Five Misconceptions Tourists Make When Traveling Abroad

Collaborative Guest Post

When you travel abroad, it’s easier than you think to make the wrong assumptions.


Whether that’s about the people you encounter, the attractions you visit or general mistakes about traveling, misconceptions can hamper your experience somewhat.

To ensure you don’t make the same mistakes as many others, check out our list of common misconceptions tourists make:

Five Misconceptions Tourists Make When Traveling Abroad

Everyone will speak English

In popular tourist destinations, it’s likely you’ll be able to talk to everyone in English. But head further away from the hubs, and you’d be wrong to assume locals will always understand you.

It’s good to learn a few key phrases in the local language to use in these instances. It’s also a great way of showing you’re willing to immerse yourself more than the average tourist.

No-one will try and rip you off

Unfortunately, tourists can be a target for petty criminals. Assuming everyone is your friend won’t end well. Common tricks used to fool tourists abroad include paying for demonstrations, slow counting cash, fake police, and phony charity petitions. For more scams you could fall victim to, check out Rick Steves for the warning signs.

Misunderstanding the country they’re visiting

Not knowing London ’s Big Ben refers to the actual clock inside, not the entire clock tower, or assuming everyone in Paris wears a beret – there are a lot of ways a tourist can misunderstand the place they’re visiting (here are some of the most common misconceptions according to The Odyssey Online).

Five Misconceptions Tourists Make When Traveling Abroad

It’s dangerous to head off the beaten track

There’s a temptation to stick to the well-traveled routes of many tourists. Whether it’s a fear over safety or a general lack of knowledge, it leads people to seeing the same sights and attractions. Instead, you should be brave and venture off into the unknown somewhat. It’s how you’ll have the best experiences as a tourist abroad, rather than the same memories as everyone else.

They’ll be covered by insurance if they leave items behind

You get on the plane and realize you’ve left your camera behind. You left it with the hotel concierge for safekeeping, but forgot to head back and pick it up before you left for the airport. Think your insurance will cover you? Think again.

Insurance typically won’t reimburse you for belongings you’ve left behind – no matter how valuable they are to you. Insurance covers you for things like luggage delay, car crime, bag theft, water damage, and pick pocketing, according to TINZ.

What mistakes have you made as a tourist? Share your misconceptions with us.

Five Misconceptions Tourists Make When Traveling Abroad

22 thoughts on “Five Misconceptions Tourists Make When Traveling Abroad

  1. A few very helpful tips for traveling! It’s great to experience non-touristy areas and step out of the box. We find home stays great for this and a chance to meet locals as well!

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Some of the best times I’ve had throughout my travels are eating at little-known restaurants just off the major routes. I love getting just a little bit lost.

    1. I love those apps! I am constantly using them to help decipher menus, streets signs, and more. If you can’t learn the entire language, at least you can use these awesome tools to get by!

    1. I was surprised to learn that, too! It’s definitely important to keep in mind if you’re traveling with valuables. Talking to locals is one of the best ways to get to know an area and the best sights to see!

  2. First of all, I love the photograph at the top of the post. Simply beautiful. Secondly, I agree wholeheartedly with the points made here. Particularly the one about English… as someone whose language skills suck I do struggle when I am abroad. But the onus is on me, the visitor, to adapt and try and learn the local language and customs.

    1. Thanks, Mike! I have the same struggle as you! In the very least, I try to get a learn a few basic phrases (please, thank you, etc.). I think it’s important for locals to know that I’m making my best effort…and I rely a lot on charades if push comes to shove!

  3. When travelling i always try the go and eat where the locals go and go to the not touristy sideand talk to locals. Its were you experience the real authenticity of the place.

    1. You’re right! I love going to someplace really random and off the beaten path–you have some great experiences at those places!

  4. Some great tips out there. The insurance piece is important. Always there is a caveat to any travel policy. Rip off of tourists by petty criminals is such a common thing.

  5. This is a helpful list for first time travelers. The travel insurance piece is important, including the fine print about what is covered and not covered. Agree, a few basic words in the local language go a long way 🙂 Nice tips.

    1. Thanks so much! It’s scary to think you might not be covered for some things–so important to double check!

  6. Completely agree with you–all of these are misconceptions we’ve heard from people too! Especially the one where people think everyone will speak English. Thanks for sharing–lots of great tips and things to remember when traveling abroad!

    1. Totally! We get so used to everyone speaking it in big cities and common destinations…just a few steps off the beaten path can be a totally different experience.

  7. I can relate- I feel I probably had some of these misconceptions before I left on my trip. Especially thinking that surely someone will speak English. Nope! Not always the case.

  8. Nice set of tips. It is not only the language. Tourists often tend to think the locals will have the same culture and habits as theirs and that could lead to some embarrassments.

    1. Great point! So important to take into account cultural considerations, too! Thanks, Nisha!

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