Five pieces of travel advice that you should completely ignore

By John Walton, July 13 2012
Five pieces of travel advice that you should completely ignore

Business travellers get a lot of advice from company policies, guidebooks and websites. But some of it's so bonkers that it's funny -- and you should just ignore it.

From the people at the airport with those glad-wrapped suitcases, to that guy at the bureau de change who makes an obvious (and thus obviously futile) show of pulling his around-the-neck money belt, there's a whole industry built around pointless things or services that travellers don't really need.

We put our heads together in the Australian Business Traveller office and came up with our favourite (or least favourite) five pieces of commonly spouted travel advice that you can completely ignore.

1. Sanitise everything you touch

There's no need to be one of those crazy germophobes unless there's something wrong with your immune system, in which case you should probably be taking medical advice.

A special implement to touch the hotel remote control? Antibacterial disinfectant wipes stinking up the plane while wiping down the tray table like you're about to perform surgery on it? I think not.

Simple things like washing your hands on a regular basis, taking precautions where and what you eat, adding a multivitamin to your travel routine and practicing basic personal hygiene in crowds should keep you healthy.

2. Be paranoid about your hotel room

Ever read advice like refusing to take a hotel room if the desk staffer reads out your room number, or never putting the "please make up room" sign out?

If you're a business traveller staying in a business hotel, you're probably safer than you are in your own home. There's almost certainly no need to bring a rubber doorstop to jam under your door to stop intruders, and the idea that you should never let housekeeping into your room when you're not present is ridiculous.

Besides, making a scene at reception if your room number is read out? Good way to draw attention to yourself there.

Hotels aren't the dens of vice and thievery that travel advice-givers like to make them sound. Take the same precautions you do at home or travelling locally: keep your wits about you, look as if you know where you're going and don't flash obvious wealth around.

3. Buy those special travel toiletry decanters

You know, the ones that come in little white sets under 100ml. They're the daftest waste of money out there.

If you must decant your toiletries into carry-on acceptable sizes, just bring home some empty hotel toiletry bottles and refill them.

4. Bring your own special water bottle

I see business travellers doing this more in the US than elsewhere, but I'm still not convinced by the need for everyone to have their own personal hiking-style water bottle.

Buy a bottle of juice or water and then refill it if you're worried about running out of water between security and the plane. The hiking-type ones are just extra weight and they make you look like a bit of a tool.

5. Carry your own personal pillow

Whether it's those inflatable ones or an actual honest-to-God pillow, I do a double-take every time I see someone in business attire carrying them -- or, worse, suggesting that you pack a pillow in your bag.

I can't think of anything that looks more daft, or is a bigger waste of space in your limited luggage allowance.

What's the one common piece of travel advice that you always ignore? Sound off in the comments below!

And for useful travel tips, as well as the latest news and reviews for the business traveller, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

obviously not much news to end up having to do a story like this teheheh

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 May 2011

Total posts 35

Your probably right but sometimes these things need to be mentioned. I do see these "tools" on a regular basis.

20 Dec 2011

Total posts 14

I take it that this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but water bottles making you look like a tool? Please.

Everyone has their favourite things - shoes, sunglasses etc. Some people like their own personal water bottle. There are also those who don't like the taste, or the potential exposure to BPA, that comes with refilling plastic bottles.

Slow news day?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2550

We like to add a little lightness to the mix, and remember that AusBT isn't just about news, it's also general information for a more mainstream audience – and Friday's always a nice time for something light to end the week. :)

21 Jun 2012

Total posts 2

Some sensible advice here. However, the scorn poured on the special water bottles highlights an undervalued environmental issue. Disposable water bottles are resource-intensive to produce and pose significant disposal problems - so much so that there is a serious campaign to ban disposable water bottles (thus far implemented only on a small scale). So, the water bottle carrying traveller might just be doing their bit to save the planet (indeed, given the environmental damage done by flying in a jet, perhaps all flyers should aim to do better on this front).

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

Thanks Matthew.

I'm not convinced that those massively thick water bottles are a significant net lifetime improvement on (a) avoiding buying plastic bottles of water in the first place, (b) making a habit of reusing bottles that have had juice or a soft drink in them, and then (c) ensuring that those bottles make it into a recycling bin. 

As you say, of all the things that travellers can do to reduce the environmental impact of their journeys, the "carry your own water bottle" smacks of one of those "things you can buy to make yourself feel better about the environment", spurred on by the reusable plastic bottle industry. I'd love to see some proper economic analysis on the component aspects of travel and how the environmental impacts can be reduced -- but from somewhere that isn't

14 Jul 2012

Total posts 1

Fortunately, I'm way too lazy to do any of the things you've listed above. ;) Though I could always by a bubble to roll around my small local airport in. Good idea, y/y?


22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

Actually, the most enviromentally friendly option of water bottles, inluding resusing plain plastic bottles, is buying a cheap, reusable stainless steel bottle that won't rust,   doesn't use outrageous amounts of unsustainable oils (not limited to palm oil) to produce and that doesn't look like your about to run a marathon. The end.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

One piece I constantly ignore is to pack double the amount of clothing needed and split it over two bags just in case one bag gets lost. I understand that bags get damaged and lost but packing that much (now that Qantas and Virgin have piece restrictions on domestic and international flights, and all flights to the US are restricted to 2 bags unless your a high-tier frequent flyer) is completely and waste of time and space.

I am surprised at some of the advice given

06 Feb 2012

Total posts 18

I actually do carry wipes with me in my carry on. Sticky tray table...wipe, touched something or gotten dirty hands...wipe

I'm not an anal clean freak by any means, but I find them useful in a variety of situations and who's anyone to judge if I like to use them. I find the hiker's water bottle purely ridiculous!

With the sometimes lack of cleanliness in the world today, I would highly suggest that all travellers carry a pack with them (take up no room, very light)

23 Jul 2012

Total posts 21

I carry a little empty water bottle and fill and drink when the opportunity arises and then put back the empty little bottle into my bag. Takes up little room and wieghs nothing.

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