Last week I told you about my dismal time spending New Year’s in Time Square, and asked you what your most disappointing travel experiences are. I got a slew of answers! Some were passionate, some unsure and some completely contradicted each other. Bottom line: you guys have a lot of complaints!
Some of your complaints were pretty straightforward:
My worst travel experience was visiting London for a week in 2009. I was disappointed by the lack of late-night public transportation and spent much more time walking than I was accustomed to. The London Eye was terrible and the weather was gloomy everyday. To make matters worst, bed bugs came back with me which just completely ruined the entire trip.
Toronto, Canada. It felt so run down in much of the downtown area. I was staying next to the harbor near the convention center and felt like 2 blocks in any direction quickly became sketchy. The museums were nice. The rest, not so much. Windy and rainy didn’t help.
The Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam is surely my biggest travel disappointment. They have been transformed into a little Vietnam War Disneyland, complete with firing range and what our guide termed “VC KFC” – aka a place to eat the cassava plant that Viet Cong soldiers lived on for months at a time. At least the tour only cost $5…
A lot of your complaints seemed based on mitigating factors:
My biggest travel disappointment was the whole city of Dublin…nothing felt Irish about it at all and people were rude as hell. BUT I’m willing to give it a second chance…a lot of my feelings probably stem from the fact I picked up a stomach bug while there and I was miserable. If I do ever make it back to Ireland though, I want to see much more outside the city.
My biggest travel disappointment was easily my hungover adventure to Rio de Janeiro. I was spending a month living with my Brazilian friend in Belo Horizonte and we stayed up until 6 AM after a long night of drinking cachaca. We fell asleep only to be woken up 30 minutes later for our trip to Rio.
We arrived tired, hungover and distracted. We were only there for 2 days and I spent most of it sucking on a bottle of life-giving H2O. Needless to say, next time I’m in Rio, I’ll do it in a much better state of mind!
My biggest travel disappointment was when I went to Detroit (from Japan) for a weekend (yes, that’s right…. my flight time combined was longer than I had on the ground) to visit a man I thought I was in love with. Turns out, I wasn’t in love with him, he wasn’t in love with me… and I was in Detroit. Uggh. Oh, and some Taiwanese woman stole my cookies (Mint Milano cookies, mind you!) on the flight back. Bad, bad, bad trip!
Some of you completely disagreed: there was quite a debate going on regarding the merits of Austin, Texas:
Austin, TX. Everyone keeps raving about it. It’s supposed to be such an up-and-coming city. Well, maybe if I were 21 again and into the whole clubbing/bar scene. We did see the giant bat flight at twilight which was cool (though again with the long wait in uncomfortable…this time HOT…weather). But basically to me Austin was just another city with nothing particularly memorable about it. A college town that might be cool if I were still in college.
Ok so the Austinite has to chime in – Austin definitely requires a plan and that includes outdoor activities. Canoeing, seeing the 5 highland lakes, going west into the hills for camping/cookout, seeing the music and food anchors in the city, the French legation, TexMex, all 5 campuses, various spas, the bookstores and coffeeshops, the local stores…as some one mentioned, maybe Austin now requires a tourguide. I’d say try again another time, but not in college mindset. It would be disappointing if yer not 21 and trying to drink on 6th street.
Some of you questioned the very idea of being disappointed while traveling:
I’m never really disappointed when I travel because the sheer act of traveling is always a thrill.
There’s no such thing as a place unto itself…unless it’s a postcard. The underwhelming food, cloudy views, and boring people are still essential to the journey. It’s taken quite a few trips, but I’ve finally been able to just GO and experience without holding on too tightly to how I think everything should be. Not ALL travel is sublime. In a way, that’s sort of the point. You just do and take it for what it is. It’s never the place or the weather or the circumstances that disappoint, it’s the expectations that you bring to it.
A lot of conflicted and conflicting opinions in the end. Actually, I think my favorite piece of advice from the whole conversation came from ReidonTravel on Twitter.
Didn’t care for Chiang Mai. Must go back. In travel we must question our own impressions too.