Home ยป Travel ยป “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, it’s of idyllic locations with clear blue skies, zero crowds and healthy, smiling people. However, anyone who has ever gone on any sort of a 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 ok! The fun of traveling is learning to roll with the changes and laugh at the mishaps! 

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 photos responses I received from fellow travelers were amazing! They are too funny and just too good not to share!

Many of the photos are the result of less than perfect weather too, 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” 



Golden Gate Bridge "expectation vs reality" funny travel photo

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

2.) Machu Picchu “Expectation”

Machu Picchu


machu picchu expectation vs reality funny foggy photo

Reality photo by Charolette 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. 

Expectation photo by me. Click here for tips on visiting Machu Picchu.

3.) Disneyland Cinderalla Castle “Expectation”

Photo by Christian Wagner on Unsplash


Disneyland Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle under construction funny "reality" travel photos

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

4.) Mount Rushmore “Expectation” 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay


Mount Rushmore funny reality picture covered in fog

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

5.) Taj Mahal “Expectation”

Taj Mahal
Image by Dave Parkinson from Pixabay


Taj Mahal funny reality photo covered in fog

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

6.) The Great Wall of China “Expectation” 

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay


The Great Wall of China funny travel reality photo

Photo above taken by Scott Marni Carpenter.

7.) Rio Celeste in Costa Rica “Expectation” 

Image by William Méndez from Pixabay

Reality…(after a rainfall) 

Rio Celeste Costa Rica after a rainfall

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

8.) Aveiro, Portugal “Expectation”

Image by Bronisław Dróżka from Pixabay


Aveiro Portugal funny photo Portugal's Venice

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

9.) Mona Lisa – “Expectation” 

Mona Lisa


Mona Lisa photo funny travel pic

“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”

Poás Volcano in Costa Rica

“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” 

La casa del árbol - Baños, Ecuador


Casa del Arbor in Ecuador

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

12.) Hiking Trolltunga in Norway “Expectation”

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash


Hiking Trolltunga in Norway

“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”


Grand Canyon expectation vs reality funny travel photo

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

14.) Big Ben in London “Expectation”

Big Ben
Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash


Big Ben Scaffolding Under Construction London

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

15.) Haleakala Volcano, Maui “Expectation”

Haleakala Volcano, Maui "Expectation"
Image by Carol Baylis from Pixabay


Haleakala Volcano, Maui "Expectation" vs reality funny travel photo

“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”
The Three Sisters


Three sisters funny travel photo

Reality photo taken by Kristina McGalliard from @_Kristina_mac.

Expectation photo by me. Click here for tips on visiting the Blue Mountains.

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

Sacre Coeur in Paris "Expectation vs reality"

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

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

Photo by Janis Ozolins on Unsplash


Mount Batur sunrise fail funny photo

“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”

Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash


escadaria selarón Rio de Janeiro

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”

neuschwanstein castle reality vs expectation funny travel photo

“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. Click here for tips on hiking Rainbow Mountain.  

21.) Sintra, Portugal “Expectation”

Image by Julian Hacker from Pixabay

Sintra, Portugal foggy funny travel photo

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

22.) Cliffs of Moher “Expectation” 

Image by marcelkessler from Pixabay


The Cliffs of Moher foggy cloudy funny travel photo
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! Eeek… I’m heading there next week!
23.) Place Vendôme in Paris, France – “Expectation” 
Photo by Leo SERRAT on Unsplash
Photo by Leo SERRAT on Unsplash


Place Vendôme funny travel pic

“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”

Golden Bridge in Vietnam

“It almost made me cry!” Agnieszka Sobieraj of @agnieszkapaulinawiktoria
28.) Ring of Kerry in Ireland – “Expectation”
Image by Nadja Golitschek from Pixabay


Ring of Kerry Ireland foggy funny travel photo expectation vs reality

“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  “Expectation vs Reality”  

Poás Volcano, Costa Rica  "Expectation vs Reality"

Photo by Lisa Manting from @lisa_manting

30.) Cappadocia, Turkey “Expectation”

Hot Air Balloons + Floral Maxi Skirt


Behind the Scenes of My Hot Air Balloon Photos From Cappadocia, Turkey

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 that 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. 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! ๐Ÿ˜› (I’m from the bay area!)

  2. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend! We are having a quiet one here ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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