Another 7 Travel Destinations Not Worth the Money

By Paul Michael on 20 November 2014 5 comments
Photo: W.G. Dayton

After my previous two articles on travel destinations to avoid (7 Popular Vacation Spots That Aren't Worth the Money, and 7 MORE Destinations), it became quite clear that there was a need to highlight more places that you should cross off your "see it at all costs" list.

Several people have commented that as travel becomes even more expensive, and vacation time is harder to take, spending precious time and money on a mediocre or disappointing holiday is gut wrenching. With that in mind, here are seven additional destinations to avoid.

I'm not saying you should never, ever go to these places... But if your time and money is limited (and who has plenty of either to spare?), you should really move them much further down your list; or even off it. (And just like in previous pieces, each place listed comes with a suggested alternative.)

1. Key West, Florida

You can get fabulous Key Lime Pies in Key West. However, that is not a great reason to spend a lot of time and money on a vacation.

It may once have been a go-to destination, but it is a shadow of what it once was. One of the biggest complaints you'll read about this part of Florida is that it's overcrowded. If you like personal space, you are not going to like Key West, at all. The beach areas are not only chock full of tourists, they are also tacky and lined with tatty buildings that have seen much better days. Along with your overpriced hotel, you'll find underwhelming accommodations, sub-par restaurants, and vulgar tourist traps that are more interested in your money than making you feel happy and welcome. And then, there's Spring Break. If you are foolhardy enough to plan your trip around that time of year, get ready for endless nights of drunken college kids, rude behavior, and the kind of sordid displays more at home in the adult video section. Just say no to this one.

Instead, try a little more culture in St. Augustine. It is rich in history, has wonderful architecture, and it not even close to being overcrowded.

2. Bali, Indonesia

It has been called one of the most desired destinations on the planet. The Bali tourist board in particular likes to throw that one around. They tout the crystal clear waters and white beaches, which definitely do make up the Bali scenery. However, look a little deeper and there are some ugly truths to Bali that even the InBali.org website warns you about. Bali attracts the drunk, fighting Aussies and Brits (and as a Brit I know just the type) who come here to lounge on beaches by day, and throw up in street corners at night. And the idyllic scenery makes it easy to let down your guard, which brings the con artists and scammers out of the woodwork. When all is said and done, you'll spend 24 hours in the air, spending over $1,500 per ticket, to occupy a beach with louts, drunkards, and swindlers.

Instead, visit Lombok. It is known as the best kept secret of Indonesia. You'll still get the fantastic beaches and scenery, but none of the Bali drawbacks.

3. Stonehenge, England

"Stonehenge. Where a man's a man. And the children dance to the pipes of Pan." That scene from This Is Spinal Tap is far more entertaining than any expensive trip to the actual Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. And as a Brit who has been there, trust me on this one.

You may think there is some mystical aura awaiting to be discovered. But It's just a bunch of big rocks, and after ten minutes you'll start getting itchy feet. What else is there to do in Wiltshire? Well, let's think. You can see the eight White Horse chalk figures on the hillsides. There's an outlet shopping mall. You can also visit the UK's number one safari park; the animals just love the cold and rainy British climate. And, other than a few pubs and a lot more fields, that's about it. It's an awfully long way to go for some rock gazing.

By all means take a day trip to Stonehenge (it will be a short trip as well), but make your actual destination something much more fun. Cornwall has much more to offer than Wiltshire, with spectacular beaches, a surfer's paradise, Land's End, Tintagel Castle, and some great watering holes.

4. Istanbul, Turkey

If you like smoking, you may actually like Istanbul. Cigarette smoke is everywhere, and your lungs will feel like they've been through a cheese grater if you're not used to it. That's not to mention the smell that lingers. The historic buildings and streets are littered with vendors selling cheap, tacky tourist souvenirs, screaming for your attention and blocking your experience of the real city. There is also a major traffic congestion problem in Istanbul, with aggressive drivers leaning on the horns and obeying none of the rules of the road. And that's not even the real dangerous side to this part of Turkey. Admittedly, it has been cleaned up in recent years and is not as dangerous as it once was. But it's still not a warm and friendly place, and if you walk the streets at night you are a target for street thugs and muggers.

If you want to go to Turkey, visit Bodrum or Side. The latter is a wonderfully picturesque town with classic ruins, pristine beaches, and awesome dining and nightlife.

5. Aspen, Colorado

I live in Colorado. I can tell you first hand, Aspen is not worth the expense. In fact, it's fair to say it is one of the most overrated places I have ever visited. For a start, everything in Aspen is extremely expensive. You will pay many times more to ski the same slopes that you can get to from other mountain areas. Rich celebrities have homes in Aspen, and they visit them from time to time. But if you think that means you're going to be rubbing shoulders with Tom Cruise and Oprah, think again. You'll be lucky if you see one of their personal shoppers. Honestly, it is now simply a very pricey tourist trap that is only worth visiting if you have more money than sense.

Instead, there are so many more wonderful, and much less expensive, mountain towns and cities. Try Glenwood Springs, Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride, Steamboat or Crested Butte.

6. Costa Rica

A small, Central American country, Costa Rica sounds like an exotic paradise; and it certainly is lush and green. However, many people who visit seem to be underwhelmed by their visit. The food, for starters, has a tendency to be on the bland side. This is unexpected for Central American cuisine. The landscape can be harsh in places, with some roads being impassable or even dangerous. If you visit any time between April to the end of October, you can be rained out of many planned activities. And when I say rain, this is not a little downpour…this is tropical.

If you want something in the same vein, but a little more exciting and reliable, visit Leon in Nicaragua. Rich in Spanish colonial architecture, Leon is filled with art and culture, beautiful beaches, and a lot more nightlife options.

7. Laguna Beach, California

Smelly. Dirty. Crowded. Loud. Overrated. Rip-off. Just some of the words I've heard people use to describe their trip to Laguna Beach. I asked friends and co-workers what place they'd never visit again, and three instantly came back with Laguna Beach.

This is one of those places that people flood to because they know the name, and not because they know a lot about it. You will be searching for parking, and a spot on the beach, for hours in peak season. Oh, that also goes for getting food, drinks, or anything else. At the local nightclubs and bars you'll be screaming over each other to be heard. And of course, as it's so touristy, all of the prices are inflated. Just avoid it completely. If you want a beach in Southern California, you have better options. Try Catalina Island, La Jolla Cove, or Coronado.

Where will you never travel again? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Kit Kat

Agreed, travelling to Bali might not worth money and effort, it is hot, humid and crowded.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wiltshire has more to see than *that*. There's Stourhead, an estate with beautiful, extensive grounds, and an Palladian-style house; Salisbury Cathedral; Lacock Abbey, located in Lacock Village--the Abbey houses the Fox Talbot Photography Museum and was used in various films, including some of the "Harry Potter" franchise, while the village has several streets where the buildings are no newer than 18th century and remain unspoiled; Littlecote House, an Elizabethan country house, with an excavation of a partial Roman villa.

Guest's picture
Guest

I know Stonehenge is less accessible now than it was when I was there, but I still think it's worth a visit. So are the wonderful cathedrals in the West Country-Winchester, Salisbury and Bath.
Similarly, I think Istanbul's attractions are worth the hassle. The Hagia Sofia Mosque, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar are all amazing.
I agree with you about Costa Rica. Haven't been to most of the others. Places I won't go back now include Egypt, though I used to love it.

Guest's picture
Kristina

Ive traveled to Costa Rica along with more places than the amount of fingers on my hands, and I just turning 21. I disagree with this article completely. First of, having bad food depends on which hotel you stay at, keep in mind you're in central America, not north America. Stop expecting high class white food, you get what you pay for, and even then, they don't serve to cater you Cactus Club burgers, here they have exotic tropical fruit that you can only purchase in Canada during the seasonal times, and the fruit are very over priced. Dragon fruit, star fruit, Passion fruit, Granadilla etc. On top of that you have fresh fruit growing on trees. Roads? you're complaining about roads? You're in the heart of the tropical rainforest, where iguanas tan on the road...and monkeys come down to lay on your blanket while eating grapes that you personally feed them.. as you hang out with them.. (white face monkeys) you're in a place surrounded by active volcanoes, and you're complaining about the roads you have to take to visit a crocodile filled lake? or hot organic natural mud baths in the middle of the rain forest, where exotic birds and flying around, and its raining warm rain.. and the leaves are as big as your vehicle, and while you sit in the hot springs, that pour from the active volcanoes, you're complaining about the road? you're complaining about the food while you're standing on a BLACK SAND BEACH....... Have you experienced tropical rain? clearly no.. I've been to 8 tropical places, tropical rain is nothing like you get in North America, sure Costa Rica only has two seasons, so travel during the dry season, and stop complaining.

Guest's picture
Marie

I have to disagree with some of these choices. It's all about expectations and what you're looking for. You don't go to Istanbul for beaches and nightlife, and you don't go to Costa Rica for art, culture, and food.

Istanbul is an amazing city with layers and layers of history and amazing architecture. Costa Rica is a destination for outdoor activities and nature. (I find the food bland in most of Central America by the way.)

As for Bali, it sure is very touristy, but there is more to it than the beaches full of drunks in the South. Have you been to Ubud? I love it for the music and dance performances, the great choice of foods, and the beautiful sculptures. It also has a unique Hindu religion, not found on the other Indonesian islands.