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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Avoiding disappointment on the road: reflections from travellers like you

I wanted to share with you some more reflections from readers on disappointment on the road that I found insightful. These philosophical responses came in reply to my call for suggestions on how to avoid disappointment when travelling (which in turn was inspired by Eric’s post on and I’ll post those tips next.
* “… travel is often about the new, and the new needs some preparation, so we have to move ourselves into that zone where we imagine, prepare and then experience… how much research should I do before I get there, will it take away the moment of experiencing and therefore lead to that disappointment… that the expectation then will be either too high or too low, and I guess I'm fearful that expectations become the point of it... how much does it deviate from what I expected... how well am I prepared for this? Should I have brought this, that or the other? Should I have contacted more or less people? And I suspect then for me the disappointment would be in not meeting the expectations that I have of a place. And that feels really pedestrian…" says
Sandy O’Sullivan.
* “I think it's important to remember that the icon is just a representation of a place and a time when ‘wonderment’ was not within everyone's grasp. We are a shrinking world. The Pyramids may not appear as huge against the numerous high towers being built today, however, hitching a ride in a lorry to get there, sitting on a crate of figs between the driver and passenger with a chicken on my lap... priceless? Perhaps not, but surely memorable in terms of generosity and storytelling, both by me and I'm sure the driver,”
writes Gregory.
* “The only time I remember I've been a bit disappointed was when I came to New York. After reading different travel articles and guidebooks I expected the city to be (even) bigger. Since then I haven't really had any expectations before visiting a new city. I think it's possible to not have any expectations at all - that doesn't mean you don't have any thoughts/views/images in your mind about how a city or certain aspects of the city will be. You just don't expect it - it's all in your head. Not a fact. For example, I have thoughts about how Rio, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, L.A., Chicago and other cities will be. But I don't expect this to be true, so there's no risk that I'll be disappointed - no matter what,”
says Erica, from Travel Blissful.
And from Gregory again: “I grew up 25 minutes from Niagara Falls. I never visited much, because of the tourist trap status. After 20 minutes of watching copious amounts of water tumbling down, you're done. But, now when I go there I get this huge smile on my face as I watch travellers/tourists mulling around the kitsch and tacky commercialism, families with children cramming to see the falls, dropped ice cream cones, picnic blankets spread like quilts over the park. It's a bit of madness and somehow warming at the same time. Don't be disappointed. Don't let your hopes become your expectations. Take it all in, every little visual morsel and watch the spectacle unfold. It's much more than the tower, the building, the natural beauty… it's what the place has been, what it has become, the people who visit, and the people who have made it home…"

What inspiring reflections, and now for those tips...

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