Everyone makes mistakes when they travel and I’ve made so many it would be impossible to recall them all. I do my best not to dwell on things or regret anything. I think as long as you learn from your mistakes it makes you a better traveller in the long run.
Here are a few of the worst:
I didn’t do enough research
While I was backpacking through SE Asia I looked up where all the other backpackers were going at the time but I didn’t research why they were going there. If you learn about the history and culture of a place before you arrive, I definitely think you appreciate it that bit more and get more from the experience.
I remember going to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and seeing hundreds of people chanting and carrying bowls of rice. At the time I was just really confused, but if I’d known it was The Festival of the Dead I would have appreciated this unique experience.
I forgot my passport
Have you ever had that sinking feeling when it feels like your insides have just fallen out of your stomach? It happens quite often when you’ve got to the airport and you think you’ve forgotten your passport, but 99% of the time it’s there, tucked inside a book or at the bottom of your bag. I have this virtually every time I go away but I had it for real when I caught the ferry to Amsterdam.
Thankfully I had just enough time to dash back home and get it but I can guarantee that I will never forget my passport ever again. This experience has actually made me the most organised traveller possible. I now have a special wallet for my tickets and a checklist that I go through before I leave the house (for any other forgetful people I would definitely recommend one of these!)
I didn’t take my laptop
When I first left to go travelling I barely even knew what a blog was. I wasn’t into social media and I had no idea about photo editing software, so I didn’t think I’d need a laptop. Oh, how I was wrong!
As a long-term traveller, there is nothing better than finding a nice café with wifi where you can chill out and have a beer or a fruit shake while catching up with your friends and family on Skype. But if you don’t have your own laptop you’re restricted to dingy little Internet cafes with slow connections and computers the size of a small car.
Please note: I’m not in any way suggesting you should spend your entire trip with your head buried in your laptop.
I ended up getting my laptop posted over which cost a small fortune and I wish I’d just taken it with me in the first place. It’s also great for watching films on long journeys and backing up your photos. Which leads me to my next point….
I didn’t back up my photos
When you’re travelling continuously it’s easy to forget certain places or people you’ve met (well it is for super forgetful people like me) but photos can help you remember everything. Well they could if you didn’t lose your memory card before you backed them up.
Sites like Flickr are really good and Facebook is getting better now that you can store high res pics. At the time I was too impatient to upload everything to Flickr so I would put them onto a disk and mail them home.
On the topic of photography I’d also recommend getting a decent camera and learning how to use it properly. When I travelled through Cambodia and Vietnam I had a cheap and useless point-and-shoot camera and it pains me to see those rubbish photos. At the minute I have a Sony NX3 which I love and if you’re a beginner to photography it’s a great option. It’s a SLR but really compact and easy to use.
I didn’t insure my expensive belongings
Of course I had travel insurance to cover medical costs but I didn’t insure my expensive belongings like my laptop, phone or cameras. I was careless but incredibly lucky for over 20 months and didn’t have so much as a sock stolen. Then, after climbing Mount Bromo in Java (and getting some amazing photos of this live volcano) Sam and I fell asleep on a bus and had both of our cameras stolen. We were devastated to have lost all our photos from the volcano and even more upset when we realised our insurance didn’t cover these belongings.
I didn’t appreciate just how lucky I was
To travel continuously for almost two years was the best experience of my life but there were times when I took it for granted. I remember complaining about not having air-conditioning in my beach front cabin in Thailand and whining about always having sandy clothes. What!? I would do anything to be back there now and I can guarantee that I wouldn’t take one single moment for granted.
Have you ever made any massive mistakes while travelling and if you did, did you manage to learn anything from them?