Have you planned your trip meticulously? But you still end up disappointed when you get to your dreamed 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!
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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).
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, in 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 in Beijing with a 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.
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 and see as much as I can or try 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 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 travellers.
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 because 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.