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Travel Tips: How To Deal With Broken Trip Expectations


Photo courtesy of Zephyrance Lou.

It’s happened to me many times before. You spend weeks getting excited for an upcoming trip, imagining how it will be the best vacation you’ve ever taken; however, when you get there it doesn’t live up the hype you’ve created, or something gets in the way. Recently I was excited to head to Lima, a city I’d imaged to be full of local eateries and experiences, but was disappointingly westernized for my tastes. Before that, I spent weeks planning a wild yet romantic trip to Las Vegas with my then-boyfriend, only to have us beak up before the week was over. No matter how far off the picture you painted in your mind is from reality, don’t let it ruin your trip. Here some travel tips to help you successfully deal with broken trip expectations.

Take A Deep Breath

Take a deep breath. Can you manage that? Good, you’re still alive. Remain calm and realize it’s not the end of the world your expectations were higher than your actual experience. Each time you feel your mind wandering to a negative place, try to relax yourself and keep your thoughts positive. Many times, your mindset alone can be the difference between a positive experience and a ruined trip.

Go With It

Do you hate the food? Are the locals unfriendly? Do you feel like there’s nothing to do? Go with it. Order something completely bizarre and chalk it up to trying something new, laugh about your awkward encounters and spend time wandering around the seemingly barren area. There are times when I’ve done this and actually made some worthwhile discoveries.
ice cream sundae

Ice cream sundae. Photo courtesy of stevendepolo.


If you’re starting to hate a place, indulge in something you know you’ll love in an effort to change your taste for the trip. No matter how much you’re disappointed in a city, you’ll be smiling when you’re wrapped in a plush robe after a massage, or enjoying a 5-course meal at a highly rated restaurant. Hopefully, these positive feelings will become associated with the place you’re in.

Try To Spin Your Story

Take on the role of a traveling public relations guru and spin the negative story into something positive. To do this, you’ll have to start with your outlook on the situation. Make a list of what’s disappointing you about the place, and think about if it’s really worth being upset over. If the hotel isn’t as nice as you’d hoped or you’re unimpressed with the architecture, is that enough to ruin the whole destination for you? Going back to my Las Vegas example, instead of focusing on how my boyfriend and I weren’t getting along, I thought about the world-class restaurants, clubs and bars I was getting to experience, and the lively environment of The Strip. While it wasn’t the trip I’d fantasized about, I can still smile at the good memories that came out of it.

Find The Beauty In It

There aren’t many places where you won’t be able to find anything worthwhile, even if it’s just one great restaurant or attraction. Maybe your hotel has a beautiful pool or there are some nearby scenic hikes you can do. Give yourself a mission to discover the beauty in your destination and enjoy those aspects. When I was backpacking South America and in Puno, Peru, I didn’t have enough time or money to visit the nearby islands, so I had to stay in the city. While upon first glance there doesn’t appear to be much to do – and it’s one tourist attraction, Lake Titicaca, is filthy in this area – I decided to spend my time relaxing and wandering around. I discovered an excellent local eatery that served fresh seafood for $0.75, a worthwhile indigenous market, a short but challenging viewpoint hike and even befriended some local business owners who talked to me about Peruvian culture. Overall, it ended up being one of my favorite stops on the trip.

Photo courtesy of Jean Henrique Wichinoski.

Don’t Try To Change What You Can’t

If there’s something disappointing you about the trip you can’t change, don’t dwell on it. There’s no point and will only make you feel worse. Accept it, and make the best of it.

But, Do Change What You Can

If you’re in a destination you really aren’t enjoying, is there something keeping you there? Even if your flight is booked out of the local airport, you can always travel to nearby cities and come back in time to go home. If it’s your hotel that’s bothering you, what is the penalty if you stay somewhere else? Take action and change the aspects of your trip you’re unhappy with.

Ask Locals For Help

The best way to learn why a city is so great is to befriend knowledgeable locals and pepper them with questions. Ask them what they like to do, why they love the city and what they can tell you about the culture. These people know the city better than any guidebook, and can lead you to interesting places you’ve never heard of.

Learn For Next Time

Having too high of expectations for anything in life can lead to disappointment. That’s not to say you should assume the worst of everything, but there is a middle ground. Instead of imagining a trip will be the best you’ve ever taken, think about feasible things you can get out of it. For example, maybe you heard Spain had great food. Instead of gearing yourself up to eat “the best food you’ve ever had,” aim to learn about the tapas culture itself. Keeping an open mind when traveling and learning to enjoy the adventure instead of expecting everything to be perfect is a smart way to ensure a successful trip.
Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

I'm a conscious solo traveler on a mission to take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!

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