A T+L editor clears up several misconceptions about traveling and explains why you should hit the road.

By Mark Orwoll
August 05, 2015
An afternoon among the fishermen of Cetara
©simon Watson
| Credit: © Simon Watson

Travel is too expensive: Wrong. A pint of beer in a Mexican cantina will run you about $1.45. You can fly between New York and Chicago for less than $200 right now. The five-star Le Méridien in Budapest has rooms for just $142 a night in August. A gallon of gas is about a buck less than a year ago.

Travel is too dangerous: Wrong. Violent crime in the United States is at its lowest rate in 35 years. In Singapore, Norway, and Japan, you couldn’t get mugged if you paid someone. But just to be safe, read the security sections on the State Department’s travel site under the country description for your destination.

Don't know where to go: Wrong. You know exactly where to go. It’s called the Internet. You’re on it right now, reading this website with roughly 1.5 bazillion suggestions for your next vacation. How about this
Psst: Secret Beaches For a Non-Crowded (!) Florida Getaway
or this Just Back: Summer Action in Minneapolis
or this Best Beaches Near Bangkok ?

Researching and booking is too much work: Wrong. You don’t have to do any of that. An old-school travel agent will do it all for you, either for free or a nominal fee. And he or she will probably do it better, faster, and cheaper than you could plan and book on your own. You can find an agent based on location or specialty at the American Society of Travel Agents.

I'm happy just staying home. Wrong. If you stay home you will be sad, stressed-out, and sick. Does that make you happy? A 2013 study by the Global Commission on Aging and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in conjunction with the U.S. Travel Association, found that women who vacation twice a year have fewer heart problems. Men who stayed home instead of going on vacation every year had a 20 percent greater chance of actually dying! After only a couple of days on vacation, 89 percent of survey respondents felt less stress.

I'm afraid of getting ripped off by hotels, airlines, etc. Wrong. Here are the basic ways to protect yourself as a traveler. Pay with a credit card whenever possible so you can dispute erroneous charges. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access your financial accounts. Use bank ATMs instead of generic ones. Carry just one or two credit cards. Know your rights as an air traveler. And on the street, always trust your instincts.

My friends aren't able to get off work and I don’t want to travel by myself. Wrong. You don’t have to be by yourself. Singles travel with groups of other singles on tours organized by such reputable companies as Overseas Adventure Travel, Intrepid Travel, Backroads, and many others. The cruise industry, too, is getting into the singles act with solo-traveler cabins on such lines as P&O and Norwegian.

I'm afraid to fly. Wrong. You just haven’t had the right teacher. You don’t need to understand Bernoulli’s Principle, only that there is virtually no chance your plane will drop out of the sky. Through various methods like muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, and exposure therapy (including videos and computer flight simulation), fearful flyers can overcome their phobia. Consider private programs in your area or check with the nearest major airport to see if they hold classes like those offered at Phoenix Sky Harbor and Milwaukee’s General Mitchell.

I've already traveled to a lot of places. Wrong. There are 50 states in the USA. You have not been to them all. There are 34 international cities with populations of more than 10 million. You have not been to them all. There are 196 countries in the world, more or less, depending on your definition. You have not been to them all. So get started.