52 Top International Travel Bloggers share their Biggest Travel Regrets

As someone who loves traveling but finds her self stuck in suburbia at the end of the world, well, Africa, I often find myself glamorising what the travel life is all about.

I hanker for carefree days on the beach, or busy days exploring the cobble streets of a new city…

I often tell myself that a life of travel would be the end of all my woes… but what if it isn’t? What if travel sometimes ADDS to those woes. What if travel actually CAUSES more woes!?

This thought got me thinking…

I’m sure there are plenty of people all over the world that love traveling, and travel MUCH more than I do, but who have had disappointing travel experiences.

I figured if I asked people to share with me their biggest travel regrets maybe I could learn a thing or two…

Firstly, that a life of travel isn’t “all that”, sometimes it sucks! Secondly, that another person’s travel regret can be my saving grace and thirdly, that sometimes you just have to jump at an opportunity when it presents itself and not get too stuck in your own head or the practicalities of life and expectations of society….

Taking the time to learn from experienced travellers about their personal travel regrets could help me to refine my own bucket list and stop me from making the same mistakes… and, ultimately, ensure that when I do get around to travelling again myself I’ll be fully prepared, and have far less travel regrets of my own!

Maybe the same will happen for you!

Read on below for a round up of the biggest travel regrets as shared by some of the top travel bloggers around the world….

I hope this list will help you to learn a thing or two about avoiding disappointment on your travels, or inspire you to just go! At the end of the day having a travel regret means you’ve done something and it didn’t work out. Not the end of the world… but an opportunity for growth, and at the very least, a good story to share!

 

52 Biggest Travel Regrets of the World’s Top Travel Bloggers

 

General

Over-packing for long-term travel

Sarah & Tom from TripGourmets

On our current long trip, every time we move to a new place I think “why oh why, did I not bring less stuff?” I read a lot of packing guides before I left, and all of them said bring less – everything I needed would be available in my destination. Whilst I believed it, something still compelled me to bring 3 camera batteries rather than 2, a spare 2TB hard drive, the notebook that my sister gave me as a parting gift which I never write in. And more. Believe the hype and your back will thank you – lighter is best!

Cramming in too much in one trip

Steve and Chrissie from Inspirational Discoveries

Our biggest travel regret is trying to cram too many places into one trip. While you might think that’s the best way to see as much as possible, you will always be on the move. You can try some local dishes and see some of the tourist hotspots, but you miss out on actually experiencing a culture and building relationships with the locals. Across an 8-month trip, we have visited 22 countries, staying in 36 towns. We’ve seen some extraordinary things, but if we had just chosen half the countries, we would have discovered much more about each place.

 

And…

Putting too many destinations in one trip instead of concentrating on one country 

Anne & Clemens from Travellers Archive

We had this feeling so many times: We book a flight, the first hotel, buy a travel guide and realise: “Oh boy, there are so many things to do!” We’ve ended up making lists of things we would like to see and gone from shop to shop, from sight to sight, from train to train.

In the end, we could’t even name all the things that we’d seen and realised that this is not how we want to travel. We now prefer to focus on one area or to simply extend our stay in one place so that we have more time to explore. So far it’s been a good decision!

Not doing enough research

Talek Nantes from Travels with Talek

I was on a business trip to visit a customer in Vietnam. I had to see the market in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and my customer’s office was in Hue which, of course, I had to visit. Since I knew I would be in those three cities I research them hoping to have some time to explore out of business hours. I did explore those cities extensively and found Vietnam to be an intriguing country with friendly, warm people. As I didn’t have enough time I never bothered to research beyond those cities.

Afterward, when people knew I had been to Vietnam they asked me my impressions of Hoi An and Halong Bay. Hoi Who? I had no clue. I research those locations and saw how wonderful they were. I soon realized I should have done everything possible to extend my time in Vietnam to see those two stunning and fascinating locations. Now I have a good excuse to return.

 

And…

 

Jurga from Full Suitcase

Our biggest travel regret is not doing proper research for our trips in the past. Google didn’t exist yet and researching the trips wasn’t as easy and straightforward as it is today, so we just relied on the suggested itineraries provided by our travel agent. We once spent 3.5 weeks driving the Eastern Coast of Australia. The trip involved much too much driving with sometimes not much to see but burned forests and dead kangaroos along the way… We had been better of if we’d flown the big distances!

Our other trip, through the National Parks in the USA, was so fast that we hardly had the time to stop at just the main viewpoints of Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks, and only spent one day in Yosemite…

At the same time there were other trips, like Iceland, where there was hardly any infrastructure 15 years ago and we often found ourselves stuck in the middle of nowhere without much to see or do nearby… We now learned to plan ahead, to do our research, make sure we have the time to properly explore the place and also foresee time for unexpected discoveries and some hidden gems along the way.

Years later we planned our own trips and re-visited Australia, made an amazing road trip in the US, and went back to Iceland – all amazing experiences, and very different from our early trips.

 

And…

 

Chris from With a Backpack

My biggest travel regret is not checking the local holiday dates before planning my trip.

I had been wanting to go to the Big Buddha at the city of Leshan for many years, so when I was passing the nearby city of Chengdu I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for!

However, and here is where I messed up, it was a Chinese National holiday. Yep China, the country with over a billion people who all get the same days off each year. I hope you can imagine that this is a whole new level of busy.

I’m talking 6 hour lines to get in, 1 hour lines for the toilet, no rooms in hotels and, worst of all, no seats on trains or buses on the way back to Chengdu. Honestly, it was not the experience I had been looking for after all those years of waiting.

Not researching the correct visa requirements

Elena from Traveling Bytes

I felt well prepared for my first trip to Australia. I googled power outlets; researched poisonous snakes and spiders and was ready to face drop bears. Thus, I confidently strolled to the airport check-in counter. “Sorry, ma’am, you can’t board because you are not allowed to enter Australia”. What?

My first reaction was it must be a bad joke. I got so used to the fact that with my American passport I can travel to almost any country and get a visa on arrival, that I never checked Australian immigration laws. It was a big mistake.

The Land Down Under uses Electronic Travel Authority for tourist visas. The good thing is that the ETA replaces visa labels or stamps and removes the need for application forms. However, you still have to apply online and pay a fee to get it. The lessons learned? Do not be overconfident and always check that you are allowed to enter a country before buying a ticket.

Not travelling more when the kids were younger

Sara from In Africa and Beyond

My biggest travel regret is not travelling more before my kids started school. Now that they are in school, our travels are limited to school holidays, which also happen to be peak season – which means it’s more expensive to travel.

Likewise, our currency in South Africa was much stronger before they started school, so travelling in general was cheaper then. The duration of the school holidays means that our travels are more rushed as well. If I could go back in time, I would have travelled with them before they started school and spent weeks or months in each country instead of days, as we have to do now.

Not being braver in our family travels

Wendy from Empty Nesters Hit the Road

I read with awe and wonder about families with young children that are traveling the world.  No adventure seems too much for them. When my own children were young, we usually opted for very safe travels–amusement parks, cities within a reasonable drive, and “family friendly” hotels. Don’t get me wrong, we have so many great vacation memories of traveling with our kids when they were young. But if I had it to do over, I’d be braver. I’d choose more overseas trips so my kids could experience ancient history, interact with people of other cultures and try foods they might find unusual. As our kids have become older we have become far more adventurous in our travel style, but if a young family asked for my advice, I’d say be bold now! Young children need to learn about other people and cultures as soon as possible so that it informs the rest of their lives.

Travelling with teens

Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations

A couple of summers ago, we took a trip to southern Spain and France. My husband and I took not just our own teenager (18), but also two foster kids (15 and 16).

Well, they simply didn’t want to do anything except eat and play on their phones. Sightseeing was “boooooring,” especially museums, churches and pretty much anything old.

We had planned the last week for oceanside relaxation. Our foster daughter joined us on the beach only once, while neither of the boys could be coaxed away from WiFi except to eat. The boys spent the week playing computer games in our rented apartment, while the girl sat on a lounge chair on the roof and talked on WhatsApp to her friends. What bothered us most was the expense: paying for this trip was a complete waste of money.

My advice? Either travel without teenagers or else let them plan the trip with you, making most of the decisions about what to see and do.

Not traveling with a parent more often

Tracey from PackThePJs

Eight years ago, we arranged a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to celebrate my parents’ Golden Wedding anniversary. They were never really into travelling – the furthest they’d been was Spain (we are based in the UK).

The whole immediate family flew to Miami, spent a week on the world’s biggest cruise ship, then a week taking in the Everglades, two theme parks, and Sanibel/Captiva on the west coast of Florida. Mum and dad loved it. My young children (then 3 and 1) loved it. We all did.

We always thought that would be the start of many more holidays like it. But life kind of got in the way – as it does. Mum got cancer, and sadly died after a 2 year battle. This was last year. We should have made time for more holidays like the Florida one. It’s something I’ll always regret.

Not travel hacking sooner

Tim from Annual Adventure

My biggest travel regret is not starting travel hacking sooner. Ever since I began (responsibly) collecting travel award points, I’ve saved thousands on travel costs and now feel appalled any time I actually have to pay for a flight or hotel.

Besides just utilizing credit card points (Chase Ultimate Rewards are my favorite), there are so many other ways to hack your travel costs. Checking Google Flights for discount fares, subscribing to newsletters to get alerts about flash sales, and calling or emailing airlines and hotels directly to see if there are any ways they can save you money are all valuable tools in my arsenal!

Not Learning a Second Language Earlier 

Nate from Travel Lemming

Native English speakers like myself have a bit of an unfair advantage when it comes to travel, since English is widely spoken in most destinations. For the longest time, this led me to be complacent and to avoid putting much effort into learning any local languages. Then, while spending a few months in Mexico, I finally made the effort to acquire some respectable Spanish.

Being able to converse in the local language, even in a place where it’s technically possible to get by with just English, opens up an entirely new dimension to your travel experience. It lets you connect with locals outside of the hospitality industry, and it allows you to participate in the culture in a way that you otherwise couldn’t. I just wish I had spent more time learning a different language sooner!

Not reading books about my destinations

Andra from Our World to Wander

My biggest travel regret is related to books. I love reading, and I’ve always been a bookworm. But only in the last couple of years have I managed to connect the two important loves of my life – reading and traveling.

Before a trip to India, I decided to read a lot about the country. Not guidebooks, but history books, journals, and memoirs. To try and discover India just a bit before stepping into it.

And it completely changed my travel perspective. Because I noted down things that I wanted to see, things that I wanted to talk about with locals, places to connect with the paragraphs in my books. And it also helped me connect better with the locals. It was rewarding to see their smiles when they heard me talking about not so known facts about their country. I only wish I had done this earlier.

So next time you set your mind on a destination, start reading about it. Explore it a bit before getting there, and you will earn the locals’ respect!

Relying on love

Cristina from The Lazy Trotter

If there is one piece of advice that I will give to my daughter is to never, ever rely on a love story when it comes to traveling.

My biggest travel regret dates back to a few years ago, when I was traveling around Australia and I decided not to look for my own sponsorship in order to be able to stay longer in the country.

Back then I was dating an OZ guy and I thought that applying for a de facto visa with him would have been the best thing to do. Long story short? The son of a b**** broke up with me and I found myself with no boyfriend and no visa, having to leave the country and say bye bye to DownUnder!

Buying endless plastic bottles of water on my travels

Dave Brett from Travel Dave UK

If I could go back in time and change one thing on my travels, that would be purchasing water bottles. The simple response would be to buy a reusable water bottle that you can keep in your backpack. You can even purchase pack down water bottles to take onto your flight as hand luggage and many airports now offer water stations to refill once you’re airside.

Not only is buying bottled water expensive over time, the use of plastic is not good for the environment. You will quickly find that most tap water is safe to drink in most popular tourist destinations. If you can’t drink the tap water you can now buy filtrated water bottles like the one from LifeStraw which can even filtrate muddy puddle water. Save the environment and the planet and cut down on plastic bottle use.

Not keeping a travel journal of all my trips

Vy Tran from 7 Crossroads

One of my biggest travel regrets is not keeping a journal on some of my earlier trips. Sometimes it can be hard to sit down and write for 20 minutes, but the effort will be worth it, I promise. My earlier travels feel much more fragmented because I didn’t record them or how I felt.

Now, whenever I look back on my journals I can recall with vivid detail things that I forgot about or even track how much I’ve changed over the years. Sitting down in a café and writing is now a tradition for my travels and while I still need to find time to do other things, I consider my travel journal an investment in my memories.

Not trying the local cuisine

Gina from Jet Set and Forget

My biggest regret when traveling, is not trying multiple dishes of the local cuisine. During a 6-month trip through Thailand I was already tired of eating the same flavors after one month. I had one bowl of Khao Soi which was so spicy that I was completely turned off to eating more Thai food the rest of the trip.

It snowballed into my Malaysia trip and I look back now and completely regret not trying the local cuisines.

Make a list of the “must have” dishes in every country and check each off, don’t leave with regret like I did.

Missed Opportunities

Missing sunset at the Bolivia salt fans

Louise from Curious Footsteps

My biggest travel regret would have to be not staying for sunset at the Salt Flats in Bolivia.

The salt flats in Bolivia cannot fail to impress – there is an expanse of nothing that goes on for miles and miles as far as the eye can see……I couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at and my mind kept telling me it was snow/ice rather than salt. We spent our time taking it all in and snapping photos and by the time it got to about 4pm, we were exhausted from the heat and the previous day’s travelling. Some of the group decided to stay on for sunset but as it looked a bit cloudy I thought the sunset and reflections probably wouldn’t be that great. How wrong I was! The others came back with some absolutely wonderful photos.

Heading home too soon

Jane from Wicked Walkabout

A travel regret that sticks in my memory is not continuing my solo drive (mid-winter) from Oregon down through Arizona to Mexico and onwards. My beaten up little old Subaru went through snow and mountain passes, isolated dirt roads, desert areas and through the centre of Mexico City all the way to El Salvador where I decided to turn back and head north.

Not driving on as planned all the way to Panama and check out the canal is something I wish I’d done. It was an utterly incredible trip… cut off a little too soon for no reason other than thinking it might be dangerous further on… tsk. Shame on me!

Abandoning my travels for a good job

Crystal from Castaway with Crystal

Before I left Australia for South America I’d be hustling hard to get a foot in the door in the competitive TV industry in Sydney. I’d worked myself silly in countless unpaid roles trying to impress someone enough to hire me.

After some serious hustle, I left for what was supposed to be a well deserved 6-month break with friends. Then, four months in a producer I’d worked with offered me a job if I was back in Australia in three weeks.

It was a hard choice, but I ultimately decided to spend the extra cash to change my flights and bookings and go home for the job.

Two weeks after returning, I scrolled through my Facebook feed with a twinge of jealousy towards seeing all my friends partying it up at Brazil’s Carnival. Later that day, my new boss took me aside and told me that they actually couldn’t afford to take me on anymore.

Quitting boat hitchhiking too soon

Paulina from paulinaontheroad.com

My (current) biggest travel regret is that I stopped my boat hitchhiking adventure after crossing the Atlantic ocean.

My partner and I sailed out from Tenerife, via La Gomera to Cape Verde without a fix plan. But we had the massive dream of crossing the Atlantic without owning a boat. Every morning we went to the harbor to find a boat where we could work as crew. Finally we found a boat that took us to Cape Verde and after another month of preparation, we finally crossed from Cape Verde to Barbados.

We loved the experience and we were definitely hooked to sailing. However we were slowly running out of money, so we decided to go back to Europe to work. Now I am often thinking back that we should have tried at least to find a job after crossing the Atlantic.

However, it is never too late to make your dreams come true and we’re working hard in order to be on a boat again soon.

Giving up on a trip due to homesickness

Sharon Gourlay from Simple & Smarter

My biggest travel regret is from my very first trip overseas when I was 18. I signed up for a trip to the US through my university in Tasmania, Australia after inheriting some money. I was so excited as I had always wanted to go to the US but somewhat apprehensive too. I didn’t know people that travelled internationally and I had barely left my home state.

Eight months later it was finally time to go on the trip and I was really hesitant. In the intervening time, I had gained a boyfriend and the trip turned out to be leaving on the first anniversary of my father’s death. I really did not want to leave but I would lose the money so I went anyway. It was a disaster. I was so home sick, I flew all the way home two days later! The only place I saw in the US was Disneyland!

I regret I didn’t stick it out or I should have at least waited until I got some sleep or got over the jet lag to make such a big decision! The good news is that I was so determined to make up for this that I got back on the horse. It took another couple of years before I could afford it again but I have not stopped travelling since and have nearly made it to country 100. If at first you don’t succeed, try & try again 🙂

 

Not traveling my home country before traveling internationally

Kate from The Wanderlust Chronicles

I regret not travelling around my home country, Australia, first. I always underestimated the beauty of Australia and, after travelling internationally, I decided to visit Tasmania. I  was blown away by the beauty of Australia.

I think that many of us should take the opportunity to do more domestic travel so that we learn to appreciate our homes. It also makes coming home from an international trip a lot easier because domestic travel makes you grateful for the opportunity to call your country of origin home.

And…

Nick from Spiritual Travels

My greatest travel regret is that I didn’t explore more of my homeland, Canada, before setting off to backpack and live abroad a decade ago.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve barely scratched the surface of Canada’s diverse natural landscapes; I’ve never laid my eyes on the rocky east coast or traversed this vast land by train, nor have I traveled north to witness aurora borealis at its best. I’ve flown around the world for hikes but never even trekked the Rockies.

Fortunately, this is something I will be able to remedy someday, when I return with a newfound respect for Canada and all it has to offer.

Not taking advantage of traveling as a student

Marie Boes from Be Marie Travels

When I was a student I had all the time in the world to travel, even being on a budget I could have make it work as there are lots of student discounts and free or discounted trips organized by the university around the country.

But, like every student, I wasn’t really interested in it and preferred to just stay in town with my friends, clubbing, going to bars and just wasting time.

Looking back on it, as a working adult, I regret not using that time more productively, I wished I used that time to travel more and maybe have started a blog sooner!

Not taking a Gap Year

James from Portugalist

Even if you travel, I’ve found that the grass is always greener. I didn’t take a year out in my early 20s, choosing to focus on my career. Now in my later years I live, work and travel as a digital nomad.

Although I can travel freely now, it is combined with a very hectic work schedule that often means I don’t have enough time to see everything. My travels aren’t limited to a gap year, which is great, but a part of me wishes I’d still managed to take a year out and done things differently.

 

Not getting the hostel experience while traveling South East Asia

Alex from Swedish Nomad

I’ve been a full-time traveler for 3 years now, and started as a backpacker/flashpacker. My biggest travel regret is without a doubt the fact that me and my girlfriend didn’t go for the full hostel experience while traveling around South East Asia.

The main reason for that was because of our valuables since we’re professional photographers and travel bloggers. I feel like we have missed out on several adventures because of this, and I would like to urge others who are thinking about staying at cheap hostels and to travel day by day, to just do it!

Not buying art as a souvenir

Jean from Traveling Honeybird

Without fail my biggest travel regret, and one that I am continuously making is not buying that piece of artwork. That one painting that always captures my eyes. I seemingly have a knack for convincing myself what a hassle that would be to drag around or that I have enough artwork at home that needs to be framed and proudly placed on a wall. Even now that I’m back at home I still ponder if I should have just bought it and posted it home to join the rest of the pile of artwork.

Not watching more sunrises

Veronika from TravelGeekery

One of my biggest travel regrets is not being able to wake up to watch the sunrise. I’d love to have a quiet morning with no people in sight, only witnessing the purest start of the day and watch the sun roll onto the sky. But when it comes to making it work, I’m useless!

I always end up working late after a day of exploring and the little sleep I can get always wins over my ambition to wake up for the sunrise. So far in the past 10 years I’ve managed to watch the sunrise only twice on my travels – both when I travelled from Europe to the US and had a jet lag to deal with. That helped me to wake up! 🙂

That being said I’ve managed to catch plenty of sunsets (as is evident in the photo above!)

Leaving the best sights for last

Arzo from Arzo Travels

One of the things I love the most when I travel, is heading to best vintage-point of a city to enjoy the best views. Getting up to Victoria Peak, in Hong Kong, was something I was looking very forward to. I had seen many amazing images from there that made me add Hong Kong to my bucket list.

Before my trip some people recommended to me to keep the best for last…. I wish, I had never listened to that! I waited until my last day to get up the mountain – and it was a disappointment at its best. Not because, I did not like the skyscrapers or the view of Victoria Harbour – the problem was, I could not see anything! Thanks to heavy fog the view was obscured. I mean, it was really, really foggy and I could not see much at all. Even after waiting a few hours, the view did not get much better. So, all I got to see was a lot of fog.

While I have a reason to visit Hong Kong again, I can only recommend to do the best things first – you´ll never know what is going to happen.

Turning down a travel job of a lifetime

Tracy from Tracy Travels in Time

About 28 years ago I was working as a nanny in London on and off whilst travelling the world. London was my base and it was a great place to find nanny jobs that involved travel too. When a nanny agency called and told me that the stuntwoman on the young Indiana Jones films needed a nanny to look after her children I jumped at the chance of an interview.

The children were lovely and their Mum a totally awesome woman (she jumped out of the window onto the back of a horse – a stunt horse no less – at one point during the interview – I kid you not!!!)

Not only did the job entail a 3 month stay in the United States she was also willing to give me a plane ticket to return to the UK via Australia and the Far East. It was a dream come true. She phoned me the next day and offered me the job and here is the bit where I tell you why this is my biggest travel regret. I turned it down.

Even to this day I have no idea why. I was her first choice for the job and I still said no. I had the whole world in my hands and somehow it scared me to death. It took me another 25 years to get to Australia. It taught me a lesson and to quote Florine Bos,  “I travel because I’d rather look back at my life saying ‘I can’t believe I did that’ instead of ‘If only I had’ ”

I never turned down a travel opportunity ever again.

 

Skipped Places

Not visiting the Louvre and Versailles after living in Paris for 4 months

Roman from RomanRoams.com

Some years ago, I participated in an exchange program, studying for a semester in Paris. I really enjoyed this romantic city, strolling along the Seine River and having wine near the Eiffel Tower. But 1) I hate queues, 2) I don’t like typical attractions. Moreover, some of my top travel tips is to avoid touristic places and discover the unbeaten path.

Thanks to this, I’ve discovered many interesting and unknown places in Paris, but, because of this, during my 4 months in the capital of France, I didn’t visit either Louvre, Versailles or the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Some information for those who want to visit the typical tourist attractions of Paris: there are free days to visit museums in Paris, including Louvre and Versailles Palace, but on these days the queues are even longer, so take into account this information before planning your trip or buying your Paris museum pass. If you don’t enter the most typical attractions, you can see most of Paris in 1 day.

Not visiting the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris

SJ from Chasing the Donkey

Who travels to Paris, and does not go up the Eiffel Tower? Me, that’s who. What a mistake.

Every time I see the Eiffel tower, or someone mentions Paris, I think about how I was so lazy to stand in the queue. And even then, when I booked a time and day to enjoy the views at the top, I was too hungover to go to the appointment. Gah, what a mistake.

Please if you go to Paris, don’t be a fool like I was, head up to the top and admire that (what I assume is a ) killer view.

Not moving to Japan

Emily from Kids and Compass

While waiting for the application date for the Japan Exchange and Teaching programme, I got an office job in London.  Inexplicably I decided to stay in my boring job and to not go to Japan.

I’ve since travelled to Japan and spent the entire trip kicking myself that I had chickened out and did not live in this amazing country.  Years later, Japan is still my favourite country and I still wonder what living there would have been like. Now I’m married with two small kids so it’s never going to happen. Don’t be like me – seize the day!

Not visiting Syria when I had the chance

Elisa from World in Paris

One of my biggest travel regrets is Syria. Over the past few years, I had different opportunities to visit this country and I always chose a different option.

In 2007 I chose Jordan, instead of Syria, for a road trip with friends. Everybody told me that Syria was more spectacular than Jordan and that if I started with Syria I would be disappointed with Jordan later.

In 2009, a friend proposed me to spend a long weekend in Damascus. For me Syria was more than its capital and I wanted Syria’s full program.

Finally, I chose Ethiopia instead of Syria for my summer trip in 2010 because I could do it only during Ramadan and this is not the best time to visit a Muslim country.

Unfortunately that beautiful Syria which was high on my bucket list is gone. Forever.

Not visiting Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica

Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World

One of my biggest travel regrets is not visiting Corcovado National Park. This is one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica for nature lovers, with incredible landscapes and beautiful wildlife.

Back at the beginning of 2014, I was traveling across Central America and making my way to South America. The less I spent, the longer I could travel – I could hardly shake the idea of being a backpacker on a budget from my head. Sadly that came at the expense of enjoying many experiences and seeing many places while I was there.

Now, I’ll have to invest on brand new flights to Costa Rica to be able to see this natural wonder.

Not climbing Mount Fuji

Daniele Giannotta from Cycloscope

Despite traveling Japan on a really tight budget, our experience in the land of the rising sun was memorable. We spent three months in Japan, exploring Kyushu and the Japanese Alps in depth, seeing several traditional festivals, camping in Shinto shrines, and even participating in a huge J-Pop event in Tokyo.

Despite all this, there’s something we deeply regret, and that’s not climbing Mt. Fuji. It was early November when we were in the area, just came down from the Alps where the weather had already gone quite freezing. We were afraid of cold and snow storms up there, so we didn’t go. But in a hindsight, I think we might have been a bit braver.

Not exploring more of Vietnam

Josh and Sarah from Veggie Vagabonds

After spending a year teaching in Hanoi we never actually got to explore Vietnam.

We were saving for a huge motorbike trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and then overland to India so we thought it would be best to work hard and travel sooner. Because of all the hard work after a year we had saved the money we needed, but saw very little of the country.

Two weeks before our overland trip our plans massively changed and we had to return to England. We’ve still got the plan for the adventure so it’ll have to wait until the future!

Not Sailing the Yangtze River BEFORE the 3 Gorges were flooded

Sarah Carter from ASocialNomad

I procrastinated for so long about whether to visit China and take a trip along the Yangtze River and then the 3 Gorges were flooded and the decision was taken away.

At the time I was working and could more than afford the trip and the vacation time, but it never quite seemed like the right time. It wasn’t until my partner and I had both quit the corporate world and set off to travel that we went.

The water levels in the reservoir created by the 3 Gorges dam had flooded the area by 2008, we didn’t visit until September 2014 (just 5 months after we’d started travelling). Instead of a fancy big cruise ship, we took a smaller, older ship that usually just has Chinese tourists for our Yangtze River Cruise.

Of course, I’ll never know what the landscape was like before the dam and the cliffs that we motored past were still impressive, but I’ll always be left wondering.

Not Travelling to the Scottish Highlands

Eric from Penguin and Pia

Not travelling to the Scottish Highlands while living in Edinburgh for an entire year is easily one of my greatest travel regrets. Even though I was studying in a rigorous Masters program, that was no excuse.

Ultimately, my inaction to make the effort was fueled by the mentality of “Oh, it’s SO close – I’ll do it eventually”. Except, “eventually” became months later and before I knew it, I was heading home back to Canada.

My advice: hop on a bus tour or rent a car if you have to. You could even just make it a day trip from Edinburgh to get a taste of the beautiful scenery and history of the famed region. In short, make a plan and do it!

 

Places to Avoid

Going to Cairo, Egypt

Chris Backe from One Weird Globe

We spent a few days in Cairo to see the pyramids, the museum of Egyptian Antiquities, walking along the Nile, etc.

It was in Egypt where I realized the places themselves only contribute so much to the overall travel experience. Local men leered at  my wife, dual pricing (e.g. paying more as a foreigner) is the rule, local transportation is seriously lacking, and private paid tour guides substitute for the information museums should have. Everything seems set up to extract as much money from you as possible.

While the sights are gorgeous, it’s safe to say I won’t be going back.

Riding elephants in Thailand

Dawn from 5 Lost Together

Back in 2006 when we first visited Thailand, we didn’t think much of the participating in the typical tourist ritual of riding an elephant. I do remember the chains on their legs and wondering if they were treated well, but I didn’t see any clear evidence of abuse on our short little ride.

Fast forward 10+ years and I know so much more about ethical traveling and the abuse these animals face in the tourism industry. It is definitely an activity I wouldn’t participate in again.

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to see these incredible animals in the wild in Africa and Sri Lanka, which was so much more memorable and enjoyable than a 10 minute ride.

And…

Manouk Bob from Bunch of Backpackers

One hour of seemingly innocent fun turned out to be my biggest travel regret ever.

More than a decade ago, I went on one of my first backpacking trips to Thailand. One of the ‘must do’s’ at that time was elephant riding. I remember a friend at home was already against it at that time, but I wouldn’t listen. I had a blast riding the animal. We took the elephants through the river, took a lot of photographs and it felt like an adventure. Only a few years afterwards, I realized my mistake.

Elephants used for tourist entertainment are often held in cruel, harsh conditions (which are often not apparent). The saddles are painful and the poor creatures suffer daily. I was ignorant. Social media wasn’t big during that time. These days, my social media feed is full of anti-wildlife tourism posts and more people are aware of the dark side. Please avoid elephant riding during your travels!

Visiting Montenegro

Barbara from Jet-Settera

Last Summer, I decided to venture out to Eastern Europe to discover some new places. From Dubrovnik, Croatia, I continued my journey to Kotor in Montenegro. The city was a pleasant place. I enjoyed getting lost in the old town of the city. Had an overpriced dinner at a nice fish restaurant, however I could sense that the place was somewhat unfriendly towards foreigners.

The next morning I headed towards Budva, which is considered to be the most famous riviera of the Balkans. The shady looking hotel owner rented me a really basic room with a shared bathroom for 50 euros. The prices were like in Italy. Everything was fully booked. The streets had many holes. I stepped into two holes and I almost fell.

Around 9pm the electricity went out in the whole city and it would only come back on around 1am. I was told that people were stealing the cables because copper was expensive. I also found out while walking on the beach in the afternoon, that the whole city was ran by local mobsters and most of the locals were afraid of them.

The following day I hopped on a bus to go to the capital, Podgorica. This proved to be the worst capital I have seen in Europe. There were stray pit bulls everywhere. The buildings were not renovated since the the Eighties. It felt like I had flown back in time and I was back in the former Yugoslavia. It was intimidating. Montenegro is certainly not a place I will return to anytime soon.

 

Bad Experiences

Flying with Afriqiyah Airlines

Leanne from The Globetrotter GP

Back when I was a skint student, I planned a budget 3 week circular trip around Ghana with a friend. Someone warned us NOT to fly with Afriqiyah airlines. We ignored their advice as it was the cheapest and we were pretty poor then! BIG mistake.

Afriqiyah lost our luggage for a whole week! What’s worse is that they kept calling us back to the airport to collect our luggage only to find out the luggage wasn’t on that flight.

We then had to cram 3 weeks travel into 2 weeks before I started my volunteer programme which meant it was a much faster-paced trip than we would have liked and we inevitably missed out on some of our bucket list plans!

The best lesson to come from this is to listen to other people’s advice – they have your best interests at heart!

Letting personal petty problems ruin a trip of a lifetime

Danny Newman from Coddiwomp

One of my biggest ‘travel regrets’ so far is from a trip to Cambodia I took last year. I went with my girlfriend and we had an amazing time, but it was also really intense. We travelled around a LOT and got super tired at numerous points, which inevitably led to arguments.

It is really unusual for us to argue and I look back now with a tinge of regret at how I allowed this to be an element of our trip. Thankfully we didn’t let it sully the entire experience, but in future I’ll definitely try harder to prevent them from happening at all.

Life’s too short to let petty little issues spoil your experiences!

 

Silly Mistakes

Not checking rental car procedure

Shobha from Just Go Places

One of my biggest travel regrets is not checking on the procedure required to rent a car in Japan. I assumed you could rock up to a car rental agency like I have done many times before in different countries, present my US or UK drivers license and rent a car for the day. No, not in Japan. In Japan you need an International Drivers License which is a plastic card authorising you to drive internationally. You can get it very simply and cheaply in your country of residence by filling out a form and paying a small administration fee. Without an International Driver’s License (or a Japanese driver’s license) you can’t rent a car in Japan.

We had planned on renting a car for a day trip to the UNESCO world heritage sites of Shirakawa-go and its neighbouring villages in the mountains of Japan. These villages are famous for their steeped roof houses which were designed to cope with the heavy snowfall in the region. It is not an area easily accessible by train and the buses were full for when we wanted to go. Without a rental car, we simply couldn’t visit these sites and I don’t know when/if I’ll ever get back to this remote region of Japan.

Losing Cameras

Allan from Live Less Ordinary

We never go anywhere without cameras, and I have had many minor disasters, like losing cheaper point-and-shoot cameras, or just forgetting to recharge batteries before a full day at Angkor Wat (my wife wasn’t happy).

But the worst came at Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, when we had to swim to the back of the island with our camera equipment. At the time the boat guy secured it all in a wet bag without me paying attention, so when it came to sealing the bag for swimming the return journey, I was clueless. When I opened the bag back on the boat I discovered all our electronics had been drowned in seawater!

Not starting sooner

Not travelling solo sooner

Patrick from German Backpacker :

My biggest travel regret is that I didn’t travel solo earlier. For years, I always wanted to travel, but thought I couldn’t do it by myself. Therefore, I tried to convince friends to join me and made my plans always dependent on other people – and it never worked out in the end.

One time, some friends and I had already booked flight tickets to Morocco, but because of several reasons all of them cancelled just one week before. That’s when I decided to just go by myself, and it was great!

I met many people in my hostel and never felt lonely, and that’s when I realized that I don’t need necessarily other people to travel. Just one month later, I left for a 2-months solo backpacking journey around Southeast Asia.

If I want to go somewhere now, I just book a flight, and don’t make my plans dependent on others anymore.

 

And…

 

Claire from Past The Potholes

Finish school, go to university, get a good job. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right?  Well, that’s what we did. Eventually we took a leave of absence, sold the house, signed two year teaching contracts in Mexico and we haven’t looked back!

Our biggest regret?  Not doing it sooner. If we could do it all again, we wouldn’t worry about being able to ‘afford’ to travel; we would just go. We could have visited places before they became so touristy. We could have slept in cheap dorms, made friends from all over the world and pushed the boundaries of our comfort zone. Responsibilities are important but so are incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

And…

Isabella from Boundless Roads

My first trip abroad was when I was 16 when my parents suggested I should go to the UK to learn English. I was scared and shy and yet I went. It was an insightful trip because I realized that 1) I was capable of learning English, 2) I felt more ME abroad than in my own country.

However, that was not enough to push me to travel in the following summers in between university exams and I did not have the courage to try and study my university career abroad, something I have always wanted to do. I was still shy and felt undeserving.

I can’t even recall what I did in those lazy summers and why I didn’t even dare try to escape my boring routine. Money was an issue for sure and there was no internet at that time, so information was not in such easy reach as it is today. The only thing I knew about was au pair jobs, looking after kids in a family in exchange for hospitality. And so, I did. It was not one of the best experiences in my life, but it helped me to grow out of my shyness and insecurities.

I was 17 back then, but it was not until my thirties that I decided to leave Italy for good and make traveling my lifestyle. Since then I have never stopped and I was fortunate that for some reason working opportunities have kept coming which allow me to travel more and more. What I did in those 10 years gap, in my 20s, I am not sure. Why didn’t I travel? I am not sure. Maybe I had other priorities. I totally wiped out those memories from my head.

Do I regret it? I used to. I remember thinking: “If could only turn back time and travel more in those years maybe I would have got over my insecurities earlier, and I would have been happier and wiser earlier”. But now I don’t think regrets are healthy thoughts, nor helpful. On the contrary, I believe in love and life opportunities showing up when they are meant to, when you are ready for them “for the evolution of your conscious self.”

Therefore, there is no time for regrets, just time to do what makes my life meaningful. For now, that is to travel and I will continue to do it while it continues to help me to grow and learn. Maybe tomorrow it will change, I don’t know. But what I am sure is that there is no time to waste in regrets.

After reading this list I’m sure you’ll agree that learning from other’s mistakes is certainly very helpful when planning your travels… but I did really like the way my final blogger rounded out her regret by saying how fruitless it is to dwell on regrets and to rather accept that each life experience is what it is and brought you to this place. With that in mind I hope each of the bloggers featured here you will realise that for themselves. And that you will too!

Which of the travel regrets listed above do you most identify with?? And what is your biggest travel regret? Please share it in the comments so we can all learn from each other!

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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for almost 7 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

10 Comments
  1. Great post! Albeit lengthy, it is amazingly refreshing to read. This is so true: what’s one person’s regret could be an inspiration to the other. At least, I got an idea of something I never thought of before – boat hopping. Hmm, I definitely want to try it someday. It’s also fascinating how the same place, Montenegro in this case, can be hit or miss depending on circumstances. Couple years ago, we traveled through the coastal parts of that country. I remember Kotor as a crowded but friendly place. The best thing though was the fact that we met some great locals in smaller villages who generously shared delicious meals with us. BTW, I was reading this post sitting at the airport waiting for the flight to Osaka. The entry about renting cars in Japan made me laugh – yes, just last week run into the same problem. No International driver’s permit – no rental car. Oops, had to change our itinerary almost at the last minute. Last but not least – thank you very much for including my Australian visa adventure. Happy travels!

    1. Hi Elena. Thanks so much for sharing your travel regret in this post… and for adding to the conversation with your comment. It’s so interesting to find out more about other people’s travel experiences and regrets… and I’m glad I’ve inspired you to add something to your bucket list!

  2. Really cool article. I identified with so many of these. I also never prepare for my trips. Many of these happened to me in the past. Lol!

    1. Hi Barb. Glad you enjoyed the article. I found it fascinating as well. Lots of tips here of things and places to avoid… plus plenty of inspiration to just GO! Thanks for your contribution x

  3. Thanks for the inclusion, Kathryn. certainly plenty of stories for people to use as ‘food for thought’ when travel planning!

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