Ten destinations to skip in 2011

The new year breeds thousands of new top ten lists. The top places to see from the geniuses at the New York Times. The top best cruises from the cruserati at Frommers. Top bloggers with top status opining on the top new places that you should visit. Hey, we’re guilty of that at Gadling too, but we have to go where the hits lead us.

Fact of the matter is though, you can have a great time in almost any destination. Find the right people, open the right bottle of wine, dig through enough piles of tourists and eventually everyone finds their comfort zone, whether in Wichita or in West Africa.

That said, there are corners of this planet that we, as well-heeled travel writers are just darn tired of. Whether it’s from overexposure from the media or personal experiences, certain places just make our skin crawl, and in 2011, we’re steering clear.

Bear in mind: everyone interprets a destination differently, and your experiences and opinions may be completely out of sync with ours. Take a look at Gadling blogger’s top 10 destinations to skip in 2011, and contrast them with your own in the comments below.10. Calcata, Italy as told by our sociable and lovable foodmonger, David Farley

Go to Calcata, a medieval hill town near Rome perched on 450-foot cliffs, only if…you like crystal-rubbing Italian hippies, tales of the Holy Foreskin that once had a home in the local church, and smoking hash on the intimate marble-bench-lined square. Go at your own peril. You’ve been warned.

9. Kansasas told by blogger and cruise extraordinaire Chris Owen:

Basically, there’s really nothing there to see attraction-wise. There’s the biggest ball of twine in the world somewhere there in Central or Western Kansas, I forget which one. Even the people who live there admit this. This is no secret. Off and on over the years promoters have wanted to build a “Land of Oz” theme park that never went anywhere. No interest. Even NASCAR has had limited success. I know, I lived there for half a century and always traveled elsewhere on vacation. Most people who live there do.

Great people live there though. Some of the nicest, most genuine people in America are born and bred in Kansas. They’re a straight-talking bunch who would give you the shirt off their backs once they get to know you. Kansas is a great place live, just not to travel to.

8. Kuta, Bali as told by urban maestro Jeremy Kressmann:

Take everything good about Bali – its serene temples, idyllic beaches, and mouth-watering food – and chuck it out window, and you’ll have Kuta. Instead replace the scene with packs of drunken tourists, Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurants and an overcrowded trash-strewn beach. By all means, visit Bali, but avoid Kuta at all costs.

7. All things Disney as told by roving archaeologist, Civil War buff and expat blogger Sean McLachlan:

Where would I skip in 2011? Anything related to Disney. All it has to offer me are long lines, high prices, and movies that distort history and mangle humanity’s oldest legends. Disney debases everything it touches, turning our heritage into a whitewashed, whites-only placebo for that sad, lost, and frustrated group of refugees that is the American consumer class.

6. Waikiki, Hawaii as told by our favorite McLean, Mclean Robbins

Skip Waikiki. Don’t pass on Hawaii, necessarily, but bypass this much-lauded, mostly overrated strip of hotels piled so closely on top of one another, the beauty of the beach is overpowered by the sheer masses of people who pile their oiled up and newly-married bodies onto it. You’ll see far too many leis, Hawaiian print shirts and Asians in tour groups touting more cameras than your average red carpet lineup. You’ll overpay (for everything from a Coke to your hotel room) and East Coasters will suffer as much jetlag as they would after flying to Europe. But don’t pass on the island chain entirely- opt instead for the less populated North Shore, or islands like Kauai.

5. Nha Trang, Vietnamas told by urban maestro Jeremy Kressmann:

If beaches and seafood are all you crave, then this Central Vietnamese coastal town is good enough. But the town’s laid-back vibe is increasingly crowded out by mediocre expat bars and sprawl. Instead head to Southern Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island for a taste of some decidedly more low-key sand.

4. Miami, Florida as told by our sociable and lovable foodmonger, David Farley

I went to Miami a year and a half ago to speak at the Miami Book Fair International. It was my first time in the city and, alas, it didn’t make a very good impression on me. I actually wasn’t prepared for the city, confusing it for a walking city and also putting too much confidence in its public transport system. I ended up having to fork out for taxis every time I wanted to go somewhere that was in a different neighborhood. I did, however, trek up to Little Haiti, hoping to eat some good Haitian. It turned out, though, that decrepit Little Haiti is about one cock fight away from seeming like the real Haiti. There was one restaurant but it looked like it had shut down around the time Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ruling the country. As my wife and I trudged through the dusty streets, men on the side of the road stopped and stared at us. Even though the neighborhood was featured quite prominently in my guidebook (Lonely Planet), I don’t think a lot of non-locals make their way there too often. Which is fine, I guess, but just don’t go hungry.

3. Puhket, Thailandas told by video captain and tequila master Stephen Greenwood

To me, Phuket feels like the Tijuana of Thailand – packed with loud, garish bars and touts looking to scam innocent vacationers with offers to muay-thai matches and ping pong shows.

There are far better beaches and places to see in Phuket – so skip the crowds and head to the nearby town of Karon instead.

2. The Hamptons, New Yorkas told by budget czar Alex Robertson Textor

The Hamptons are the Upper East Side teleported to a terribly ritzy stretch of Long Island during the summer. During the season, you’ll find the same exorbitant pricing and annoying people, as well as bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you’re dead set on spending some of your summertime along the Eastern Seaboard, select a quieter corner of Long Island (or elsewhere altogether) and save some money and energy.

1. Cancun, Mexico as told by jetsetting socialite blogger Annie Scott:

No franks. Unfortunately, when I think of Cancun, I think less of beautiful Mexico and more of drunk Americans in the street. I know it’s perfect for some people, and there’s some great food to be had, for sure, but one of the things I value most about travel is getting an authentic taste of local culture. No offense to Cancun, but if there’s any authentic local culture still there, they’ve managed to shove it under the rug enough that the screaming tourists from around the USA and beyond won’t notice it. I think that’s a shame.

[Flickr images via The James Kendall of Pistoleers and Smart Destinations

Polo’s Bastards Top 10 Worst Destinations

With the current conflict going on between Ethiopia and Somalia, my mind immediately began to wonder what the writers at Polo’s Bastards had been up to and what dangerous lands they’ve been exploring. Last time I checked in they’d just posted a piece on Rio’s favelas. Since then North Korea and Chechnya have also made their blog pages.

To round off the year though, Lee Ridley spent a little bit of his Christmas day highlighting some of the world’s worst destinations in 2006. Iraq assumes the position of No. 1, which doesn’t come as a shocker at all. The conflict created by the Hezbollah kidnappings of Israeli soldiers earned Lebanon the No. 10 spot, and in the middle you’ll find Haiti, Afghanistan, the entire Horn of Africa (poor Eritrea), Nepal, Chad, Chechnya and North Korea. If you’ve been in the dark concerning the political climate of these particular areas, you might want to mosey over and see what the deal is. Otherwise, just be sure to proceed with caution in the upcoming year. It is a far, far more dangerous world out there.