I am all about stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting the most out of my life. I don’t want to get older and start to realise that I didn’t do the things that would make me most happy but then not have the time, means, or ability to go out and do those things. When I travel, this philosophy of mine is what guides me in every decision I make. I don’t want anyone to have regrets, especially not when it comes to travel, so here are my top 5 tips to travelling with no regrets!
1 | Eat. Everything.
It might be crazy to some, but this is probably my biggest tip – and for good reason! When we travel we immerse ourselves in another culture. But how can you truly immerse yourself in another culture if you’re eating the same food that you would back home? Eating everything I’m offered (within reason… stay safe people!) has armed me with some of the best travel stories I have! I get to say I’ve eaten a scorpion on Khao San Road and washed it down with Thai beer, I’ve eaten a tarantula dipped in sriracha sauce as an entree in Cambodia, and I’ve eaten frogs legs and snails in a restaurant just off the Champs-Élysées in Paris. I LOVE that I can say all of that. It makes me proud.
From doing this, I’ve also found hundreds of new foods that I now enjoy eating on the regular! For example, I tried Japanese curry for the first time when I was in Osaka and I loved it so much that I started looking for it when I got home. The same thing happened with Poffertjes in Amsterdam. Yuuummmm.
2 | Push yourself
When I’m home, if I have nowhere to be and no alarm set, I can easily sleep in until midday. When I am travelling, however, I’m a completely different person. Rain, hail, shine, sick, well, exhausted, sore, grumpy, happy – whatever! I will always get up early and make the most of the day I have wherever I am.
Waking up early is just one of the ways I push myself when travelling. I also make sure to do all of the “must do” things no matter the circumstances, whether that be hiking up the 463 super steep stairs to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence the morning after spending all night at a karaoke bar, or going on a two hour early morning walking tour of Berlin on New Year’s Day after spending the hours prior merrily ringing in the New Year at the Brandenburg Gate party.
The way I look at it, the odds of getting to do any of those things again any time soon (if ever!) are slim to none. So push yourself to get it all done while you have the opportunity and you’ll be grateful that you did. Look after yourself and know your limits, but don’t live with regrets. You WILL be okay with less than 6 hours sleep just this one time.
3 | Don’t overpack!
This is a big one! I know how it goes… “what if I have to go to a fancy party? What if we get invited to a wedding? What if I meet a prince!?” What if is very dangerous when it comes to packing. Remember – most places in the world have stores that you can buy things from if such an occasion were to pop up. But most of the time you won’t need half the things you bring, let alone your six inch stilettos or curling iron. Besides, you don’t want to be in the position where you can’t even fit in the souvenirs you really want to buy, do you? You’ll thank yourself later for packing light.
4 | Take the photo or don’t – do what makes YOU happy!
With the rise of social media, more and more people are feeling the pressure to get an “insta-worthy” shot of everything they do, especially their travels. If that isn’t your thing, and you’d much prefer to switch all electronics off and just enjoy the view with your eyes – do it.
Personally, I love taking photos and videos and it’s really important to me that I do it. Even though it makes me so happy, I’ve still heard people say variations of “you’ll miss the moment if you’re always behind the camera!”. Oh, how wrong they are! My travel videos are my little slices of heaven. Whenever I’m upset I watch them until I feel better. I will never forget the specific way each magical moment happened because of them. I can use these videos to remember my adventures for the rest of my life.
This works for me, but it might not work for you. The point of this tip is to use technology the way YOU want to while you travel and don’t let people make you feel one way or the other.
5 | Take charge of your own itinerary!
Don’t follow other people around just because they are who you’re travelling with. If your group is doing something you don’t care much for and you’re going to miss out on doing something you REALLY care about if you go with them – don’t go! Find your own adventure! There is no rule that says you must do what everyone else is doing. You might feel bad, like you’re ditching your group, but don’t think of it that way. Just remember that everyone saved for this trip and everyone has their own hopes for how the trip will go and what they will do.
The only reason I would advise against this is if there are safety concerns with you doing something on your own. For example, if you’re hiking to Everest Base Camp with a tour group and you’ve never done a big trek before… I’d probably recommend staying with your group rather than racing ahead.
What I’m talking about is when everyone is going to see the Statue of Liberty and all you want to do is catch the matinee show of Hamilton on Broadway because it miraculously has tickets available! Wave to Lady Liberty from afar, get those tickets, and do your thing!
I’ve done my own thing countless times on trips I’ve been on, and I’ve never regretted it once. One time I even stayed home from Disney World just to do my laundry and go to the hotel gym for some much needed exercise! (Granted, it would’ve been the fifth day in a row I had been to a theme park, but still… Disney!) I made that choice because it was what I really wanted do at the time. Always choose what you really want and you’ll be on your way to avoiding travel regret.