Travel Destinations You Should Avoid in 2024
In a world full of endless possibilities, the decision of where to go is one of the hardest travelers have to make. After all, time and money are limited and you want to use them as best you can.
To help travelers (and the world), Fodor's has released a "no list" for 2024. The nine destinations on it are places you should consider avoiding, whether it is because they're suffering from overtourism or because of environmental issues.
We've taken the list and ranked each destination from "think it twice" to "avoid at all costs."
9. Atacama Desert, Chile
It's surprising to see Chile's Atacama Desert on Fodor's No List, given that it's a vast wonderland filled with colorful lakes, giant rock formations and some of the darkest skies in the world.
The problem with this destination is that it has become a dumping ground for textile trash created by the insatiable consumption of fast fashion. Swaths of the desert are now dystopian dumps of discarded clothes, many of which still have tags on.
Still, we wouldn't say you should absolutely avoid this destination. Rather, travel it in a way that promotes sustainable and eco-conscious tourism.
8. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the world. Few things compare to waking up aboard a small ship in the middle of the bay, opening your cabin window and seeing the giant limestone cliffs rising from the emerald water.
But like Atacama, this natural wonder is now plagued by pollution. Some of the trash comes from the ships that take tourists around the bay or from the surrounding cities, but a significant amount also washes in with the tide from other parts of the world.
Should you skip it altogether? Again, we still think it's worth it, but try to choose a ship that disposes of trash responsibly. And go with managed expectations because you are likely to see trash floating in the bay as you do kayaking excursions.
7. Athens, Greece
The cradle of modern Western civilization, Athens is a city every history enthusiast should visit at least once. Travelers are lured in by its wonderful museums, amazing food and the ancient ruins scattered around the metropolis.
Unfortunately, Athen's undeniable appeal has resulted in a bad case of overtourism that has gotten so bad it can put a damper on your experience — and more importantly, on the life of locals. Gentrification, inflation and overcrowding makes living in the city uncomfortable. For tourists, this translates to long lines and attractions filled to the brim. The problem is particularly apparent in the Acropolis, the crown jewel of the city's landmarks.
Our advice? Save the summer for visiting the islands (preferably some of the many lesser-known ones) and come to Athens in the winter.
6. Lake Superior, Canada and the United States
Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and seeing it with your own eyes is a worthy experience. But Fodor's warns travelers from coming to enjoy its magic precisely because tourism is affecting water quality. Boat tours, over-fishing and water consumption can be big problems in towns and cities along the lake, especially those that draw in big summer crowds.
If you decide to plan a vacation, try to skip the usual suspects and go to towns that are smaller or not as well-known. Also, try to be conscious of how much water you use on your vacation.
5. San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, California
The largest green area near Los Angeles, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument attracts people looking to get away from the noise and pollution of the city.
But, unfortunately, many of these city dwellers have forgotten how to be decent people and treat the area like a playground to be trashed. Literally. Besides leaving trash all around, people mess with water flow by creating small dams, graffiti hills and disrespect wildlife. Because of limited resources, there isn't enough staff to patrol the area and make sure people are behaving. The result is a natural area that could've been beautiful but that is slowly being destroyed by people.
If you go, make sure to practice basic wilderness decency.
4. Mount Fuji, Japan
A symbol of Japan and one of the world's most famous mountains, Mount Fuji is on the bucket list of any serious hiker and climber. And that's exactly the problem.
Travelers arrive to see long lines on the hiking trails that make it almost impossible to connect with nature. Instead, the experience can often feel like being cattle. On this one, we would encourage travelers to either visit in the off-season or skip the destination altogether. It's not that it's not worth visiting, but that the amount of tourists has begun to translate into environmental issues for the mountain.
Sometimes, the best way to protect a place is to avoid it.
3. Koh Samui, Thailand
Thailand's beaches are famous for their clear, warm water and white sand. Maybe years ago, they were a true tropical paradise. But anyone who's been to the popular islands will tell you that the social media pictures are largely a lie. It's common to have to step around trash while you try to get to the water. Once in, you'll find plastic waste floating around.
As one of the most coveted beach spots, Koh Samui is a victim of poor tourist behavior, trashs brought in by the tides and a lack of efficient waste management by the local government. To make matters worse, freshwater is scarce and much of it is used up by hotels rather than local households.
Avoid coming here completely. Instead, look for another island or coastal town in the country that has not yet been victimized by overtourism.
2. The Ganges River, India
The Ganges is a sacred river that is central to life in many parts of India. But it's also one of the most famous examples of overconsumption of water and pollution. The river is filled with waste and the explosion in both population and tourism has led to issues with its flow.
If you visit India, you'll likely see this river. But avoid going on a cruise along it. Most ships don't have proper waste management systems and end up creating more pollution. They also use up a lot of water. This is an experience to completely skip.
1. Venice, Italy
No one can deny that Venice is one of the most unique and beautiful cities in the entire world. But its beauty has been its downfall for decades now. In fact, this floating city was probably the first well-known example of overtourism.
The number of people who visit is so out of hand that the city is at risk of being deserted as locals flee crowds and inflated prices. Motorboats also create a unique type of wave pollution, moto ondoso, which contributes to the area sinking into the sea.
While it's certainly a place you want to see, it's better not to go until it's been able to create a more sustainable type of tourism that doesn't ruin locals' lives.