Have you ever taken a trip and afterwards wished you had done something differently? Travelling can be amazing and life-changing. However, if you are anything like me, you learn some things the hard way. Here are 10 things to consider as you plan your trip. Thinking about these common regrets might help you avoid them on your own travels.
Don’t regret not embracing the cultural differences. One of the things we celebrate about travelling is cultural differences. It is an opportunity to learn about another place and people. It’s not the time to resist or complain about them or the things you aren’t used to.
Don’t regret not trying the food. Of course, the food in another country will be different. The local cuisine has access to entirely different agriculture, herbs and spices. It will be different than what you are used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible! It’s just different. Break out of your comfort zone and try new things, even if it is only a bite. Again, no one is interested in your complaining. Be a good guest and learn to embrace the differences. Who knows, you might learn to love it!
Don’t regret not taking advantage of what’s around you. Sometimes we get lazy and don’t take advantage of what’s around us. Don’t spend the day holed up in your room, get out and explore. Often times there are hidden gems just around the corner. Find a coffee shop or internet cafe and ask one of the locals what you should see in the area. Research other travel blogs and check out what others have explored in your area. Join a Meet Up or taking a walking tour.
Don’t regret letting rumours of terrorism get the better of you. We live in a complicated world in complicated times. If you are travelling in a country that is generally safe, don’t let a single local incident make you run for the airport. In 2015 there was a terrible attack on Paris. Sure it was wise to hunker down for a couple of days until the police had a handle on it, but I wouldn’t have cut my month-long vacation in Paris short because of it. Paris was still relatively safe to explore, even at that time. Of course be smart, cautious, and vigilant but don’t live in fear.
Don’t regret not planning enough time to see everything you want to see. Whoever thought of the “loaded” vacation (12 countries in 12 days?) is an idiot. If you really want to get the most out of a trip, plan adequate time. It’s better to spend more time in fewer cities (or countries) than to spend less time in each town. You will get a better handle on the country, city, history and culture if you take your time. Bring back slow travel!
Don’t regret not doing your homework. Whether you need a Visa to enter a country or want to see a particular site, do your homework. You don’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of time and money because you neglected to get the proper documentation. Assume nothing. The same thing goes for attractions. Make sure you aren’t visiting on a local holiday when attractions might be closed. Nothing is worse than flying to see a particular attraction only to find it is closed for renovations.
Don’t regret not going where you want to go. If your family is planning a trip to India, but you really want to go to Bali. Go to Bali! If you only have time and means for one big trip, go where you really want to go. Not going where you want to go can be one of the biggest travel regrets you’ll have.
Don’t regret not getting a pocket translator. Some people are really good at winging it, others are awesome at charades, but there will be times when you need to convey information the fastest way possible. Invest in a translator. If you don’t speak a lick of the local language, a pocket translator can mean the difference between throwing up on someone’s shoes or making it to a toilet.
Don’t regret not splurging once in a while. Whether you are on your dream trip or your annual vacation, sometimes you just need to splurge. Go ziplining over the tropical rainforest canopy in Costa Rica or treat yourself to the suite over the water in Bora Bora (even if it is only for one night!). Whatever it is, treat yourself to that once in lifetime experience.
Don’t regret not buying souvenirs. Hey, those of you that follow my blog know I am a minimalist, but even I want a token of my trip. Some people collect tattoos or jewellery or even pieces of art. Whatever tickles your fancy make sure it is meaningful. Small mementoes of your journey can recall a flood of memories. If you stumble upon a large work of art you can’t live without, ship it home rather than lugging it around for the rest of your journey.
Make the most of your trip by embracing everything it has to offer. Take the opportunity to learn and try new things. Embracing the world and the differences within can teach us to be more compassionate, empathetic and curious.
If you have travelled and made some mistakes, share with us your regrets in the comments below so that we might learn from them too!