It happens to the best of us. We plan for months, we do our research, we find a great flight, book the perfect hotel, and get excited. After weeks of anticipation, the day finally comes that we arrive at our destination…and it is nothing like what we had hoped for. We are disappointed beyond belief. Now what? What should you do when you don’t like your destination?
What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Destination
Admitting that you don’t like your destination can be difficult, especially when you’re traveling with someone else. Maybe they are loving it, and you feel bad admitting that you aren’t. Maybe you were in charge of planning everything, and you’re embarrassed that things aren’t living up to the hype. Maybe you simply just don’t want to admit it to yourself. Whatever the reason, just be honest with yourself. So you don’t love this place. That doesn’t mean the trip has to be a complete failure. Once you admit your dissatisfaction, you can…
Figure Out What’s Bugging You.
Is it the hotel? The part of the city you’re in? The culture? The people around you? If you figure out what’s truly bothering you, you might be able to make a minor adjustment that can breathe a whole new life into your trip – such as when we switched hotels in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, and ended up having an awesome time. (Read more about that story here.)
Make The Best Of It.
If you decide you’re going to stick it out at your current destination, try to find ways to enjoy yourself. Sure, maybe this place isn’t all it promised to be. But is there an awesome restaurant you could try? A class or a tour you could book? A nearby day trip that might be more your style? Do what you can to try to redeem the destination – you just might be pleasantly surprised.
If It’s Truly Horrible, And You Have The Ability, Go Somewhere Else.
Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses and move on. This isn’t always possible, depending on the type of trip, but if you’re backpacking with no real itinerary, hit the road! There’s nothing wrong with leaving a place early if you don’t like it. Cancelling accommodation or activities could come with a hefty cancellation fee, so just make sure that it’s really worth it to you before you move along.
Try To Avoid High Expectations In The Future.
99.9% of the times that life has disappointed me, it’s because I had high expectations. This was the case for most of Southern Thailand, my first AirBNB experience in Vancouver, and even several races I’ve run where I went in with ridiculously crazy goals. It’s hard not to play the comparison game, especially with the internet making it so easy to witness the experiences of other people through travel blogs, Instagram feeds, and Facebook posts.
Over time, I’ve learned that a little research is a good thing, but the best experiences typically come from spontaneity and low expectations. This is exactly what happened to me in Madagascar – I knew almost nothing about the country, and I completely fell in love with it more than I ever imagined was possible. It won’t happen that way every time, but try to let go of such concrete expectations and itineraries and leave some room for the magic to happen.
Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t live up to your expectations? Did you stick it out or move on? I want to hear your stories! Reply in the comments, tweet me, or join the conversation on Facebook.