When people think of traveling, it’s likely they imagine the idealized travel posters of the mid-20th century. These beautifully hand-painted prints offer the most picturesque vision possible of a tourist destination, and vintage travel products continue to remind people of the magnificent adventure of visiting far off lands.
While many have fantasies of these seemingly perfect vacation spots, there are certain realities about every foreign country that international visitors may not consider. In fact, some of these unknown truths could be enough to deter a visit altogether. Nobody wants their wanderlust squashed, but to get the most for their vacation time it’s advised that tourists know some of the facts about a country that don’t get painted into picturesque travel prints.
Who better than a country’s local population to be upfront and honest with would-be travelers about their country’s own lesser qualities?
Here are a few amazing travel destinations whose locals have revealed a few things that could make tourists think twice.
It’s not all jolly in old England.
Busy cobblestone streets that have been walked for centuries. Brilliantly named pubs that dare you not to have a good time. The Tower of London. The white cliffs of Dover. Buckingham Palace. The Hampshire hills. Big Ben.
The rolling beauty of the countryside and fascinating culture of its cities have lured visitors to England for literally hundreds of years. With so much to offer, it’s difficult to imagine any reason to not visit.
But English local Beth Briony offered a few reasons on Quora that visitors may not like her home country. Briony says visitors may be turned off by her country’s issues with homelessness and a late-night culture of taking in a few too many pints: “Look at somebody the wrong way and you might get bottled.” She also brings up a growing crime issue in London, a fact confirmed by recent news reports that say violent crime has gone up 24 percent in England and Wales over a year’s time.
And if the unruliness does not scare visitors away, the high costs might. London was recently cited as the most expensive city to travel around in. Prices in the city (and across the whole country) have been giving tourists second thoughts for years.
That said, as long as your budget can handle it (or if you pride yourself on thrifty traveling) and you keep your wits about you when walking the streets at night, then you should feel free to take in all the museums, live theater, cups of tea, and chats with locals that your Anglophile heart desires.
Travelers to India should be prepared to face some issues.
India: a country with over a billion people that has what may be the oldest continuously prepared cuisine in human history. It features some of the most spectacular natural wonders in our world, including Meghalaya, the wettest inhabited place on Earth, and the Himalayas, a mountain range featuring nine of the world’s 10 highest peaks. These are just a few incredible aspects that draw tourists to India.
For all the stunning sights this country has to offer, it also comes with a large degree of difficulty according to locals. Two Indian natives, Rishabh Gupta and Simranpreet Sawhney, shared a few issues that may discourage travelers to their homeland. The first is the extreme poverty and homelessness: “You will be hounded by paupers/beggers [sic],” says Gupta, “If you help one, generally onlooking beggars may come asking you for money as well.”
Another issue that India faces, according to Sawhney and Gupta, is a terrible litter and pollution problem. “With a population of 1.2 billion and space 1/3 that of US India has a high problem of litter and sewage” says Sawhney. Indeed, the air pollution in India is well-documented, with some city streets becoming so clogged with toxic fumes that some schools will get closed and locals are forced to walk around with face masks. Potential for over-charging and the constant crowds are other issues that could dampen a traveler’s experience.
This is not exactly to deter visitors who want to take in all that India has to offer, but mainly to inform. As Gupta puts it: “India is diverse, colorful and incredible. There are some dark sides. No country is perfect.”
In Australia, tourists should proceed with caution.
Yes, there are plenty of koalas and kangaroos, but it’s easy for tourists to forget that exploring Australia’s wilderness isn’t the same as taking a family outing to the zoo. From neurotoxin-injecting ticks to 12-inch arachnids, the video below provides some reality into the undeniable beauty you’ll find Down Under:
Costa Rica is a tropical paradise…with some problems.
Costa Rica is a fantastically popular tourist destination, offering stunning beaches, thrilling natural adventures, and world-renowned ecological points of interest. The relatively small country enjoys over 100 national parks, reserves, refuges and protected lands.
But local Costa Rican Alberto Gonzalez shared a few of the problems with his country that those thinking of visiting should know about. The first is the high cost of visiting or living in Costa Rica. Gonzalez says tourists should expect “to find prices for everything on par with those of NYC and Paris and subpar/nonexistent customer service.” The World Economic Forum announced recently that Costa Rica was the most expensive destination in Central America, though they also added that the country is “significantly more advanced in tourism services than its neighbors.”
A second major issue Gonzalez cites is the issue of crime. “Tourists are routinely pickpocketed or robbed, they need to watch for their belongings at all times everywhere and try to ‘blend in’ as much as possible,” says Gonzalez. Violent crime is also a concern that the country grapples with. The rates of homicides and other violence have ticked up in recent years in Costa Rica, though in this category it is also still safer in Costa Rica than other Central American countries.
In general, Costa Rica has issues that tourists need to be aware of prior to and while visiting, though it still seems to be the best country for visitors to take in the remarkable biodiversity and culture of Central America.
Norway: Pricey, Dicey, Not So Nice(y)?
Norway, like other Scandinavian countries, always seems to find itself riding high when it comes to the “happiness index.” In fact, this year Norway was named “the happiest place on Earth”—perhaps this has something to do with the extraordinary celebration Norwegians have when they graduate high school. With so much happy, how could any visitor be sad?
Well, Norwegian Petter Brenna Rian has a few reasons why tourists may not find Norway to be their happy place. First of all, it is incredibly expensive. As Rian writes, “Norway has the second most expensive Big Mac in the world at USD $5.65 a pop. According to Pintprice, Norway has the second most expensive pint in the world (only surpassed by Greenland).” Other travelers have expressed their own sticker shock at some of the costs for simple items like a cold beverage or a casual lunch.
Rian states that the weather can be a turn-off, with cold, dark winters and rainy summers. He also points out that many visitors may feel unwelcome by the Norwegian people, who can come across as “aloof and cold.”
Are such a happy people really that unfriendly? It’s actually more of a cultural thing, according to Kristin Rygg, associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics: “In the Norwegian version of politeness, it’s more important not to bother other people, including at the dining table. And engaging in meaningless chat with people we don’t know definitely comes under the definition of bothering them. Which is why we do it as little as possible.”
So if being largely left alone and unencumbered by small interactions is your idea of a perfect vacation, then Norway might be right up your alley. You’ll also be able to take in the unique architecture of Oslo and the majestic coastal beauty of Norway’s iconic fjords. Some of the natural beauty of this country is so idyllic it could be lifted straight from one of those vintage posters we were talking about.