Most Travel Advice is Useless

The internet is full of questions about travel and, having visited or lived in 62 countries or so, I regularly receive many such questions myself:

  • What is the best place to visit in Germany?
  • When is a good time to visit Spain?
  • What do you recommend to see in Israel?
  • Is it better to go to Cluj or to Brașov?
  • Is Colombia safe?
  • How many days do I need for Vilnius?
  • How much money do I need for one month in Europe?
  • Is Scotland worth it?

I refuse to answer such generic questions. More importantly, I suggest that you never pose them. Because travel advice is personal, like relationship advice or like financial advice. Its value depends on the goals, ideas, wishes, limitations, expectations of the individual traveler.

It’s impossible to give good travel advice to people without knowing them. The advice which I might give about hiking in Chapada Diamantina in Brazil might be wonderful for Joe, but terrifying to Anita. Some people think that 35 degrees heat or more is a requirement for enjoying a place, while others (like me) prefer to go in winter when you are the only visitor and the locals will have time for a chat. I hate masses of people, particularly when there is no compelling reason for everyone to be there, but others want to go to Oktoberfest, inexplicably.

reading2

I know some really quiet spots.

I would need to know if you prefer nature or cities, how many kilometers you can walk, if you prefer medieval architecture or communist brutalism, if you prefer to be among people or not, if you speak the language, how much time you have and how much money you want to spend.

Whenever I read questions like “We will be in Germany for one week. What do you recommend us to see?”, I also wonder why people even bother to go to a place if they have no idea about it. Is it only to check it off a list? How sad.

Überblick3.JPG

I might send you to towns where nobody lives anymore.

Having said that, of course I am going to continue giving unsolicited advice on this blog. But keep in mind that it’s my blog and that my idea of traveling is doing it slowly, preparing well, getting to know people and trying to understand a country. With those of you who think similarly or are curious to try it out, I am happy to exchange advice. Not surprisingly to master travelers, this will be far less about places than about methods and strategies, for example on traveling with little money, on adventure or on making friends in new places.

If you are the kind of person who is after yet more Instagraph photos, this is probably the wrong blog for you. Anyway, in that case, you don’t need to leave the house at all, because you can do everything on Photoshop. That would also be better for the environment. – All others, please keep the questions coming, but tell me more about yourself and what you want to get out of a trip! Otherwise, I won’t be able to help you, and I might send you into some mountain range from where you will never find the way back.

Milluni2

Be prepared to end up at the cemetery when you ask me for directions.

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Life, Photography, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Most Travel Advice is Useless

  1. Interesting and candid perspective. It was fresh, enjoyable and even humorous at times. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I completely agree with you about travel being a highly personalized experience. I personally enjoy visiting less touristic sites that are quiet and less crowded. I think each country has a treasure trove of destinations that appeal to a very wide range of people, and that lumping advice could actually hurt, not help travelers. Thanks for the post. :)

    • Indeed, I also enjoy quiet and less-visited places more often.
      So, I would never recommend Oktoberfest, yet it seems to fascinate a lot of people (which is really hard for me to understand).

      Another difference I notice between myself and most other travelers is that I am really slow. I like to spend several days in one place, at least, preferably even longer. A lot of other travelers seem to be eager to cover as many different cities in one trip as possible. I think they just end up spending too much time on buses or planes. I will rather focus on a few spots and really get to know them.

      And then, I am also quite happy to stay in small towns or the places in between. When I have a long train or bus journey, I like to break it and stay in whatever town happens to be halfway on the route, even if there is nothing particularly fascinating about it. Sometimes, such places turn out to be quite interesting. And if not, well, I’ll have time to go to the park and read a book.

  3. Peter says:

    Andreas, any plans to hike part of the 800+ kilometer Bruce Trail when you’re in Toronto?

    • I would love to, because it sounds like a wonderfully diverse trail!

      But I don’t think I will be able to because I don’t have any camping equipment, nor a car. I would need to find Couchsurfing hosts along the trail, which is probably too complicated to organize. :-(

  4. Peter says:

    If you’re up for a day hike, I’d be happy to drive. Hard to say the condition of the trails in April but it’s worth a try.

    • That would be fantastic!
      I will have to fly from Toronto on 27 April, and I will definitely come to town at least 4-5 days prior.

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