“I regret travelling around the world; I wish I’d stayed home instead,” said no-one ever.
While I do consider myself to be a supreme optimist, I have a few travel regrets. Really though, I’m not one for dwelling. Most of my regrets relate to not having enough time or money to do something. Fortunately you can go back and do all those things you missed the first time around. Bad experiences, well, they can’t be undone but most of the time there’s a lesson to be learnt when things go wrong.
My Top Five Travel Regrets
#5 – Not visiting Barcelona while I lived in London
Barcelona was at the top of my hit list when I first arrived in London. In fact, I ordered the Barcelona Lonely Planet from Amazon as soon as I got myself an address to send it to. I always intended to visit but was lured by cheap flights to Italy. I quickly became obsessed with going to Italy. I loved that I could get there and back for 25, that the wine was cheaper than water and most of all I love the Italian way of living. Barcelona just kind of fell off the radar. Suddenly, it was two and a half years later, I was about to go home and I hadn’t set foot on Spanish soil. Whoops!
#4 – Travelling too quickly on our first family trip to South East Asia
We had eight weeks in South East Asia earlier this year and we spent them travelling at what seemed like breakneck speed from Bangkok to Singapore. I’ve been to the region many times and Lee none. I wanted him to see and experience a lot of the things i’d already done. As an introduction to Asia, it overwhelmed him. Worse still, we discovered that culture shock in toddlers exists and we went through several weeks of hell before we found a groove. What we should have done is rent an apartment and spend two weeks in Bangkok, Koh Samui, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Travel from a home base is much easier than moving guesthouses every other day and spending days on minibuses and trains.
#3 – Not visiting Washington DC on my first trip to the US
I don’t know why but America has always fascinated me. I love the history, the politics and the culture. Top of my US wishlist is to visit Washington DC. While I was living in London, I did a ten day house swap with a woman from Brooklyn. I could have jumped on a plane and been there in just over an hour. My second trip to the US was mostly around Las Vegas and the South West so I missed out again then. On our next trip, I’m going to make sure we hit the East Coast so I can finally see DC. Oddly, Lee has been to the US countless times and he’s never been to DC either. All the more reason to go now.
#2 – Giving up ten days into my first six week trip to South East Asia
This is my shameful little travel secret. I was 21 when I took my first trip outside of New Zealand or Australia… and I hated it! A friend and I had planned six weeks in Vietnam and Thailand. We ended up calling it quits after 10 days in Vietnam. The constant touting, rip offs and hassle had worn me down. My friend and I weren’t getting along. I was having major emotional issues because of the relationship I’d left at home. It wasn’t Vietnam’s fault. I wasn’t ready to throw myself in at the deep in. I should have started in Thailand. But I didn’t. So I ended up back in New Zealand instead of enjoying my first overseas experience. A few years later I went back and corrected the mistakes. I’ve visited Vietnam three times now. I adore the country, its charming cities and the delicious food but I always warn newbies to go for Thailand first… and not to travel with a friend!
#1 – Not travelling more when I was young
The ultimate travel regret. I’ve always had thing for travel. Ever since my early teens. I spent countless hours watching documentaries on Egypt, Globetrekker episodes chronically backpacking adventures and reading Lonely Planet books from cover to cover. There’s so much I wanted to do when I was young. I never got to teach English in Japan. I never backpacked through Europe with a railpass and 40 Euros a day in my pocket. I never spent endless months bumming around the beaches of Goa or Bali. Those ships have sailed. I can’t do those things now but I know longer want to. My focus isn’t on laying on a beach day after day & drinking night after night, skipping dinners & staying in dorms so I can see one more European city or spending long hours slaving away in a classroom full of kids. My focus now is on creating meaningful experiences we can enjoy as a family. Sometimes on the road, especially if we’re going through something tough, I do long for the days of child-free single travel – not having to please anyone else, just doing what you want, when you want. Though I think every mother has those days… even when they’re not travelling!
What are your biggest travel regrets? Something you didn’t see before it disappeared? Somewhere you missed because of time or budget constraints? Something you’ve just not got around to doing?
Ah! Awesome regrets (…wait?) I will have to think of mine and post them soon 🙂
Perhaps NOT going to Singapore when you should’ve? 😉
Not visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors while i was in China.
That should be easy to rectify Cindy. Plan another trip to China!
This is a great post…. I suppose my regrets are not doing MORE before having a child! I’m sure we will adventure overseas again, but there will never be that FREEDOM again…. when I had it, I didn’t appreciate it though, at least these little ones help us gain some perspective, huh?
That’s my number one regret. I could have done so much more but never travelled during Uni holidays, only worked.
Wow, number two blew my mind! Then again, I can understand… when I visited Thailand in 2008 it was my first time in a country where English wasn’t the language. Haha, I was so naive. I don’t know what I was thinking because now I can see that Thailand is a piece of cake! Great post. And thanks heaps for the link back to mine – hopefully this thing will take off!
I wouldn’t regret not visiting DC so much. I have lived here for most of the last 15 years and while it’s a great city to live it does not offer the tourist as much as NYC or Las Vegas. So don’t beat yourself over this 🙂 I know the grass is always greener on the other side as I read your posts from Asia and wish we were there. But if you guys ever come to DC we’d love to help our with advise or take you around.
My only regret, is that I had of travelled more.
In a nutshell, me too Nate.
Really interesting to hear that you gave up on your first backpacking trip but I can relate – I went on several holidays with friends when I was a teenager and they almost always ending in spectacular arguments and tears! I also share your regret of not travelling more when I was younger when many of my friends took gap years to travel. At least I will get on the road before I’m 40 (only 12 weeks left till I start my trip!).
Groups of girls doing anything together is just bound to end in disaster, right?
beat me to the comment 🙂
Not sure I regret it, but I wish I had done more traveling when I was younger instead of staying in school through the summers to finish sooner.
Snap! I wasted so many summers through school just working away. It would have been the perfect opportunity to travel.
HA! I uninstalled McAfee and I’m IN!!! I’ve been wanting to read this post for ages. I honestly don’t have any travel regrets, seriously, I did a lot before we had kids, I was born in Europe, so I did as much of that as I needed to while I was still in school. Yes, we had school trips to Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Belgium etc. vThen I grew up and hit Asia hard. I also had a boyfriend ( Hi Dave!) who lived in the US, so I got to know the East coast pretty well. Then I did a 12 month RTW and married an Aussie! The only countries I still desperately want to see are Bhutan and Burma, other than that, we travel for our kids now, it’s about seeing it all again though their eyes. But I can never, ever, get enough of it, particularly the Indian subcontinent. What do you mean you’re past hanging in Goa for months on end? I’m still game and I’m much older than you, I’ll see you there!
It looks like we all have a thing for Barcelona 🙂 I’ve been postponing a trip there for years. I also somewhat share your Washington DC regret. I got there on a business trip, so I was mostly stuck in the hotel attending presentations and other boring events. Thankfully, there were a Potomac sunset cruise and a baseball game included, so I did not miss out on everything
It sure does look like we all regret not going to Barcelona! Maybe because the flights are always so expensive.
I am sorry for your #2. “Not traveling more when I was young” is my #1 also. But, there is always a reason for that. and it is always a financial reason 🙂
I regret not staying for longer in Jodhpur, India and Cuba.
I know. It’s always either “plenty of time but no money” or “plenty of money but no time”. A catch 22!
My number one biggest regret is ignoring my other half and exposing my children to that side.
Meaning, I have exposed my kids, through travel and culture, to their French Canadian side. Heck , we even live in France now.
I am half Thai, I was born in Thailand. I spend the first five years of my life living in Thailand and Vietnam yet i have never once taken my kids to live there or visit.
I’m trying to rectify that now with my youngest daughter. We practice Thai words, we talk about it. I show her pictures of my Thai mother and she laughs in disbelief because my little Catherine looks like a little olive skinned Italian girl vs a girl who is 1/4 Thai.
Anyways, as soon as our income picks up, i plan on spending 3 months in Thailand with at least my daughter and my husband. My two boys may not come. I hope to meet my cousins again who do not speak one lick of english..
I’m sure it would all come flooding back to you once you hit Thailand. I think you’d be surprised at how much language knowledge is just lying dormant in your brain waiting to be woken up!
Oh wow number 2 IS a dirty little secret. I just saw this on Alyson’s blog as well and now I’m thinking Vicky and I need to do something similar…
I’d love to read yours Dave. 🙂
Sometimes I tend to try to go at ‘breakneck speed’, too. It is sometimes stressful, instead of being joyful!
I hope you get to D.C. someday soon. It’s a wonderful place to visit!
Like everyone else, I have the “should have travelled more before kids” (I’m still young enough to enjoy travel!). I’ve enjoyed your blog and marvel at how you travel with Reuben. Our oldest (still just 4) is not a good traveller and has laid waste to a few holidays, though I hold out hope he will mellow out in a few years.
I also regret not traveling more when I was younger. At that time, I thought I was traveling a lot, but now I wish I had done much more.
Hey guys, I too have a few travel regrets and have started a Twitter page and blog to try and share mine with the world! Come and share your own -https://twitter.com/travelregrets – and have a look at my blog to see how my regrets compare to yours!
Hmm, looking from the outside, I would say DC is an awesome destination if you’re a history buff tho! I personally loved DC for all the museums it offered, for Georgetown, and for the restaurants. I think I spent hours on Newseum, and if I weren’t with other people, I probably would’ve gone back the next day 😀