My biggest travel regrets

“I regret travelling around the world; I wish I’d stayed home instead,” said no-one ever.

Beautiful Koha Tao beach in Thailand

I’m not yet 30 and I’ve been to more than 30 countries, seen some spectacular sights, met some amazing people, ate some fantastic food and had my mind expanded, changed and blown so regularly I’d scared I’d lost it.

Through it all I’ve furthered my career more than if I’d stayed home, I’m engaged to marry someone who loves travel even more than I do and I’m already planning my next big adventure, a road trip through the United States of America.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few travel-related regrets from the past couple of years…

Not going on a gondola ride in Venice

I was young, poor and on a three-month adventure through Europe, having decided to see a bit of the continent before I settled in London.

Venice by boat, Italy

Through most of this journey a budget of 100 euros per day for my partner and I was sweet as – but in Venice we had to decide whether or not to splurge on a gondola ride that would cost at least as much as one day’s budget.

We didn’t (we caught one of Venice’s much-cheaper vaporetto water ferries instead) and now we regret it. We ended the trip under budget but I think a little bit poorer for never having seen Venice by gondola.

Getting robbed in Spain

It was hard enough to write about getting robbed in Spain the first time; suffice it to say this is the travel experience I regret the most.

Me, drrinking, in Valencia, Spain.

And who can blame me? My partner and I lost our passports, a netbook computer, a half-read novel, a half-finished bottle of vodka and a Nandos loyalty card with a whole chicken owing on it (that one hurts the most).

Not going to Egypt

I should have visited Egypt when I had the chance, when I lived in Europe and it was a relatively short trip. Now, living in New Zealand, it’s a really long way to go to see the pyramids.

I’d always wanted to travel to Egypt but it just never happened. It’s too expensive at Christmas time and too hot for much of the rest of the year. I regret it now – but I know I’ll make it one day.

Not buying more in SE Asia

It probably happens to all budget backpackers in Southeast Asia – unless you’re heading home soon there is never enough room in the old backpack for all the bargain clothing, DVDs and other knickknacks you can pick up for pennies and cents on the streets of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

I could really do with one of those cut-price custom-made suits that I turned down in Hoi An, Vietnam, now that I’m a working stiff again.

The Khao San Rd in Bangkok, Thailand

Sure, I’ve made way more mistakes travelleing around the world than you see here – but my philosophy in life as well as travel is you often have to make mistakes in order to learn. For example, check out my post about the Vietnam travel tips I learnt the hard way for information on transportation, food, tours and discounted accommodation in Hanoi and other cities in Vietnam. If I hadn’t been taught a lesson or two in Vietnam the rest of my backpacking trip through South East Asia would have been much tougher than it needed to be.

And with that I’m now going to nominate five of my favourite travel bloggers to name their biggest travel regrets in the hopes that by acknowledging them we’ll all be able to avoid them in the future (their mistakes, that is – not these brilliant travel bloggers).

Show me a traveller who hasn’t any travel-related regrets and I’ll show you a supreme optimist or a liar – so hopefully they’ll take me up on this challenge!

Backpacks and Bunkbeds

Four Jandals

Global Grasshopper

The Wrong Way Home

Flashpacker Family

About Simon Petersen 303 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

29 Comments

  1. Hi man versus world! As the originator of this Travel Regrets trend I would love it if you could check out my travel regrets blog. I’ve only just started but have plenty of regrets coming up including putting mozzie repent in my contact lens case while staying with a family in Indonesdia that didn’t speak English. That was fun!

  2. My one regret is paying for the London eye. Everything else – the gondola in Venice, the BMW in Munich, the motorbike ride through Vermont, cruise in Halong … all worth it.

    • That’s the worst, too – because when you get back to reality and you have a job again, then you realise how easy it is to earn enough for a gondola ride, say, but how difficult it is to go back and do it! Thanks, Nat.

  3. What a neat post! I’ll have to think about if I have any travel regrets. And, we are headed to Italy for the first time this summer. I’ll make sure and ride in a gondola!!

    • If one person who reads this blog post avoids making one of the mistakes I did it’ll be worth it! Thanks, Dana – have fun in Italy!

  4. Best way forward – Go back to all the places and catch up on the adventures you want to see!! My biggest travel regrets thus far only involve pre-booking flights out of countries!!! best to go with the flow and follow the heart!! You only live once!

  5. Hi, I’m new to your blog and I love it. 🙂 Great article! I’m 23 but I don’t think I’ve visited 23 countries yet (close though!). I love traveling and Europe has long been one of my favorite destinations. But now I really want to plan a trip to SE Asia, after reading so many articles about Vietnam, Laos, etc. and now after your post! Haha thank you and have a happy holiday!

  6. Mine is not hiring a car when we went to Tobago. Like your Venice example, it was a budget decision but it massively cut down how much exploring we could do. Was also partly a fear-based decision as their roads and drivers were a bit scary. Luckily I feel like I don’t have too many travel regrets.

    • Yeah, in the past I’ve been a bit cautious when it’s come to hiring a car and then driving in foreign countries. But I’d better get over it because I’m planning a US roadtrip next year.

  7. Great Post Simon!

    Hmm, my biggest regret is not scuba diving at any of the places that offered it. I just went snorkelling instead, which is just as good but I would seethe with jealousy everytime a scuba diver would say they’ve seen sharks and that elusive turtle…

    • Aw, that’s a good point! I kinda wish I had learnt to scuba dive in Asia, too – although I still loved snorkelling, especially as I did manage to see a turtle!

  8. This is a great post! It’s funny how regrets focus on what you didn’t do, more than what you did. Just found your blog and loving it. Especially looking forward to hearing more about NZ from a native – I’m hopefully travelling there some time next year.

    • I never thought about it like that! And thanks heaps for the kind words – you can keep an eye out for more NZ stuff in the New Year as I’ll be doing a bit of a summer road-trip around Christmas. Keep in touch.

  9. My travel regret is not going to either Ocean Park or Disneyland when I was in Hong Kong. Luckily, I may have the chance of fulfilling that soon!

    • I didn’t do either when I was in Hong Kong! Ouch, maybe I should add those to the list… Haha. Good luck!

  10. Do you know, So many of these regrets are exactly the same as mine. I wish I’d have just taken an empty suitcase to SE. Asia…. and I would give anything to go back to Venice for nothing but a Gondola ride….

    That said, I think the joy of travelling… and indeed travel blogging… is the fact that you can return to a destination again and still have so much to do. Whether its try a new experience, see an attraction or simply try a new food… there is no end to the things you can do. In some ways it feels irritating and regrettable that you missed out… but on the other hand it makes that travel bug blaze inside you, desperate to see more, do more and eat more! xxx

    • I completely agree with you! I’m not as regretful as I would be if I couldn’t one day do these things. I’m sure I’ll go back to Venice one day and I’ll definitely do a gondola ride. Great comment.

  11. My travel regret is the opposite to your last one! I regret the souvenir buying of my early travel career. They ended up being dust collectors that I’ve seen thrown out. Now I use the space in my bag for my camera and create my memories instead of buying them, much more enjoyable and takes up less space!

    • Oh, now that’s very interesting. Perhaps I need not regret not having room for souvenirs! Our travel philosophy has always been that photos are the best keepsakes but I wouldn’t mind some really cheap new clothes in time for summer…

  12. Simon, I don’t think I’ve got any. Unlike Bethaney, we did a lot pre kids, now we hope to do the same WITH the kids, that will be mind blowing. I’ve never been to the Taj Mahal, it was outside our $5/day budget in India, but I don’t really regret that, India is more about the overall experience, not tourist attractions. I guess I could regret not traveling more, but I don’t see how we could have packed much more in! I find it’s always best not to have regrets, it’s all good, even the bad stuff.

    • You’ve never wanted to stay somewhere for longer but had to go home or push on? You’re a very lucky traveller! You’re right; it’s far better to not have regrets – even relatively minor ones (excluding getting robbed) like me.

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