Getting the Most From a Travel Destination

I recently read a guest post by Will Peach on The World or Bust blog. Will’s article titled ‘The Worst Place I’ve Ever Been: Kuta, Bali‘ was bloody hilarious; Will provided a nice escape from all the positive destination stuff that most travel bloggers churn out.

I love travelling, but I don’t always have a great time in every destination I visit. However I have noticed in hindsight that the quality of my experience from a destination does not necessarily correlate to the factors you may expect. For instance I’ve had pretty poor experiences in some major destinations (Pisa – home of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy) and some great experiences in lesser known places (Halifax). I’d normally be quick to say that the reason for the different experiences was the people I met/experienced said destination with. It did however get me thinking; surely there must be some simple tips to help us all get the most from a travel destination.

Tips to Getting the Most From a Travel Destination

  • Keep an open mind.
  • Remember that you only live once; make sure you don’t miss things you’ll later regret.
  • Find the energy (somewhere) to do / to explore / to experience these things.

These tips are aimed toward avoiding regret; you don’t want to get home from a destination and have someone excitedly ask you if you visited ‘here‘, did you do ‘this‘, did you meet ‘so-and-so‘ when in reality you spent the whole time in the hostel on Facebook.

So back to Will’s situation when he finds himself in Kuta; trapped in “… the biggest, filthiest, container of human waste I’ve ever clapped eyes on.” (Only taking Will’s words marginally out of context). So was Will simply not keeping an open enough mind? Was he lacking in energy or had he forgotten that we only live once? Or could it be that some places simply are an absolute shit hole and really aren’t worth visiting? And if that is in fact the case, does it render this post on ‘how to get the most from a travel destination’ entirely worthless?

To figure all these questions out I did a little research on Kuta (Click here if you don’t know how to research < I just love this) and I found a number of people who also agree with Will – many people in fact actually believe Kuta, Bali is the worst destination ever! I have to admit I was slightly surprised. I’ve been to sleazy tourist oriented towns in Thailand – and I’ve been disappointed – but at the same time I’ve always enjoyed certain aspects of these destinations and while I probably wouldn’t return I’m glad I visited. You only live once! But because you only live once, you may want to seriously consider not wasting your time on Kuta…

“… may be the most vile place on earth” – Adventurous Kate

“… unlike other horrible destinations, there’s simply no escape.” – Will Peach

“… the most disappointing place I’ve ever been to.” – Seek New Travel

“appalling” – Wandering Earl

It is interesting to note as an aside that all the bloggers in their own way tended to agree that Kuta’s current status as the ‘worst’ place to visit is a result of the awful behaviour of the tourists; not the local people or the natural beauty of Kuta.

With this new development that Kuta is in fact the worst place ever, but not wanting to render this post on ‘how to get the most from a travel destination’ useless I decided I needed another tip – the crucial link to enjoying travel.

I came up with:

Understand What You Enjoy

From the blog posts I read on Kuta I gathered that there are a lot of serious sex craving, manic Australians who seem to have an amazing time in Kuta (and embarrass all self-respecting Aussie’s who give a hoot’s ass what the rest of the world thinks). At the end of the day travel is subjective and the key to enjoyable travel is picking destinations you will enjoy. Will, why on earth did you go to Kuta?

I decided I needed one further tip. I happen to hate this one because I love being spontaneous. I just love turning up at a new destination, absolutely clueless, and working through my basic steps – find somewhere to sleep, get something to eat, do something. But this strategy obviously comes with its draw backs, so here is my last tip to enjoyable travel.

Do a Little Research

Sometimes great experiences result from spontaneous travel. Sometimes you screw up. On a recent trip to the Ottawa Winterlude (a winter festival) my girlfriend and I wasted hours wandering along the canal. We went the wrong way at first, and by the time we found something of interest our time was up and we had to leave. Our experience would have been so much better if we’d properly researched the event and taken the free shuttle bus – I was so mad when after walking for hours we found out that there was a free shuttle bus running on the other side of the canal!.

So to conclude ‘how to get the most from a travel destination’ (plus some bonus tips for enjoyable travel):

  • Understand what you enjoy.
  • Research places before visiting.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Remember that you only live once; make sure you don’t miss things you’ll later regret.
  • Find the energy (somewhere) to do / to explore / to experience these things.

Do you have any tips on getting the most from a travel destination? Or general thoughts on what makes your travel more enjoyable?

Comments

  1. I’d read so many bad things about Kuta that I didn’t even go there. I spent a month in Bali and avoided the place all together but now I kind of wish I went. I know everyone hates it but surely there is one nice thing about it?

  2. Thanka for the about out! I agree with everything you say. I recently went to panama and actually had a shitty time. Mostly because of lack of planning which I have been lucky enough with spontaneity in the past. I think having a rough itineray helps a lot and will help one avoid bullshitting on fb on your hostel all day.

    • Yes you’re right there – planning doesn’t need to be a detailed list of every tourist destination you’re going to visit with a beginning and end time. A rough itinerary gives you a starting point to explore on and something to fall back on if spontaneity doesn’t work out.

  3. I definitely agree with the whole doing a little research part. In fact, going to Kuta is what taught me this lesson! I was in 100% backpacker I’m-not-planning-anything mode and it was awful. This year I resolved to plan almost all accommodations & transit in advance and I’ve been a lot less stressed in general. Maybe that’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly made me happier.

    Thanks again for quoting my post! :)

    • It certainly is nice having everything organised once you arrive. I just really don’t enjoy planning that kind of stuff; I don’t know why, some people really enjoy that aspect of a trip (holiday). I’m going to try research and plan more though, especially for our next trip.
      You welcome :-)

  4. Thanks for those tips. They are really helpful.

  5. I like the tip: Remember you only live once. That often pushes me to do things I thought I would never try (in a good way!) =D

  6. I read the blog by Will Smith on Kuta and I also read another blog which described Kuta as a nice place to be. I agree with you that a little research will do no harm to find out if the place you are going is really for you.

  7. I like when you say, “Remember that you only live once; make sure you don’t miss things you’ll later regret.”

  8. Padma Drago says:

    Before resorting to hyperbole and calling Kuta “… may be the most vile place on earth” etc, the authors should try visiting some cities in India, Africa, warzones, etc….

    Otherwise i agree with the general premise of the article,
    paradise got spoiled by the tourists, especially the drunken anglo college types,
    but using such hyperbole (weakens the authority of the valid arguments and) is ridiculous to anyone who has visited any of the many shitholes this world has to offer. (I recommend a few nights of terrible suffering, fever, mosquitos, cold, hunger, etc, etc, then you will not compare tourist overdevelopment to “hell”.) The worst place ever? Such spoiled brats should change places with poor kids living in Mumbai slums.
    Like fat spoiled 5-star westerners who complain when they see litter on the street or face the reality of birth, sickness, old age, and death.

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