Travel Fails: some of my not-so- favorite destinations

When your best laid plans go awry, or in this case when tons of fish are eating away at your dead skin and tickling you to death!

Travel Fails: some of my not-so- favorite destinations

Planning a trip can be a fun, yet frustrating task. It can be really hard to decide what to include in your itinerary and what to leave out.  I love poring through travel blogs, forums, trip advisor, yelp, etc. to see what the coolest things to do are and the best places to go, but as some point I get tired of looking, take it all with a grain of salt and go with my gut.

But, sometimes my gut has been wrong!

Now, my experiences in the following places are singular and if you had a incredible time in any of them,  I would love to hear about it!

In no particular order, these are some of my biggest travel “fails.” Don’t get me wrong, I did appreciate many aspects of these places, but will I likely visit them again? No, or at least not with the same approach.


1. Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines


Linapacan is supposed to have the clearest water in the world, but we didn’t get to properly enjoy it.


Linapacan Island is on many lists for having the clearest water in the world. It was really difficult to find information about getting there from El Nido town, but I think many of the boats to Coron actually stop there. I should have realized it was a mistake when my husband and I were the only ones who got off the boat at Linapacan, and all the other passengers carried on for the additional several hours to Coron. We spent two nights in the only accommodation on Linapacan, and that was two too many.


We were really disappointed with the snorkeling because we didn’t have our own gear and what they had at the homestay was falling apart and didn’t fit us very well. We were also quite surprised and disappointed that the homestay owners didn’t have any information about island hopping. I am not a posh traveler, in fact, quite the opposite, but it was so hot and sticky we couldn’t sleep at all. We would have liked to take another boat to Coron, but we decided against it due to budget and time constraints. So, we decided to go back to Sibaltan, El Nido where there was a breeze to get a good night’s sleep!


 2. France: Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Montpelier, Carcassonne


The medieval city of Carcassonne is undeniably pretty, but in the summer time it feels like Disney World.


It’s not that these cities in France weren’t lovely, but going to the beach in Antibes in the summer is a horrible idea! There isn’t enough beach to go around. Everyone said Montpelier was so great, but for me it wasn’t very special. Nothing bad, but nothing incredibly memorable. Nice was very pretty but insanely crowded in August. We were only in Cannes briefly, but I didn’t get a great impression of it. I would go back to Nice and Carcassonne, but definitely not in the summer time. It was a zoo of European and American tourists. I’d probably pass on the other three cities and try to see some other regions of France.


3. Mekong Delta: Can Tho, Vietnam


Brown, mucky, rubbish-filled river


I spent a long time trying to figure out if we were going to do a Mekong Delta tour. I read a mixed bag of reviews, but we decided to go for it. We took the bus to Can Tho from Saigon which was a pretty painless trip. Can Tho itself was an interesting city, and we had some really unique food there, but the Mekong Delta was basically only good for a few photos. It’s sad, because it’s brown and literally filled with garbage. If you are going to do a tour, definitely get a private boat. I found the name of a recommended guide on a trip advisor forum and contacted him directly. Please let me know if you’d like his details.


The problem with the boat ride was that in the places where the water was low, we would get stuck on garbage, and the woman driving the boat would have to get out a big knife and cut the garbage off of her oars. This happened no less than 10 times on a four hour boat ride. The floating market we passed through was a very small portion of the 4 hour ride, and I had a MUCH better time exploring markets on foot in Vietnam. They brought us to a rice paper making facility which was interesting to see, but not something I would go out of my way to do. I guess I was hoping the floating markets would be less of a tourist attraction, and more of a real way people shop, but except for a few house boats filled with watermelons to sell, it was basically a brown river of tourist boats.


4. Alghero, Sardinia, Italy


Alghero was pretty, but hot and smelly!


I absolutely loved Sardinia, but Alghero got us off to a pretty bad start. First of all, there was a heat wave and no AC or fan in our hotel room which we had pre-booked for four nights because we had plans to go to a couch surfer’s house in Sassari on our fifth night.  We sweated our asses off in the hotel and the beach wasn’t much better. It reeked of sewage and was full of guys hawking shit. We didn’t rent a car in Sardinia because we were on a tight budget traveling for 8 months, and all of the Sardinians we met were shocked that we were managing without a car. If you have the dough, you should definitely rent a car here. The buses and trains were kind of a pain and not that cheap either. Once we left Alghero we had an amazing time!



5. Puerto Rico, Gran Canary Island, Spain

I searched all of my folders and files for a photo of Puerto Rico and could not find one which definitely tells you someting!

We lived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for one year and loved it, but we were not impressed with our mini-vacation to Puerto Rico! If you want to go to the south of the island just go to the dunes in Maspalomas.  They are amazing! Honestly, I’m not sure why Puerto Rico is so popular. The beaches are tiny and crowded and the restaurants and shops are all horrendous tourist traps. It’s a very popular spot for the annoying kind of British tourists. Avoid!


This is NOT Puerto Rico. This is Las Canteras Beach, just steps from our old flat in Las Palmas.


I hope this list has been helpful to you in some way. What have been some of your travel fails? Did I miss something that would have changed my perspective?



I’ve spent most of my life in Austin, Texas, a beautiful city with amazing food, music and culture. At the age of 23 I moved to Madrid, then Istanbul, then the Canary Islands, and for now I’m calling the big island of Hawaii my home. My best trip was eight months traveling throughout Europe and southeast Asia, much of which you’ll see here on our blog. Happy travels!


Where to Eat in Hanoi


Where to eat in Hue


Where to Eat in Da Nang


Da Nang to Hue by Train


Best Banh Mi in Hoi An


  • Audrey

    I’ve been traveling for a couple of months in Vietnam and have enjoyed some very useful suggestions on your page, so thank you so much!!!! Also, this is also a useful list!

    I had a similar experience in Can Tho, but we ended up staying an extra couple of days and having a much better time! Our first morning we went on a 6-hour tour with our guesthouse, and we went to the noodle factory, cacao farm, etcetera. Although it was interesting to see how these things are made, we were kind of annoyed as we just wanted to see the market. We eventually showed up to the floating market at 11 AM and had a similar experience, just a few boats and a few tourists. That night we met a guy who used to do boat tours and we told him of our day and he said that the market basically shuts down by 8:30, so at 11AM when we were there it was already over.

    The next morning we went down to the pier at 6AM and just hired a small row boat to take us for a fraction of the tour price. When we got to the market at around 6:30 and it was bustling. There was a lot of legitimate trade going on with people rowing boats full of pineapples and the houseboats full of pineapples. We’ve seen other “floating markets” and markets just for the benefit of tourists, but this one seemed like it was certainly not solely for our benefit, but also for the people doing their wholesale trade. Also, we had some incredible food in Can Tho! I think it really depends on what time of day you go, and even what day you go, as we met a couple who went on a Sunday and said they learned after that it is much smaller on Sunday.

    Either way, wouldn’t break your back getting back to Can Tho, but if you end up back there, hire a cheap row boat and go at 6 AM! Also, the water was kind of disgusting and the propellor kept on getting caught in plastic… v sad. And thank you for your wonderful blog!

    April 9, 2017 at 9:35 am
    • liz

      Audrey, thank you so much for your mail! I’m so sorry that I am just now seeing this–I have not been keeping up very well with the blog! Thank you for the kind words and tips–I am so glad you had better time in Can Tho and will definitely go for an early ride if I find myself there again!

      July 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm