Regrets are never fun to talk about, but are we truly human if we don’t have a few regrets in our life? I dug a little deeper this week to uncover a few of my major travel regrets, some of them are admittedly painful. Sometimes as travelers (regardless of how frequent you travel), it’s important to humble ourselves with these regrets or mistakes. Though we’re fortunate in having the ability to travel places, we’re no better than anyone else! I believe it’s okay to have regrets (in our travel lives and personal lives), as long as we remember to learn the lessons and truly move on.
Travel Regret #1: I regret not traveling more in college
Yep, my first travel regret is actually NOT traveling more in college. I was not a typical [American] college student; for four years, all I did was study. I didn’t party, and I did not participate in any clubs or extracurricular activities. Occasionally, I would still go out to eat or enjoy a bottle of wine at home with friends. Most of my college career was truly spent nose in books. Of course, I did have the typical college student melt down each semester. (Group projects suck). Within these four years, I still had SUMMERS off, and 6 weeks of a winter break (which truly was more than other universities in the states), and I barely went anywhere. I visited my aunt in LA during my very first spring break, and the following winter went to Iceland. I truly feel I’ve wasted so much time where I could have visited other wonderful cities in my country. Now that college is over, I have to be extremely creative with my two weeks of vacation a year.
Travel Regret #2: I regret not studying abroad
At my university, your sophomore (2nd) or junior (3rd) year is when you study abroad. I’ve always been rather shy, and over the years it has taken me awhile to truly step outside of my comfort zone. So even the initial WANT to move abroad for even three months is huge for me. Unfortunately, by the time I realized I wanted to, the deadline to apply was 3 months away, right before my junior year. Let me tell you a secret… there is truly NO WAY I was going to get everything together in time AND convince my overprotective father to let me study abroad in a different country on a completely different continent. (My dream was to study in Germany).
I had another opportunity to study abroad for a year after college, and I heard about the opportunity with a year to prepare. After doing initial research, though, and discussing my desires with the professor in charge with the program, I had pretty high doubts. The professor had gone through this program herself, but went the route of teaching English in a country in Africa. She had no experience with the business route (my desire) and even tried to talk me out of studying business in Germany. Needless to say, I had a bad gut feeling about listening to advice from someone who couldn’t answer all of my questions.
Travel Regret #3 I regret not hiking to the TOP of the glacier in Iceland.
Personal moment here, admitting this one (and #4) is a pretty big OUCH for me. With five hours of sleep, my body physically was not letting me do much hiking/climbing. In addition to lack of sleep, it was raining, sleeting, and snowing. Truly all around miserable January weather (yeah, okay, that might have been a bit of an excuse.) Hiking this glacier was the most difficult hike of my life (so far), though it was the coolest (pun intended). It was truly an awesome experience, despite almost falling into a crevice (really, I can’t function on anything less than 7 hours of sleep).
Travel Regret #4: I regret not snapping a picture of the northern lights.
This one. My biggest and most painful of all of my travel regrets is not having my OWN picture of the northern lights. This has been a battle since I returned home from that trip January 2014. Typically, when I travel to a new destination, I’m always in complete awe when I’m there. Being 19 and my first time abroad, I was literally high on excitement from the moment the flights were booked. I didn’t even realize taking a picture of something in the dark would be nearly impossible if you do not know how to work your camera. Call it naivety, but it was a lesson learned. On the other hand, it was a beautiful period I lived in the moment. With technology failing me, I had the ability to just stand there in awe of the glorious northern lights. After all, how many people get to see it in their lifetime? I realized I was super fortunate to have that opportunity, and I soaked up every second of watching the lights change from green to yellow to purple, all while dancing across the night sky.
Travel Regret #5: I regret letting my anxiety stop me from traveling at times.
Let me be transparent here: I only sometimes let my anxiety stop me from traveling. And I only sometimes regret this! I’ve let my anxiety about traveling solo stop me when I’ve had the paid vacation days available AND the monetary funds to do this. My traveling “comfort zone” is traveling with people. I’m admittedly not the best at “winging it,” so it’s always nice having a travel buddy to use their strengths to help out with planning, research, etc. Plus, it’s fun, and I personally don’t mind a little compromise.
See, if you have anxiety, you’ll know that it’s a work in progress. I stay in my comfort zone when it comes to certain things that trigger my anxiety, while I try to cope and combat the others. If you try to take on multiple “triggers” at once, it might just be a recipe for disaster. (A.K.A a huge meltdown, and a really shitty time.) Some regrets you just can’t beat yourself up over.
Fortunately, though I’ve missed opportunities in the past, I’m hoping to conquer this one within the next couple years! We’ll just see how long it takes…ha!
Though people always say to not have regrets because it’s all a learning experience, I can’t help but think it’s still a part of life to regret! & it’s not a terrible thing or the end of the world if you do have any regrets. What’s your stance on this? Do you have any past travel regrets?