Everyone makes mistakes when traveling, but I made so many that it’s impossible to remember them all. I try my best not to get hung up on things or have regrets. I think learning from your mistakes will make you a better traveler in the long run.
Here are some of the worst examples:
I didn’t do enough research
When I was backpacking through Southeast Asia, I researched where other backpackers were going at the time, but not why they were going there. I think if you learn about a place’s history and culture before you arrive, you’ll definitely appreciate it more and get more out of the experience.
I remember going to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and seeing hundreds of people chanting songs and carrying bowls. I was really confused at the time, but I think if I had known it was Festival of the Dead, I would have appreciated this unique experience.
I forgot my passport
Have you ever felt that sinking feeling, like your stomach has been emptied? It often happens when you arrive at the airport and think you’ve forgotten your passport, but 99% of the time it’s in the book. It’s tucked inside or at the bottom of the bag. I have this with me almost every time I go out, and I actually had it with me when I boarded the ferry to Amsterdam.
Thankfully, I had enough time to rush home and collect my passport, which I can assure you I will never forget again. This experience actually made me the most organized traveler. I now have a special wallet for tickets and a checklist that I go through before I leave the house (I would definitely recommend one of these to other forgetful people!)
I didn’t take my laptop
When I first started traveling, I barely even knew what a blog was. I wasn’t into social media and didn’t know anything about photo editing software, so I didn’t think I needed a laptop. Oh, how wrong I was!
For long-term travelers, there’s nothing better than finding a nice cafe with Wi-Fi where you can relax with a beer or fruit shake and Skype with friends and family. But if you don’t have your own laptop, you’re limited to dingy little internet cafes with slow connections and computers the size of small cars.
Please note: I am not saying that you should spend the entire trip with your head buried in your laptop.
I ended up having my laptop shipped to me, but it was a small cost and I wish I had brought it with me in the first place. Perfect for watching movies and backing up photos on long trips. Which brings me to my next point….
I didn’t back up my photos
When you’re constantly traveling, it’s easy to forget certain places or people you’ve met (if you’re super forgetful like me), but photos can help you remember everything. It would have been possible if I hadn’t lost the memory card before backing it up.
Sites like Flickr are great, and Facebook has improved by allowing you to store high-resolution photos. At the time, I was so impatient to upload everything to Flickr that I saved it to disk and mailed it home.
When it comes to photography, I recommend buying a decent camera and learning how to use it properly. When I traveled through Cambodia and Vietnam, I had cheap and useless compact digital cameras, and it’s painful to see pictures of those trash. I currently have a Sony NX3 which I love and it’s a great option for beginners in photography. Although it is a single-lens reflex camera, it is very compact and easy to use.
I didn’t insure my expensive belongings
Of course, I had travel insurance that covered my medical expenses, but I didn’t insure my expensive belongings like my laptop, cell phone, and camera. Although I was careless, I was incredibly lucky and didn’t have any socks stolen in over 20 months. Then, after climbing Mount Bromo in Java (and taking some great photos of this living volcano), Sam and I fell asleep on the bus and both cameras were stolen. It’s gone. We were shocked to lose all our photos from the volcano, but even more upset when we realized our insurance didn’t cover these belongings.
I didn’t appreciate just how lucky I was
My beach hut on Koh Lanta. I would do anything to come back here!
Being able to travel for almost two years has been the best experience of my life, but there were times when I took it for granted. I remember complaining about the lack of air conditioning in our beachfront cabin in Thailand and complaining about always wearing sand-covered clothes what! ? I would do anything to get back there now and I can tell you that I won’t take a moment for granted.
Have you ever made a big mistake while traveling? If so, were you able to learn anything from it?