Some of the Worst Travel Advice I’ve Ever Heard

We’ve all gotten bad advice from other seemingly well-meaning people. People just love giving out advice, which can be a good thing when things turn out well, but when it’s bad advice, of course we all wish we never would have followed the advice. Over the years I’ve either personally gotten bad travel advice or heard others giving it out, including everywhere from in person to podcasts to blogs to social media. It seems like everyone likes to give out advice on all things travel-related. Here are some of the most memorable pieces of bad advice I’ve either received or heard given to others.

“You should leave your child at home when you travel. They’re too young to appreciate it anyway.” When I asked my daughter in an interview for my blog, “What would you say to parents who say their child is too young to appreciate a place?” She replied, “That’s not true. Even if they don’t remember it later, they’ll still enjoy it in their own way when they visit it.” Appreciation is an extremely personal and difficult to define abstract thing anyway. Who’s to say that a 2 year old boy doesn’t appreciate an art museum just because he can’t properly vocalize his feelings. Just because he’s cranky doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy what’s before him. Perhaps it’s simply that he’s hungry or tired. Even an adult may not appreciate something that another would find beauty in but you don’t hear anyone tell another adult not to travel or go somewhere because they won’t appreciate it. I once heard someone say about Yosemite, “What’s the big deal anyway? It’s just a bunch of rocks and trees.” Let that one sink in for a moment.

I’m sure there are people that would say The Grand Canyon is just a big hole in the ground

“Bring the two biggest suitcases you can check with the airline without paying extra for weight so you can bring more stuff.” There are so many things wrong with that statement to me, but I’ll just refer you to my blog post on packing light, which you can read here:  Never Check a Bag with an Airline Again.

“Wait until you retire to go to places outside the United States.” My thinking on this is the following, what if something happens to my health between now and when I retire and I’m not able to get around as easily as now or I can’t physically fly for long distances?  It’s far and away easier to travel when you’re younger for many reasons like jet lag is harder to deal with the older you get, many people have mobility issues when they get older, some rental car agencies won’t rent cars to people 70 years of age or older, many people have health issues that require them to see their multitude of doctors sometimes as often as every week, and the list goes on. Travel when you’re young, people. Don’t wait or it might never happen.

“Just fly with your infant in your lap as long as she’s under 2 years old since it’s free.” I’ve flown both with my daughter in my lap and I’ve paid for a seat for her before she was two years old and technically I wouldn’t have had to if I would have had her in my lap for the flight. My rule of thumb for this is if it’s a short flight (say 2 hours or less), it should be fine to hold them but for a long flight and certainly for an international flight, you and your baby will be more comfortable with their own seat. That’s not to say you can’t still hold your baby at times but when you need a break, like to eat or drink, go to the restroom, or just to give yourself a break, if your child doesn’t have their own seat, either you or your companion (if you’re traveling with one) will have to hold your child for the entire duration of the flight. Just know that most airlines recommend always purchasing a seat for your child primarily because of turbulence.

“Why travel to Japan (insert other countries here as well like Germany, Norway, etc.) when you can just go to Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center and experience the country there? In place of Epcot, I’ve also heard this about Las Vegas in regard to some of the themed casinos like Paris, in other words, Why go to Paris when you can just go to the Paris casino and hotel in Las Vegas.” This is obviously spoken by people who don’t travel much. Seriously, anyone who thinks going to the Italian section of Epcot Center in Florida is like visiting the country of Italy is sorely mistaken. Yes, you’ll find “Italian” food and “Italian” scenery, but it’s all Walt Disney’s version of what Italy should look like and the food should taste like. I’m sorry but I would take some food from a street vendor in Italy over the over-priced Americanized food in the Italian section of Epcot Center any day!

The Venetian in Las Vegas is nice but I’d rather go to the real Venice myself!

“You should let a travel agent plan everything for you. That’s what I always do.” When I started planning my vacation to Peru, I thought of this and how I’ve heard it before. I’ve been planning vacations for my family completely by myself for about 15 years so this is nothing new for me, but Peru is one of the most difficult vacations I’ve planned for my family simply because of logistics in the country. For example, the conditions of the roads and the amount of crime in certain areas make it not so easy or even recommended to rent a car, so I’ve had to figure out alternate ways to get around. Of course people in their twenties just take buses all over Peru but I’m a bit older than that and honestly don’t really want to be crammed in a bus on someone else’s schedule for hours on end. Long story short, I’ve figured it out on my own but it did take some time. With all of the resources available online (some good, some bad information so read it all thoroughly) there’s really no reason why anyone can’t plan their own vacations. My advice is to start small and work your way up from there so don’t go and plan a three week trip to the Amazon rainforest if it’s the first trip you’ve ever planned by yourself. It’s like everything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

“It’s better to try to go to multiple countries instead of just one or two when you travel internationally. In fact, I always try to squeeze in as many places as I can.” I know many people, all Americans, who do this all the time. They don’t just go to Italy, but they go to Italy, France, and England. In one week. Maybe that sounds great to some people but that sounds a bit frenetic to me. When I travel, I prefer to spend more time in a country to get more of a feel for it and to be able to relax, rather than just hitting the “hot spots” like Paris, Rome, and London on a whirlwind tour. Of course that means I have less countries to brag about where I’ve been, but I’m OK with that. Sometimes it’s easy to cross the border and combine countries but in general, for me, slow travel is the way to go.

When I went to Chile, I just went to Chile not Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina!

“An hour will be plenty of time for a layover in Madrid coming from the United States.” I was told this one by an Iberian airline agent over the phone when I called about changing my flight after I was notified of a change in flight times by the airline a couple of months before departure. Of course I highly doubted this was true and should have trusted my gut instinct, but I listened to the agent and of course I missed the next flight. There’s no way you can get through customs and get to your next gate in one hour at a big airport like Aeropuerto Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas and probably not for any airport in the world unless your gate is right next to where you come out of customs and you get extremely lucky!

What about you guys? What bad travel advice have you received?

Happy travels!




Review of “Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life” by Stacy Sims and Selene Yeager

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I first heard about this book through the Another Mother Runner podcast several months ago but I only recently borrowed it from the library. Why the long wait? Honestly, I just didn’t really think it could be that good. I’ve read other books written by female athletes, although not a ton, but I just wasn’t that inspired by them. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t anything special either.

“Roar” is not only a book for female runners but for female athletes in general and I can honestly say it’s one of the best books for women that I’ve read. Dr. Sims is not only a nutrition scientist and exercise physiologist but also an athlete herself. One quote I really like from the book is “You are not a small man. Stop eating and training like one.” This sums up the book well.

There are 17 chapters in “Roar,” covering everything from pregnancy to menopause to the female digestive tract, although there is some redundancy in places, but I found the book to be laid out well and easy to follow. “Roar” is filled with scientific information and while I’m a scientist and may be a bit biased, I thought it wasn’t too scientific for most non-scientists to follow. I also liked the “Roar Sound Bites,” brief summaries at the end of each chapter.

Not only does Dr. Sims lay it all out there for women by explaining how hormones effect athletic performance, she gives advice on how to control hormonal effects on our bodies. For example, women should take in protein high in leucine before exercise and within 30 minutes of  exercising to help maintain muscle when hormone levels are high. One thing I learned about myself is I need to be consuming even more protein than I previously thought. Dr. Sims recommends 1 gram of protein per pound per day for athletic women (this is much more than is recommended for non-athletic women).

Dr. Sims also has examples of daily diets for athletes of all kinds including triathletes, cyclists, and runners. She sometimes will give comparisons of their current diet vs. what Dr. Sims recommends they eat. There are also exercises with photos that take up two chapters of the book that she recommends for female athletes. A not-so-fun fact is that women who don’t strength train lose at least 3% muscle mass per decade after age 30.

There are also of course large chunks of the books devoted to diets, sports-specific fueling, and hydration. In addition to specific examples of recommended daily diets for athletes, there are recipes for snacks. Not surprisingly, women’s hydration needs are different from men’s because of hormones. One interesting tidbit is that Dr. Sims partnered with nuun hydration to help re-formulate nuun performance hydration powder in 2016; the partnership was announced shortly after “Roar” hit the publication stands but there are no references to any of this in the book.

There are also sections on how women can deal with extreme temperatures and high elevation including specific ways to cope and a section on recovery after a hard workout. One interesting point is that when men take an ice bath, they can start shivering and get microspasms in their already-fatigued muscles, which leads to more soreness and stalled recovery. Women, however, need help speeding up vasoconstriction after a hard workout, so women can still benefit from ice baths.

The chapter on supplements was interesting to me because it’s part of what my field of study has included for my job. Many women may be surprised to read that the only recommended supplements mentioned in the book include iron, vitamin D, and magnesium. Calcium and antioxidants such as vitamin C are not recommended and in fact can be harmful. Dr. Sims’ opinion on supplements is in agreement with what I’ve also read from other scientists but this information doesn’t seem to have trickled down to the mainstream yet.

Finally, the last couple of chapters are about how men’s and women’s brains are different and how we can use this information. For example, women tend to have a greater ability for social interaction so we would benefit from things like group runs or cycling sessions. Also, positive thinking and mindfulness can be especially important for women who often need help in these areas. The final chapter is about biohacking (looking inside your physiology) and discusses everything from pee sticks to blood testing to the simple but often overlooked question, “How do I feel?”

As I said earlier, I feel like “Roar” is one of the best books geared towards female athletes that I’ve read, and I do recommend picking up a copy. I read a review on Amazon that this book isn’t for the average athlete, but is more for elite athletes, and I disagree. I’m by no means an elite athlete and there was plenty I could take away from this book. OK, now I need to go eat more protein!

Have any of you read “Roar?” If so, what did you think? Are any of you intrigued about the book now and would like to check it out? You can see if you public library has it or Amazon has it for sale here.

Happy running!




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