May 19, 2024
Travel Psychology - 5 step plan to help avoid travel disappointment

😎 – The Travel Doctor Is In – 😎

Welcome to Psychology of Travel , a new section recently added to Travel And Photo Today. For background on this section click the Psychology of Travel tab above or CLICK HERE.


The Concern –

During my wanderings around the world I’ve encountered a number of Disappointed Travelers – people who share their stories of travel challenges, difficulties and disappointments. You may have heard a few travel disappointment stories as well. You may even have a few of these stories of your own. Disappointed Travelers return from their travels with strong and lingering feelings of dissatisfaction or disappointment. They are upset. They had looked forward to having an outstanding travel experience, a wonderful vacation. They had often spent a considerable amount of money and then their trip just didn’t live up to expectations. They feel sad, hurt and down – some to the point that they are now less inclined to travel at all in the future.

Every Disappointed Traveler I spoke with was quite distressed about the “failure” of their travel experience. They asked if it’s possible to avoid this type of disappointment and if so – how? Each traveler had a different story about their specific concerns and the situation and circumstances which led to their disappointment. As we talked, my suggestions addressed their specific issues but there were also several basic underlying ideas and recommendations, a 5 Point Plan if you will , which I encouraged each Disappointed Traveler to consider for future travels to avoid yet another disappointing travel experience.

5 Point Plan To Avoid Travel Disappointment:

1) Do Your Research, 2) Make A Plan, 3) Set Realistic Expectations, 4) Be Flexible and 5) Focus On The Positive. As you will see, all five points are interrelated. But each makes an important contribution to the success of your journey and your happiness as a traveler.

1) Do Your Research –


Remember that Successful and Enjoyable Travel experiences start long before your departure. Good research lets you make a good plan. Find out what there is to see and do where you are going. Find out when places are open – when closed. Look at maps of the locations – Google Maps is great – downloadable for later offline use. Check out how far places are from each other – how you can travel from one location to another. This also helps you decide where you want to stay while visiting a location – in close for easy connections. If you stay further out – factor in how this will impact your travel time issues. Find out costs of activities – fees – types of payment accepted. Avoid sticker shock and being caught without proper means of payment. Good research can eliminate many travel headaches and disappointments.

2) Make a Plan –


Some people and travelers enjoy spontaneity and unplanned experiences. And in some situations and instances spontaneity can lead to some great experiences. That said, a plan can still be a great help to avoid disappointments. You can always go “off plan” if a spontaneous opportunity presents itself. But a plan provides a framework helping to insure a successful travel experience. Start off by listing your travel destination(s) and the time you will have there. Then make a list – what do you want to see and / or do during your travels. Do your research about the area – what’s there. This type of research is so easy now with all the travel information available online. Prioritize the your agenda – Must see/do, Like to see/do, and Only if there is time left to see/do.

3) Set Realistic Expectations –


There is this rather basic “Rule of Life” – and it applies to Travel for sure. Simply put – things will not go perfectly. Or put rather more bluntly ……”S…t Happens.” You know this before you even leave home for your journey. The trip will not go perfectly. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting a totally smooth road. You know you will hit a few rough patches along the way. Remind yourself of this travel reality – maybe on a daily basis? As you set out for a travel day – if you are saying to yourself that you are going to have the perfect day you are setting yourself up for trouble. Want a more helpful option? How about, “I”m going to enjoy this day and make the most of it – if problems occur – it’s part of the journey and I can handle it”

Look at your travel list – your agenda. Is it realistic? Ask yourself reality based questions about your plans. Can you really visit 3 museums in one day and enjoy the day? Know your own travel style and your own abilities. Seeing the sun rise over Siem Riep might be a “must do” on many people’s travel lists. But if you like to sleep in and are grumpy all day when you don’t – maybe viewing Siem Riep at sunset is a better idea? Sure, you would love to see the Mona Lisa up close and personal for a moment of quiet tranquility to gaze into her mysterious eyes. Probably not going to happy mate. Realistically, there will be hundreds of others in the viewing hall with you and they they all want to get up close. You will have to be patient and willing to wait. And you will not be alone and it will not be a calm and tranquil experience. Best to be realistic if you want to avoid travel disappointment.

4) Be Flexible –


Being flexible during your journey is a corollary to being realistic. A plan is just a plan – it’s not an agenda chiseled in stone. And yes, things will not go as planned. That’s where flexibility is your best friend. Remember that there are always alternatives – options. Sometimes it can even be a good idea to build options into your plan – just in case. That way if / when your the plan goes awry – you won’t be as distressed and so disappointed. Instead you will be able to adjust and enjoy. It’s sometimes difficulty to come up with new alternatives “on the spot.” With alternatives in hand you can quickly consider your options and then move on. Flexibility is a major key to successful travel experiences.

5) Focus On The Positive –


When your plans goes off the rails it’s easy to be disappointed. But at that point it’s helpful to remember that you have a choice. You can, of course, focus on the problem and the disappointment it brought with it. But will that change the reality of the situation? Of course not. And it won’t help you feel any better either. If anything it may very possibly make you feel more stressed, disappointed and depressed. A focus on disappointment can not only further ruin your moment, but also your day, and possibly even your entire trip.

So – if focusing on your failed plan is not wise or helpful, what is a better choice? When a problem arises – it’s best to remember that you have a positive choice available to you. The better choice is to turn your focus to accepting the reality of what has occured – after all – you can’t change history or what has already happened. Accepting a disappointing reality is not easy, but it’s your best move. Accept that reality and then turn your focus to the future – what lies ahead. You can’t change what has already occurred but your actions can influence the future so that’s where you need to direct your attention and energy. Given the change in your plans, what now are your options and how can you make the best of the situation? Focus on the positive of what lies ahead. Making new plans occupies your mind, leaving less time to dwell on disappointments. Creating new plans redirects your attention to forward movement, to progress. Putting your disappointment realistically behind you will help moderate your disappointment. And a forward focus with thoughts of potential progress will also improve your mood.

Travel time is precious. Don’t waste it by focusing on the problems and disappointments of the moment. Instead – focus on your next exciting piece of travel adventure.


Travel is a great and exciting adventure. Just bear in mind that no travel experiences goes perfectly. A few unexpected problems or difficulties will likely arise. But with a bit of advanced planning – and the use of some healthy mental mental coping skills -you can have a Great and Wonderful Travel Experience!






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