International travel is bouncing back in a major way with travelers looking to make up for time lost during the pandemic. Still, longstanding rumors about traveling abroad may be keeping some from venturing out into the world. With the help of our expert AAA travel advisors, we bust six common international travel myths, so you can feel better about visiting other countries and embracing foreign culture.
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International Travel Myth No. 1: It’s Expensive
International airfare ebbs and flows with the changing seasons, so you should do your research and take advantage when you can. In fact, some domestic destinations can be more expensive than international. Prices also rise during school breaks or holidays, so if you modify your trip to accommodate this, you can score savings.
“If you’re flexible on your timing and destination and can travel in the off-season to avoid popular times, this will definitely help with cost,” said AAA travel advisor Yannick Gonzalez. “Also, I recommend booking in advance to combat fees. Otherwise, it’s a gamble to wait.”
Gonzalez adds that England and Ireland remain more affordable, along with Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica for resort beach vacations. Destinations like Italy and Greece are higher budget.
International Travel Myth No. 2: You Have To Go Far Away
Adventuring to another country doesn’t mean you have to plan an exotic expedition around the globe. Lucky for travelers in the Northeast, America shares its border with two countries that are easily accessible.
You can experience all the culture and history in Canada and stay closer to home, while Mexico remains a reliable tropical getaway. Even Iceland is only a five-hour flight from Boston, and once you’ve landed, there is so much to do nearby.
Ultimately, it’s important to not let distance deter you. “A lot of my clients drive to Canada, Montreal especially, because it’s an easy drive from here on the East Coast,” Gonzalez said.
International Travel Myth No. 3: It’s Hard to Travel With Kids
It’s infinitely more rewarding to journey with your children at any age. There are myriad benefits, including introducing them to new cultures and showing them the wonders of exploring. Although, Gonzalez admits there are challenges and unpredictability, it just takes careful planning to ensure international adventures are less daunting for families. “It depends on the destination and proposing the right product to keep the kids entertained with an age-appropriate activity,” she said.
Some tips to consider when traveling with little ones:
- Strategically schedule flights and tours around naps or mealtimes.
- Pack the necessities (as well as toys and treats they can enjoy on the plane).
- Allow downtime and have a Plan B in case a scheduled activity falls through at the last minute (even if Plan B is downtime).
International Travel Myth No. 4: It’s Unsafe
There are so many misconceptions around safety. And though there inevitably will be neighborhoods or destinations that travelers may want to avoid, Gonzalez said it comes down to being aware of your surroundings.
Understanding culture, customs and etiquette is important, too, and will amplify your appreciation of the country and help sidestep misunderstandings.
“Safety is always top of mind” said Gonzalez, but your worries shouldn’t keep you from a dream vacation.
International Travel Myth No. 5: It’s Not Inclusive or Acceptable
While stairs and sidewalks, as well as remote natural wonders, are difficult to navigate if you use a wheelchair or have other physical challenges, that shouldn’t deter you from discovering the world.
AAA travel advisors can secure tours and guides that accommodate special needs, including sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired, assigning travel buddies for the blind and finding access to adaptive bikes.
International Travel Myth No. 6: It’s Overwhelming
It doesn’t have to be! Streamline and simplify your trip with Gonzalez’s top five tips:
- Check passport validity. Everyone’s passport should have at least six months validity beyond your return travel date. See if other documents are required for the country you are entering, such as visas or immigration forms.
- Travel Insurance is highly recommended, especially when traveling with children. It not only protects trip bookings and cancellations but covers you in case of unforeseen medical issues.
- Check if currency needs to be converted. This can be ordered in advance through AAA.
- Check the U.S. State Department for any destination travel advisories ahead of your trip and join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for embassy notifications.
- Prepare your international communication strategy by enabling your international cell plan or using WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends from wherever you are in the world.
Let a AAA travel advisor help you plan your international vacation.
What do you think of these international travel myths? Tell us in the comments.