How to avoid travel disappointment: tips from a seasoned traveler

Travel disappointment. I dare to say that we have all experienced it, one way or the other. So today I am sharing my tips on how to avoid travel disappointment. They all come from experience: traveling for years, being surprised in a nice way, but also having my share of disappointment. I hope these travel tips will help you and will show you what you can do in order to have the best time on your trips!

How to avoid travel disappointment: tips from a seasoned traveler

Why does the travel disappointment appear?

Like I said, I had my share of travel disappointments. In each, there was a lesson to be learned. And yes, there were quite a few lessons to be learned!

Now, a simple conclusion would be:

travel disappointment appears when the reality doesn’t meet the expectations.

It sounds simple to comprehend, and yet we still get disappointed when traveling, sometimes at least.

In other words, what you see and what you get when you are in a given place is not what you thought you’d see/get.

Or the getting there part was a lot harder than expected – for instance a hike. Or there was a huge line or crowd – at a museum or at a famous attraction – like the Great Wall from China.

So, how can we avoid travel disappointment? Here are my best travel tips!
Don’t set your expectations based on photos you’ve seen online

With so many instagram accounts that feature amazing photos from across the globe, with so many blogs and articles on various famous website which have gorgeous pictures, it’s easy to have an image about a place we plan on visiting it.

But, as I am sure many people know, several bloggers said that the instagram photos are some sort of a lie (you can find numerous articles on the topic online). It takes for ever to get the perfect picture, it is post-processed, and only then posted. And pictures are taken when the weather is perfect.

So yes, the pictures are perfect. But they are not necessarily the reality. Don’t expect paradise. Remember that the best photos you see online are taken with the best light and edited. So, expect a lower contrast in colours, expect people as you will not be the only visitor, etc.

I explained, with many more details, why you should NOT set your expectations too HIGH when traveling to avoid disappointment and all that I said in that article is still true.

Do your research

You’ve probably seen many pictures about the colourful river Cano Cristales.

You might know that it is located in Colombia and you might be able to travel there next week. You shouldn’t. Not if you want to see the river colored. Because the colors are given by some algae and they are in bloom in a given period.

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So, you see, the golden rule of traveling is research. I presented it a while ago, and it is just as valid, and for everyone.

But don’t think that the research is limited only to finding out the best period for visiting a place. No. It’s about learning the relevant information so that you will know what to expect. For instance, when I visited the Louvre, I didn’t know that the Mona Lisa painting is behind a glass window and that you are a few meters away from it (unlike almost all the other exhibits there). So yes, I had a love-hate relationship with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Thinking about it, it is logical to have the painting protected, as not all the people are like me, just there to admire it. But I didn’t expect that, so, for a few minutes, it was a disappointing experience. I am still blessed to have been able to see it live, I admit it!

Mona Lisa - Leonardo da Vinci
Mona Lisa – Leonardo da Vinci

So, another tip on how to avoid travel disappointment is this: do your research, and do it well. You will learn important information, you’ll be able to save money, and you’ll minimize the risk of being disappointed on your trips.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that you should know everything there is to know before traveling. No. There should be some mystery still. And you’ll always discover things you didn’t know, plus the fact that you’ll be seeing for yourself all those places you only saw online, will make the experience special. But I believe in being prepared and in knowing the upside and the downside.

Be realistic

Speaking of being prepared, another travel tip from experience on how to avoid travel disappointed is this: be realistic. As I said, you shouldn’t set your expectations too high, but you should also take in consideration all the factors that may impact your travel.

For instance, when I visited Versailles Palace, a must see UNESCO World Heritage Site near Paris, I loved the amazing statues and the impressive organ and I learned some interesting curiosities regarding the Versailles Palace.

Versailles Palace - statue
Versailles Palace – statue

But I was not able to admire the beautiful gardens, as they were NOT yet done. They were preparing to plant the flowers. It was early spring – in fact I wrote a detailed article on The good and the bad of visiting Paris in March – and they were not yet prepared.

But, while it was disappointing for a few seconds, I realized it was logical (my trip to Paris was an out of the blue, unexpected surprise, I had a few days to plan all, buy the tickets, etc.). So, as it was a unique opportunity for me to visit Paris (I don’t honestly know if I’ll have the chance to go back again), I enjoyed every moment.

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Also, when you are planning your trip, make sure to know what you’ll get, and don’t expect more. For instance, if you look at 2 stars hotels, then it is obvious you won’t have the 4-5 stars experience that perhaps other friends or travelers had.

Don’t expect to be the only visitor

Did you see those famous online articles that have two pictures saying expectations and reality? In almost all of them, the problem is the fact that there are many other people, that there are lines, or that the expectations’ photo offers only a detail, a close-up (a statue, a fountain, a painting, etc.), while the reality is that MANY people come to see that place/monument. So yes, don’t expect to be the only visitor at the Louvre, for instance.

Expect crowds and long lines – for instance, I waited for more than one hour in line to enter Musee d’Orsay in Paris, but we entered immediately at the Versailles Palace as it was spring and there were people, but not the famous lines that you’d see during the summer.

Also, as I already presented the example, there is a line, a crowd of people, constantly, in front of the Mona Lisa painting, and it is not surprising. If you are there to see it, why assume others aren’t?

How to avoid travel disappointment: tips from a seasoned traveler; travel tips

Don’t expect the perfect weather

Now, you might be lucky, but then again, you might have rainy days. I had a vacation at the seaside when it rained in 4 of the 7 days we had there. And it wasn’t really hot outside.

But we had a great time there, as we went visiting nearby cities/resorts, we did some shopping, we admired the sea (the reason why we were there).

And I offered you many examples on how to enjoy travel during bad weather. You shouldn’t let the bad weather ruin your trip. For instance, it rained during the first two days (out of five) I had in Paris. I still went out, visited museums, see the city!

Be very careful when making reservations

Choosing the best hotel, the right means of transportation, choosing the right place in an airplane, choosing well when to visit a place, etc. these are all important aspect. In my opinion, these are all related to the do your research tip, but I decided to put them in a separate note, as they are decisive.

It’s really important to document about your hotel. See where it is located, means of transportation, etc. Also, check the available flights or trains.

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It’s really important to work with serious travel agencies, if you use them to book your trip and tours.

Pay attention to all these details, as they are a huge part of a perfect trip!

Enjoy each moment of your travel

I think that this should be a rule in every trip, for every vacation. In fact, it should be a motto in life. As cheesy as it may sound, keep in mind that no other visit to a city/country/place will be the same. It will never be the first one. It will never be at the same age (month, day). So, instead of finding all the wrong things that can be found with the trip, try to make the most of it.

If you don’t enjoy each moment of your travel, you’ll regret it. Believe me. I had trips in which, for various reasons (people I was with, health issues, etc.), I didn’t enjoy those days, that experience. And now, I have those bad memories with me. I can’t change them, but I can try to make good memories each time I travel. I can try to overcome the obstacles, the bad things in my trips.

So yes, this is one of the best tips from years of traveling on how to avoid travel disappointment: enjoy each moment. Make the most of all your trips!

A special final note

Now, all these tips will help you minimize the risk of being disappointed when you travel. But you may still have bitter moments (for instance, I didn’t get the romantic Paris, as it is all given by the yellow lights seen at night – but, hey, I have those at home, in Bucharest, called the Little Paris, too, so…). But such moments can turn into funny memories: here’s how romance literally hit me in the face in Paris [Be warned: you will laugh!].

Always keep this in mind:

enjoy all your travels, enjoy each moment, and be prepared.

How to avoid travel disappointment: tips from a seasoned traveler; travel tips





I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

5 thoughts on “How to avoid travel disappointment: tips from a seasoned traveler

  • 8 August, 2017 at 02:53

    I am all about doing my researching and making plans in advance. The only place that ever really disappointed me was Las Vegas. I was thoroughly unimpressed.

  • 8 August, 2017 at 14:20

    Great tips – I always feel a little disappointed when the weather isn’t great however I’ve experienced New York/Chicago in Winter and India in Summer – and enjoyed it more than imaginable!

  • 8 August, 2017 at 15:10

    Researching before you go on vacation is important. This is some great advice.

  • 9 August, 2017 at 05:41

    I haven’t ever had travel disappointment, thank god. But next time that I travel I’m going to use some of your tips to really enjoy traveling and to not worry about what other people enjoyed about it. i especially like don’t base it on photos from the interent. i feel like that’s just life.

  • 24 April, 2021 at 19:01

    All fantastic points and I agree with all of them especially the last part about enjoying all of it, the here and now, the simple details and being present and enjoying everything that is different and fun to experience. Fantastic post!


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