You can take the tourist out of the uglies but…


A news article caught my eye today. Well, that’s not accurate. It was more like: an article in Yahoo really pissed me off today, even though I knew I shouldn’t pay too much attention to it because:

  1. It’s in Yahoo.
  2. It’s written by Fox News.
  3. It’s based on the Reddit thread “World travelers of reddit, where did you go that was a total disappointment?” — ie, it’s based on the opinions of people who:
    • are on Reddit,
    • have the time to participate in the thread, and
    • feel strongly enough about past travel disappointments to answer.

Still, I couldn’t help getting annoyed at statements like:

  • “You’ve dreamt of seeing the pyramids, Venice or Rome for your whole life. Then you get there and it’s just not what you expected. We’ve all built up a trip in our minds, only to find it’s not remotely like the brochures.”
  • Paris is the “worst city on earth.” “Other accusations levelled at the city were that it was overpriced, dirty and ‘smelled of urine.'”
  • About Venice — “Many thought it was sad to see how it had declined because of tourists, making it impossible to find affordable food and drink in central areas. ‘The famed canals are horribly polluted and filled with garbage,’ said one visitor.”

I mean…

Do you guys even know how lucky you are to be traveling at all? So many people in the world are too poor to travel. So many people are blind. So many people can’t walk. So many people don’t even have enough to eat. And yet there you are, exercising a privilege granted only to a few, and all you can see is the bad stuff!

Now, of course no place is perfect, and there is always a good side and a bad side to every destination, but what astounds me is what these privileged people choose to focus on.

Take Venice. Some tourists may say: “I paid a lot of money for this Venetian vacation. I have the right to demand that my expectations be met.” Oh, absolutely, you paid for it. In fact, you chose to come to Venice, didn’t you? Well, I’m sorry, but…

  1. Did anybody say the water in the canals in Venice are clean?
  2. Did anybody ask you to drink it?
  3. Did anybody ask you to swim in it?
  4. Did anybody ask you to touch it?
  5. Did anybody say, “Come to Venice because the water is clean”?

venice_waterNo! You basically built up expectations that couldn’t realistically be met because you were too lazy to do a little research before deciding on a destination. Well, that’s rich of you, isn’t it? (And I don’t mean wealthy!)

In the meantime, there is all that grandeur and beauty around you! So much history, so much culture. You are so incredibly lucky and yet you choose to train your eyes on the few unlovely things.


I guess there are just some people like that: complainers. There are just some people who, if they find themselves in Antarctica, would find their whole experience ruined by the guano. Confronted with beauty, they see excrement. You just can’t take the uglies out of them. They are lucky because they get to see places that others can only dream of. But you know who’s even luckier? Those who can find and focus on beauty no matter where they are…no matter where they will never be. So there’s justice in that at least. Poor and happy trumps rich and whiny any day.

You can take the tourist out of the uglies but…” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

28 thoughts on “You can take the tourist out of the uglies but…”

  • This is so true. I guess I’m both bewildered by, and feel sorry for people like that. Complainers. Yes. They probably complain about everything in their lives without being able to see the beauty. Sad for them. That sense of entitlement can make for a lot of unhappiness.

    • I agree. In a way, they make their own unhappiness, don’t they? Your comment about feeling sorry for them has made me think. Perhaps the tendency to complain and be negative has been a bit ingrained in them, and it takes a bit more conscious effort for them to see the positive side, and in that regard they probably are to be pitied.

  • It’s a difficult one, hey? I guess with the privilege of travel, a lot of people assume they also get the right to complain when the reality doesn’t stand up to their lofty and usual completely unrealistic ideals… I know a heap of people who can’t stand Venice, but I think it’s an incredible city – yeah, the massive, stupid Rolex billboard in the middle of the piazza is a complete eye-sore, and the bus loads of tourists take a little away from the main sites, but if you just walk in the opposite direction for 10 minutes and lost yourself in the alleys and tiny canals, it’s the most magnificent place, and often so quiet because the “tourists” don’t want to leave the high traffic areas! But I completely agree with you – the sense of entitlement of some tourists/travellers is ridiculous, and they ruin their own trips!

    • Oh, gosh, you just reminded me of a photo my sister and I had in front of the Santa Lucia train station. There were the buildings and the Grand Canal, but when a cousin looked at the photo, the first thing she said was, “Oooh, Michael Kors” — because there was a huge MK billboard in the background.

      I do think the Venetian authorities really have to rethink the billboards and the pollution, among other things. But it’s one thing to see the negative stuff and totally another thing to say your vacation was a complete disappointment because of them. A little research, a little common sense, a little understanding of economics, a little diligence will allow people to have a perspective that will still allow them to enjoy their vacation. But no. They have expectations and they. want. those. fulfilled.

      😀 I probably got too worked up about this. 😀

  • I really agree with your post. I hate people who complain about cities or travel plans and don’t appreciate just how lucky they are to be there! The same goes for people who complain about middle seats or economy class – they are lucky to be amoung the privileged few who can fly intercontinentally.

    • That is true! I’m always in the economy class, but I often get my tickets on sale anyway, and I think of business class seats as seats whose premium prices allow the airline to offer me discounted prices for my seat. If those seats hadn’t been on sale, I probably wouldn’t have been able to travel, so it’s all good. That’s how I think of it anyway. 🙂

    • Hehe. I’m quick to defend the French because they get such a bad rap and yet none of them has ever been rude to me. (I suspect sometimes that I’m so non-threatening in appearance, they can’t be bothered to be rude to me. Or maybe I just don’t notice them being rude to me.) There are others who have encountered rudeness though, especially in Paris, so there’s that.

      I haven’t been to Angkor but I’ve bought a ticket for 2016. Thanks for the Travelfish recommendation.

      • 😉

        Maybe your countrymen take pity on me because I have such a forlorn expression when I say je ne parlez pas français. Haha!

        Seriously, though, I am interested in your take on it. Are the French (or at least the Parisians) really rude? Or are they reacting to annoying stuff that tourists do?

      • Hehehe, good question here. Parisian are known to be very individualistic and not paying much attention to the other people around. And I agree with that. Look at how they behave in the subway, in the bus, in the cafés. Solo, solo, solo. I would even wear my headphone when I had no more battery on my phone in case someone would try to talk to me. Then we wonder why it is so hard to meet people 😉 Still, you ll always meet with the cool ones who have seen a bit of the world and eventually realized that being a bit enthusiastic and open is actually a great option! and if you start by saying a few words in French, even to say je ne parle pas français, you already broke the ice and got a cranky smile, no? So, probably a bit rude, but not reacting to the tourists stuff; don’t forget that we are known for suffering from a severe form of OTT 😉

  • Great post. People that complain about their locations/vacations are the same people who would see the bad side of receiving a free gift/money. Reminds me of the whole glass half full/half empty thing. I usually try to look at the glass as totally full, it’s just full of a multitude of things that make up the thing.

  • Haha i agree but i would also say that its bcause most of the time, the people can only see or read the good things about the place or country so the expectation builds up and the moment they get to see just a tiny bad thing, they react. That is why for me, i would search for reviews from bloggers or ask friends for their personal stories on how their trip was. And lets admit, no such thing as perfect unless you have sooooo much money that you can splurge then you can travel like a boss. 🙂

    • True. That’s why I’m going to bug you for London travel tips once I buy the ticket! Hehe. It’s just weird that they couldn’t research a bit about the country/city they’re going to — these are Reddit users, so it’s not like they don’t have at least a little Internet savvy. Ay! Tama! Next post, I’ll talk about the time I nearly got robbed sa Paris. 😀

      • Yes yes! At least they can be guided! And reader or those planning to travel to the places where you have been will understand what to expect 😉 no prob sis! 😉

  • haha I love this! They shouldn’t complain but be grateful. Besides these type of people are not deserving to be called travelers. They are tourists. Mediocre tourists. 🙂

  • Oh, I have another take on this. People save up their money to go somewhere that they have read about and dreamed about. They put away and squirrel away and then when they get to their destination find it is not up to their fairy tale imaginations. I am always amazed at the young people in Europe who have been to so many places. How fortunate they are!

    • That is true. I can certainly sympathize with people who find reality isn’t quite up to par with their dreams. I’d feel bad for people who saved for years and years and went on a trip that wasn’t as enjoyable as their effort to save would have deserved.

      Still, there’s a way to deal with disappointment that will not necessarily discount the overall travel experience. And also, to give it some context, the people who participated in the Reddit thread are all probably Internet-savvy people who had the means to find out more about their destination, pros and cons, if they only had a mind to. It just seemed to me like they had unrealistic expectations and felt entitled to have those expectations met regardless. A bit of diligence and common sense would have saved them from total disappointment, as would have a better attitude.

      And you’re absolutely right about people (especially the younger ones) being fortunate to travel. The costs used to be prohibitively expensive for all but the very rich! It’s truly a blessing to be able to travel. 🙂

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