My Top 5 Travel Regrets

by Melissa on December 27, 2012 · 19 comments

Travel regrets?!  What are those?  Since starting my grown-up life of travel I try to live both my travel and everyday life with no regrets.  However, sometimes, things just aren’t in the cards and you make some decisions that later on you look back on and realize that perhaps you should have done it a little differently.   This little travel blogger meme has been floating around for a little while now and I was lucky enough to be tagged by both Kate from Canuckiwikate and Ed from RexyEdventures.  So without further ado, here are my top 5 travel regrets.

5.  Not Getting PADI Certified  FIXED THIS!

scuba diving

In 2006 I went on a family vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  I noticed that they offered a PADI open water scuba diving course (for an extra fee, of course) and after nursing the world’s worst hangover on my first morning in paradise, I signed up – vowing to have a sober rest of my vacation.  The instructor gave me the book and told me to go through all 200 pages and write the practice tests by the following day.  On day three of my vacation I wrote the exam, which I passed with flying colours, and passed my pool dive.  The following day we were to be going out on my first two of four dives to get my certification – out in the open waters of the Sea of Cortez.  That was until of course I got a knock on my door at 2am and a resort staff member handed me a piece of paper saying that we were getting evacuated due to a very strong hurricane that was expected to make landfall the next afternoon.  It was expected to be a direct hit and there was one flight out the next morning.  After humming and hawing my family decided that we needed to leave – I got a partial refund on the course and hoped that I would be able to finish it within the year.  That never happened.  Since then I have had the opportunity to dive on the Great Barrier Reef and the Ningaloo Reef – but only ever on ‘discovery dives’  – the dives that non-certified members of the public can pay an arm and a leg for and get a taste of what diving’s like.   I lived close to two amazing dive spots in New Zealand in the past year and during my visit to Hawaii had the opportunity to go diving – but due to not having that silly certification – I couldn’t go.   Have no fear, dear readers, I hope to rectify this travel regret of mine within the coming months – and when I do, you’ll get to hear all about the wonderful world under the sea! [UPDATE: I’m a certified scuba diver!!!]

4. Not Traveling to New Zealand’s South Island in 2012


I spent the majority of 2012 living in New Zealand- in a beautiful untouched paradise known as Ahipara on world-famous 90 Mile Beach.  That being said, I didn’t venture to the South Island – the rustic and rugged mountain range filled island that New Zealand is known for.  In fact, I didn’t even make it south of Rotorua.  I had a few opportunities to go south, and plenty of time when I was living unemployed for four months.  And for whatever reason – be it FOMO (fear of missing out) or not going because I should have been looking for work – I just didn’t go.  Now don’t write me off completely, I did make a trip to the south island, back in 2009 when I visited Kate at Teachers College in Dunedin and we did our weekend road trip out to Queenstown where I knocked off item #1 – bungee jump!  After being to New Zealand three times in the last four years, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I will be back to the land of the long white cloud.  And next time I fully intend on properly checking out the South Island.

3.  Not Couchsurfing more

couchsurfing profile

Prior to starting my travels I was told all about Couchsurfing.  Intrigued by the concept, I signed up with intentions of going out into the world and meeting wonderful people and getting a more ‘local and authentic’ experience of a place.  However, when push came to shove, I never actually ended up utilizing the site – except for once when traveling with friends.  I’m sure it could have saved me a pretty penny and in some places where I didn’t stray very far off the tourist trail, it would have been nice to see how the locals live.  Hopefully in the future I will be able to utilize the program, meet more people and see a different side of a place.

2. Trying to have travel partners

As the old pessimistic adage goes, “you can’t count on anyone but yourself.”  I don’t like to think negatively, but especially when it comes to travel – it’s very difficult to count on others.  My attempts to have travel partners while I go haven’t always gone awry, but when they have it ahs cost me a lot in both experiences and money.  I had to give up traveling to South East Asia because all three of my potential travel partners couldn’t travel with me for reasons both beyond and fully in their control.  Trying to have a travel partner has cost me money – to the tune of $1200 – when a supposed friend refused to pay me back for a plane ticket she had promised she would pay me back for and never used.   If you want to do things, go out and do it – don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zones and do it yourself.

And the biggest of my travel regrets:

1. Wasting my Australian Working Holiday Visa

sydney opera house

Right before I left for Australia on my working holiday, I had a job offer at home that seemed too good to be true, but I fell for it and part of the deal was that I would cut my trip to Australia short and come back after four months.  I agreed, and in return I went to Australia and spent the following four months traveling around rather than utilizing the working holiday visa and getting a job.  During my four months I realized that I didn’t want that life at home and that I wanted to continue to travel, however the flight home was booked and I had three weddings to attend 5 months apart from each other. I ended up being back in Toronto for five months of my twelve-month working holiday, and due to that I was unable to spend 3 months working in a rural area (a job I already had lined up), which would have allowed me to apply for a second year visa.  BIGGEST REGRET EVER.

There you have it, my top five travel regrets!  Since this is one of those little relay things, I’m going to tag:

Beverley from Pack Your Passport

Lauren and Kenin from Constant Rambler

Toni from Reclaiming my Future

Ladies and gentleman, what are YOUR top five travel regrets?


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Pretraveller December 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

It is always interesting when people reflect on the year as it comes to an end. You obviously have some regrets, but do you also have some things which were stand out good decisions?
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Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Oh yes! There have been many good decisions I have made – such as foregoing my plans to travel to South East Asia, which resulted in me visiting Antelope Park as a lion conservation volunteer. That was by far one of the best decisions I have made. Also, I am proud of myself for going out and seeing a lot of parts of Australia that not even Australians ever get to see. It may have been costly, but it was well worth it.


Lindsey December 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

I’m having similar complications about a working visa I’m about to take to America for a year. Did your regret only start once in Australia and you realised you didn’t want to go home? I know I don’t want to stay here, and working in the US is part of that, but there are factors pulling me to come back early.
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Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Yeah I realized that I had made this commitment back home that I shouldn’t have made… I knew that I wanted to spend more time traveling and exploring life in Australia. It made me sad that I only got to enjoy ‘life’ – ie. getting a job, flat, etc.- for about 3 months of the 7 or so that I actually spent in the country during the year that I had my working holiday visa. I hope you are able to figure out which factors are most important to you. At the end of the day… don’t do things just to please others, make yourself happy first and foremost.


Anne December 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

We all have regrets in life…..but you also have a lot of wonderful memories and experiences which the majority of the population never have the opportunity to have.

Keep living life!!!


Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I know… and I wouldn’t give up ANYTHING that I’ve done. Those are experiences and memories I totally cherish. And don’t worry… I plan on living life to the fullest 😉


Jo (The Blond travels) December 28, 2012 at 3:25 am

You have time to do all of those things:)


Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I definitely do – except perhaps being able to get my 2nd years working holiday visa in Australia… that one I pretty much screwed up completely. Who knows… maybe I’ll get a sponsored job or a partner over there in the land down under! 😉


Rashaad Jorden December 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

I regret not knowing about CouchSurfing when I lived in France. Not only would I have saved a lot of money, but I would have met some amazing people.


Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

But now that you do know about it, you can use it in the future. You can even use it in your own hometown to get to know people, help other travellers and build up your own karma 😉


Kate -Canuckiwikate December 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

I’ve found with myself and reading others, the most common regrets are the ‘nots’ – the things we didn’t do when we had chance. It’s all well and good to say it, but i think it’s one of those things that you have to actually feel – the ‘d’oh!’ -that truly teaches you. I know for me, reflecting on it makes me more aware so when faced with choices again, I often tend up think ‘will I kick myself later if I don’t do this?’ Mistakes are necessary to make and it’s the learning that comes from them that’s critical.

I know for a fact you have countless amazing memories that far out-weigh your hindsight 🙂
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Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I definitely agree with you in the knowing to ask yourself the “will i kick myself later?” question. It definitely helps with making sure you put yourself out there, maybe step a little bit outside of your comfort zone and live life a little further.

I also completely agree. I have had amazing experiences and memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Thanks for being there for me along the way.


Toni December 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

It’s funny isn’t it – most regrets that we have in life are for things we haven’t done rather than things that we have. I regret many things in life but not too much about my travelling life though I think, in retrospect, the biggest regret I have so far in travelling is doing the microlight over Victoria Falls for only 15 minutes instead of 30 🙁
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Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Well considering that’s one of your only travel regrets, I would say you’re doing pretty well… I mean you still got to experience the sheer beauty and awesomeness of that experience of doing the microlight flight – even if it was for 15min. I can’t wait to get back and experience it myself!


rob January 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Yeah.. blowing that Australian visa was regret-worthy. I *never* change plans for mundane things like weddings. Your friends will continue getting married (many of them multiple times) but experiences such as working overseas are few. You’ll forget the wedding about 10 minutes after you get home from it, but working overseas will stay with you forever.

Just in case you don’t feel bad enough about it. Can you apply for a second Australian work/tourist visa?


Melissa January 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for making me feel extra shitty about that decision 😉

I know that going back for weddings was pretty stupid – but it was for one of my friends whom I’ve known literally my whole life and another wedding was my cousin’s – whom if I didn’t attend, I would pretty much be written out of the family.

Unfortunately I can’t apply for a 2nd Aussie working holiday visa. I can always go back as a tourist… and who knows, perhaps I’ll find a job that will sponsor me or a man who will love me enough to let me become their partner/defacto/wife 😉 haha!


rob January 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Well, sometimes lessons need to be extra-shitty to sink in 🙂

I’ve become very cynical about weddings. 60% (I’m keeping count) of weddings I’ve attended have ended in divorce, and 50% of those within 2 years.

Going back as a tourist is always good – it just means you have to do your working before you arrive rather than after. Does having had a working-vacation visa for Australia prevent you from doing the same for NZ? Or have you already done NZ?

Good luck on a regret-free 2013!


Erik January 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I’ve been tagged in this and really need to get around to it. I tend not to look at regrets, things turned out the way they should for a reason, but I still should be able to come up with some 🙂
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