7 Travel myths debunked

Richard Mellor

From duty-free savings to the potency of airplane alcohol, it’s time to reconsider some classic beliefs…

“Cruising is all-inclusive”

Each cruise line tends to have its own name for fares, and often these are thought to be all-inclusive like a resort. In truth, they rarely are.

The majority of shore excursions tend to cost extra, as often do speciality meals, spa treatments, alcoholic beverages, classes and some evening entertainment.

So if the rate seems too good to be true… well, you know the rest.

Duty free is cheaper

Duty-free shops are exempt to customs taxes in the relevant country because they aren’t technically being imported into the country.

That doesn’t mean the shops can’t drastically mark up the goods, though. Five years ago, for example, an investigation by The Times found a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that were £84 more expensive at Dubai airport than if purchased online. Things haven’t changed since.

Though sometimes there is real value to be found, most times that’s not the case. Do some research before you travel.

 

Arriving late increases your upgrade chances

Afraid not. If anything, showing up early gives you slightly better odds. But nothing else increases your upgrade chances quite like being a frequent flier or member of the airline/group’s loyalty programme.

See our guide for other ways to play the airline upgrade game—including moaning like a trooper, dressing well and choosing your battles.

 

Waiting for a last minute deal is the cheapest way to buy air tickets

In 2014, research by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation suggested that the cheapest flight prices were available precisely 57 (domestic routes) or 171 (international) days before departure.

If airlines need to reduce fares to fill a slow-booking flight, they’ll be organised enough to do this well in advance, not at the 11th hour.

You get drunk more quickly on a plane

In the 1930s, a study by American psychologist R. A. McFarland concluded, correctly, that alcoholic drinks enjoyed at high altitude are four or five times more potent.

That’s all very well, but airplanes are rigorously set up to ensure cabin pressure as close to what we enjoy on normal, low ground—so passengers are, effectively, insulated from the altitude element.

Still certain that you get sozzled quicker up in the air? Maybe blame it on the giddy excitement of travel, instead.

 

Everyone speaks English

In Scandinavian cities this can seem true—some ten-year-olds there can boast better English than Brits themselves.

But while hospitality professionals across the world are uniformly expected to possess the language, and while native English speakers are in the luxurious position of finding comprehension in so many geographical corners, it’s less common than you might think.

Make efforts to learn another tongue—Spanish and Mandarin will prove especially helpful—or simply a few key words and phrases for where you’re going. If nothing else, your efforts will be met with smiles and gratitude.

The sharing economy isn't safe

Staying in a private house with some stranger? Letting a random drive you around? To many people, such antics seem a demonstrably risky move.

In reality, sharing-economy platforms like Airbnb, Uber and Couchsurfing are rigorous about safety. They also inspire trust by offering comprehensive user feedback: if that VizEat dinner party host has spared the last 834 diners, chances are he won’t murder you either.

Sure, you’ll hear scaremonger stories. But those make the news precisely because they are the exception, rather than the rule.