Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in yourails. Explore. Dream. Disc– Mark Twain
As much as I wish I didn’t feel like I have to regret any decisions I make on the road, I still do hold regrets. Here are my biggest travel regrets:
1. Signing a flat lease through Facebook
When I first moved to Malta, I signed a contract online and wired money to a landlord I had never properly had the chance to meet. This is because, in America, it is necessary to sign a lease months-in-advance. In other places in the world, I learned, it is possible to move to a foreign land without a place to live and move into a flat by the end of the day. I ended up losing $1,000 that day. One of the biggest regrets of my life but a lesson learned.
2. Not saying “Hello” to that group of friends in my hostel
More times than I can count with my fingers and toes there’s a group of friends who are hanging out, drinking, playing cards, etc. I always have a temptation to introduce myself to the group, but there’s something about introducing yourself to a whole group who is already friends that can be intimidating. Sometimes, I bite the bullet and start up a conversation. Sometimes, I stay quiet to myself.
More often than not, when I make an effort to talk to the group, they are welcoming and I end up joining the group. But there are times when I feel too much like a friend-group parasite and I regret not ever speaking to them.
3. Not kissing the girl I’ll never see again
Many times in my hostel or out at the club, I’ll meet a girl that I have a connection with. The only problem is, as is often the case in hostels, the people you meet are often on the move the next day.
I rarely make the move on a girl while traveling, and I usually end up regretting shortly after. Who knows where things could go?
4. Pre-booking that return flight too early
I’ve learned my lesson on this, and now I’ll rarely book a return flight while traveling; especially when I get the rare opportunity to travel without such restraints such as work or school – it feels unnecessary to put a restraint on myself by booking a return flight. You never know what opportunities traveling will bring you in which you may want to stay where you are.
5. Interrail Pass
Last Spring, I purchased an Interrail Pass for my first Euro Trip. All I can say is – don’t do it. I ended up hating the restraints it put on me and my schedules. Not to mention travel time was not nearly as fast as advertised and it is certainly not the cheapest option to travel around Europe.
When possible, I prefer bus travel through Europe. With WiFi and movies onboard, bus travel is hard to beat. Plus the fact that usually, they are the most affordable option and students and recent postgraduates are the main crowd onboard; it makes bus travel too tempting.
6. Not saying “No” the one time I needed to in Sofia
One of the scariest moments of my life, read about the time I ran into some trouble with strangers in the capital city of Bulgaria.
7. Trying to see it all in one trip – not slowing down
I do it all the time, and I’m still trying to figure out how to travel at a slower tempo. The worst thing I experience on the road is getting burned out on the last days of a trip. Last year, I started pursuing a slower, long-term travel style and I’ve found it much more enjoyable.
Instead of trying to see it all in one trip, set a goal to leave some to be desired in every city so that you are encouraged to come again.
8. Planning a trip that was too long
There’s a difference between long-term travel and long-term vacationing. Long-term travel usually means settling down in a certain place for weeks or months at a time. Long-term vacationing usually means a lot of moving around which will lead to burn-out over a long period of time.
When you have the time, I highly advise making your traveling last as long as you can, but that doesn’t mean it has to be go-go-go the entire trip. Slow down, enjoy the ride!
9. Being too skimpy on my travel budget
I run a blog about budget travel for students and post-graduates. Sometimes, I push myself to stay under extreme budgets just so I can record my experiences. I enjoy this type of travel; trying to live experiences inexpensively. However, sometimes I forget that not everyone desires to travel with extremely skimpy budgets, and sometimes neither do I.
I regret not splurging more than on occasion.
10. Having one too many drinks too many times
This has been a personal regret that I have been working hard on recently. I love to go out, have fun with friends, and drink. However, far too often, I’m having trouble recalling some of the night-out memories in the morning.
It’s always an uncomfortable feeling meeting people on a night out then seeing them another day and not being able to talk about the night-out shenanigans you experienced together. I’m trying to fix this part of my “fun-habits”.
11. Not putting enough time into travel documenting
I’m in a constant battle with how many photos and notes I want to take while traveling. On one hand, it’s nicer to see everything while in the moment. On the other hand, I absolutely love going back through old photos and trip journals and recounting memories that I had forgotten about.
What’s the right balance? I still have no idea, but I’ve found I repeatedly wish I had taken more notes and photos while traveling.
12. Traveling too long with a group
Solo traveling is my absolute favorite way to travel. I find it’s easiest to meet people while I’m alone. It’s easier to soak in the culture while I’m alone. And it’s easier to be aware of everything going on around me and travel on a budget while I’m alone.
However, with that being said, sometimes it can get lonely and I crave traveling with somebody or a group. I’ve traveled with people before – sometimes friends, sometimes strangers I meet on the road. It’s great for a limited amount of time. I can’t do it for too long or else I start to wish I was alone again. That’s just how I am.
13. Traveling too long with the same routine
The point of traveling, for me, other than learning about yourself, is breaking free from your daily routine at home. Routines are the enemy of time. If you want to feel like time is forever, travel without adapting to a routine. You won’t regret that.