Our society may not believe in elves and fairies, but we still retain our own brand of legends. Urban legends proliferate out of nowhere and never seem to die, no matter how many times they’re disproved! Travel has its own line of urban legends, from the fun to the horrifying. I’ve collected my favorites to share with you. Do you believe any of these myths?
1. If you return your key card, the next guy can steal your credit card information
False! Nothing is stored in your key card besides the magnetic strip that let you into your room. This is an unfortunate myth, because it leads to many people throwing out their cards (“Just in case”) and wasting a ton of plastic. Those things add up! This wastage causes hundreds of thousands of extra cards to be produced unnecessarily. So stop throwing out your card and return it to the desk. Save the earth.
2. Cell phones make planes crash
This probably originated in the days when no electronics were allowed to be used on flights. In case you haven’t flown in the last few years, this is no longer the case. Fortunately, it’s not such a big deal anymore, thanks to the advent of WiFi on planes. And thank goodness for the WiFi! What would we do without Instagram and Snapchat on the plane? Probably shrivel and die…
3. Re-circulated air in planes makes you sick
Recirculated air in the planes does not make you sick. The sick guy next to you makes you sick. In fact, planes are such petri dishes of nastiness that the recirculated air is the least of your worries. If you want to avoid being sick, wipe down your tray tables, wash your hands a lot, and make sure you’re healthy and have a strong immune system before you get on the plane.
4. If the doors open in flight, everyone will get sucked out into the air
The most important thing to know is that it is physically IMPOSSIBLE to open the emergency doors while the airplane is in flight. The air pressure in the cabin exerts over 1000 pounds per square inch pushing the door into the closed position. So, unless Superman is on your flight and wigs out, that’s one less thing you have to worry about. Besides, you’re wearing your seatbelt, right?
5. The cheapest flights are the best value
Ha! I stopped believing this after taking a flight on an airline (that shall not be named now or hereafter) that is known for being ridiculously cheap. Well, guess what? Nothing is free. Apparently, that includes water, carry-ons, and the very air you breathe. My question is this: if you’re making me pay for my seat apart from my ticket price, is my other option to sit in the aisle? Because I have no problem doing that. If you can prevail against the nickel-and-diming, cheapskate tickets are great. But you plan on taking luggage, it might actually be more economical to pay for the more expensive ticket! You know—the one that comes with a seat. But I digress.
6. Cruises are for rich people
Well, some cruises might be for rich people. The rest of us aren’t going to cruise the Mediterranean in luxury for five weeks. However, if you have any kind of travel budget, it’s not too big a stretch to take a two-day trip from Florida to the Bahamas! Many cruises are actually quite in inexpensive—and overall, they are a lot cheaper than a comparable non-package vacation. Get a smaller ship with fewer amenities, a shorter trip, and create your own excursions to make it affordable.
7. Driving is cheaper than flying
Driving can be cheaper than flying, but it really depends on the trip. Gas costs are constantly in flux, and summertime can be a budget breaker when it comes to fuel. Plus, long trips are almost always cheaper by air. It can be hard to tell whether flying or driving is more cost-effective, but thankfully Google saves the day once again. There are plenty of gas cost calculators online to help you determine the cost of your trip. Of course, if you’re packing 10 people into a minivan, it might be cheaper to drive but can you put a price tag on retaining your sanity?
8. You can check the bathroom mirror with your finger nail to see if it’s a two-way mirror
Really? Really? Who started this one, and why will it not die? This myth seems like it was totally born out of paranoia. Maybe this would work if there was a two-way mirror. On the (very tiny) off-chance that there is a two-way mirror in the rest stop, there are far better ways to distinguish it. In the Snopes article on this very issue, the author explains that two-way mirrors are better found by looking and knocking. If it’s set into the wall rather than hung and it sounds hollow, it might be a two-way mirror. If not, you can relax and take care of your business.
9. Leaving tourist areas in a foreign country is dangerous
I refute this myth with caution, because it’s very true in a lot of places in the world. However, it’s truth mixed with the desire of your resort to get all your money rather than having to share it with their neighbors. For instance, you can’t really say you’ve seen Mexico if you never step foot outside of your all-inclusive resort in Cancun. If you want to get out and about, check with your embassy for the best crime climate report. Expats of your nationality in the area might also have some good insight on where to go and where to avoid.
10. You can’t afford to travel once you have kids
There’s some notion out there that once you get married, find a career, and have kids, your days of travel are over. This simply isn’t true. While you may not get as many days off or be able to stay in crappy hostels anymore, you can still take trips and even get some passport stamps along the way. Besides, state parks and theme parks still count as travel! The key to traveling with kids is budgeting, planning, and setting priorities.
11. The Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, Bigfoot, and other tall tales
No matter how old we get, we all still kind of like the idea of Bigfoot. And don’t we all hope to catch a glimpse of Nessie at the Loch Ness? These are the most fun travel myths, and to be honest, I don’t really want to argue against these. We all know they’re far-fetched, but who cares? We have to keep a little magic life and a little legend in our travels. So believe on, treasure hunters. Who knows? Maybe you’re right, after all.
These travel myths have been around for a long time but that doesn’t make them true. Urban legends can be fun or scary or just plain wrong. Don’t let them discourage your wanderlust.