airplane taking off

15 Disadvantages of Travelling Abroad in 2024

Travelling is one of the most common hobbies out there. People enjoy travelling, exploring and getting to know other cultures. I am not an exception myself. I can’t imagine my life without travelling. I had an unforgettable experience riding camels in the Wadi Rum Desert, or watching the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland. This is something that makes me happy and makes me feel alive. Despite all the good things connected to travelling, it is also important to talk about some important disadvantages of travelling and find out whether travelling is overrated or not. It is something that people usually don’t consider when travelling abroad, or simply don’t know about. I have created this article to bring attention to some important points regarding the drawbacks of travelling.

Table of Contents

Financial Disadvantages of Travelling
Cultural Disadvantages of Travelling
Physical Disadvantages of Travelling
Environmental Disadvantages of Travelling
Disadvantages of Travelling in a Group
Disadvantages of Travelling Alone

Disadvantages of Travelling

The disadvantages of travelling listed below, are not meant to discourage you from travelling but rather to educate you. I have created a comprehensive list of cons of travelling based on my personal experience, I hope you will find it helpful and avoid some of the common mistakes that newbie travellers make.

Financial Disadvantages of Travelling

Traveling Abroad Can be Very Expensive

This point is very obvious. Flights and hotels can get very expensive unless you are ready to be very flexible with travel dates and compromise your time and comfort. Another important thing to consider is that prices for basic things such as groceries, accommodation, and transportation abroad can be very different from the prices back at home. There are some websites such as numbeo where you can check out the cost of living for a specific city. It is also important to consider different currencies and the exchange rate. Exchanging money abroad can also get quite costly. My advice is to always check things up front and use travel apps to save money and time. Sometimes it is cheaper to get the money in the local currency directly from an ATM, but sometimes ATMs have some fees for foreign credit cards. Also, your bank which gave you the credit card may have higher fees for you using your credit card abroad or for cash withdrawals. Those fees may eat up a considerable chunk of your travel budget.

Financial Disatvantage of travelling
Photo by Alexander Mils

Unexpected Costs and Emergencies

When travelling abroad and being far away from home, extra costs may inevitably occur which you didn’t consider. One of the main reasons for unexpected costs might be an accident and following medical treatment. If your domestic health insurance doesn’t cover medical treatment abroad, it is important to have travel health insurance. It is usually not that expensive and can be very helpful abroad. Another common source of extra cost is car rental. Most people rent cars abroad with cheap insurance which does not cover most of the things. I highly recommend renting a car with full insurance. It is more expensive, but you will be sure that renting out a car abroad will not cost you a fortune if you have an accident or even a small scratch. Those things are out of your control and getting proper insurance and some research upfront may save quite a lot of money. Also, be aware of major tourist traps and overrated destinations if you don’t want to end up spending too much money on common tourist traps.

Cultural Disadvantages of Travelling

Language Barrier

If you speak English, you will probably be fine in many countries in the world, especially in very tourist locations. But if you decide to go to some exotic destinations or off the beaten path, you might have some language problems. Generally, the more foreign languages you speak, the better it is for travelling abroad. But the majority of people speak, on average only 2-3 languages fluently. As a solution, you can always hire a local guide to help you out. I recommend hiring local guides directly without any middlemen and big corporations. This way you can better contribute to the local economy. 

Cultural Shock and Adaptation to Foreign Customs

Different countries have different cultures and customs. This is especially true about how people dress, how they communicate, and how they behave. For example, in Islamic countries, women are expected to cover their body and their head. This is very different from some Western countries where you can walk around half-naked with pink thongs and nobody will pay attention or say anything. In some countries, you are not supposed to sit next to a taxi driver as a woman. You have to sit in the back seat.  It is interpreted as being open to flirting and being approachable. In some Asian countries, there are hefty fines for eating and drinking on public transportation. I recommend doing some research about the customs of the country you are travelling to and getting prepared. It is essential to respect other cultures and adapt accordingly.

Physical Disadvantages of Travelling

Leaving Your Confort Zone and Friends

When travelling abroad you are far away from your family and friends. Once abroad, you leave your comfort zone and enter the kingdom of the unknown where everything is possible.  From now on you are on your own in the new unknown world. If something happens, nobody is going to help you. Well, there are many nice and helpful people out there but you never know. There is nobody to give you advice or listen to you if you just want to speak out. Making and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. If you change places often and move around, you may not be able to maintain those friendships.

Having Long Flights

Long flights can be very exhausting. All the things related to the flight, such as getting to the airport, passport and visa checks, flight transfers, and baggage claims are very tiring and stressful. It is of course less stressful when everything goes smoothly, but sometimes bad surprises happen. For example, your flight may get cancelled or delayed and you may miss your next flight. Sometimes you may have to wait several hours or even an entire day to catch your next flight. Sleeping overnight at the airport is also quite stressful but sometimes you might not have a choice. AirHelp can help you get compensation from airlines when your flight gets cancelled, delayed, or overbooked. It simplifies the claims process, potentially saving you time and effort in pursuing compensation directly from airlines.

woman waiting in the airpor with a luggaget

Different Time Zones and Being Jet-lagged

People usually don’t take the time differences seriously, but in reality, big differences in time zones may affect your health and sleep. As a result, you may feel jet-lagged for a few days and not be able to function normally. You won’t be able to sleep at night and will be very tired during the day. Also, communication with your family and friends might be difficult due to different time zones. If you travel very often to different time zones, this might seriously affect your health. You should stay in one time zone for at least a few weeks so that your body can get used to it.

Not Being Able to Exercise Regularly

In your home country, you may have been taking yoga lessons regularly, going to the gym, or jogging every day. When traveling you might not always have the possibility to do sports. In that case, you should try to walk and swim as much as you can. Generally, any kind of movement is good for your health. You just shouldn’t forget about it.

Health Risks

Travelling to other regions of the world exposes you to new environments and climates which can pose health risks and new diseases your body might not be accustomed to.  Travel may involve major changes in altitude, temperature and humidity, and exposure to microbes, animals and insects.

When planning your travel, particularly in remote areas, you need to understand these risks and take appropriate precautions such as signing up for travel health insurance. I highly recommend Travel Health Insurance by SafetyWing for anyone considering travelling abroad for an extended period. Their flexible policies cover incidents in over 185 countries, and you don’t need to provide a travel itinerary in advance. You can sign up for SafetyWing even if you’re already on the go. You can check out their plans here.

Below are some common health risks associated with travelling:

  • Animals and Insects such as malaria
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Travellers’ diarrhoea
  • Heat and humidity
  • Altitude
  • Health epidemics

Safety Risks

Depending on the destination, travellers might face safety concerns such as crime, political instability, scams or natural disasters. It’s important to research and check any official governmental warnings about specific countries or regions. If possible, avoid travelling to areas with increased crime and political unrest.

Different Food and Water Quality

The food and water quality abroad may be very different from the one in your home country to which your body is used. It doesn’t necessarily mean that food and water quality abroad is worse. It just means that it is different and our body may have some issues processing it. Getting food poisoning and diarrhoea is very common when travelling abroad, especially when travelling in Asian countries for Western Europeans and Americans. Some premium-class restaurants and hotels take into account those differences and provide special menus for Westerners. 

Environmental Disadvantages of Travelling

Pollution Caused by Tourism

Pollution is, unfortunately, a real problem nowadays. The negative environmental impacts of tourism are substantial. Long flights and road trips contribute to air pollution caused by transportation. Tourism contributes also to plastic pollution most of the plastic used in tourism is meant to be used only once and then be thrown away. This kind of plastic often can’t be recycled, leading to large amounts of plastic pollution.

Air Pollution as an impact of tourism
Air Pollution
Plastic Pollution
Plastic Pollution

Tourism May Disturb the Ecological Balance

Tourism puts enormous stress on local land and water use. Excessive water use and increasing waste at natural sites may cause soil erosion, water, and land pollution and eventually destroy the natural habitat of some animal species and plants.  Every species in this world has its own ecosystem and food chain. Their health and lifestyles will be affected by contaminations and disturbances impacted by tourism.

Impact of tourism on natural balance
Image by A_Different_Perspective

Disadvantages of Travelling in a Group

Travelling with a group of friends is fun and has a lot of advantages. But travelling with other people, especially close friends, may limit your travel experience and has some disadvantages you should consider before starting your trip. When you travel with other people you need to adjust to their schedule, their travel wishes and limitations. You might not be able to experience a new destination the way you wanted to because you need to stick to a group and adjust to everybody. Different people might have different budgets, so you might have to stay in cheaper hotels and don’t go out so much. Others might have health issues limiting things that you can experience together. But you can always split and do different things and later meet for dinner. There are always solutions to improve the situation and enjoy travelling together with a group of friends. The most important is to discuss and agree on things upfront to avoid bad surprises. 

Hiking in a group


Disadvantages of Travelling Alone

Whether you travel alone or with a group of friends, either way, there are some advantages and disadvantages. When you travel alone abroad, you can only rely on yourself and there is nobody to help you. That’s why it is important to be very careful and do proper research about the country you are visiting. It is usually more dangerous to walk in a foreign place alone rather than with a group. It makes you an easier target. That’s why you should avoid going out at night alone, in a country or a region with a high crime rate. Travelling alone has also other disadvantages. For example, you can’t share the great moments, you have to go out alone, and you can’t split the bills, especially for the accommodation and car rental.

Solo travel quotes for women
Solo travel

DisclosureThis article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. It’s a win-win for both of us and helps to keep this content free. 

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