Home » Travel » “Expectation vs Reality” – 30 Funny Travel Photos of Trips That Did NOT Go According to Plan

“Expectation vs Reality” – 30 Funny Travel Photos of Trips That Did NOT Go According to Plan

Usually, when we see travel photos, they show idyllic locations with clear blue skies, zero crowds, and healthy, smiling people. However, anyone who has ever gone on any sort of trip knows that is NOT always the reality of traveling. You’re going to have days where it rains, sometimes you’re going to get sick, and most of the time, there will be TONS of people at a tourist destination.

It can’t always be perfect—and hey, that’s okay! The fun of traveling is learning to roll with the changes and laugh at the mishaps! 

Expectation vs. Reality: What Popular Landmarks REALLY Look Like!

Recently, I was in Brazil, where many aspects of the trip did NOT go according to plan. This was mainly because it rained every single gosh darn day – and I was in Brazil for 10 days!

The day I went to see Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, it started raining like crazy right as I boarded the train to the top of the mountain. I could barely see Christ the Redeemer, even though I was standing right in front of the 125-foot statue! 

“Expectation vs Reality” – My Christ the Redeemer Experience!

After I returned to my hotel that night, I posted the set of photos above to my favorite travel group, Girls LOVE Travel®, with the caption “Expectations vs reality. Not every adventure can be filled with sunshine! What are some of your adventures that didn’t go according to plan?” And the photo responses I received from fellow travelers were amazing! They are too funny and just too good not to share!

Many of the photos are also the result of less-than-perfect weather, and some were due to massive crowds or renovations. So, this isn’t to say that these places are not every bit as magical as their “expectation” photos—they were likely just having a bad day. (This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone from visiting these places!) 

I hope these photos make you laugh as hard as they made me laugh when I saw them! I would also love to hear which set of photos made you laugh the hardest in the comments section at the end of the post. Enjoy! 

“Expectation vs Reality” – 30 Funny Travel Photos

1.) Golden Gate Bridge – “Expectation” 

A professional photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay at sunset. The sky is changing colors from rich golds and orange to pinks, purples, and blues.


A snapchat image of a beach in San Francisco Bay and a crude red and white line drawing of where the Golden Gate Bridge should be, but it's obscured by fog.

The photo above and drawing by Monica Sauer of @m.lee.s. She wanted to make sure she captured the experience!

2.) Machu Picchu “Expectation”

A professional photo of the village of Machu Picchu, surrounded by mountains on a clear, sunny day.


A tour group gathers for a photo in at an overlook point for Machu Picchu, but the village and mountains are obscured by dense fog.

Reality photo by Charlotte G, taken April 2019. She said she “Hiked all the way on the Inca trail only to be greeted by this view!” The Inca trail is typically a 4-day hike that is very difficult due to the altitude. (I hiked this in Nov. 2022 and had the same experience lol.)

Expectation photo by me. Visit my blog post for tips on visiting Machu Picchu.

3.) Disneyland Cinderella Castle “Expectation”

A professional photo of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World against a clear blue sky with light clouds.
Photo by Christian Wagner on Unsplash


A girl stands with her back tot he camera, looking at the "Cinderella castle", which is under construction and obscured completely by scaffolding that's covered with a large picture of the exterior of the castle.

“The first and only time I’ve been to Disneyland!” Photo of above by Francesca Vigna of @francescavigna.

4.) Mount Rushmore “Expectation” 

A professional photo of Mount Rushmore on a clear day against blue skies.
Image by skeeze from Pixabay


A person holds an iPhone in front of the camera, showing a picture of Mount Rushmore. The background, where Mount Rushmore should be, is obscured by thick fog.

“Mount Rushmore at its finest.” Photo by Sarah Bellis and Jesse Liddington.

5.) Taj Mahal “Expectation”

A professional photo of the Taj Mahal and courtyard in front of the giant building. The blue sly is crystal clear.
Image by Dave Parkinson from Pixabay


A woman takes a selfie in front of the courtyard of the Taj Mahal, but the giant palace is obscured completely by a thick fog.

“Taj Mahal. Promise.” Photo by Anna Lindström of @annlin. She visited on December 28, 2019. 

6.) The Great Wall of China “Expectation” 


A foggy photo of tourists packed onto a section of The Great Wall of China on a rainy, misty day.

The photo above was taken by Scott Marni Carpenter.

7.) Rio Celeste in Costa Rica “Expectation” 

A professional photo of Rio Celeste, a majestic waterfall in the forest of Costa Rica, with crystal blue water surrounded by lush greenery.
Image by William Méndez from Pixabay

Reality…(after a rainfall) 

Rio Celeste waterfall after heavy rainfall. The water is a muddy brown color and a thick haze falls over the forrest.

“The Rio Celeste in Costa Rica turns brown after a day of rain.” The photo above was taken by Cassie Salvo from @cassiesalvo

8.) Aveiro, Portugal “Expectation”


A woman stands on the street, posing in front of The Aveiro in Portugal, emptied of water, showing a muddy riverbed.

“When my bf took me to ‘Portugal’s Venice’. Romantic!” – Photo by Emma Björk of @emmabjork88.

9.) Mona Lisa – “Expectation” 

A professional image of the Mona Lisa. The photo is zoomed in, making the painting look large and close, and is filtered to have a yellowish hue. The tops of visitors' heads are visible, but the painting is in focus.


A picture of the Mona Lisa painting in the background, obscured by thick glass and dozens of the back of visitors' heads. One man holds up an iPhone, taking a picture of the painting.

“That one time I wanted to take a selfie with the Mona Lisa… This was as close as I could get. #stilldreaming. P.S. I’m 5’3”. So my only chance at seeing the Mona Lisa was putting my phone up to take a photo. Then looking at it through the photo on my phone.” Photo and caption by Joanna Marie Zapanta of @_lovejz.

10.) Poás Volcano in Costa Rica – “Expectation (sort of…haha) vs Reality”

A set of two images of a young woman. In the top image, she poses at the ridge of the Poás Volcano in Costa Rica, but the view is obscured completely by fog. In the bottom image, the woman poses with a billboard of what the view into the volcano should look like.

“These are some pictures of the Poas Volcano in Costa Rica. We hiked all the way to the top to see a beautiful emerald lake inside but all we got were clouds. Oh well… at least we got a picture in front of the billboard! Haha.” Photos by Jessica Myers. 

11.) Casa del Arbor in Ecuador “Expectation” 

A professional image of a woman swinging on a swing at La casa del árbol in Equator. The mountains in the background are visible against a sunny blue sky with light clouds.


A woman swings on swing attached to La casa del árbol, but the gorgeous view is completely obscured by thick fog.

Photo above by Anabelle Devarez-Moreira taken in the month of May.

12.) Hiking Trolltunga in Norway “Expectation”

A professional photo of the Trolltunga passage in Norway. A man stands at the edge of a giant cliff overlooking and mountainous valley with a crystal clear blue river snaking through.
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash


A couple sits at the edge of a cliff overlooking Trolltunga Valley, but the gorgeous view is completely obscured by dense fog.

“Hiking Trolltunga in Norway lol. Still got a shot sitting out there, but really missed out on the view.” Photo by Cait Eichhorn from @cait_eich.

13.) Grand Canyon “Expectation”

A professional image of the Grand Canyon at golden hour. The sun sets over the expansive canyon, casting sunbursts over the mountaintops.


The Grand Canyon in the winter, covered with snow and obscured by a thick fog.

“For your viewing pleasure – the Grand Canyon!” The photo above + caption by Stephanie Wolter.

14.) Big Ben in London “Expectation”

An image of Big Ben and the Parliament building in London. The iconic clocktower stands against a cloudy sky, and the image is filtered to give it a dark, hazy tone.
Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash


The Big Ben clocktower covered completely by construction scaffolding, standing tall against a blue cloudy sky.

This photo of Big Ben was taken in February 2020 by Karen Weed.

15.) Haleakala Volcano, Maui “Expectation”

A professional photo of the Haleakala Volcano in Maui on a clear day. The sky is clear blue with low clouds over the mountaintops.
Image by Carol Baylis from Pixabay


A woman stands on a short brick wall, posing with her arms held out wide in front of thick fog that's obscuring the Haleakala Volcano in Maui

“Behind all the fog is Haleakala volcano… Maui, Hawaii (May 2019).” Above photo by Veronica Campoverde Arce from @kreysi2407.

16.) Three Sisters, Blue Mountains – Sydney, Australia “Expectation”

Expectation photo by me. Visit my post for tips on visiting the Blue Mountains.

The Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains of Sydney, Australia, on a clear and sunny day. The rock formation sits on a cliff in a lush green forest valley.


Three sisters funny travel photo

Reality photo taken by Kristina McGalliard from @_Kristina_mac.

16.) Sacre Coeur in Paris “Expectation vs reality”

Two side-by-side images, one showing a clear photo of the Sacre Coeur in Paris on a sunny day with clear blue skies. The second is a selfie of a person pointing to where the Sacre Coeur is, completely obscured by thick fog.

“Visiting Sacre Coeur in Paris. Not quite as expected.” Photo by Gail Dyer of Gail Force Traveler

17.) Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia “Expectation”

The silhouette of Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia against a deep orange sunset.
Photo by Janis Ozolins on Unsplash


Two people pose on a cliff in front of a thick, foggy background that is completely obscuring the Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia.

“Set off at 2 am to climb Mount Batur in Bali for sunrise… and this was the view!” Photo by Tasha Plumb of @tashaplumb.

18.) Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro “Expectation”

Two men pose with their arms around each other, sitting on the Escadaria Selarón staircase in Rio de Janeiro. The stairs are mostly empty except for a few other tourists towards the top.
Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash


Escadaria Selarón in Rio de Janeiro, completely backed with tourists.

Photo by me. Not to keep knocking my Brazil trip, but I did think this was funny too! To be fair, I knew Escadaria Selarón was going to have tons of people going into this… so, I wasn’t shocked. 

19.) Neuschwanstein Castle “Expectation vs Reality”

Two photos of Neuschwanstein Castle. The top is a picturesque view of the castle in the lush green valley next to a blue lake and snow-capped mountains. The bottom image is of a woman shrugging, posing in front of the castle that's partially obscured by fog.

“The Inspo for the Disney castle, but the weather made it look more like a haunted house.” Photo by Cassie Negrete of @noregretes.

20.) Rainbow Mountain, Peru – “Expectation” 

Rainbow Mountain Peru


Rainbow Mountain foggy photo funny travel pics

“Apparently there’s a whole valley of rainbow mountains back there. I’ll never know!” Photo above by Stephanie Crider of @stephosaurus_steph

Expectation photo taken by me. Visit my blog post for tips on hiking Rainbow Mountain.  

21.) Sintra, Portugal “Expectation”

A professional photo of Sintra, Portugal, with the giant castle on the lush green hill overlooking a panoramic of the city. It's a sunny day and the view goes on for miles.
Image by Julian Hacker from Pixabay
Sintra, Portugal on a cloudy, foggy day where the expansive views are completely obscured by haze.

“Sintra, Portugal! Can you spot the castle? I couldn’t…” Photo taken by Ashley Chaya Birman of @ashley_chaya.

22.) Cliffs of Moher “Expectation

A professional photo of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland with clear skies and a panoramic view of the cliffs down the shoreline for miles.
Image by marcelkessler from Pixabay


A couple poses at the Cliffs of Moher, which are not visible through thick fog.

Photo by Melissa Hughes of @mellamarie93. I also have to say out of this whole thread – the Cliffs of Moher had the most “reality” photos like this!

23.) Place Vendôme in Paris, France – “Expectation”

A professional photo of the Place Vendôme in Paris, France on a cloudy day.
Photo by Leo SERRAT on Unsplash


A woman poses in front of the Place Vendôme in Paris, France, which is covered completely in construction scaffolding.

“The main structure of Place de Vandome was still under construction when I first visited Paris in 2015.” Photo by Helen KS.

24.) Golden Bridge in Vietnam – “Expectation vs Reality”

Two images showing the Golden Bridge in Vietnam. The top image is a clear photo of the bridge, which rests in two giant stone hand statues and overlooks a stunning mountain range. The second image is a view from on the bridge, where everything is obscured by a thick fog.

“It almost made me cry!” Agnieszka Sobieraj of @agnieszkapaulinawiktoria.

28.) Ring of Kerry in Ireland – “Expectation

A professional photo of the Ring of Kerry in Ireland - a stunning coastline with hills and gorgeous views of the sea.
Image by Nadja Golitschek from Pixabay


A woman poses in front of the Ring of Kerry in Ireland on a rainy day, where the views of the coastline are obscured by fog and rain clouds.

“My road trip to see the beautiful Ring of Kerry in Ireland. It was so foggy I could barely see to drive. I still stopped at the gorgeous Kerry Cliffs to document the journey.” Photo taken by Wendy Marie.

29.) One More Poás Volcano, Costa Rica

Two images of the Poás Volcano in Costa Rica. The top image shows the view into the volcano, with a steaming crystal clear lake in the valley. The bottom image shows two woman posed in front of a foggy background, where the volcano cannot be seen.

Photo by Lisa Manting from @lisa_manting

30.) Cappadocia, Turkey “Expectation”

A woman sits on a balcony in Cappadocia, Turkey as hot air balloons rise in the sky behind her.


Tourists hold up phones and take selfies on a balcony in Cappadocia, Turkey, capturing the stunning views of hot air balloons rising in the sunset sky.

Photos by me. Don’t get me wrong…Cappadocia was beautiful! But taking hot air balloon photos in the morning was a bloodbath! You can read more about my Cappadocia trip here if you’re interested. This was also the post that kick-started sharing “expectations vs. reality travel photos” on my blog, so it felt fair to end on this note!

Which photo did you enjoy the most? (I honestly can’t choose – it was hard enough to narrow this post down to 30!) Let me know in the comments!



  1. pathwaysandpatinas says:

    I needed this today! Thank you for bringing laughter to my heart.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the post! Thank you!!

  2. hehehe, I love “expectations vs reality” posts! I did one of my life in general a while back but haven’t done it for my travels yet! Love this! Totally with you on the Golden Gate Bridge–you rarely ever get to see it because Karl the Fog is having fun! 😛 (I’m from the bay area!)

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Ahh Karl the Fog! I had no idea he had a name, haha! Thank you so much for reading, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Such a fun post idea! Although frustrating when you don’t get the views you want it does result in funny stories! I enjoyed scrolling through these! 🙂

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend! We are having a quiet one here 🙂

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Mica! 🙂

  4. Courtney Byers says:

    Such a fun post idea! I’ve had this happen to me too. When I saw the Mona Lisa I had the same experience. My photo was of a tiny painting with like 900 people blocking it.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Oh no! I haven’t heard one person who had a good experience at the Mona Lisa!

  5. These are really funny! All the fog onra made me laugh!!

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      That darn fog, haha!

  6. Man…isn’t that the truth. I feel like even many of the sunsets I see look far different in my eyes than in my camera.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Oh yes, sometimes the camera makes things look a little better. Haha.

  7. This post made me appreciate even more the many spectacular trips I have taken with amazing views with good weather. It also gave me some new ideas of places to visit.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      It really does make you appreciate when you have great weather for your trips! Thank you so much for reading, Nancy!

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