13 Photos That Show the Not-So-Glamorous Side of Travel

Look on Instagram, or Facebook, or Youtube, and it seems like every traveler is living a life of incredible luxury, jet setting around the world and relaxing on deserted beaches. While that is part of the experience, it’s definitely not all of it.

I’ve already written about why I share embarrassing experiences, but as they say, sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words. So here are 13 photos that show the not-so-glamorous side of traveling.




Missouri, USA

When you can’t find a place to camp in central Missouri, so you end up pitching your tent in a parking lot off the highway, and you spend the night being harassed by a pack of wild dogs. Honestly one of the scarier nights of my life.


Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

You gotta share your space with all manner of crazy creatures… like this HUGE gecko that lived in our homestay in Bali.



Ko Lanta Thailand

When your toilet backs up and floods in the middle of the night in Thailand.


Ko Lanta, Thailand

You might have to end up sleeping in a hammock in the bar, after your room floods.


Annapurna Region, Nepal

Regularly gotta deal with bathrooms that look like this, or worse. Watch out for the dreaded squat toilet.


Taganga, Colombia

When the toilet is a hole in the ground, the shower’s often not much better than this. And Hot water? Good luck! In some places, like Benin, your shower is a bucket.


Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Doing dishes in the bathtub in Bali. Gotta clean ’em quick, or you wouldn’t believe the amount of ants they attract.



Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The joys of laundry on the road



Taipei, Taiwan

Trying to figure out a combination clothes washer/dryer when everything’s in Chinese. We never really did have dry clothes during this month.

Losing Things


Taipei, Taiwan

Trying to get a replacement credit card mailed to you in a country where all the addresses consist of squiggles. This arrived two days before we had to leave Taiwan… serious tears of joy.


Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

When you spend all night getting drunk with a woman talking about how she forgot her glasses in a hostel… and then your hungover ass leaves your glasses at the hostel the next morning. Anyone swinging by Hostel Nina in Mostar, pick up my glasses for me, thx.



Amsterdam, Netherlands

When you get the flu but still gotta try and enjoy your trip because the friend you’re traveling with is taking more than half his vacation days for the year and it’s January.



Medellin, Colombia

And of course, the least fun and least glamorous part of long-term travel: having to say goodbye, again and again. No matter how many times you do it, it never gets any easier.


But despite all that…

It’s absolutely worth it. In fact, some of these less-than-glamorous moments are my favorite memories from traveling. They give the experience the true tinge of an adventure — not just a vacation.

Pin it!

Travel Photos You Won't See on Instagram

36 thoughts on “13 Photos That Show the Not-So-Glamorous Side of Travel

  1. Oh my yes! The ugly side of travel often has, after the fact, the silliest, funniest stories. I visit China a lot – which means all sorts of squat toilets. At my advanced age (tongue in cheek – 60 in Sep) I laugh when I see locals and foreigners roll their eyes as I enter a stall, then give my a hearty smile or high five when I emerge unscathed. Even on trains. (Try to get in early to avoid the disgusting mess)

  2. Thanks for sharing – there’s always a yin to the yang! The good balances out the bad though! Happy travels – peace and blessings! 🙂

  3. Well done. An honest and humorous post that will probably keep me close to home for months. The wild dog evening actually looked more attractive than many of the other ordeals.

  4. All so true. I could publish a book on toilets around-the-world. My 5 male traveling companions don’t ‘get’ it. Women do. Thanx for affirmation.

  5. Especially goodbyes… Sometimes I thought to myself that I had enough, but I wouldn’t have met all these people if I didn’t travel😕😕 the not so glamorous truth haha

  6. Wow! What you say is true. You are not just a traveler, you are an adventurer! Haha
    I have bathroom issues, they have to be impeccably clean. All those bathroom pics are now on my mind!!
    But I enjoyed reading this 🙂

  7. I love seeing this! It’s not all glamorous even in the best of places! My sons luggage was lost in Turkey and he had severe diarrhea:(( We had one extra set of clothing and it was a nightmare. We were in a small town with no extras. He had to wear some little girls clothing and we were screwed for the first 5 days!

  8. I live in southeast Asia so some of these are normal for me. Haha. 🙂 A lot of households still don’t have showers… and I thought having geckos are normal???

  9. Love that you share about the realities of travel. It’s amazing to explore despite of and because of the unexpected things that can happen. Life happens no matter where we are, right? I always enjoy your photo essays!

  10. haha…😃😃
    “Look on Instagram, or Facebook, or Youtube, and it seems like every traveler is living a life of incredible luxury, …. it’s definitely not all of it.”
    It’s real, I myself experienced this.
    As you said you received before two days, How did you manage without card ?

  11. Yes, I can sympathise with the toilets… You clearly have not seen the worst yet… or were too coy to show them on your blog? Or is it only on the women side we get to see the most basic stuff??? Only yesterday I was in a place in China where we had three squat toilets in a row… Forget about privacy…

  12. Nothing like the reality of travel, especially in certain countries. Is it okay to refer to them as third world countries? They can sometimes be the most interesting and yet I’ve heard more challenging experiences.

  13. The toilet situation made me gag. Seriously kudos on being able to stay still enough to take a snap shot of situation. 👏🏼

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s