In the world of travel blogs, it’s almost always sunshine and rainbows. Everyone talks about how much they loved going to all of these perfect places where they had a wonderful well-documented-on-Instagram time. But what happens when you hate a place?
It happens. Not every location is going to be as magical as the next or the one before.
The reason we have favourite cities and dream destinations is because they pale in comparison to places that didn’t quite live up to the hype or sorely let us down – the places we end up hating.
So what do you do when you arrive and figure out you hate a place?
Realize: You won’t love everywhere
If you are lucky enough to travel to many places all over the world, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you just won’t love every place. And that’s fine! Even if you’ve been talking about your trip to Switzerland for months and have all of these beautiful Instagram photos planned, you may get there and realize you hate it. It happens!
Travel is real life. Despite all the filters and positivity-bursting blogs, shit happens. Sometimes places suck.
And remember, not every place is for every person. For example, I really loved the time I spent in Naples (or, more accurately, I loved the time I spent eating everything in Naples). But I constantly hear people say they hated Naples and telling future Italy-goers to skip it. On the other hand, I felt pretty underwhelmed touring the Mekong Delta from Saigon, but some people love it.
Before you totally give into the darkness, ask yourself some questions. Why do you hate this place? What part of it do you not like? Question if it’s the place itself or if something else is going on. Maybe you’re burnt out from travelling or just having a bad travel day. Maybe you got in a fight with your travel companion or you’re stressed about work. Or maybe, like me, you got an awful sore throat and runny nose while on a tropical island in Thailand.
If after all that questioning you still decide you don’t like a place, that is totally fine. Accept it. You are allowed to hate a place. Don’t worry, the place you hate will not be offended. I’m sure Phuket is doing just fine without me as a fan.
Don’t force yourself to fall in love with it – no matter what the pretty social media posts say! Sometimes we just don’t mesh with a place and that is perfectly all right. If you do force it, you may find yourself hungry, near tears and ready to pass out in a crowded, overheated, never-ending market in Bangkok. And that’s certainly no way to fall in love with a place.
Make the best of it
If it wasn’t clear from the line above, I did not enjoy my time in Bangkok. To be blunt: I hated Bangkok. But, I was stuck there. We had three nights in Bangkok during our trip to Southeast Asia and I had to suck it up.
Make the best of a shitty place by finding something you do love about it. In Bangkok, we made it out to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. In my research on Bangkok, these were some of the things I wanted to see. And despite hating the large city, awful traffic and gross humidity, I did enjoy exploring those sites.
And the things you choose to do don’t have to be from a guide book. If you find yourself in Paris and hating it, don’t force yourself to go to the Louvre or Sacre Coeur just because Google tells you to. Find something that you love and make the most of your time there. When I was in Geneva, Switzerland and hating it, we hopped a bus to Annecy, France and had a much better time.
Take a break
Sometimes, landing in a place you hate can actually be a blessing in disguise. This may be the universe’s way of telling you that you need to take a break.
When Colin and I arrived in Phuket, we got off to a pretty rocky start. After leaving our first hotel and paying probably too much money for a new one, we were again hit with disappointment by the long trek to the crowded beach, me getting sick, and a general vibe from the city that we didn’t like. So we decided to take advantage of the expensive hotel room (and wonderful air conditioning) that we had paid for.
We caught up on Netflix shows, binging both Fyre Festival documentaries and the Ted Bundy Tapes. We ordered Pizza Hut to our hotel. We slept in late. And it was great. It was a wonderful break after long days at Angkor in Siem Reap and before more exploring in Chiang Mai.
Learn from it
Travel may start to lose its appeal if we go around hating one place more than the next. So if you do end up in a place you hate, learn from the experience so you can try to avoid something similar happening again. Of course, you won’t avoid it completely. You will hate a place again!
But ask yourself what you didn’t like about it. For us, in Bangkok, we realized we didn’t love big, crowded cities, especially in the heat. And in Phuket, we learned that we’re really not beach-resort people. So we’ll try to avoid places like these in the future.
And just because you hate a place, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind in the future. I would be happy to revisit Phuket if I could stay in a different town or spend time on the smaller islands nearby. And I think if I had a larger wallet, I would want to give Geneva, Switzerland another shot.
But Bangkok? I think we’re done. The only way I can see enjoying Bangkok is if the heat is turned way down, which I don’t think will be happening anytime soon. So not going back to a place you hate is also a totally valid option. I really don’t think Bangkok is going to miss me.
Be honest, have you ever been somewhere that you hated? What do you do when you hate a place?
Share this with your fellow honest travellers – Pin it!