7 Travel Myths

Is it safe to use a cell phone on an airplane? Could x-ray machines at security checkpoints damage your computer’s hard drive? Are cruise ships really all-inclusive? ForbesTraveler has compiled a list of 7 common travel myths.

Myth #1 : If you use your BlackBerry or cell phone in flight, the plane will crash.

No, the plane will not crash if you use your cell phone or BlackBerry. After testing personal electronic devices over several decades – and at 100 times the RF interference levels – the FAA states that it was unable to prove any connection or link between operating these devices and airplane system interference. It’s up to the individual airline to set policy.

Myth #2 : X-ray machines at airport security checkpoints can erase your computer’s hard drive.

Sending your laptop through the airport x-ray machine will not damage it. (X-rays are a form of electromagnetic energy, but they’re not magnetically charged. But because electromagnetic energy is basically like light, and can expose your camera film just as light can, watch out for that if you’re one of the few photographers still using film.)

One cautionary note on laptops, however: If you take your laptop through a metal detector or if it is examined with a metal wand, you could be at risk. These detectors send out a strong magnetic pulse that can erase hard drives. (See Top tips for travelling with your tech.)

Myth #3 : When in Europe, taking the train is cheaper than flying.

European trains are no longer economical alternatives to air travel. Low-cost European airlines are now often cheaper than intra-European train travel. An example: At the time of publication, an off-season round-trip flight on Ryanair from Rome to Frankfurt can be as low as $90. This compares with a point-to-point train ticket from Rome to Frankfurt, which starts at $326 each way and takes about 12 hours of travel time.

Myth #4: Cruise ships are all-inclusive

It used to be true, but alas, no longer. Cruise ships now charge for any number of things, including a fee for unlimited soda. A new rule of thumb for budgeting your next cruise: Take the basic cruise fare and multiply it by 1.75 per person. (New to cruising? Check out First time cruise tips.)

Myth #5: Your personal auto insurance covers damages to your rental in case of accident. If you don’t have your own insurance, your credit card will cover you.

Renters who don’t own a car—and thus don’t have their own insurance—often believe they are covered by their credit card. Not so. Almost all credit card companies offer something called “secondary insurance,” which only kicks in when you’ve exhausted the limits of your primary policy. And if you don’t have a primary policy, then you are not covered at all. But even if you are covered, be sure to check your policy limits. If your personal car is only worth $5,000 and you total a car worth $20,000, you’re out $15,000. (For more information read Five things you should know before you drive abroad.)

Myth #6: The way cabin air is circulated makes the plane a prime breeding ground for colds and flu viruses.

Indeed, some airlines do save money by re-circulating air instead of purging and replacing it. And while there’s no scientific proof that breathing someone else’s in the cabin will make you sick, it’s certainly prudent to take precautions such as washing your hands often, keeping yourself hydrated and turning off the air vent over your head to keep your own air around you longer and put off breathing someone else’s. (For more, see Beat travel bugs.)

Myth #7: Your hotel card key can be used to steal your identity and credit card information.

Hotels do not put your personal information on the card. At the most, they will encode the room number and activation date.

Source: ForbesTraveler.com

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