Practical TipsTRAVEL TIPS

What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Destination

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?

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What To Do When You Don’t Like Your Destination


Be Honest.

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…

Photo of Buddha statues in Costa Rica
Not digging your destination? Read on…

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.)

Photo of Koh Phi Phi Thailand Beach
Most people are shocked to learn that Koh Phi Phi was my least favourite place that I’ve ever been.

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.

The Highlight of our trip to Ixtapa – A private palapa on Ixtapa Island

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.

Photo of Baliwood Mansion Pool in Ubud
The most beautiful spot we found in Ubud

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.

Photo of Canoe on Madagascar Beach
The overwhelming and unexpected beauty of Madagascar


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.

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.


  1. Great article! When you travel a lot you definitely have a least favorite spot.
    When I stay somewhere and feel like I do not like it (wether it is the hotel, city or something else) I just leave and travel on.

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