How to manage your travel expectations to have a better holiday experience

How to manage your travel expectations to have a better holiday experience

Deciding to travel to a new destination is very exciting and while planning for it you probably read lots of reviews on TripAdvisor about the hotel or excursions you plan to do, you may look at Instagram for inspiration from pictures of the destination, read guide books and magazines and you’ve imagined yourself having the perfect break, and thus set your expectations sky high.

However a multitude of things could happen to disappoint you and thus lower your expectations, relating to the trip, from the instant you get on the flight, such as delays, or your luggage being lost, to put you in a sour mood, or events while you are there.

Here’s how to manage your expectations to have a better travel experience and an amazing trip.

Don’t rely on stock photos or overly curated Instagram Photos

When looking at photos of the hotel you are going to stay at, or having seen perfectly curated snaps of the destination, we often form a pre-conception of what we think our holiday will be like before we even experience it.

The danger with this is that often the content we are looking at, be it in magazines, TripAdvisor, Instagram or guide books, is often a carefully-curated idealisation, using photoshop and filters, to make places look as enticing as possible.

Not every destination can give you the “postcard effect”. In fact, most of them won’t. Places that are heavily advertised as pristine destinations might end up being dirty or overcrowded in reality.

As an example, we’ve all seen the perfect photos of The Taj Mahal with no-one in sight. But there are hundreds of people wandering around at any given time in reality rendering it impossible to get a photo with only you in it.

My recommendation is to use Instagram, but look at the location tag, to get a sense of the kind of reality to expect.

Try to go off season

Some places get ridiculously busy out of popularity and I would suggest trying to go during the low season, if you have the flexibility, as not only will there be less crowds, you will find that there will be better prices too!

We found this when researching to go to Santorini. Just by comparing the price for when we were going versus two weeks later there was a major price hike and we also found out that it would be a busier time for cruise ships docking had we gone two weeks later.

This can be problematic as places like Oia get super packed when the cruise ship arrives and you are literally bumping into people as you wander around – not a pleasant experience.

In terms of accommodation, we also got to stay in an incredible hotel with its own hot tub at an affordable price which was insanely expensive two weeks later!

So do your price comparisons when set on a certain destination and see if there is a significant difference.

Do plenty of research

Coloseum in Rome

If you have specific dietary requirements or there are places you want to see that require advance booking, do your research and book in advance of your trip to avoid disappointment or queues.

Some places can be extremely popular and so plan go get there early too.

Make a rough list of what the highlights of a destination are so that you don’t come back and get upset that you missed something either!

Don’t over plan your itinerary

The best travel moments usually arise from unplanned moments, detours or getting lost. The more you’ve planned and curated your trip in advance to meet certain expectations, the less of an opportunity you have for this serendipity.

Leave free time to just wander and actually relax. That’s what we did in Rome and I discovered this beautiful street with stunning foliage just from going on a detour!

Go with an open mind

Sometimes things happen which are out of your control such as rain, or strong wing, which can ruin any outdoor plans, for example.

Have an open mind about it and a plan B and don’t let the disappointment of not being able to do what you wanted when you wanted ruin your trip.

This happened to us when we went to Bali – we had to cut our trip short as the Volcano was showing signs that it may erupt, but we took it in our stride and made the most of the time we did have left there before evacuating.

Remember the one thing you always have control over is how you respond to situations. You cannot always control the reality of your trip, but you can control how you react. You can be happy and take things with stride or you choose to throw a fit.

If something happens that might thwart your plans, view it as a challenge or a new adventure and not as a sign of a wasted trip.

My advice is go with the flow and no matter what happens, just keep an open mind, try to adapt to the situation and try and maintain your positivity.


How do you manage your expectations when you travel?

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Binita Shah-Patel

Hi, I’m Binny – a writer, dreamer, serial wanderluster and travel addict. I am originally from Kenya but now live in London. I set up this blog to share my experiences eating out as well as travelling.

I love packing my bags and going off on adventures as one of the best things about travelling is the ability to just get lost in it. To set aside the maps and itineraries and just see where the road takes you, learning and evolving and living in the moment along the way.

It’s my goal to get swept off my feet as often as possible.

Find me on: Web | Twitter

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  1. October 1, 2019 / 4:29 pm

    Great post Binny and totally resonate with many of these myself! Travel with an open mind is key x

  2. October 2, 2019 / 8:35 am

    These are such great tips for managing your expectations!!

  3. October 2, 2019 / 11:51 am

    I think you are right Binny, we have a certain expectation when we travel. I do not find I have quite so much of an expectation of a destination, with me it can be more so hotels etc. I really hate posts that do not give full truth of somewhere. You have high expectations and it is not quite how it was portrayed. On the flip side to that, our trip to Jersey this year far exceeded any expectations we had! I love that!

  4. November 4, 2019 / 10:02 am

    Lots of great advise! there is nothing worse than being disappointed with somewhere.

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