Top Three Travel Regrets
Regrets…I’ve had a few. But when it comes to travel, I am glad to have taken the bull by the horn on so many occasions – regrets are limited.
I really had to think about it, but there are a few regrets that linger. When Jenna at Wander the Map tagged me to write about mine, I dug deep and came up with the following 3 regrets:
My easiest, and #1 travel regret was to cut short my RTW trip. I will never regret the fact that I lived it up as much as possible and did as much as I could traveling through South and Central America and cycling across Canada, but when I cut Morocco out of the picture…well, I have never quite forgiven myself!
Before setting out to travel the world, I made decision to travel to the fullest, and leave no experience untried! That was to become my travel philosophy that has remained to this day. Sure, I backpacked my way through South America and tried to limit my costs at times, but I felt it was better to leave a place satisfied rather than short change my trip by skipping out and cutting costs too deeply in the name of making my trip last longer. That meant I had a magic number. Once my savings reached that point, it would be game over! I loved my time on the gringo trail. My week in the Amazon and the Pampas was fantastic – the extra money spent taking the military plane vs overland was well worth it, especially when I met 3 Dutch girls who had a nightmare of a time getting to Rurrenabaque. (They aren’t the only with a story to tell….Beyond Blighty reminded me of one of the many reasons I did not regret taking that flight.) My tour to Machu Picchu, booked locally in Cusco, was a little more expensive, but totally top rate. I loved every minute. I remain happy in my travel philosophy – it has served me well for years.
Cycling across Canada nearly bankrupted my trip. Perhaps I should have researched it more, but being Canadian, I let that slide. I quickly came close to my spending limit after nearly 7 months on the road. I never would have guessed all the camping would have cost so much. I still wouldn’t change what I did for the world…it was an amazing personal experience and huge accomplishment. While I traveled with a friend through South America, I cycled solo across Canada. These were two very different experiences with very different travel styles.
After so much time on the road, packing my bags and moving on each and every day, and the fact that I had been living in Australia for 7 years prior to that, so far from family and friends, I made the decision to move back to Canada. As I had nearly reached my magic spending limit, the choice was the easy one. It felt like the right thing to do – I still had a mortgage back in Australia to pay and I had to be responsible. I settled in with my father and started to look for work. My round the world adventure had run its course.
I did still have the rest of the round the world airline ticket. As time was running out, and my ticket was getting closer to expiring, I hopscotched my way back to Australia, stopping only in London (Walking London’s South Bank) and Thailand before raiding the storage locker for the goods I wanted to take back to Canada. It was time to organize selling my house and off load all my possessions.
I should have continued to travel longer, extended my hopscotch to include Morocco – a place I was dying to experience! The airfare was paid in full but the timing was not right. I had a job to get back to. Sucks that responsibility was calling yet again! The colours and exotic nature of Morocco, the opportunity to climb in the Atlas Mountains, sample their amazing food and visit the medinas, souks and cultural hotspots…I don’t know what I was thinking when I cut it out of my route. These pictures still fill my imagination and fuel my wanderlust. I still haven’t made it back! Hands down, missing my chance to explore Morocco has been my biggest travel regret of all time! If I could do it over…here is what a Grand Adventure in Morocco may look like!
(Note: the Medina photo above is from my photography instructor Younes – his amazing collection of Moroccan shots has only added fuel to my desire to visit!)
2. South East Asia
Part of the same trip above, at least I managed to hopscotch through Thailand and get a taste, but only a nibble really. Instantly hooked, but sadly now lacking in time as I had a job waiting for me back in Canada and a few weeks worth of work to empty my storage locker in Australia, I skipped Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia completely! It wasn’t even a case of the magical dollar limit that I had originally set – the cost of travel through South East Asia is so low compared to Europe and Canada, it would have been easy to have spent more time here! Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. I could easily fill the 3 months I had planned wandering through Asia, getting further off the beaten track than Bangkok and the River Kwai! If only we could have a crystal ball in times like these – it turned out I quickly discovered that I was not happy in that job and quit only a few months later.
Sometimes, a girl just wants a little comfort food, and that is exactly what leads me to regret #3!
I am a big fan of trying the local cuisine. Not worried about eating street food. After all, you see them cooking it on the hot grill right in front of you and you know that the turnover is high. These are some of the components of safe eating in a foreign country that I value quite highly. Add in the fact that it is mostly locals eating the food and I am in! More than happy to hand over my pesos for what they have on offer.
Having been on the road for nearly 2 months at this stage, I decided I wanted something reminiscent of home. You know the feeling – perhaps I was tired from feeding all the mosquitos in the jungle, but all I wanted was a simple burger. Nothing fancy. I sat myself down at the cafe I had eaten in once before and ordered a beef burger.
For those of you who have been to South America, you know about all the hungry, skinny dogs running around in town, looking for a meal. I had a fan club of one as I sat waiting for my burger. I was feeling rather good about life. My plate arrived, and I took a bite. What ever possessed me to take that second bite, I will never know, but I did. Perhaps the damage was already done, but I knew something was off. I offered a piece to the dog who was looking at me with the hungriest of brown eyes….and even he wouldn’t take it! Clearly – this was not a good sign! I did not finish that burger….but the burger was not finished with me. Never in my life was I so sick. No one knew what to do with me – it literally came out of me from both ends. I was so weak, I could hardly run across the courtyard at the hostel. The guy at the hostel even reserved one of the bathrooms exclusively for me – no one else was allowed to use it! I have had food poisoning since, but never as bad as that Bolivian burger.
Of course, the next concern was the next day where we were scheduled to fly back to La Paz on the military plane. Needless to say, buying that flight over taking the bus more than payed for itself as my sorry, green soul sat through an hour long flight. I never would have made it on the bus!
People always say to eat what the locals eat. That is your best protection against food poisoning. It tends to have the highest turn over, and let’s face it – the locals know the dish on the local food scene! Last I checked, hamburger was not high on the Bolivian diet – perhaps I should have listened!
Luckily, the burger incident didn’t stop my desire to travel the world. It did teach me a couple valuable lessons about food on the road. I try to stick to what is local and popular now, and if my first reaction to tasting something is bad – I don’t take another bite.
Thanks to Jenna at WanderTheMap for sharing her Top 3 Travel Regrets. I would like to tag the following travel bloggers to share their top 3 travel regrets!
- Lesley Carter of Bucket List Publications
- Caz and Craig of yTravel Blog
- Lola at Where in the world is Lola
What about you? What are your travel regrets? Feel free to share in the comments section below!