Now For The Ugly: The Top Five Things I Dislike About Travel

I’ve let you all down. When I started this blog I made a promise that I would write about the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of my adventures. 


Over the past four years I’ve posted about the beauty of countless cities, the benefits of going both above and below water in many destinations and even managed to see the positive side of working in an abattoir! Never though, have I been completely open about those moments that I’ve really disliked, or more importantly perhaps, the elements of travel that I don’t really enjoy that much. Yes, there are some.

As a generally positive person, my perspective on the places I visit is heavily influenced by my determination to see the best in any experience, from food poisoning to belonging theft. Years of travel and embracing the unknown has taught me that even bad situations can often make for funny memories with hindsight and that, even the most torrid of moments can sometimes have a silver lining.

However enough’s enough and I’m ready for a moan! Here’s a top-five countdown of the things that really grind my gears when I travel:

#5 – The lack of readily available wine and cheese

I’m pretty sure that this is a very personal problem. As those of you who have been reading for a while will have guessed, I love eating and drinking. A nice bottle of Malbec and some good camembert take this enjoyment to a whole different level for me. In fact as I get older, it’s probably one of the few elements of my lifestyle that I’m not willing to compromise on. So I actually become quite distressed when I’m in destinations where these two glorious items are either not sold at all, or simply too pricey to justify.

Turning this problem on its head during recent trips, I’ve actively sought destinations where the wine is excellent, like the Chianti region of Italy.

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Lunchtime wine in Venice, Italy!

#4 – The bragging wars of budget backpackers

I get it. You’re on a tight budget. You’ve managed to live for five months on just over $2 and that’s admirable. However I certainly don’t want to spend all my hostel evenings discussing the finer points of how you’ve haggled each and every price. Aside from the fact that this means you’re draining the infrastructure and resources of a place without putting anything back into the local economy, you also think it’s appropriate to judge others based on how much they are or aren’t spending. The worst kind of Budget- Bragger? The one who has only been able to live on $2 for five months because they ‘borrow’ everyone else’s milk/beers/cigarettes etc. I’m not on a two month trip so that you can be here for four.

We’ve all bust a gut to save money for the experience of a lifetime – let’s just get on with it!

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Cambodia: One of the best budget destinations I’ve visited…even without having to haggle!

#3 – The ignorant traveller who makes life harder for the rest of us

From mindlessly thrashing selfie sticks around in a church in Zagreb, to making hurtful and occasionally racist comments towards locals, I’ve seen it all. Of course, I’ve never known absolutely everything about the destinations I’ve visited (who does!) but I’ve always taken the time to know enough to be mindful of my actions as a tourist. My greatest frustration about this type of ignorant traveller is that by not bothering to educate themselves about the language, culture and traditions of the places they visit, they give the rest of us a bad name.

Should you get angry because you’re turned away from a sacred temple in hot pants? Probably not. Should you openly mock the quality of someone’s stall wares? Nope. Should you complain if someone doesn’t speak your language in their own country? Please.

#2 – Traveller’s tummy: when the fun really stops

From time to time, travel just becomes crappy. Pun intended. From terrifyingly close calls on long bus journeys, to cancelling whole activities because I’m vomiting every five minutes in a dirty communal toilet – these are the moments where I really wonder why I travel. Unfortunately, I suffer from a sensitive stomach at the best of times (think tolerance for nothing spicier than lamb balti) so I’m always faced with dilemmas when abroad. I love trying new things, but I always have to weigh up the possible consequences. Rules I’ve sadly learnt to put up with include: no street food the night before a bus journey, no tap water pretty much anywhere and a well stocked first aid kit!

My main bugbear about these unfortunate tummy troubles, is that the majority of the time I have absolutely no idea why I’ve become ill. Often, there’s nothing left to do but to ride it out and hope that I don’t become too weak to make it into the bathroom…

Lake in Peru

By the time we pulled into this picturesque lakeside stop on route to Puno, I had started feeling queasy…

#1 – Mosquitos: I’m with Bill Gates on this one

I’ve thought long and hard about my number one travel annoyance and have firmly decided on mosquitos. I’ve read recently that Bill Gates is using his millions to fight a war against these redundant, disease-spreading pests, and I completely back his mission.

Let’s forget the many nights I’ve personally spent suffering the side effects of anti-malarials and fiddling with nets, the rashes I’ve suffered from mis-applied DEET mixed with suntan lotion and the infections I got as a kid from scratching the bites.

All this is of no significance when put against the abject misery these creatures deliver to whole communities in developing countries where drugs, nets and clinical help are not readily available. The mosquito is the biggest human killer in history, and continues to kill. Even worse, they aren’t even pollinators and as far as I’m aware, neither do they provide enough food within ecosystems for their absence to be sorely missed.

I wish they would all just buzz off!


What do you dislike about travel and how do you deal with it?

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Stumbling upon a good view – one of the many things I love about travel!

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15 thoughts on “Now For The Ugly: The Top Five Things I Dislike About Travel

  1. I hate Mosquitoes. I’ve also spend every ounce of mental strength and will power I had to make it to a toilet (anybody looking at me must have thought I had serious problems).

    But for me, it falls into number three on your list. Tourists who are oblivious of other tourists or their own safety, in particular when taking photos and using selfie sticks (they should be banned).

    I have seen people walk towards a bison in an attempt to take a selfie with the bison. On a selfish note this completely ruined the photo opportunities for everybody else, but it was incredibly dangerous. The bison seemed quite indifferent, but on a different day the story could have had a very different ending.

    I was going to mention the bragging of other travellers, but this isn’t just limited to travelling. It rears its head on the Internet during the many weeks we aren’t travelling, nobody likes the person in the room who makes it known he or she has been to more countries than anybody else.

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    • It sounds like we agree on all these things! A warm welcome to the blog 🙂 The byson story sums up the stupidity of some tourists. Only a few weeks ago I was in Costa Rica and a group bundled out of a van to get a selfie with a baby sloth. Not realising the poor thing was terrified because they were getting too close, they actually tickled it with a leaf to try to get it to look at the camera along with them – idiots. I had to walk away as I was on the verge of getting very angry!

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  2. Great post, and very valid points! I’m surprised you didn’t have #5 as your top dislike 🙂

    Building on what you said for #3, ignorant (and sometimes destructive) tourists have also meant that some historic sites are restricting what can be accessed, and reducing the ability to freely enjoy the site. We can’t win it all.

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    • This is very true and really ruins experiences for the rest of us who want to tread gently around these precious places. Eventually I think all UNESCO sites will have limited daily numbers and criteria for entry. Necessary with some of the tourists we meet!

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  3. Ignorant travellers is my pet peeve too..no point talking more loudly in your mother tongue if you are in a province in China for example – these dear people speak Chinese. Try and learn a few phrases of the language of the country you are visiting- it goes such a long way.

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  4. ‘I’m not on a two month trip so that you can be here for four.’ Hah, I had a good laugh. That is a list I wholeheartedly agree with, Rachel. Especially on the wine & cheese and lack of etiquette points. Good to have you writing again 🙂 xx

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  5. I love this! Totally agree with you on all of these points. Having our valuables stolen from our room last weekend in Tulum, Mexico has definitely been our ultimate low point on this trip.

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    • Oh gosh I’ve just read your post on it – sounds like a terrible experience and how awful that they came into the room as I view them as my haven When backpacking- will always be more alert from now on. I’m just glad you’re both ok and completely agree that you deserve some relax time after all that. Unfortunately the bribes are part and parcel of the whole process – when I had all my stuff stolen in Bolivia years ago, I had to give the police $50 and the thief $50 (in front of them!) just to retrieve my passport which he was selling at a market stall… I really hope that you can both enjoy your time in Mexico from now on. Stay safe! 🙂

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