March 14, 2008 -- It has never been easier for travelers to know before they go. Thanks to high-speed Internet and increasingly global connectivity, travelers now have access to crucial information to help them research, prepare and make the most of their journeys.
There are few more in the know than travel expert Pauline Frommer, creator of the Pauline Frommer Guidebooks, and daughter of Arthur Frommer, the founder of Frommer guides. Inspired by a recent seminar she gave with her father at The New York Times Travel Show, Frommer shared her Top 5 travel myths with ABC News.
Myth No. 1: Change Money At Home
Nowadays, there's no need to stock up on foreign currency in advance of departing, and no reason to assume that you'll get a better exchange rate in the United States than abroad. By carrying around a lot of money, you make yourself vulnerable to pickpockets. Instead, "rely on your ATM and credit cards. They give an excellent exchange rate, and allow you to use just as much money as you need.
Myth No. 2: Deals on Last-Minute Booking
Just two years ago it held true that you could get the best prices on travel by booking at the last minute. Thanks to record levels of travel, sold-out flights and better search engines, it's no longer the case. "Because the airlines have been launching smaller and fewer jets and because cruise and hotel occupancy rates have reached historic highs, those who book when the sales occur (usually four to eight weeks before the time of travel) tend to do better than those who leave their planning until the week of. Occasionally, there will be some good last-minute deals but these are becoming more and more rare."
Myth No. 3: Locals Are Experts
Don't expect that someone at the destination can be relied upon to explain what you're looking at. Do your homework and bring a guidebook. "We get out of travel what we bring to it. So a bit of advanced research before a trip can add greatly to your enjoyment of the destination. For example, reading a historical novel such as Irving Stone's 'The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo,' will greatly enhance any trip to Rome or Florence." Frommer also noted that many tour guides are underpaid, bored, not all that well-informed and are notorious for rushing tourists through museums to get to the gift shops, where many get a commission on sales.
Myth No. 4: You Get What You Pay For
Just because a hotel charges five-star prices doesn't mean you can expect a five-star stay. Many hotels, tours and cruise ships market themselves as luxury with prices to match. Don't be fooled. Often less-expensive options offer their guests great value and a high level of comfort. "Always look at the travel product itself, not the price tag," Frommer said.
Myth No. 5: Buy Extras Ahead
Cruise lines often want you to book shore excursions onboard or before your trip but typically a better deal can be found when you get off the ship. "Truth is, they're almost always ripoffs -- overpriced and oversubscribed. Instead, create your own shore excursions for a fraction of what the cruise lines charge." Once you arrive in port look for local travel agencies who'll meet you at the port, or taxi drivers, who can often re-create the same activity itinerary for a far lower price.