The first real trip I ever went on was to New York when I was 22- ‘real’ meaning it wasn’t a school trip and my parents weren’t there as well. It was sort of a spur of the moment type trip planned hastily a few weeks in advance, and was prompted by my desire to go to a book signing (for The Fault in Our Stars). Even with the last minute-ness, a few people were quick to give me warnings about being mugged, telling me how unsafe the city is. When I went to India two years later, the warnings obviously intensified. Not for the first time (or the last, I’m sure) the movie Taken was brought up and I was given advice to go with a tour group, or not go at all. After my first flight not long after I went to NYC, a kind lady in a Bath hostel advised me to spend one day in London, jumping on one of the hop on, hop off buses to see the major sights, then getting out. None of the above advice was followed, and I’m glad for that.
The way that we experience a city is so unique to the individual, so what can we really do with travel advice?
Take It From The Right People Okay, my mother’s middle aged, paranoid friends are not the best people to take advice from. Find friends and blogs with similar interests, tastes and budgets and listen to what they have to say.
No One’s Advice Perfectly Applies To You There could have been external factors that influenced how they felt about a place, or maybe you’re just not in tune with you as you thought. I was told by someone I have a lot in common with to skip Amsterdam, and obviously that would have been a bad idea. The point is, they’re not you.
Recognize When They Don’t Know What They’re Talking About Most of this comes from me going to India, where everyone was butting in to give me their two cents. An excerpt of a birthday e-mail to my mother before my trip: ‘Happy 54th Birthday! Also, did you know that a Danish woman was raped in Delhi last week.’ Although people meant well, a lot of what they were telling me didn’t fully stick to the facts and just freaked me out. While it’s good to have your guard up in some places, I think some of the things I’d heard made me too guarded at first. Also, if anyone starts referencing Taken, I pretty much politely tune them out.
In the end, some advice is helpful, while some is worth disregarding. Everyone’s travel experience and what they’re looking for in a place is different, and while it is worthwhile to listen to what other’s have to say, in the end the only word that matters is your own.