had one other fashion faux pas: we were in Munich and were going to meet some friends at a disco. My sister put on canvas Ked tennis shoes - she looked adorable - and our relative told us we wouldn't be allowed in because she was wearing "sport" shoes. She was horrified and blamed me (really, she just couldn't get over the shorts issue). We had to find another disco to go to!

Posted by
976 posts

Advice I have seen and would not think of taking: Don't take pictures, you can buy a photo book with all the famous monuments you are visiting and they are much better pictures than you would have taken (As if that is the point of a picture) and dear lord never ever, by all means, never take a selfie! Oh and NO selfie stick, because no one uses common sense when using one.

I love me some selfies and my selfie stick! I really want to see OUR perspective of OUR experience and yes we want to see our big fat faces smiling out of the picture. I get a big smile on my face every time I notice the picture at home of me and hubby downing a Guinness in Dublin, the night cruise in Paris or us at the beach in Positano. Between two trips taken to Paris 15 months apart my pictures at the Eiffel Tower look totally different from each other. The first trip had open spaces around the base of the tower, the second had big white fences barring entrance. Who knew this would happen? I am so very glad I took those pictures when it was open with no fences. I take photos of anything that strikes me as worth remembering or that my parents or children would find interesting.

Posted by
569 posts

Don't stay overnight in Cordoba. There is nothing there except the Mezqiuita. And Cordoba is gritty.
So glad I didn't listen to my SIL who said this. I went with my gut (and advice from guidebooks and travel forum posters) and stayed overnight in Cordoba for 2 nights last year. And it was one of our favorite cities.

Don't go to Malaga. It's a sleazy place with drunken spring breakers! Again, so glad I went with my gut instincts. We stayed 2 nights in Malaga, and loved it! It's a beautiful city with lots to do.

Everyone speaks English! not true at all , especially in the countryside. I used a phrasebook in Poland, and we were able to get by on our way to a castle near the Ukrainian border. And, yes, people, like it when you attempt to say a few words in their language.

Posted by
3951 posts

On this forum- DON’T go to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is too touristy and overpriced. How does one not go to one of the most iconic landmarks in the world for the cost of a pizza? It was one of the most memorable experiences for us in our 6 trips to Italy in the past four years. I guess a similar sentiment would be, why travel when you can buy a picture book?

This is the problem with advice, it's all subjective. I found the Leaning Tower of Pisa to be quite underwhelming. I don't advocate it but I acknowledge that many people are impressed with it. I guess a lot is down to what you're used to.

Posted by
3263 posts

In general, we've been disappointed by café and restaurant recommendations whether they come from guidebooks, locals or the experience of others. The number of losers have outweighed the number of winners.

We've had much better luck strolling along, looking at menus, looking at what people are eating, listening for the language people are speaking and choosing a place to eat that way.

Posted by
8631 posts

I have seen little bad advice based on experience. Have seen a lot of bad advice based on reading three guidebooks or an internet search leading someone to believe that they are an expert. Or someone who takes one experience and expands it to cover everything. Some are classic. And, most important, always consider the source for the advice.

This.

And to add to it, those who have been told by a third party about something. These usually start "I have been told" or "I have it on good authority."

Regarding guidebooks....realize that a lot of the advice might be dated or the author's personal preference.

But the worst advice I ever got was from a travel agent decades ago who said prior to my first trip to Europe that I should take a cruise instead. (I learned later her commission was higher on the cruise.) I went to Europe with the help of a different travel agent.

Posted by
4472 posts

On this forum- DON’T go to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is too touristy and overpriced.
How does one not go to one of the most iconic landmarks in the world for the cost of a pizza? It was one of the most memorable experiences for us in our 6 trips to Italy in the past four years. I guess a similar sentiment would be, why travel when you can buy a picture book?

This is the problem with advice, it's all subjective. I found the Leaning Tower of Pisa to be quite underwhelming. I don't advocate it but I acknowledge that many people are impressed with it. I guess a lot is down to what you're used to.

Similar with regards to advice on whether or not to visit Stonehenge, which also comes up frequently.

Posted by
5032 posts

Most people who come here for help should recognize that what they will get are opinions from anonymous strangers, who just happen to feel like responding and are on the forum that day, and may or may not know what they're talking about. Thats just the inherent risk of internet forums. While there are still some people who come here thinking that its RS himself that will respond with the one true answer, that's on them.

Worst advice - don't travel to Europe alone - it won't be any fun. That was from friends and family, not the internet.

Posted by
1217 posts

Dress up and tell the airline gate agent you're on your honeymoon- they'll put you in first class for no additional cost.

Posted by
614 posts

Most of the advice I have received on experience has been worthwhile. The most common advice that I have received in the last number of years is it is too dangerous. Got this advice when there was an international protest or attack, including when I went to Istanbul after the Tasksim square protests, Barcelona after the terrorist attack and the separatist vote, London after the tube bombing. Traveling has its risks, but it didn’t take away from the amazing experiences I had in each place. I am glad that I went.

Posted by
694 posts

Just this week, "Don't eat any dairy products in Italy."
Over and over again: "Make your husband go with you, you shouldn't be traveling on your own."

Posted by
68 posts

Could not agree more Sandy.
Travel does come with some degree of risk but common sense, basic precautions, and an attitude that says you are not going to allow any group from stopping your adventures.

Posted by
258 posts

Not really advice but what I thought at the time I needed to do: Use a travel agent. I must say that using an agent for the flight portion of an earlier trip to Europe when the volcano blew was a good choice because she did the flight re-arranging while I enjoyed the extra days in Switzerland but I haven't used an agent in years. I have learned that my travel experience has greatly exceeded the level of the agent.

Posted by
557 posts

Bad advice we did not take:

Driving in Italy is a nightmare.

The farther south you go in Italy, the more intense and chaotic it gets (SOOOOOO not true of Puglia and the interior of Campania).

Such-and-such a site or museum or town or city is only "worth" some tiny amount of time ---- I sort of understand what people mean when they say that, and that many tourists only have a week or two for a trip, and that's it's just an opinion, but an unsupported, unexplained statement such as "Venice is worth two days" seems like ridiculously poor advice.

Posted by
4500 posts

Take a night train instead of spending money for a hotel.

(In fairness, I suspect this technique was probably discovered by it's
author back when he was a young backpacker, it probably seemed like a
neat trick at the time, and in those days saving a few Deutschmarks
may have been more important to him than getting a few hours sleep -
for me, it has only made me miserable.)

This might have been me in college. Not only did I take overnight trains to save on hotel costs, I would take them even when staying in the same city multiple nights. Take the overnight train, get off about halfway, catch the returning night train to arrive in original city the next morning. Good advice? Well, lots of very groggy and grubby days. Boarding night trains when everyone is asleep already and having to sleep on the floor in the aisle. And once I missed getting off at the right station and missed the return train. But it all built character...

Posted by
12103 posts

Whether advice as such is "bad trip" or not, the main thing is if you believe it or not or allow such bits of advice to dictate your trip and travel style. In Germany, England and Austria I travel solo. When I travel with family in the rest of Europe, I have to abide by their considerations, ie my flexibility in travel style is curtailed. Traveling solo I stay near train stations, small hotels and Pensionen right there, I take night trains, this last trip in May three night train rides, set my agenda and priorities as to what to see and where to go.

The most frequent advice told to me by Americans here prior to going to France in 1973 was don't talk German to them since you can't speak any French. I used English and German off and on, no set rules. Not talking German to French people on my subsequent trips was not an option. Never had a negative reaction. They can always say no to the question if they speak German or not...simple as that.

I would say if the advice given were not " false," then I would label it as inaccurate. You yourself know what you can do, be it language wise, spending, taking trains, day or night, pacing yourself as to energy level and setting aside down time, etc.....no problems.

Posted by
5730 posts

Worst advice is not to drive in Italy! Have always rented cars there and never had problems. Sicily was challenging but now that I understand how they drive, I will continue to drive there.
Bad advice from a travel agent- to stay on Right Bank in Paris. We left the first hotel on Right Bank and went to the Left Bank where we have stayed on subsequent trips.

Posted by
8889 posts

In Scotland, men's toilets are indicated by a silhouette of a man wearing a kilt (don't blame me, its not my joke)
In the London tube, you must always say hello to other passengers when you get on the train.

Posted by
2867 posts

Re: guide books
You need to figure out which ones suit your travel style. I discovered that many years ago when I bought “Let’s Go.” We booked a well-rated hotel, and had to leave after one night. It was truly awful. We later learned that that series is aimed at college students. I’ve had 2 bad experiences with RS recommendations, too. I think his “quirky” is my “not acceptable.”
With the internet, there is no need for using a guide book for lodgings, or for restaurants, for that matter. I like the Cadogan guides for sightseeing, but you can now find all the things to do at any locale, on TripAdvisor.

Posted by
13968 posts

Chris's In the London tube, you must always say hello to other passengers when you get on the train. I am actually LOL.

Posted by
90 posts

In '79 when I first travelled to Europe, the greatest example of misguided advice was you could do Europe on ten dollars a day. This fantasy was promoted by the Frommer publishing house. I can remember bumping into a group of young American guys in Norway who pointed out that if Arthur Frommer had been standing in front of them they would have simultaneously pelted him with their copies of his book.
A great piece of advice from that book was how to eat on the cheap eg go into an ethnic restaurant and order a bowl of plain steamed rice which you could then jazz up by pouring soy sauce over it.

Posted by
1950 posts

On night-trains - it depends on whether you have a couchette or not. If you do, they can be fun and romantic.

No couchette - a wasted night, and a sleepy next day.

We made the mistake of taking the "night-train" from Frankfurt to Berlin. It had a layover - from 12M to 2:45 AM in Hannover, with no sleeping place and NO OPEN BATHROOMS. Woo. That was rough. The next day was terrible. We won't do that again.

Posted by
1950 posts

Bad advice: Don't stay in hostels.

We love hostels. They are inexpensive. They are filled with young people, not old farts like us. They have private rooms that are inexpensive, often with baths down the hall - that's fine, I don't go to Europe to spend hours in the bathroom. I'm a "quick in-and-out" kind of a guy.

Posted by
141 posts
  1. Get an international driver's license (rented a car for a week, didn't need it)

Only because a cop didn't pull you over and ask to see it.

How about seat belts and airbags? I rented a car for a week and never needed them.

Posted by
35 posts

The worst travel-related advice I've ever gotten is that the people in France are unfriendly. I have found the opposite to be true. If you avoid interrupting people that appear to be in a hurry to get somewhere, and if you try to use just a little French when you speak, they are the friendliest people in the world.

Which brings me to one of my favorite travel experiences. Once, we were in Paris, and we were looking for the Hotel De Ville. I saw a French policeman standing about 20 feet away, so I walked up to him and asked, using my very limited French, "Excusez-moi, monsieur, où est l'hôtel de ville?" He points down the street, speaking French, none of which I understood. So he turns back towards me, notices the look of panic on my face, pauses, breaks into a smile, shakes his head and wags his finger at me, and says, "Oh, monsieur, your accent very good." That made my day.

Posted by
12103 posts

",,,speaking French none of which I understood." An accurate description that brings back memories when I was in Fontanebleau in 1989 looking for the Napoleon Museum. The summer day was a scorcher. I decided to ask the woman at the kiosk opposite from the Chateau.

So, I had memorized the question in grammatically correct textbook French and with notebook in hand, I asked this older woman. She doesn't respond but beckons me to let her see the address of the Museum written in the notebook. Upon seeing the address, she starts going on and on. Obviously, I didn't get any of it. I had a hunch she was pointing in the direction of the Museum Then I asked finally, "Ouelle direction?" Still, not good French. Again, she goes on and on. Again, no comprehension by me.

I thought, "I think she means in that direction." I thanked her, "merci bien, Madame," went in what I presumed was the correct direction. . It was and got to that Museum within next 30 mins or so.

I have encountered locals who presumably had some or a good level of English and did NOT want to use it with you, German and French to be specific.

Posted by
332 posts

Pretty much any and all food/restaurant advice from anybody who weren't foodies. By foodies, I'm referring to those who appreciate food preparation and sourcing as much as taste; notice I didn't say anything about stars/ratings, ambiance, setting, etc...

My first trip to Europe, I got a bunch of advice from relatives from St.Louis/Chicago/Houston, I was skeptical so, I made a list of places they provided. I ate at the first couple of them, all underwhelming disappointments, more int'l diners than locals, food was ho-hum and pricing was more than I was expecting (oh, Italy is so cheap). The second half of the trip, I struck-out on my own, chatted with locals about locations and had my own list of places I was interested in, much, much better. I figured-out that, while well meaning and earnest, they didn't dine-out that often, were enamored with shiny signs and locations, and dismissed small alleys and closet-sized places.

When it comes to advice, you gotta keep it in perspective, by who's providing it and their background.

Worst Advice 1). Uncle lived in Rome for over 6 months. Gave us horrible advice on a place to stay. Booked it on booking.com. (Long Story.) So, we had to immediately find another place. I no longer trust my uncle for travel info..
2). Frommer's guidebook - NY City gangster museum. This was nearly a total bust. (Other info. was great though.)
3). I use caution when my husband selects restaurants. He has a tendency to choose the worst places. I now double check his picks on tripadvisor as much as I can before we go. I also use this forum and RS or other guidebook for info..

Posted by
141 posts

“Everyone speaks English” - only true if you only stay in areas with large amounts of tourists or businesses requiring English. Knowing even just a handful of words in the local language can make a world of difference in the experience.

The worst advice is actually the absence of advice regarding basic social norms in many travel guides. For example: in France, one should always say ‘bonjour’ first. Every guidebook to France should start with this very simple tip.