Daydreams of world travel often feature champagne greetings, comfy first-class seats, romantic train rides with stunning scenery, moderate hikes to gorgeous vistas, and contemplative strolls through historic sites that connect your soul with antiquity.
But, yeah, you know where we’re going with this one, right?
Certainly the “wow” moments abound on any well-planned globe trek, but they are usually just that: moments. And they are 100% worth all the hassle of getting there. In fact, the hassle, the journey, is what expands your mind, opens your heart and gives you the rich cultural experience. We wouldn’t trade it for all the luxury yachts in the world!
We are just as guilty as the next traveler of regaling our friends with tales of exotic adventures and skipping over—sometimes completely forgetting about—the chaos that earns the calm. We call it travelers’ amnesias.
So, here’s a glimpse into those forgotten moments and a word of advice: If reality doesn’t meet your expectations, adjust your expectations and make the most of it. Enjoy the adventure!
1. Stunning Sunset Beach … Just Don’t Look Down!
We were lured to Lovina on Bali because of the beautiful and affordable villa we found with gorgeous views of the Bali Sea. We imagined spending the week taking leisurely walks on the beach and swimming in the tranquil water. BUT no. The beach was so filthy and overrun by chickens and dogs that it wasn’t walkable at all. Though beautiful from afar, the water was murky up close.
On the plus side, the villa was luxurious. We even had a private chef who went to the market each day to get fresh ingredients for our meals. Also, there was a comfortable cabana in the yard, which was a perfect place for sunset happy hours … and the sunsets were outstanding! Even though there wasn’t much to do, it was nice to just unwind with a good book … and the super cheap spa services in town certainly helped pass the time!
2. Pyramid-View Apartments?
No place could be further in reality from its romantic appeal than the Pyramids of Giza. As if hordes of tourists and scam artists aren’t bad enough, the pyramids are actually right by the city. So those visions of wandering the dessert and viewing these massive monuments in a picturesque dream need to be seriously adjusted.
You will get some stunning views that give the (false) impression that you’re in vast desert lands. But that’s not reality.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. The view of the Sphinx was especially spectacular! And a stop at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that’s worth every minute of fighting through the crowds.
3. Beautiful Jungle Bungalow … Or Bug-o-Low?
If you fear bugs or rodents, consider a budget trip to Southeast Asia as the perfect exposure therapy. Spiders, roaches and beetles, oh my! When we imagine a cabin in a lush rainforest, it’s probably not this:
We assure you, those nets are needed. After wading to the room on a monsoon-flooded path, you may find that a centipede still made it into the bed and the roaches scurried to the bathroom and the spiders slinked up the wall to keep dry.
Still, there’s nothing quite like the magic of a rainstorm in the jungle. And, let’s be real, you’re in the rainforest. It’s going to rain. There will be bugs.
4. Don’t Leave, But Leave Me Alone
We all love to travel, but as we’ve discussed, travel is tough. Sometimes when you’re on the road you just want to be alone … but not really, you don’t actually want to be left alone in another country. Even the most compatible of travelers will inevitably get under each other’s skin. This was especially true for us on a day that involved a long boat ride, a bus ride and two flights before a 12 hour layover and two more flights home! But the magic of that journey was being in the Amazon jungle one day and home in Washington, D.C. the next!
Accept that travel tiffs will happen, find a way to have some quiet space and let it go.
These are just a few of the times we’ve had to adjust our expectations or simply accept the inconveniences of travel. In our view, when things go as planned, that’s great! But remember, the things that go awry almost always make the better story later!
What are some of your biggest travel adjustments? Tell us in the comments.