Thirteen Travel Regrets From 10 Years of Travel


beach in koh phi phi

I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t leave.

I knew I’d spend the rest of my life wishing I’d been brave enough to get on the plane. I knew those dreams I held in my mind of what travel would be like would consume me.

No regrets.

I jumped in at the deep end.

Within weeks, I discovered I’d been naive to think my trip would be perfect. There’s an opportunity cost with travel. There’s never enough time or money. The wanderlust is never-ending.

You’ll have regrets. They won’t be as huge as the ones you’d have if you hadn’t boarded the plane, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

These are 13 of my biggest ones.

Lauren in China

Being a Whining Weirdo in China

When I think of travel regrets, the first that springs to mind is my entire trip to China.

After spending over a month in clean and courteous Taiwan, arriving in China was my first experience with culture shock.

I freaked out.

I got scammed on my first day in Shanghai. I had continual stomach cramps from eating the food. A taxi driver shouted at me for staying in a hotel he didn’t want to go to. I had somebody spit on me while I was walking around Beijing. I was pushed and shoved in every direction. I was asked to pose for photos all day long, even when I’d been walking around trying to find my hostels for hours and was on the verge of tears.

It was overwhelming for a timid, naive girl who had barely stepped foot outside of the Western world before.

So I left the country early. I wrote a post about why I hated China. And I hated China. I swore I would never return.

But I was being over-dramatic and over-sensitive. I wasn’t prepared for China, but that wasn’t China’s fault. I wish I had tried to embrace the cultural differences rather than complaining about them. I was a whining weirdo.

budget cucumbers
A typical lunch for me

Spending the First Six Months of My Travels Afraid of Flavour

My favourite aspect of travel is trying new foods, so it kills me to know that I spent so long avoiding them.

Yes, for the first six-or-so months of my travels, I lived fairly exclusively on McDonald’s and snacks from grocery stores.

I was scared. I was afraid of food poisoning, yes, but I was also afraid of flavour. I had grown up such a picky eater that anything I didn’t think of as “normal” (bland) was terrifying.

I originally started eating “scary” foods in an attempt to impress Dave. I wanted to shock him and make him laugh, so I’d grab a forkful of whatever was on his plate and throw it in my mouth to surprise him.

Funnily enough, I ended up actually liking the vast majority of everything I tried.

These days, I’m about as far away as you can get from a picky eater and will try literally anything that’s thrown my way. I’ve eaten crickets, cockroaches, snails, lizard, duck tongue, brain tacos, and so much more.

I wish it hadn’t taken so long for me to get to this point, as I know I missed out on so many amazing meals!

Lauren in the Maldives

Cancelling My Indian Ocean Trip

I planned out a month-long trip that would see me hitting up the Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives. I booked all of my flights, ferries, accommodation, and activities.

And then I cancelled the entire trip.

I’d caught the flu and was suffering from extreme anxiety. I couldn’t stop crying and was having panic attacks every day. And I gave into my anxiety, used my illness as an excuse, and cancelled the trip.

I lost thousands of dollars.

At the time, I would have told you it was the right decision for me. I wanted to spend time at home with my family. I wanted to be in my comfort zone. I wanted to do something that wasn’t travel for a while.

But I would later come to learn that cancelling that trip made my anxiety so much worse. I had a panic attack on my next flight, as I was heading to Madrid to see Dave. I had multiple panic attacks on the flight we took together to Bangkok. And then the next one to Vietnam.

Cancelling my Indian Ocean trip, and then immediately feeling better about it, because comfort zones, was the worst thing for me to do. It made taking my next trips incredibly challenging, because I now knew that if I cancelled them, I’d feel so much better.

I almost cancelled my trip to the South Pacific — my first solo trip since the Seychelles — because of this anxiety.

And despite having panic attacks all the way to the Cook Islands, you know what happened when I arrived? My anxiety disappeared. As always, forcing myself out of my comfort zone brought me nothing but a calm mind. Solo travel never fails to improve my anxiety.

And while I did still experience some on that trip, it was drastically less than I’d been experiencing before.

I should have gone to the Seychelles and Mauritius and the Maldives, then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so broken for so long.

dog cafe seoul

Seeing Absolutely Nothing in South Korea

After thoroughly traumatising myself in China, a friend who’d just moved to Seoul invited me to hang out with her and recover. I gladly accepted and booked a flight for several days later.

And then I did nothing.

I spent three entire weeks in Seoul and filled my time with working in coffee shops and, um, that was it. Not only did I not make any attempt to see more of the country, but I put just as little effort into seeing the city! I didn’t visit any of the temples or palaces, I didn’t pay a visit to the DMZ, I didn’t visit any of the local markets, I didn’t go to the top of Mount Namsan, I didn’t even travel outside of my Hongdae neighbourhood.

No, the only things I did were take a cooking class, visit a cat cafe and dog cafe, and work in nearby coffee shops.

I was lazy. I told myself that I needed to recover from China, but the truth is, I did that within just a few days of arriving. The rest of my three weeks in the city was spent sitting on Facebook and pretending to write.

Nice beach

Letting Terrorism Win in Nice

I visited Nice last year and planned out an incredible trip around the French Riviera for my time there.

And aside from an afternoon in Monaco on my last day, I achieved nothing I’d set out to do.

When I arrived, the police presence was overwhelming. Police cars on every major streets, policemen with guns walking around outside my apartment, everyone jumping at the slightest sound. I jumped on google and searched for “Nice France ISIS” and found an article stating that multiple attacks had been foiled in the last month alone.

Suddenly, I was terrified.

I remained in my apartment for practically my entire stay in Nice. I didn’t go to the beach, I didn’t take day trips within France, I didn’t eat out at restaurants.

So dumb. It’s so dumb, because I decided to go to Nice to show people that you can’t let the terrorists win. To show that there was nothing to be afraid of. I even said to Dave before I flew there that if I managed to have the great misfortune of being in the city during an attack (unlikely to start with), the chances of it actually killing me were still so slim. I still believe that.

It turned out that once I arrived, I wasn’t feeling quite so bold.

I regret planning an amazing trip to a beautiful part of the world and spending my entire time locked up in my Airbnb apartment.

I won’t let it happen again.

Lauren at Rotorua in New Zealand

Attempting to See Too Much in New Zealand

Talk about travel ambition.

60 days in New Zealand and 40 beds. In fact, I can copy from my Where I’ve Been page and tell you that during my two-month trip, I drove over 4,000 miles and visited:

Abel Tasman National Park, Akaroa, Arrowtown, Ashburton, Auckland, Bluff, Cape Reinga, the Catlins, Christchurch, Collingwood, Doubtful Sound, Dunedin, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef, Golden Bay, Hamilton, Hanmer Springs, Lake Waikaremoana, Manapouri, Mount Maunganui, Milford Sound, Napier, National Park, Nelson, Oamaru, Paihia, Picton, Punakaiki, Queen Charlotte Track, Queenstown, Raglan, Rotorua, Taupo, Tekapo, Tongariro Crossing, Wanaka, Waitomo, Wellington. 

I’ve seen an enormous amount of New Zealand now, and I’ve had some truly wonderful experiences while I’ve been there. But we moved way. too. fast.

Not only were we changing location every couple of days, but we were also trying to work while seeing as much of the country as possible. And I don’t know if you know, but New Zealand has some of the worst internet ever for travellers.

My time in New Zealand was amazing but damn, it destroyed me for the rest of the year. I had to spend the following six months after leaving recovering from all of the fast-paced travel, and it meant that I missed out on some incredible-sounding experiences because I was simply too burnt out.

We should have either spent twice as long in New Zealand or visited half the places.

Sailing off the coast of Turkey

Not Getting My Ass Into Gear With the Mongol Rally

Fun fact: Dave, I, and one of his friends were planning to do the Mongol Rally way back in 2012.

For those of you who don’t know, the Mongol Rally is basically a race where you buy a beaten-up old car and drive it all the way from London to Mongolia. Many people opt to drive through places like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and more.

We had all committed to doing it, but kept putting it off and putting it off. Next year, next year.

The original rules stated that the car had to be under 1,000cc and completely unfit for the task, but were later changed to say they had to be no older than 5 years, which suddenly made buying a car a lot more expensive. Then the rules were changed again. Now you could buy an old 1,000cc car as long as you didn’t import it into Mongolia — i.e., after finishing the rally, you would have to turn around and drive it all the way back again. You couldn’t abandon the vehicles either otherwise you’d lose your deposit from the organisers.

Suddenly, the Mongol Rally seemed like an expensive pain in the ass.

Especially as Dave’s friend wouldn’t have been able to get enough time off work to make the return trip. And he’s a mechanic. The thought of me and Dave inching our way back and desperately praying the car wouldn’t fall to pieces was enough to put us off the entire trip.

I wish we’d got together and decided to commit to it before all of the rules changed. It would have been an incredible adventure.

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Continually Failing at Entering and Exiting Australia

I regret never remembering that I actually need a visa to enter Australia.

I don’t know why I keep forgetting. Maybe having a British passport and rarely needing to apply for a visa (I think I’ve only ever had to apply for one in advance half a dozen times in six years) has made me complacent. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t need one for nearby New Zealand. Or maybe it’s just laziness. Again.

But the two most recent times I’ve travelled to Australia, I’ve forgotten to apply for a visa and only remembered the night before I was due to enter the country.

The first time, I had applied for a new passport while I was in New Zealand, but forgotten I’d need a new Australian visa for it. When I remembered, the Australian immigration site was down for maintenance until the following morning, which was when my flight was. And I have no idea what happened but I think I somehow managed to get into Australia without a visa. Either that or my new passport was somehow linked to the visa in my old passport? I entered the country with no questions asked and one week later, received an email telling me my visa had just been approved.

The second time, I was flying from Taiwan and wasn’t so lucky. When I applied for my visa, it wasn’t approved immediately, which meant it had to be manually checked and could take 7-10 business days. I had 12 hours. I went to the airport and was told I didn’t have a valid visa and couldn’t board the flight. In a panic, I frantically googled around and found a shady website called Easy ETA that promised a visa within 30 minutes if you sent a bunch of money to a random Paypal address. I couldn’t believe my luck when it actually worked.

On top of all of that, on my most recent visit to Australia, I forgot to buy my flight out of the country!

I discovered three hours before my flight that I’d forgotten to book a ticket for the plane Dave was about to board to New Zealand. Having to announce that fact in front of all of his friends and family, then having to get his parents wait around at the airport to pick me up from my later flight, was, um, really embarrassing. In this case, I regret telling Dave I had booked the ticket to stop him nagging me to buy the ticket. Because without his nagging, I forgot to buy the ticket.

Lighthouse in Galle
I went to Sri Lanka instead…

Not Making More of an Effort to Visit India

I have planned and cancelled so many trips to India that it’s ridiculous.

I originally planned to meet friends there to celebrate Holi, back when I first travelled to Southeast Asia, but when a cheap flight to Bali popped up, I took the easy way out.

Next, I actually bought a flight to India with the intention of spending Dave’s birthday there, but I ran into visa problems and gave up. It turned out I had to apply for it while I was in the U.K. and it would take 15 business days to process. I had zero plans to spend that long back at home, and the expedited visa fees came to $450. Crazy-expensive. I decided to cancel the entire trip and head to Sri Lanka instead.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

India is the country that fascinates me the most right now and I no longer feel intimidated to travel there. I wish I’d put more of an effort into visiting when I’d had the opportunity.

beach in koh phi phi

Spending So Much Time in Thailand

It was my first visit to Southeast Asia and I was so excited to be finally there.

I spent three weeks in the Philippines, then travelled to Chiang Mai. I met Dave, found an apartment, extended my visa, and spent the next seven months in the country.

If I’m being honest: I got lazy.

Again.

I settled quickly into life in Chiang Mai. I had a boyfriend, I had a group of friends, I had my favourite restaurants, I had a scooter to get around on. My life was comfortable in Thailand and I was happy there. Why leave?

Um, because didn’t you want to actually see some of Southeast Asia? 

Rather than spending so much time in Chiang Mai, I wish I’d used it as a base to explore neighbouring countries. I could have spent three weeks of every month in Thailand and the remaining week exploring Cambodia or Vietnam or Burma or…

I wish I’d done more.

russian hats

Cancelling My Trans-Siberian Railway Adventure

Back when I first started planning out my travel itinerary (one of my first posts shared where I was hoping to visit and it’s ridiculous to read now), the one certain on my list was taking the Trans-Siberian across Russia.

And then I got scared.

And then I gave into my fears and cancelled the trip. I spent two days in Moscow instead, then left for Taiwan.

I was worried I’d be placed in a carriage with enormous Russian men who would force vodka on me (I had basically no experience with alcohol before I travelled). I was convinced I’d miss my train and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. I was confused about which stops I should get off at and where would be most interesting places to visit. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to eat any of the food that would be sold at the stations or on the train. I didn’t know how safe it would be as a solo woman who would be sharing a carriage with strangers.

I wish I’d known before cancelling my trip that getting out of your comfort zone is the best. I have no doubts that if I’d pushed myself to do it, I’d have ended up emerging at the end feeling stronger, proud, and more confident in my abilities as a traveller. And with a much higher alcohol tolerance.

Maybe this is an adventure for me to rebook for 2018?

Bora Bora airport

Not Going All Out in Bora Bora

I was in Bora Bora — basically the most spectacular place in the world — and I was staying in a tiny inexpensive guesthouse. I spent my days eating street food and sunbathing on the beach, not signing up for any activities or doing anything that I couldn’t do for free.

I had a reason for this, of course. I wanted to write the ultimate guide to visiting Bora Bora on a budget (and I did!), but that didn’t mean I couldn’t do anything luxurious while I was there.

I wish I’d booked one night in one of the ridiculous overwater bungalow resorts. I wish I’d done an over-the-top activity, like a champagne brunch on a yacht or a helicopter ride over the island or ridden the ridiculous-looking aquabike.

I don’t know if I’ll ever return to Bora Bora. I most likely won’t. So I wish I’d made the most of my time there and spent just 24 hours indulging in the luxury side of travel.

rtw packing list
I moved to Lisbon and this was basically all I owned

Not Buying Souvenirs in Any of the Places I Visited

When I first started travelling, I got drunk on the experiences-over-possessions Kool Aid and made it my mantra in life.

I wasn’t going to buy souvenirs! Ew. That was for losers who actually cared about material items. They were so superficial. I was better than them. I was having life-changing experiences (read: sitting on my laptop all day) while wearing the same two strap tops over and over and over.

I’ve bought literally zero souvenirs from any of the places I’ve travelled through over the past five and a half years. I always told myself there was no point, because it wasn’t like I was ever going to stop travelling and find a home. It would just be a waste of money.

Hi. I have a home now. And it’s completely void of any evidence that I’ve been anywhere.

I wish I had those memories. I wish I could sit down with a cup of tea and gaze up at a painting I bought in Myanmar while wearing my Muay Thai shorts from Thailand, my conical hat from Vietnam, and stroking a snow globe from Sri Lanka. Haha.

No.

But in all seriousness, now that I have an apartment, I wish I’d bought souvenirs from the special places I’ve visited around the world.

I mean, sure, I have photos I can hang on the walls and videos I can watch, but I don’t know, guys. I feel like having a small physical object from the places I love most would be even more meaningful.

Like a painting from the sweet artist who took me under her wing while I was lost in Taiwan; or a small handmade basket from the lovely local in Belize who was one of the first people I spoke to after learning I’d scored a book deal; or a lace coaster from Croatia — the first country I ever visited — because the strength of the threads would remind me of the days when I was starting to learn I was far stronger than I’d thought.

Lauren in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands

In the grand scheme of things, my regrets are minor, and I’m grateful for that.

I’m grateful for most of my regrets, in fact, because they often helped to teach me lessons along the way.

China taught me to be more open-minded.

Living on junk food has me appreciating the amazing meals I get to eat now.

Moving too fast in New Zealand taught me to slow down and calm my ambitions.

Being lazy in South Korea taught me to take advantage of the situations I find myself in.

I think that’s important.

While I try to live my life without regrets, if I do happen to find myself with some, I take time to learn from them and work out how I can avoid repeating them in the future.

And I will never regret leaving to travel.

 

This was a fun post to write! What are some of your biggest travel regrets?

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87 Comments

  1. Diana Edelman
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    I will do the Trans-Siberian with you!!!! I think we all have some regrets. I have so many from my long solo backpacking trip. In fact, nearly every trip I have been on, there is something I wish I did differently. It just means I’ve got to go back and do all the things … :)

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      I would love to do the Trans-Siberian with you! :-)

      • Kim P
        March 9, 2017
        Reply

        I did the Trans Siberian many years ago fron Vladivostok to Moscow knowing nothing and making stupid mistakes!!! I was so terrified about being kidnapped until an Irish guy I met named Nick looked me after I expressed my fears and said “Look.at you – they don’t want someone like you!” As mean as it was, it was also comforting and allowed me to relax.

        Russian Mongolia (Ulan Ude) is amazing! Go to a Buddhist monastery- spend some time there.

        Do the trip! The drunk Russian guys were minimal and the one we had in a car with us jumped off after a day.

  2. Andrea Anastasiou
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    Great post. Your Australian visa woes make me laugh, but I know what you mean – it’s easy to overlook it when you’re so used to not needing a visa to enter a country. And you should definitely visit India when you can – it’s not the easiest of countries to travel to, but boy is it amazing.

    Hmmm my biggest travel regrets. Not exploring more of Cambodia when I got the chance to (I settled into a comfortable rhythm in Siem Reap and didn’t budge). STILL not having gone to Japan despite the fact it’s the country I’ve been longing to go to the most. And most definitely not having travelled more around Syria when I had the opportunity to (Damascus was one of my favourite cities in the world).

    • Steph
      March 1, 2017
      Reply

      I also regret not seeing more of Syria when I was there. It’s so easy to take peace for granted.

      And there are FAR too many places I’ve been lazy and reluctant to splurge on activities! The £££ I’ve spent sitting in cafes instead…

      • Lauren
        March 6, 2017
        Reply

        I’ve definitely experienced that, too. I’ll think something is way too expensive to pay for, then go out for an expensive meal for a few nights in a row and not think about the added expense.

        I wish I could have spent any time in Syria — I was actually planning on visiting right at the start of my travels, but it was just as things started kicking off, so I had to cancel it. Agree that it’s easy to take peace for granted :-(

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Ah, Japan is another one of mine! I keep putting it off because of cost, but it’s way, way at the top of my list of countries I want to visit.

      I understand the regrets around Syria. I’d love to have visited, as everything I’ve read about travelling there made it sound like such an incredible and welcoming place.

  3. Sreenath J
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    Well, that India episode is funny! I’m looking forward to you visiting my country – do it soon! Absolutely nothing to worry about!!!

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      I’m so excited to finally visit! I’m hoping to get there within the next couple of months :-)

  4. NAF
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    By the way, you sure you are not an introvert?
    Well not too late to re-do some of the above. ?

    • Lauren
      March 1, 2017
      Reply

      I am the most introverted introvert to ever walk the earth ;-).

  5. Atanas Stratiev
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Imo, the biggest regret must be the cancelled trip to Seychelles and Mauritius. Amazing places missed + money lost = probably not the best feeling in the world

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      It definitely hurts now to know I missed out on so many beautiful islands. At the time, though, I felt nothing but relief. I’m hoping to get to Mauritius at some point this year :-)

  6. Tom
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Yes to the souvenirs! I used to travel with a similar frame of mind and thought I didn’t need to buy anything to remind me of my travels, because I was being ‘more real’ that way. Big mistake!

    Previously I only used to buy fridge magnets for my mum and nothing for myself. Now, I’ve started to pick up more stuff. I bought a book by a Filipino author in Manila. I’ve bought small prints from Vietnam and framed them. I have a ‘lucky cat’ wall hanging from Japan, and postcards from Mexico. My ex also bought me a super cool wall map for a previous birthday, where you stick photos of the places you’ve been on to it with pins.

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      I love the photo wall map idea! And yes, yes, yes, I really wish I hadn’t been such a douche and had just bought all the souvenirs!

  7. Maja Zwicky Saudhi
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Next time you ARE going to visit the Maldives, I’d be honoured to have you with me! I live on a tiny local island in Thaa-Atoll, far away from tourism. I can give you free food and a bed and a unique experience, including the 1 1\2 day trip by our supply boat to the island. Just let me know. Big hug and smiles across the miles, Maja

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the kind offer, Maja! I would love to return to the Maldives and check out more of the local islands.

  8. Nicole
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for writing this. It’s good to know that everyone gets scared once in a while but you feel so much better for doing things and going places than not.
    I want to go to some places but get worried that they won’t be LGBT friendly but I think society has moved on so much that it’s probably not as big a deal as I think especially as some things on the internet saying certain places aren’t LGBT friendly are dated ten years ago!
    I can also understand you wanting to see everything in New Zealand, it looks like such a beautiful country that it’s hard not to cram everything into the time you’ve got! NZ is on my bucketlist but I want at least a month to see it all (something that’s hard in a 9-5 job) and even then I don’t think I’ll see everything.

  9. Kay
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    This was a great read, Lauren. I think it can be hard in the moment sometimes to know whether you’re making the right decision, one you’ll either appreciate or regret later. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m excited to read about when you actually DO make it to all those places you missed the first time :)

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Yes, agree! Sometimes you’re like, if I cram too much in will I end up exhausted and regretting being too ambitious? Or if I take things slow will I regret not making the effort to visit a certain place while I had the opportunity?

  10. brett horting
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    No more issues with NEEDING an onward ticket;
    https://flyonward.com/en/
    Literally rent a REAL honest to god ticket for any flight, leaving the country of your choice.
    Do the TSR, I am going this summer, it should be epic. Basically, the gist or the great open post is, don’t be afraid. I firmly agree. Can’t wait to keep reading your story. Travel on.

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      I don’t think any of these regrets had anything to do with an onward ticket?

  11. Northern Peru Travel
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Really great post and the photos are beautiful !!! ;)

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you!

  12. Rachel @ Better LIVIN
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    These are wonderful learning experiences and sharing them with us will help us avoid making the same mistakes!

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks! :-)

  13. Arianwen
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    I did the exact same thing in New Zealand, although I don’t have any regrets about cramming. I was just very tired at the end of it. Australian visas suck. I spent most of last year waiting for a sponsored work visa to come though only to have them reject it because my job wasn’t closely enough linked to a skilled occupation on their list. Then I visited Australia on my way back from NZ and almost didn’t get the tourist visa in time because they hadn’t withdrawn my work visa application from 3 months ago and considered me ‘high risk’ as a result!

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Ugh! That really sucks. Both experiences. I can’t believe they forgot to withdraw your application!

  14. stephanie
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    Souvernirs are always fun but difficult for when youre travelling.
    I do feel that I regret not buying the souvenirs I wanted.
    x

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! You would definitely have to keep regularly mailing a box of them home as you travelled.

  15. Katie
    March 2, 2017
    Reply

    My biggest travel regret is not trying the local food on our first Asia trip! I had been a vegetarian for so long and was worried about getting ill/food being too spicy/not liking food etc. I missed out on so many amazing food experiences which I have always regretted! On our last day offer trip, we had Peking Duck in Beijing and it was AMAZING! – Lesson learnt

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Ah, yes. Well, as you know, I’ve definitely been there! But as you said, lesson learnt :-)

  16. Sarah
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    Wow you’ve certainly had some bad luck in your time and a lot of these are totally understandable due to circumstances! I too regret not spending money to certain things in certain places as I was on a travel budget at the time. Regret being whiny due to culture shock and regret not doing trips I should have. Inspo to do differently in the future!

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Absolutely. I’ve learned a lot from my regrets and it encourages me to make each subsequent trip better.

  17. Sergio
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    I can definitely understand your vacation regrets! I have a couple of my own during my tour of Europe. I think collecting a souvenir from each city/country can be fun. Although superficial to some, I like to collect one unique refrigerator magnet as a daily reminder of every location I’ve visited. Some of them are pretty unique looking, unfortunately I can’t post a picture here though.

    Also, the occasional splurge on something during each vacation should be considered mandatory!

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      I love the idea of collecting magnets. They’re small, inexpensive, lightweight, and look amazing when you’ve collected lots of them to display together. Totally agree about the splurge :-)

  18. Shauna
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    So Ironic that I am laying here wide awake worrying about my husbands next expat assignment in Indonesia and I happen upon this blog.
    We are now “older” expats so not feeling as adventurous about this assignment in Cilegon.
    I too am having anxiery and considering staying stateside. Part of me would love to explore the surrounding counties but The day to day life will be miserable in Cilegon. I am also worried about the lack of hygiene and food poisening among other things like lack of health care and all those nasty diseases like dengue fever! I too have thought well maybe I can exist on nuts bananas and yogurts from the local grocery stores.. I can’t imagine ever trying the food with all the horror stories I am hearing about, the latest being 2 friends have gotten a parasite. I have talked myself out of it so many times but a small part of me keeps pulling me back in. I think partly because I am a cancer survivor I go both ways.. do I want to risk my health when I fought so hard to survive or do I want to live life and take risks and explore new places while I am still able!
    Great read! So relatable, thanks for sharing!

  19. Danielle Theriault
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    This was such a great read for me. I have little travel regrets, as up until now I’ve been traveling within my comfort zone: Europe with my husband. I never thought I’d get to see 1/10th of what I have in Europe, and I hopefully have another few years to wander around Europe with my love. But recently I passed on an opportunity to go to Asia, alone. I was too scared to go alone and I do regret it. Hopefully I can go once we are done with Europe, either with my husband or maybe by myself too. I also was feeling self conscious about all the stuff I’ve accumulated from our travels. I get a Christmas ornament (or keychain/magnet/something I can turn into an ornament) at each place I go. I also have random stuff. Clogs from Holland beer steins from Germany, pottery from Poland. Sometimes I feel like it’s too much stuff to dust, but seeing it from your perspective was good. I know I’ll cherish my stuff later on down the road. :) | http://ourpassportpages.com/

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      I get that. Asia can be a super-intimidating place if you’ve never been before, and especially travelling alone. Hopefully you’ll get there soon, though, as I have a feeling you’ll love it once you’re there.

      Definitely don’t feel self-conscious of your souvenirs! I’m jealous of them all, and I bet your Christmas tree looks amazing! :-)

  20. Diana
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    Incredible post! You told us all of your mistakes and the real reasons for them.. laziness, fear etc My boyfriend recently forgot his permanent resident card to get back to Canada from Mexico, so now he’s learned to always double check the documentation needed!

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Oh man, what a nightmare! What happened to him?

  21. Yeeling
    March 3, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing these personal stories. Always guilty of “attempting to see too much” which eventually ruins the entire experience and trip. I guess we tend to let our “fears of missing out” take over.

    Love from Singapore,
    Yeeling

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! I receive so many emails from people who are planning to spend ten days in a country but want to visit 10 separate places during that time. I get the FOMO, but I also know that you often come to regret it if you try to cram too much in. You just end up exhausted, constantly moving, and seeing very little of the places you’re visiting.

  22. NZ Muse
    March 4, 2017
    Reply

    Not making more out of our time in Vietnam – esp not following through with a motorbike tour (though I still think the timing wasn’t right!) My husband was reeeeally struggling with the heat and food. Luckily Vietnam is close to home and fairly cheap – we will definitely be back.

    Internet here really does suck – sorry! You sure packed a lot in and hope the next time you’re here will be a bit more chilled :)

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Yes! I’ll be back for Christmas later this year and that’s usually chilled out and not involving much travel. Of course it also means spending a lot of time in Ashburton, which, um, isn’t the best part of the country, haha :-)

  23. Bethany
    March 5, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you for being so open & candid. I laughed so much because I relate to many, many of your stories. I struggle w/anxiety & an working to over come an eating disorder too. I’m obsessed w/traveling, it helps me grow & evolve but also struggle

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Bethany. It can be tough to travel when you suffer from anxiety, but I’ve found that it’s always worth the battle when you get to see the world.

  24. Emilly
    March 6, 2017
    Reply

    My biggest regret in travel is not taking more trips with my parents when they were still alive. We’d always talk about taking trips together but left it too late, sadly.

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Emily.

  25. Alex Steven
    March 6, 2017
    Reply

    Wow! what an amazing read…by far the best one.
    Kudos to your honesty.Keep traveling.Good Luck!

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Alex! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  26. Natalie
    March 6, 2017
    Reply

    I’d also love to take the Trans-Siberian! For Americans, a Russian visa is required. It was fairly time consuming, so be aware! My husband ended up paying some agency to check it over and deliver it wherever it needed to go.

    I don’t know the rules for Brits entering Russia, of course.

    • Lauren
      March 6, 2017
      Reply

      Same rules for British people, too! I paid someone to help me with my Russian visa when I went to Moscow, as it was so complicated. I would dread applying for it now because you have to list every country you’ve visited in the past ten years and the dates you were there. Definitely one of the most annoying visa processes in the world.

      • Natalie
        March 6, 2017
        Reply

        Yikes! I wasn’t heavily involved because I was staying home. I was about 7-8 months pregnant and also had an 11 month old at the time. My desire to travel at that time was much less than it is now ?

      • Kirstie
        March 26, 2017
        Reply

        We did the Trans-Siberain in 2015 and did the visas ourselves in the UK and it wasn’t too bad. I mean it was a pain in the arse, but we got the visas first try. I guessed about the countries I’d been to and the dates (I think there were about 30) and didn’t have any problems.

        It’s totally worth the hassle – a really amazing trip, and vodka has been illegal on Russian railways for about 5 years so there’s very little (though not zero) macho drinking. It’s mostly families travelling on the train. If you’re worried you could go third class and then you’re in an open carriage like a dormitory, there’ll definitely be families and other women. Hope you get there!

        • Lauren
          March 30, 2017
          Reply

          Ah, it sounds amazing! I wouldn’t be worried about the drinking thing now — I was just very teetotal and very sheltered before I left to travel, ha. Thanks for the information, though, it’s definitely something I’d love to check out in the future, And it’s good to hear the visas aren’t as terrible as they sound :-)

  27. Ronnie Walter
    March 7, 2017
    Reply

    Applause! to you lady. What an amazing time I had reading your post. Keep traveling and keep sharing your experiences.

    • Lauren
      March 7, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Ronnie!

  28. Taj mahal tour by train
    March 7, 2017
    Reply

    Great post! I appreciate your time and efforts! I love travelling blog post. So stunning pictures you shared. Thank you so much for sharing it. Great job. Keep doing.

  29. Stephen
    March 9, 2017
    Reply

    Another great honest post. Am sure all of them regrets paled in comparison to the experiences you have had :)

    • Lauren
      March 9, 2017
      Reply

      Absolutely! I’m thinking about writing an article to balance out the regrets, but there are too many to list!

  30. Naveen yadav
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    Wow what a post …actually i also made some of those mistakes. I just loved the way you wrote it. Travelling to different places is like a addiction we can’t help our self to discover more and more of our beautiful earth. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • Lauren
      May 6, 2017
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the read, Naveen! And totally agree with you about travel being an addiction — as soon as I think I’m sick of it and slow down for a month, my wanderlust takes over and I’m itching to hit the road again!

  31. Eve
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing so honestly, I can really relate. I’ve regretted letting anxiety/life ‘things’ stop me from doing 100% of the travel I’ve wanted to do, even though I’ve been lucky enough to be travelling for 4 years. I guess travel can be challenging sometimes and we all need to be kinder to ourselves.
    It’s great to hear real thoughts from other travelling women :)

    • Lauren
      January 2, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Eve :-)

  32. Jos
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    Love this post Lauren, and you right in so many ways, how ever we must not oversea the regrets of the travel but at-least be grateful of the wanderlust opportunity to travel and see the world! thats usually pretty cool and brave. thx for sharing!

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, absolutely. I’m very fortunate to have travelled as much as I have and I’m grateful to have such minor things count as my biggest regrets.

  33. Helen
    March 10, 2017
    Reply

    I really enjoyed this article, thanks for sharing! I also hardly ever buy souvenirs but I just don’t have enough room in my backpack! Instead, I’ve decided to buy postcards from every country I visit as my form of souvenir!

    I also encourage you to give China another visit! I lived there for 10 months and can say safely that the first month was a struggle. However, once I got use to the culture and learnt some of the language, I adored it! I met some very kind and hospitable people who are still friends now.

    Again, great post – really enjoyed reading it!

  34. Val
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    Ohhh now I’m thinking I better start buying souvenirs. I too am of the mind…I don’t need tacky souvenirs. Except one thing. To save on packing space I only by myself fridge magnets reflecting the best depiction/reflection of each town/city/country. My frigid is covered with them and I love the memories they instantly bring back each time I open the fridge. Hmmmm maybe I’m ok. ? Great article. I tend to do too much as opposed to too little. And too much can be…well…too much but I know no other way. Must see all!

  35. Maria Carmen Wellington
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    OMG! I can totally relate to this. I remember going to Sao Paolo, Brazil and seen absolutely nothing. I don’t even have a photo to show that I have been there nor any souvenirs to remind me of that place.
    I have also planned and cancelled so many trips to India. I have always wanted to see Taj Mahal. Now, I don’t know when I can go to India :(
    Lastly, I am guilty of this: ‘Spending too much time in Thailand’. Bangkok is only 6 hours by plane from Qatar. Every chance I get, I hop on a plane and go to Bangkok or Phuket. Thinking about it, I should have spent that money to go somewhere else.
    Truly, traveling teaches us a lot of lessons, and helps us learn more about ourselves.

  36. Rachael
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    Anxiety seems to be a running theme here, and I can totally relate. My biggest travel regret is probably not going travelling or making the move sooner. But then, if I had other good things wouldn’t have happened. So, in a way it’s not really a regret because I’m really happy with where I am right now. And maybe if things had been different I wouldn’t have met the people I have.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, definitely. I struggle with anxiety from time to time and that usually does lead to some regrets, as it has me feeling as though I’m not making the most of the opportunities I’ve been fortunate to have been given.

  37. Raymond Carroll
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    Hi,

    Great post!
    I really enjoyed reading that. The bit about China was interesting because I haven’t read much about blogs on China before this.
    Well done! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2017
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Raymond! I really would like to return to China in the future and experience it at a time when I’m not panicking about everything.

  38. Simon - SiDash Travels
    March 12, 2017
    Reply

    A brilliant post! Such a good read and I love the humor. Enjoyed the little tale about Beijing because we found it pretty difficult there as well. That said my biggest travel regret was actually leaving my job in China to early to live in a van in Australia. We live and learn :) Makes for great stories. Thanks for sharing this post.

  39. Stephanie Craig
    March 14, 2017
    Reply

    I regret not buying souvenirs too! I decided last month to start a tacky refrigerator magnet collection, and I’m so happy. They’re small and as tacky or as cute as I want them to be.

    • Lauren
      March 21, 2017
      Reply

      I love that! Magnets make such great souvenirs.

  40. Dawn
    March 24, 2017
    Reply

    Great post! Makes me think back on my travels and consider what I regret. The biggest regret though would be not going.

    • Lauren
      March 30, 2017
      Reply

      I wholeheartedly agree with that!

  41. Victoria @The British Berliner
    March 27, 2017
    Reply

    ‘Love the post Lauren,

    I travel a lot but my biggest regret was not travelling to Russia when I had the chance!

    I was actually on my way to Vietnam in 2007, and flying with Aeroflot! I had gone to the Aeroflot office in Berlin, and they were great. They even offered to organise a visa into Moscow for my 10 hour stop-over flight. And I refused! I refused ‘cos I didn’t want to pay €50.00 for the visa!! And as the silly girl that I was, I had no idea that actually, it’s extremely difficult to get into Russia without one, and if you’re British, horribly expensive! If only I had known. I spent 10 hours in the tiny stop-over airport sitting on my cushion. On the floor instead!

  42. Nancy
    April 18, 2017
    Reply

    Hi! I discovered your blog somewhat recently and I really like it!! I was wondering if you consistenly posted while you were in Thailand, and if so, how did you make your posts interesting if you weren’t really doing much? Hopefully you can get back to me! Or maybe someone else knows! Help!

    I’m working on writing my beginning posts (as you mentioned in the how to start a travel blog) and am exploring ideas.

    Thanks so much for reading!

    • Lauren
      April 18, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Nancy! Yep, I did post consistently then. I’d already been travelling full-time for four months by that point, so I had a ridiculous amount of stories to catch up on from those travels.

      On top of that, I was so excited to be in Thailand that I had so much to write about, even when based in one place — day trips to nearby villages, local festivals and events… I only needed to do or see two things each week to have enough to post on Mondays and Thursdays, for example.

      Finally, you don’t need to post about destinations all the time. I guess this post is an example of that! You can share tips on finding cheap flights or packing lists or travel mistakes you’ve made in the past or where you plan to visit next or how to make friends when you travel or your favourite hotel you’ve stayed in or which vaccinations you should get for different places or how you decide where to visit next or the places you don’t want to ever travel to… and that’s just a stream of consciousness list off the top of my head! People always like controversial posts, too, which is a way to keep things interesting. Stuff like, why I don’t want to visit XXX or why I didn’t like XXX or why a certain travel style (luxury/budget/solo/couple) sounds awful to you, etc.

      Hope that helps and gives you lots of ideas! :-)

  43. Bruno B
    June 19, 2017
    Reply

    First of all, this is a great insightful and down-to-earth post. I definitely can relate to some of the things you mentioned, specially terrorism which seems to be everywhere. The important is not succumb to fear, after all you can die just by crossing the road at home.

    I’ve started buying souvenirs a bit too late as well, but now I’ve got a respectable magnet and postcard collection from everywhere I’ve been since 2013!

    Bottom line is: the important is not to have regrets, is to learn from them. Happy travels!

  44. Ben
    August 5, 2017
    Reply

    You shouldn’t have any regrets, you have seen and done more than most people have done in an entire lifetime. Your blog posts are excellent. Keep up the good work! :)

    • Lauren
      August 7, 2017
      Reply

      Just because I’ve seen a lot doesn’t mean I’m immune to making mistakes and regretting them.

  45. Jessica
    March 21, 2018
    Reply

    Love reading about your travels! I travel internationally every year for 3 weeks and can relate to the anxiety….sometimes the night before we out on our adventure I seriously consider cancelling the whole thing! Comfort zone issues for sure! But luckily it’s never stopped me so far. I get my butt to the airport, pop some Xanax for the flight and by the time we arrive I am up for anything! I am purchasing your book today to ready on my upcoming trip to Turkey this spring! Happy travels!

  46. Reena
    May 20, 2020
    Reply

    A beautifully compiled post. Traveling can never be perfect and one is ought to bump into mistakes. And that’s how we learn. I haven’t traveled as much as you, but have always learned from my mistakes in every trip, especially not into buying souvenirs. Wish I had really done that.

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