Travel myths busted

Separating fact from fiction.

Whether it’s strictly booking flights at 6am on a Tuesday or studiously avoiding street food so they won’t become sick, every traveller has an opinion on how to ensure the perfect holiday.

Don’t be fooled by these common travel myths next time you’re planning a trip overseas.

If you sleep on the plane, you’ll avoid jetlag

Long-haul travel is exhausting but you’re likely to become jetlagged even if you manage to achieve a solid eight hours of shuteye. Studies have shown jetlag is caused by changes to the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle, which is influenced by exposure to sunlight. 

When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it's the middle of the afternoon or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. 

Behavioural adjustments before, during and after arrival at your destination can help to minimise jetlag.

Duty-free is a good bargain

Browsing duty-free shops is a guilty pleasure of many international travellers hunting for a bargain but research by Finder has found many duty-free prices are comparable to what you’ll find in local retailers. 

The research revealed spirits and cosmetics are usually cheaper but perfume, confectionery, wine and other food is as, if not more expensive, than at regular shops. 

It’s cheaper to pay in Australian dollars with credit cards overseas

When you’re paying by credit card at a restaurant or store overseas you’ve probably been asked whether you’d like to pay in the local currency or Australian dollars. The ability to pay in Australian dollars may seem handy but it is a costly service and can add approximately 8% to your bill. 

The exchange rate at the card terminal is usually a worse deal than the one your bank would give you for making a purchase in the local currency. There may also be a fee to use Australian currency in addition to the fee charged by most banks each time you use your card abroad.

Travel is always expensive

Many people consider money to be the biggest barrier to travel, but your next holiday doesn’t have to be expensive.

Being flexible with your travel dates and destinations means you can take advantage of deals as they arise.

Airlines, cruise lines and hotels often offer loyalty programs such as FlyBuys, Qantas Frequent Flyers and Velocity, or credit card rewards programs can also help reduce the cost of travel.

Booking yourself is always cheaper than using a travel agent

With the number of booking sites on the internet you might think travel agents have become obsolete but travel agents often have access to deals and wholesale discounts that aren’t available to the general public. Getting a quote from a travel agent is free and you don’t pay extra for the service.

Booking with a travel agent can save you hours of research and they can handle every aspect of your travel. Travel agents can help with arranging visas and are on call 24/7 to act on your behalf if something unexpected happens before or during your holiday.

The air on planes makes you sick

You may think you’re guaranteed to become sick after taking a long-haul flight but, contrary to popular belief, the recycled air in a plane cabin isn’t the cause of your illness.

Research from the International Air Transport Association shows the risk of getting sick from flying is similar to that of other high-density activities such as train and bus travel or going to the movies. 

Modern planes are equipped with HEPA filters which are effective at capturing more than 99% of airborne microbes and germs. However, germs can be found on all surfaces such as try tables, seatback pockets and toilets.

Jet lag can also compromise your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness once you arrive at your destination. 

Street food is unsafe

Sampling the local cuisine is one of the best aspects of travel but many travellers are concerned about the safety of food from street vendors, especially in developing countries. Street food is cheap and a great way to experience the food of a destination like a local.

Sticking to busy food stalls with long lines of locals, including families, should mean the food is made fresh and safe to eat. The stalls are the livelihood of most hawkers and they would go out of business quickly if they made their local customers sick. 

Looking to take a holiday? RACQ Travel can help with all of your holiday needs. Contact a travel consultant on 1300 096 166.