7 Popular Vacation Spots That Aren't Worth the Money (and Where to Go Instead)
When it comes to vacation benefits, America is in poor shape. According to the Hotels.com "Vacation Equality Project," America is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee paid vacation days. As a Brit, I was shocked to learn that the guaranteed four weeks of vacation that I got in the UK was going to become just one week when I arrived here in 2001 (and I was told by my employer at the time to be thankful for that). (See also: 11 Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Travel Dollar)
So choosing where to go on vacation is crucial. These vacation days we get are precious; we don't want to waste them. But so many of us ignore incredible vacation spots for more popular ones that are overpriced and overrated. Here are seven spots you should know about that aren't worth your hard earned money; let's call them the seven deadly sins of vacationing.
1. The Bahamas
Quite possibly one of the most overrated vacation spots in the world, the Bahamas is where people go when they think they want a relaxing beach vacation. Everyone has the same idea, and the beaches are not even that good (although they are wonderfully crowded). This is tourism hell, but you'll pay through the nose for it, especially is you stay at the Atlantis. If you're looking for beaches without the fuss, try other parts of the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic is beautiful and affordable, and you will get a lot of the beach to yourself it you visit Trinidad and Tobago.
2. Naples, Italy
When someone tells you they're off to Naples, you immediately think of all the best parts of an Italian holiday; incredible architecture, amazing food, beautiful scenery. However, one of the first things you will notice about Naples when you arrive is the smell. There are frequent garbage strikes, and Naples gets very hot. That's not a good mix. Organized crime is big in Naples (look up the Camorra network) and if you're not very careful, you could easily be robbed or mugged. Instead of Naples, or Rome, try something a lot less "popular." Sardinia is a much better bet, with a crystal clear sea, white beaches, and very few tourists to battle it out with. It's soul, without glitz.
3. Disneyland or Disneyworld
What?! No Disney? As comedian Jim Gaffigan said, "How can I spend an enormous amount of money, be uncomfortable, and listen to my children complain and whine?" That's the Disney experience for adults, and you really do pay for the "privilege."
Let's get it straight. You will be spending a lot of time standing in line for rides that last a few minutes. You will also be spending an awful lot of money on food that makes cinema popcorn look like a great deal. Disney is also designed to part you with your money as often as possible, and the nag factor ("mommy, daddy, can I have that pleeeeeaseeee") is huge. Forget Disney. There are plenty of great amusement parks out there that offer much better value. (See also: 8 Affordable Theme Parks That Are Just as Fun as Disney)
4. Dublin, Ireland
You know, there is more than one place in Ireland that sells a decent pint of Guinness. And yet every year, people from all over the world flock to Dublin for a taste of the other black gold. The Huffington Post named it one of the most overrated places on earth, and for many good reasons. For a start, Dublin caters to the tourist trade, and as such has become focused on keeping tourists happy. It's no longer a slice of traditional Ireland, and you won't see the the Emerald Isle's real culture or customs there. There are much more "Irish" places to visit, and they won't be bogged down by tourists. They include Dunmore East and County Kerry.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas baby! Vegas! Vegas!! Yeah, yeah... Vegas. If you have a lot of money and are prepared to lose a chunk of it, Las Vegas is going to be great. Then again, anywhere is going to be great if you're that rich.
But if you're looking for a frugal vacation, Vegas is going to get old pretty quickly. Yes, you can get free alcohol if you gamble. You can even play the penny slots. But the alcohol is watered down, it's not served often, and you're still in a dimly lit casino. The clubs? They're expensive and you'll stand in line for hours. You will be hounded constantly about timeshares and "female company." And the famous hotel buffets are just buffets. You even stand in line for those. Forget Vegas. If you really must gamble and want to stay in the US, try Atlantic City. It's on the coast, it has the boardwalk, a lot of family activities, and it's nowhere near as crowded and sleazy.
6. London, England
As someone who lived in London for six long years, I am speaking from a great deal of experience. Yes, London has some wonderful historic buildings, but it is dirty, smelly, and incredibly expensive. Anyone visiting from the U.S. should plan on spending at least three times what they would spend on a vacation to most other parts of the world, due to the rotten exchange rate and the vastly overpriced goods and services in the big city.
Now, this is not to say you should avoid The London Eye, Big Ben, Hampton Court, The Tower of London and other attractions. What you should do instead is find a much more affordable part of England to stay in, and then pop to London on a train or National Express coach on one or two days of your vacation. Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Arundel, and Whitstable are all beautiful, affordable and about an hour from the center of London.
7. Dubai, UAE
For some reason, Dubai has become an insanely popular tourist destination over the last 10 years. Yet in polls taken by many travel websites, Dubai came out on top as the most overrated and overpriced place to visit. It has a lot of tall buildings. If that's your thing, it's a start. But as the construction work is constant, it's not exactly going to be a calming experience.
The city is a shrine to consumerism, and is home to things like "world's biggest mall" and "world's largest theme park." Get ready for the "world's largest disappointment" and the "world's most overpriced vacation." Give Dubai a pass, and instead try more cultural cities like Sharjah (home to many galleries, festivals, and museums), Muscat, or Abu Dhabi.
Vehemently disagree? Have another overrated destination? Let us know below.