Expectation vs. Experience

Have you ever read about a country or a specific destination that is “The” place to go? Everyone loves it and all of the pictures you see in blogs and online make it look amazing.

My husband and I have had three separate experiences, which made us think about how we should view each new place we visit. We realized the expectation vs. experience can change in many situations.  Each person’s experience can be so different and determined by many things; the weather, how long you spend at a location, if it’s the beginning or end of a trip or even who you are with.


My first example, was our much-anticipated trip to Belize. My main goal was to go cave tubing on the mainland, and go snorkeling and listen to Reggae music at cute beach bars on Caye Caulker.


Unfortunately, it rained the two days we were in San Ignacio (the mainland). We spoke with a tour operator and it was $30.00 (U.S.) more per person than I had previously read about. We decided cave tubing wasn’t going to happen and eventually made our way to the coast of Belize and over to Caye Caulker. We spent a couple days on this small island, trying to stay out of the rain while looking for Reggae bars. We did meet a lot of nice people and ate delicious food, but not even once did we hear a Reggae song the whole time. It’s funny how you have a vision of a place in your mind and when it doesn’t match, it can be a letdown.  For us, the island was too small and the rain didn’t help.


After, we took the ferry to Ambergris Caye and the weather improved. We felt that Ambergris was more our style. There were more activities and shopping and the prices weren’t bad because there was competition. So, if someone asks me now what I think of Belize, I say, “It wasn’t what I expected.” Maybe, in my mind I had too many expectations. I’m not sure, but I am willing to go back. I still need to go cave tubing and snorkeling. I’ll just bring my own Reggae music.


My second example is a recent trip we took to Little Corn Island, Nicaragua (this is another small island, which may be our problem). Online, it looked amazing and people loved it. It is supposed to be a laid back location.

Little Corn Island

We took a Panga ferry ride over to the island with thirty people going through fifteen-foot waves. The ride over was scary for me and Scott just tried not to be sea sick the entire time. When we arrived at the island we hoped it was worth it. The island is beautiful and laid- back, but if you are not a diver, then there is not much to do.  My husband and I explored the island and all of the jungle trails. We saw some beautiful beaches and swam, but with no motorized vehicles, air conditioning or a pool at our hotel, it was too slow paced for us. Three days on Little Corn Island was enough for us!


We took the ferry to Big Corn Island, which most people don’t prefer and we had a nice couple of days at a hotel with air conditioning and a pool! We went horseback riding and saw many gorgeous beaches and swamps.

Big Corn Island

So, as I write this, I wonder if we just prefer the bigger islands for more activity and variety, or if we should take longer trips to slow down and be able to enjoy the quaint, slow-paced smaller island life?  It also makes me think that we should become certified for scuba diving since we frequent these amazing diving destinations!  Now that’s a whole other article on my fear of diving and feeling claustrophobic.


My last example is of an absolutely wonderful trip I had to Turkey. I was there for two weeks and every single day was a blast! We toured with Sarah and Aegean Journeys and she took care of every detail. I definitely recommend a tour, click here for more information on Aegean Journeys.


I didn’t do a ton of research on Turkey and though I was excited and looking forward to it for months, I still had no expectations.  I was thoroughly able to enjoy the culture and food and have a great trip.


I think having too high of expectations for a destination can really alter the experience.  I wonder now, if I go to Belize with no expectations, if it will be amazing as well?


Have you ever had a similar experience where your expectations played a role on the success of your trip?

2 thoughts on “Expectation vs. Experience

  1. “Dont’ expect, just accept” is something I’ve learned over the years of travelling. Thanks for sharing this! I”m happy your enjoyed my fave country, Turkey 🙂
    The more I read your posts, the more I’m looking forward to joining one of your tours.

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