Travel Regrets Part 2 (Because The Regrets Keep On Comin’)

On any given day, you will find yourself scrolling through Instagram, and judging the photos of your friends galavanting around Europe on a Summer extravaganza, whilst you stuff your face with Doritos under the covers of the pillow fort that used to be your bed. You’ll see them with their ripped, tanned abs, low cut bikinis, coloured doors, stray cats and sailing boats that they’ve called home for the past week and what have you been doing? Watching Friends re-runs, that’s what.

In July this year I was lucky enough to leave the comfort of my pillow fort and travel around Central America for a month; Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. To the untrained eye, I too was living the dream (not going to lie it was pretty damn awesome). But little did those people at home in their pillow forts know that my trip was filled with regrets, mistakes, sickness and an overwhelming longing to curl up into the fetal position.

I wrote an article about my travel regrets a few months ago, and at that stage I didn’t think there was much more to regret or fuck up. How wrong I was because here, dear friends, is part two…

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Bringing a suitcase

 Who the fuck brings a suitcase on a G Adventures ‘YOLO’ style adventure tour? I was the only one in my group who had a suitcase and each time I had to push it up ridiculously steep hills, through mud, across cobblestone streets, up stairs, on boats and buses… I was constantly reminded of my naïve choice. What was I thinking?

Booking the cheapest flight (despite the layovers)

 In the moment you think “sure, I can wait in Mexico City airport for 9 hours before catching my connecting flight to Guatemala City,” but when that 9 hours is from 1am…things start feeling a little bleak. I might have saved myself a whole $50, but I paid for it in breakfast, lunch and my sanity.

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Not bringing a rain jacket

 Listen to what your grandma says…. ‘take a rain coat.’ I dismissed this advice thinking only of all the sunshine and warmth I was about to immerse myself in. Ah, Central America in Summer! No! Do your fucking research and you’ll realise it’s their rainy season and that Mexico City has an altitude of 2500m in the fucking mountains where it fucking rains all the fucking time! If you couldn’t tell, this was a rather sore spot for me after confidently rejecting the thought to take a rain coat.

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Hooking up with a Guatemalan guy named Alejandro

Actually, is that a regret? Hell no, we salsa danced all night, went to a rave, made out and danced until morning! Oh, I remember… it was the hangover the next day that was the regret, not Alejandro. I mean really? His name was Alejandro!!!

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Not reading my briefing instructions properly

When I was in Mexico I was studying at a Catholic university, and in the brief (which I only skim-read) it specifically states that you can’t wear thongs or singlets to uni. As an Aussie girl abroad, that was basically the entirety of my suitcase (for someone that’s travelled a lot, I really fucked up on this whole weather/climate thing). So off I went to buy some respectable length skirts and modest shirts that covered my scandalous shoulders.

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Not having a polaroid camera

 This one’s a bit of a meaningful regret. When reflecting on my time abroad I wish I could have made a more meaningful contribution to the lives of some people I met; two specific times in particular:

1- When we did a homestay with a traditional Mayan family in Guatemala. They lived a very simple life, roosters for alarm clocks, no TV, cooking over a fire, no hot water or internet, with only several photos on their family room wall. I wish I could’ve been able to whip out a polaroid camera and take a family photo for them for their wall.

2 – During my course in Mexico City, we often met with refugees. For their protection, we could not take digital photos. However, I wish I could’ve had a polaroid camera to take photos of the kids and give it to their mothers and fathers as keepsakes.

The idea of taking photos is so skewed for us living in developed, technology saturated countries. It’s a touch of a button on our phones and we share it to the world online. For people who don’t have this privilege, photos are all they have of their family. They can put it in their pocket and hold onto it forever. It means so much more than a piece of paper. It means they’re able to capture, remember and bring their loved ones with them on their journey.

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Eating those street tacos

OK I don’t think it was the street tacos, but something I ate over there made me sick. Very sick. Let’s just say the next two weeks whatever I put in my mouth, did not come out of my body in a nice way. You can read my shameful tell all here.

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Picking up hitchhikers

No not people… parasites! After my rather shitty experience with getting sick in Mexico, I came back to Australia still experiencing horrendous cramps. After a rather confronting experience of having to poo in a cup, it’s confirmed that I have two little parasite friends living in my stomach. Rest assured, I’m on some pretty serious pro-biotics, but in the meantime I named my new friends Pablo and Renee. Lucky me!

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Dying on a public bus in Belize
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Luisa couldn’t quite make it to paradise

Don’t believe those beautifully crafted Instagram photos and witty captions, everyone has travel regrets, mistakes, fuck ups and maybe some parasites too. I just wanted to put mine on the internet to get down and real when talking about the joy of travelling. Oh and I guess I just wanted to brag about my hook up with Alejandro. No shame, he was hot.

[This article was originally written for TWENTY SOMETHING HUMANS]

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Travel Regrets

For most twenty something humans who took a GAP Year and did a month long Contiki tour, you’ll know a think or two about #NOREGRETS. And yet, anyone who’s done a Contiki knows that there’s actually #manyregrets. And take it from me, someone’s who’s travelled and made #manyregrets then listen up, and be prepared for the mistakes to avoid and the regrets that will inevitably occur on your ultimate, scandalous, adventurous and crazy trip abroad.

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Pulling all nighters to save a night on accommodation

For some delusional reason, when you’re travelling and broke af,  you tend to do crazy things to save money. One of them is making the decision to save a nights accommodation by catching an overnight bus or train. In theory, yes it works. But in practice, it leaves you angry, tired, hungry and questioning your own sanity. It took a while for me to learn. The first time I did this was catching an overnight bus from London to Paris. Whilst it was the cheapest option and I’d definitely recommend it, DO NOT DO IT OVERNIGHT. Between customs, border patrol, the ferry, the cold, and the cramped seats on the bus, you will not arrive in Paris fresh, excited and ready for the day, despite what the movies say.

Thinking you can ‘do Paris’ in 2 days

First of all, Paris is not that greasy one night stand that you ‘do’ on a quiet Thursday night bootycall. Paris is an elegant date that needs to be wined and dined. She’s a classy lady and knows that all good things come to those who wait. It deeply pains me to hear that people completely write off a place after only spending a few days there. Instantly jumping to the classic ‘it’s dirty, there’s so many homeless people, I didn’t get proposed to’ bullshit that shatters their unrealistic dreams of a place like Paris. They spend 1 woeful day there and then they’re off to the next. Paris, and the great cities of the world were not created for you to ‘do’ and tick off you list. To really grasp and experience a city, you’ve got to spend a minimum of 5 days. And who knows what changing the pace will lead to, but I promise it will be more genuine and special.

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Pulling an all nighter then catching a train across the country

11 hour train journey’s are hard enough as it is. Do not, I repeat… DO NOT go out all night in San Sebastian, return home at 6am then catch your train at 6:30 to Barcelona on the other side of the country. If you look up the definition of pathetic, you would’ve seen my hungover face on that page. Never before have I felt closer to death. Every hour I had to run to the bathroom to throw up, sip on water, and tried to sleep. I completely missed all of the (apparently) beautiful scenery and I arrived in Barcelona just wanting to die.

Thinking you can save money on accommodation and fit 6 people into a 2 person room

OK smarty pants, you think you’ve fooled the system? You think you’re a genius because you squeezed an extra 4 people into your small double room? You may be saving money, but you sir, are an idiot! It may be fine for 1 night, but eventually you need to ask hotel staff for extra towels, pillows, blankets. You try to rotate sleeping positions and always wake up with someone snoring in your ear and another spooning you with sweat. In case you haven’t already gathered, getting a good night’s sleep is just as about important as that learning tower is to Pisa, so make sure you respect it.

Every Hangover Ever

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, hangovers are the devil having a party in your poisoned stomach. But whilst you’re travelling, your always on the go, with early mornings, late nights, being overwhelmed by history, culture, food and adventure… so when that 12th tequila shot hits, it’s taking you down with it. And trying to recover on a bus… well, just make sure you have a paper bag at the ready.

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Thinking that German guy at the bar could be the one

Now I’m all for being a hopeless romantic, but let’s be honest, that mysterious German guy at the bar buying you drinks has no intention of becoming your boy boy. Sure you’ll flirt, get drunk, have sex, exchange numbers…. and then you’ll never see each other again. Who knows, maybe one sexy German guy at the bar really is the one, (and for your sake, that would be cute as hell). But don’t fool yourself into thinking that most travellers at the bar are looking for anything else but a one night stand.

Not being able to read the ATM language and accidentally withdrawing $2000 instead of $20

When you’re abroad, it’s important to have access your money. How else are you going to buy all that super cheap vodka in Hungary? However, ATM’s overseas aren’t always the same as the ones here in Australia. You know when you go to buy some sushi and they only accept cash so you run to the ATM, hurriedly take out $20 without even looking because you know where the $20 button is and you need to satisfy that sushi craving asap? DO NOT TRY OVERSEAS WHERE YOU DON’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. I will never forget the time in Hungary when my friend thought he was getting out $20 Australian, and instead withdrew nearly $2000! And to make it even worse… it was in Hungarian Forint which is super weak and hard to exchange. Make sure you pick an ATM that has an English option, along with a currency exchange app to make sure you don’t make the worst mistake of withdrawing your hard earned savings.

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OK so maybe they’re not regrets. They’re more like mistakes and complete fuck ups that I kinda wish I avoided but at least now I have an awesome story to tell. And that’s what travelling gives you. The good, the bad and the freakin ugly. No matter how many #regrets you have, at least you’ll have some killer stories.

[You can check out this post on a site that knows all about regrets at Twenty Something Humans]

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