Travel is often considered one of life’s greatest pleasures. Traveling is synonymous with adventure and discovery of new things we never knew existed before. We get to meet new people, experience new cultures, try new foods and marvel at places on the other side of the world that are so vastly different than what we are used to seeing every day in our normal lives. When you look at all the perks of jumping on a plane and setting out to explore the world, there simply don’t seem to be too many downsides. Seems like it’s all smooth sailing!
But the truth is that no matter how great traveling is, it definitely has its pitfalls. They simply aren’t highlighted by most, but they do in fact exist. Of course, this isn’t to say that these things will always take place and ruin a perfectly good vacation, but it’s better to be aware of the potential downsides to prepare ahead of time for the possibilities or even skip a certain place altogether.
Here are 25 reasons traveling can be a letdown!
25 Crowded Beaches
A beach destination is often considered one of the most popular vacation choices by the average traveler. After all, what’s not to like? A delicious drink while lying out on the beach, under the sun enjoying the waves crashing in front of you. It simply can’t be beaten.
Unless you’ve chosen one of the hundreds of beaches that have become overrun with other tourists looking to replicate the same exact dream scenario above. Crowded beaches aren’t just a cautionary tale for those looking to have some fun in the sun. They are almost a certainty depending on how popular your destination is and can be a major letdown if relaxation was on the agenda. Plan ahead!
24 Hotel Letdowns
There’s no place like home. That’s as cliché a saying as ever, but it’s also one of the most accurate. When you travel, staying at a hotel is almost a given which means you are at the mercy of a corporation that is primarily focused on turning a profit. Your stay and comfort are essentially secondary to that bottom line. Sure, chances are they will make the effort to give you the stay you deserve, but sometimes hotels simply come up short.
It’s not uncommon to spend hundreds of dollars for a nice room and find yourself severely disappointed in a classic failed case of expectations vs. reality. Sometimes the hotels are simply unclean, not as luxurious as they were advertised or are missing basic essentials needed for a stay.
23 Layovers and Airport Delays
The hassle of dealing with airports already appeared on our list, but this entry is distinct because it is specific to the worst travel mishap of them all. Having to sleep in an airport because a flight was cancelled is probably the worst experience a traveler can go through and it’s one that is all too familiar.
Missing a connecting flight because of a delay or simply having a flight cancelled due to weather is a fairly normal event at airports across the world every day. Being stuck in a city and waiting for the next flight at 5am and trying to get some sleep in the terminal with nothing but your sweater can be a truly unwanted experience.
22 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – Mona Lisa
This one is going to make our list a few times, but it’s an unfortunate truth that we all have to come to terms with. Sometimes that one famous landmark known throughout the world for its place in history or legendary status that we cannot wait to see just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Case in point is the Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has long been one of the most sought-after pieces of art with millions of tourists flocking to Paris’ Louvre Museum yearly, with her being the star.
Sure, she is supposed to be the crème de la crème of paintings, but the reality is that the trip just might not be worth all the fuss and trouble. No matter the time or day, the exhibit that holds the Mona Lisa is always packed with countless tourists looking to snap a photo of the painting. So if reflection and tranquility is what you're after, be prepared not to find it.
21 The intimidation factor of Flying
Although most of us at some point in our lives will book a vacation and take a plane, the fear of flying is one of the most cited phobias in the world up there with spiders and heights.
The thought of putting your life in the hands of a pilot 35,000 feet in the air seems to get a lot of people jittery and stressed beyond all reason. It is not uncommon to be on a plane and find yourself surrounded by fellow passengers who are anxiety-ridden and look like they have just seen a ghost.
In fact, there’s a good chance this person is you. Sure, the three hours in the air might be awful, but fun awaits you on the other side of the country!
20 Animals Might Not Always Be So Cuddly
When you travel to distant lands and set your sights on getting to know the wild, the possibilities for fun are endless. You can visit places like the outback, go camping in the woods, book a safari trip in Africa, hike the mountains or sail out to sea.
All of these are excellent examples of wildlife adventures, but they also pose one common issue: The animals that live in all of these ecosystems can be dangerous. And although we find them fascinating, it doesn’t mean they aren’t wild animals that can put a damper on our travels by lashing out or putting us in danger.
19 Airbnb Letdowns
Hotels are the most used form of lodging, but Airbnb is beginning to take up a much bigger slice of the industry with each passing year. The prices and amenities included with their service are sometimes too good to pass on, leaving the hotel industry in the dust. But with little regulation intervening, it sometimes means what you pay for is not what you get. The number of horror stories travelers have experienced with similar services is countless.
The fact that these lodging spaces are run by homeowners gives them the freedom to provide the services they feel like offering and sometimes this means substandard conditions. Dodgy apartment buildings, run-down houses, questionable neighborhoods and the like might be waiting for you.
18 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – The Great Wall of China
Another example of world-famous landmarks not quite living up to the hype as we hope joins our list. Although the Great Wall of China is as astounding as the world claims it is, with a remarkable 13,000 miles of wall weaving its way through China, it certainly has its shortcomings.
For starters, if you don’t plan your trip to the wall carefully, you could end up looking at the portions of the structure that have become dilapidated, worn down and sometimes even crumbling. The landmark is so old that it is quite literally coming apart in certain sections.
What's even more frustrating is that the structure has become so popular that there’s a strong likelihood that when you visit, you are going to get to know hundreds of fellow tourists, making your trip a little less enlightening.
17 The Hassle of Airports
The average person views airports with a disdain that very few other places experience. Airports are simply seen as a source of stress, worry and chaos. There’s probably good reason for it too, considering that the airport is probably where most travel horror stories originate.
If something goes wrong while vacationing, there’s a pretty decent chance it took place here. Issues like lost luggage, flight delays, having items confiscated by security or the simple anxiety of having to make it to your gate on time because of long lines are all reasons people wish they could avoid airports like the plague.
16 The Food Can Be… Different
We should all be open to trying new foods when taking a trip to a new country or city. After all, what’s the point of looking for an Outback Steakhouse or a McDonald’s when you have so many foreign foods you’ll like never get to try again? This is the time to live a little and throw caution to the wind.
More times than not, trying a dish that looks like something out of a movie will end with a smile. But sometimes, our taste buds are worlds apart and the food just isn’t for us.
Tourists often find themselves unable to stomach the local foods, leading to a pretty underwhelming vacation. Even worse, having a reaction and getting sick after eating something prepared at a food truck or local restaurant happens pretty often.
15 Losing Your Luggage
This one is about as bad as it gets. There are fewer vacation mishaps that can top the dreaded lost luggage fiasco. Although it is a rare occurrence, it is definitely not unheard of. In fact, we all know someone that has had to go through this.
It’s simply luck of the draw and if it happens to you, good luck trying to enjoy your trip to Cabo.
All of your belongings and precious personal items might be stuck a thousand miles away while you only have the clothes you are wearing and the purse you’re holding until the airport can locate your suitcase. Even then, it’s still going to take some time to get it placed on the next appropriate flight to your destination. This is definitely a headache that can ruin a trip altogether.
14 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – Stonehenge
Another famous landmark that joins our list as an underwhelming site is Britain’s Stonehenge. Through photos, we see it as this majestic place of mystery and incredible historical significance, which it is. But with this perception comes the expectation that a visit will be profound and overwhelming. The truth is, the site is right off the highway with cars zooming by at high speeds and a recent barrier that keeps onlookers away from the towering stones, all fighting to get a good view and photo op of the landmark.
All in all, the trip out there may be an underwhelming experience.
13 Getting Lost in a Foreign Place
This might sound like something out of a horror movie, but it happens. In fact, it’s a really common vacation blunder that can end up being a tale of a really bad day or it can sometimes turn out to be much more ominous.
Getting lost in the streets of London or New York City, losing a whole day and having to find your way back to your hotel can be a bummer, but there are also serious cases of travelers finding themselves lost in the middle of the forest or the outback desert.
These are the instances which are certainly intimidating and have even ended with vacationers never returning home again. A trip to a remote part of the world certainly means careful planning and consideration for the dangers of potentially getting lost.
12 Tourists Get Scammed
When we travel to distant cities where the language isn’t the same and the people look vastly different, it should come as no surprise that we stick out like a sore thumb and our status as a tourist is painfully obvious to the locals.
Unfortunately, for some, this represents a golden opportunity to scam foreigners who don’t know the lay of the land or the customs. This is especially true in underdeveloped countries where things like Uber doesn’t exist, so you have to rely on local transportation which can end up overcharging for a simple ride two miles down the road.
It’s also normal practice to convince unknowing tourists that customs in the country call for a charge for certain activities which are essentially made up by someone looking to make a quick dollar.
11 Traveling is Expensive
One of the harshest realities of traveling is that it can be quite expensive. Sure there are ways to cut costs and skip out on paying exorbitant amounts of money for the vacation of our dreams, but in the end, they tend to be high dollar affairs. The cost of flying or driving to the destination, along with overnight lodging, visiting landmarks, paying to get into attractions, eating out and so much more are all part of the experience.
It is actually a fairly common occurrence to come back home counting pennies after you’ve had your fun. So although the time away may have been great, questioning if it was worth it after the expenses add up might taint an otherwise great experience.
10 Being Stuck With Someone You Don’t End Up Liking
They say you don’t really know someone until you have had the chance to live with them. Well, if moving in together is too much of a commitment, a great way to know if you can bear to be with someone is to take a weeklong trip together. By the end of the vacation, you’ll certainly know if it’s a fit or time to call it quits.
Many couples find themselves together for extended periods of time for the first while traveling and it’s not rare to find yourself stuck with someone you simply cannot stand being with after initially thinking otherwise. The awkwardness and bickering that ensues for the next five days can be the thing of nightmares!
9 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – Hollywood
Los Angeles, California is known throughout the world as the place where famous celebs live. The city is synonymous with Hollywood, well-known for its place in the world of cinema. Tourists flock to LA to visit the area known as Hollywood, but are going to be somewhat bummed to find that there really isn’t all that much to write home about.
The area is full of souvenir shops and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with the famous Hollywood sign above on the hills, are mediocre to put it nicely. It’s great to be able to say you are in Hollywood, but actually spending time there doesn’t live up to the hype.
8 Taking Kids Can Be a Chore
It goes without saying that we all love our kids endlessly. But it needs to be said. Sometimes taking children on a trip can feel like more of a job than an actual vacation. This is especially true when considering their ages.
The younger they are, the more difficult it is to travel with children. The list of difficulties is pretty long: boarding a plane with a toddler, always needing to account for snacks and food, the chaos of finding a restroom every hour, the complaining that sometimes comes with it. The list goes on and although our children are our greatest joys, traveling with them isn’t necessarily one of them.
7 Trips Can Be Exhausting
Kids or no kids, ever heard someone say they are completely spent after returning from a vacation? We might think they are being spoiled and ungrateful, but the reality is that taking a trip can actually be pretty exhausting. It’s pretty normal to feel more tired after a vacation compared to how you felt beforehand.
The airport, jet lag, finding your way around a foreign city, unpacking at a hotel, always being on the move scurrying from one landmark to the next and then repeating it all over again to get home are all pretty busy activities that eventually take a toll.
6 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – Times Square
It’s odd that in a city full of so much to do and see, its most popular destination is one of the more overrated landmarks in the world. Times Square is definitely one of those bucket list locations that everyone should check off at one point in their lives. But it’s also one that everyone should go into with tempered expectations.
It lives up to the hype of the bright lights and larger than life grandiose feeling, but where you’ll likely be let down is how incredibly overpopulated this little block of city gets.
Walking within inches of strangers and surrounded by scammers and shops that are overpriced to trap tourists isn’t exactly the best of times.
5 Losing Your Personal Belongings
The airline losing your luggage is one thing, but losing your wallet while touring the local farmer’s market is an entirely different story. It’s nearly a certainty that your suitcase will be in your hands again at some point, but finding your wallet or purse after losing it in a foreign city is highly unlikely.
Sure, this can happen back home, but the biggest difference is losing your entire livelihood thousands of miles away from home can be the ultimate stress situation.
The worry of figuring out how to pay for things for the rest of your trip, your identity being taken by a local and possibly not having identification to get back home are all causes for serious anxiety.
4 Being Alone
At some point in most people’s lives, the desire to travel alone and go on a journey will strike. It might sound cliché, but everyone gets that knack for wanting to go on a trip of self-discovery filled with wonders and profound insights into who they are as a person.
It can be enlightening and life-changing, but it’s also true that traveling alone isn’t always smooth sailing. Being alone can be enjoyable and an opportunity to find fulfillment, but it can also be terribly lonely. Not to mention, it can be more difficult having to perform tasks that tend to be easier with a companion.
3 Your Airplane Neighbors
Riding on a plane can be fun for some while others fear it, but one thing we can all agree on is how badly none of us want to sit next to someone who makes for a terrible neighbor.
Traveling means having to accept the possibility of being seated next to someone who doesn’t know the definition of personal boundaries and space or maybe doesn’t understand the importance of good hygiene.
The idea of sitting next to someone who rests their head on your shoulder or won’t stop speaking for the entire three-hour flight is enough to scare us away from traveling altogether.
2 World Famous Landmarks Can be a Letdown – Niagara Falls
Another world famous site that is a harsh reminder that traveling can let you down is the most famous waterfall in the world. Niagara Falls, situated on the border of Canada and New York is visited by millions of annual tourists, all eager to take a picture with the beauty that nature has given us in the form of a giant waterfall.
It’s such a big tourist destination that people even get married at the location. The drawback to so much fame is the fact that Niagara Falls has quite literally become a tourist trap with a giant hotel built merely yards away from the landmark. It’s certainly an eyesore right next to nature’s wondrous beauty.
The neighboring casino and surrounding souvenir shops only downgrade the experience even further.
1 The Language Can Be Tricky
For those traveling to a foreign country thousands of miles away on the other side of the world, this is actually a really common pitfall that somehow many people forget. Not everyone on Earth speaks English and it’s a bit arrogant of us to assume so.
Taking a trip to beloved Paris, visiting the beautiful chaos of Tokyo, or staying in romantic Italy means having to find your way around large cities with little to no knowledge of the language. This can get tricky as you have to learn basic words that the locals might recognize, but usually ends in a confusing dialogue that gets you nowhere.
There’s also the unfortunate occurrence of dealing with someone who might be rude so relying on a little bit of luck for a helpful person is part of the journey!