How to Not Let Your Expectations Ruin Your Trip

October 27, 2016
How to Not Let Your Expectations Ruin Your Trip

A friend once told me that Success equals Expectations minus Achievement. If you like math, this equation would look something like this:

Success = Expectations-Achievement

I firmly believed this to be true. Expectations can affect how we perceive the world and what we think of ourselves. Expectations can drive behavior and action.

Yet, the power of expectations is not limited to one’s personal or professional life. Expectations can affect your leisure and travel time as well. They can affect how you travel, where you travel to and most importantly, how satisfied you are with your trip. I never thought that my friend’s advice on expectations would apply to traveling.  I only realized the power of expectations in travel when I visited Australia.

I was very excited about my trip there, planning to spend two weeks on Australia’s East Coast. When I moved to Singapore from London, I was exposed to a new culture, to a different way of thinking and living.

Culture shock hit me hard. And I loved it.

How to Not Let Your Expectations Ruin Your Trip

So when I booked my flights to Australia, I expected to find yet another new culture, a new lifestyle and new ways of thinking. Instead, everything reminded me of the UK! I only spent two weeks in Australia and I’m by no means an expert on Australian culture. However, as someone who has lived in London for four years, Australia seemed awfully familiar to me.

And I was disappointed. So very, very disappointed.

Looking back now, I realize that I traveled to Australia with unrealistic exceptions. I expected it to be like nothing I had even seen before, a country where everything would be new and exciting. Although Australia is a wonderful place to travel to and I would love to go back sometime, my trip to Australia was  ruined by my unrealistic expectations.

It is important to travel with an open mind. If you have only a limited time to travel, then you really can’t afford to waste time feeling disappointed. Would you rather spend your time complaining because your destination is not what you expected or spend it exploring?

So how do you manage your expectations when traveling? Here are four things I find useful:

1. Step away from the guidebook. 

I find that spending an awful lot of time reading through guidebooks and travel sites and looking at pictures can build up expectations to disproportionate levels.

2. Do your research and plan ahead, but don’t overdo it.

Paris will never be what you imagine it to be if you spend days on end fantasizing about it.

3. Know thyself.

It is important to have some level of self-awareness. If you know what sort of person you are, then it is easier to choose a destination that will cater to your interests. You are thus more likely to pick a destination that you will like and enjoy your trip.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that traveling is meant to provide a way to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Culture shock, disappointments and frustration are all part of traveling.

4. Take it all in and try to make the most of your time abroad.

No two countries are the same and no two trips will be the same. Try to be aware of what your expectations are and travel with an open mind.



Have you ever visited a place only to find that it didn’t match your expectations? We want hear your story. Comment below! Top photo for How to Not Let Your Expectations Ruin Your Trip by Unsplash.

About Marilia Paraschou

Marilia writes a Trip Planning Blog for young backpackers. Born and raised in Cyprus, she has lived in London and Singapore, backpacked through Southeast Asia, mastered the art of the perfect European city break and has made too many travel mistakes to count.

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