What Makes A Travel Destination Overrated?

Are Certain Travel Destinations Really Overrated?

Calling destinations “overrated” and “played out” have been a hot topic in online travel communities lately. In my home country, the United States, many people think cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, and Las Vegas are all overrated. Many Americans and Canadians think the Caribbean and parts of Mexico are “overrated” since those are common destinations for first time international travelers. On a large scale, many people collectively feel that cities like Paris, London, Dubai, Bali, and many popular Thai cities are overrated. It makes me wonder, what makes a travel destination overrated? I’ve been to a few of these “played out” destinations, and while there were a few I didn’t absolutely fall in love with (Sorry Paris and Vegas), there are cities that I did love and had a wonderful time there.

So, what are some common reasons that people say certain destinations are overrated?

Monkeys In Thailand (March, 2017)

“There’s too many tourists.”

Too many tourists? When did you go? If it was between the months May and August, then of course there’s going to be a bunch of tourists; that’s when most people travel, especially people from North America and Europe. Try traveling during the low season if you want to avoid the mad rush of other tourists. If you’re at the Great Wall of China, of course there’s going to be hundreds of tourists there; it’s a [major] TOURIST attraction. If you don’t want to hang around tourists then don’t go to a city known for tourism.

Cayman Islands (July, 2013)

“It seems like everyone has been there.”

So because you’ve seen thousands of pictures on Instagram of the Eiffel Tower, you don’t want to go to Paris? There are other things in Paris to check out, including the surrounding cities. When I was there, I snapped my cliche Eiffel Tower picture for Instagram, but that wasn’t even the highlight of my Paris trip. I went to Thailand for the first time this year after seeing what seems like thousands of social media posts, blogs and YouTube vlogs on the country. My time there was wonderful, and I plan on returning in the future to checkout more cities.

Paris, France (August, 2015)

“It’s too westernized.”

Well, if majority of the tourist dollars are coming from westerners, they’re going to incorporate more western amenities to attract more visitors who may be a little hesitant about traveling to a country with a completely different culture. While I’m not a huge fan of seeing McDonald’s everywhere and everything else that reminds me of home, I understand why they do it: supply and demand. If you’re unimpressed with the city because of western imperialism, you could always venture into the local neighborhoods or surrounding cities; you’re not forced to stay in the tourist areas.

Wat Tan Chet Yot -Hua Hin, Thailand (March, 2017)

“There’s too many vendors haggling me to buy from them, and they’re always trying to rip me off”

This is a pretty valid complaint. I hate when salespeople don’t take “no” as an answer, but I understand why it’s done. Most people travel with a consumer spend, meaning that they’re traveling with the intent on spending money on things. You’re paying for tourist attractions, local cuisine, clothes, and souvenirs to bring to your family and friends. Because of this, people are going to take advantage of you by inflating the prices. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. If you speak the local language, they may consider negotiating, but it’s not always the case.

New York City (May, 2015)

“It wasn’t as nice as I thought it would be.”

This I can relate to. It’s a really common complaint. Often we tend to over glamourize our dream destinations and when they don’t match our expectations, we become easily disappointed. I must say, the Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre was a gigantic disappointment for me.

Rodin Museum -Paris, France (August, 2015)

So Are Destinations Really Overrated?

In my opinion, I would say no. In the age of social media, a lot of people like being the “pioneer” of different things. When it comes to traveling, a lot of people want to capture an image at a place where not too many people have been. I think when people say destinations are “overrated” they really mean the following:

  1. There’s too many tourists, western amenities, or anything else that reminds them of home
  2. They’re tired of seeing certain destinations on Instagram
  3. They romanticized their dream destination, and got disappointed because it didn’t meet their glamorized expectations
  4. They had a bad experience at a certain destination

While popular destinations can be crowded and have a lot of scammy vendors, it is still possible to have an excellent time there and to escape all of the annoyances.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Are certain travel destinations are overrated, or is it all in people’s head? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!