What’s the Worst Place You’ve Traveled?
Do you have an answer for this one?
I get this question from time to time, and I find that there really isn’t one true answer. I’ve been many places, to over 35 countries, some of which I traveled extensively.
But is there one I wouldn’t revisit? No!
Is there one I’d recommend skipping? No!
Reason being, there’s just no good reason to sell a place short, because every place presents something special and unique. And if it’s not obvious what that special something is, then the challenge is to dig deeper and find it!
Sure, I’ve been to places where the vibe wasn’t as friendly as most. I’ve been places with bad reputations for crime along with lots of heavily armored police and guards. I’ve been to dusty, sleepy, seemingly nothing-to-do towns, and chaotic, polluted smog cities.
I’ve been places where I saw no local women because their opportunities were limited to the home. I’ve encountered people who are openly racist, xenophobic and witnessed corruption in action. I’ve been places where there’s so much poverty it’s hard to even know where to start to support.
Then why go?
But I only share this to say that these moments pale in comparison to the gems that emerge from any place and any person-to-person encounter.
Plus, it’s smart to see the bad with the good. You can’t live your life in a bubble thinking everything is sunshine and rainbows. That serves no one. Keep your eyes open to reality. Things aren’t perfect. But that’s the baseline and the inspiration to do what we can do our part to contribute and see how we can help.
Every place I’ve been have had its treasures – some were so charming it was ridiculous. Every turn presented an idyllic scene and a friendly face. Some took more digging to find the beauty beyond the face value.
Yet the beauty was always there to be found. The people, the culture, the place, added so much spice to that thing that is life. Because one simple connection with a local’s kindness made all the difference. Or one sunrise overlooking the ocean with clouds shaped a way I’d never seen before, or one hilltop hike feeling the dampness of wind that was brisker than I’d ever felt before. Or experiencing the heart of people that inspired my soul.
And all of these experiences impress upon our own character and shape us as we go along in life.
That is why we travel
I was recently at a travel conference and heard Samantha Brown and Peter Greenberg, two big names in the travel media world, speak. Each were asked about their worst travel experience and where not to go. Samantha Brown was with me and agreed she had never been to one bad place. She’s always found the upside.
Peter Greenberg took the other direction. He’s even written a bestselling book on the places not to go. But his advice had a different perspective that makes sense. If a place is ridiculously expensive and overridden with tourists. it’s not a place to go. Because there’s a point where you lose sight of the place if it’s overridden by the noise of those who aren’t local.
I get that and agree to a point. But then there’s something exciting about going to a super popular destination that lots of other tourists go to. There’s a reason it’s popular! Just make room in your itinerary to step away from the crowds and seek out the real heart of a place. The side streets and the smaller towns. Find those gems!
Lastly, Peter mentioned he doesn’t go to places where the government is in total chaos and you’d don’t know who’s in control. Like Syria. But a place post-terrorist attack or natural disaster or protests could be great. The news only shows a pocket of the place, and the rest of it is there, waiting for tourists, perfectly safe, and perfectly discounted to try to bring in new visitors. These places are worth a try.