Travel disappointment? Not the end of the world

Have you planned your trip meticulously? But you still end up disappointed when you get to your dream destination? This can happen because the city is overcrowded or something bad has happened on the road or the place just doesn’t live up to your expectations. All these things can occur and your experience can be the biggest travel disappointment. But it’s not the end of the world, read my tips on how to cope with travel disappointment and you still can make something of your trip!

I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.

Probe around the Globe does use affiliate links. If you decide to follow one of my links and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.

How to overcome Travel Disappointment

Travel disappointment; it’s not the end of the world

When I got off the Trans- Mongolian Railway at Beijing central station, after traveling for more than 2 weeks, I finally had reached the end of my carefully planned journey across the continent. On the first afternoon, I walked from my hotel into town and I was utterly disillusioned with the city.

Where was the magic? Where was the Chinese oriental vibe? All I could see was smog and lots and lots of traffic. Taxis, cars, trains, bicycles, mopeds, tuck-tucks, you name it, they got it. Everyone was racing by and I felt out of place (duh, being a 1.80m (5 foot 11) woman in China, go figure).

Beijing suffering from travel disappointment
Beijing, not how I thought it would be

Looking for tips on how to rock your solo travels to China by Claire’s Footsteps.

Ok, it might have something to do with the fact that I just left Mongolia, which was such an awesome experience. Read my 9 things to experience in Mongolia.

And maybe because I got sick.

But I was taking antibiotics and by the time I arrived in Beijing, I felt much better. But I was just so disappointed with the final goal of my journey. Had I traveled that long and far to end up here?

I really wanted to hop on the next train out of Beijing, but I needed some rest. So I tried to make something of my stay in Beijing. In the end, I stayed for 4 days, during which I strived to enjoy the city.

How to cope with travel disappointment?

Concentrate on 1 element of your destination

When you experience travel disappointment, you cannot really tell exactly what it is that causes the disappointment. It’s a general feeling. Try to get away from the general feel and vibe and focus on 1 specific positive element.

This can be the main attraction in your destination, like in my case the Forbidden City in Beijing. I didn’t want to visit it, but I just forced myself to get out of my hotel and go see it. I even hired a guide and spent many hours wandering the site.

This was a good solution, because focussing on 1 detail, gave me the ability to shake off that general feeling of my travel disappointment.

It took my mind off of the smog and the traffic, as I needed all my energy and focus to understand what the guide was saying in chin-English and check the place out.

Don’t feel guilty for being disappointed

When I left home, all the people around me wished me a good trip. “Have a good time”, “Enjoy yourself”, and more of those phrases.

I walked around Beijing with the feeling like: I have to enjoy myself. I choose to travel. This must be fun. I felt even worst because I put so much pressure on myself.

Beijing overcoming my travel disappointment
I treated myself to some Peking duck.

After visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, I gave myself an “off day”. I allowed myself to do nothing at all for 1 entire day and not feel any pressure that I should be running around town seeing as much as I can or trying to enjoy myself to the maximum.

I slept in big time. Watched a movie on TV. Spent some time on the internet just because I wanted to and went shopping and treated myself to a very delicious meal which was too expensive for my backpacker budget.

I went to a recommended restaurant to eat Peking duck and it was delicious.

For a moment, I put my guilt aside and indulged in a savory dish. I had such a fun evening and felt much better after that.

Look for something that is familiar and which feels good

When you’re disappointed with your travel destination you might feel out of place. Like you do not belong there and everything is out of order.

My advice: try to create a situation where you do feel comfortable. Do something that you know will make you feel good and what is familiar to you.

For some reason, I booked a 4 night’s stay in a hotel, which made me feel very uncomfortable.

So in my case, I left my hotel and went to a backpacker hostel in the city and talked to some staff there, exchanged some books, and talked to some fellow travelers.

This instantly felt better. I didn’t feel out of place with my daypack instead of a fancy purse and could talk with “my kind of people”.

Disappointment is only the lower outcome of your expectations

I’m not saying you should lower your expectations, or not have any expectations at all, but the only reason you’re disappointed is that your expectations were different.

This doesn’t mean you cannot have a good time or enjoy yourself in other ways than you imagined beforehand.

So keep it cool and travel on, your disappointment will vanish over time and your next destination will be even more awesome than you’d thought!

Know you’re not alone!

Travel disappointment can happen to anyone, how carefully you’ve researched the destination, even after following my above advice.

But know you’re not alone out there. Other people might be disappointed too. Of course, you can go on the internet and leave a bad review about a place on TripAdvisor or you be prepared with these backpacking tips for Asia.

Have you ever been disappointed in a destination? Please share your worst travel disappointment tale with me.


  1. Catherine

    Last winter we arrived in Albufeira for a romantic few days on a 6 wk European business/combined holiday. I had booked an apartment for 3 days just to have a home base while seeing the south coast of Portugal.
    Unfortunately we got in late from Lisbon and the woman meeting us with keys to the apartment was another 45 minutes late. When she finally walked us through a construction zone (literally) in the dark to our door & we entered, we were so disappointed in the small, magazine page covered walls, generally not terribly clean. Space was fine, but no beach in sight as photos showed. Misrepresented on the site I booked it on (site never did make us pay, was fantastic; I sent email with complaints & offered photos as proof). Thought for the price & hour, we’d stay the night as now exhausted. It got worse, we were cold as no heater, no light in bathroom…..
    In the early morning we toileted (too dirty/scary to shower), dressed & immediately got out of the place. I told my husband we’d find a nice, hot breakfast on the beach at a nice hotel & we’d turn this into a pleasant stay. That is just what we did. The waiter asked how our visit was going & upon telling him briefly of our misfortune, he suggested he get a price for us to stay at the beach hotel we had enjoyed breakfast at. The price was not much different than the dump apt. & included breakfast daily with our own private balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, right on the beach.
    Generally, over years of travel (50% solo) including much backpacking, I find a relaxing stroll through a nice park in a major city or some other treat (experience) or simply talking with some fellow travellers at a hostel can turn things around quickly.
    Happy holidays, chin up. Sometimes it just can’t get any worse, but if you do your best to change that, you’ll invariably have a good day. In any case, it will be memorable.

  2. I felt similarly about Beijing! But I was lucky because I was with a friend who was so excited to be in China, that I was able to live off his enthusiasm. I also felt that way about Koh Lanta in Thailand. I went during low-season and it was really quiet (so I got bored pretty easily!)

  3. Thanks Naomi, for sharing your experience, even though it was not that good, as we all hope for when we go on carefully planned trip like this. But as they say, we travel to bring back experience and perspectives from new places, some time great and some time not that good, just like life.

  4. Joyce

    When we went to Beijing, there was a sandstorm. It was hard to be outdoors. We left the city to see the Great Wall, and the visibility was pitiful due to the yellow dust. No epic family photo for the holiday card. There was an upside – we had it to ourselves!

Comments are closed.