My Top 5 Travel Mistakes and Regrets

travel problems with fixes

They say you should never have regrets. But if we’re lucky, we get to spend 70+ years on this planet. And it seems inconceivable that we don’t regret some of the mistakes we make. I have regrets in just about every facet of my life– love, work, play, and family. Why not travel? For the most part, my travel regrets/ mistakes involve decisions that went against my moral compass, which involved a lack of vigilance, boredom, or money.

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elderly-monk-going-through-doorway My Top 5 Travel Mistakes and Regrets


My Top 5 Travel Regrets
(And Mistakes)


These are my travel regrets and mistakes. However, if you ask my husband, his biggest travel regret occurred in Amsterdam. We didn’t walk through the Red Light District because we just ran out of time. Luckily, every city in Europe has one, so no huge loss. But whenever he talks about Amsterdam the first question he gets is, what’s the red light district like? Now that we don’t have little kids, I’ll have to take him back one day. lol.


#1 Riding an Elephant


It’s what you do when you go to Thailand, right. I convinced myself I made an ethical decision and that the animals were being treated well. And they may have been. But I regret contributing to an industry that uses animals in such away. Especially elephants which are my spirit animal. I cannot preach against animal cruelty in one breath. And encourage the possibility in another. I also regret swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas and riding that donkey in Greece.



#2 Animals Should not be Held in Captivity



Paying admission to zoos, aquariums, or marines. I remember being doused by Shamu at Sea World when I was a child. I remember how much fun it was. But I also remember watching the documentary Blackfish. They were not put on this earth for that kind of amusement. Reserves are not in this category because the animals are in their natural habitat. Now, I believe it is an ethical decision not to finance these kinds of attractions.


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#3 Boredom Breeds Bad Buys



While not a major mistake, I’ve purchased tickets to attractions and excursions that I knew weren’t good buys. The last time I wasted money was during my solo trip to Malta last year. And I bought a ticket to Popeye’s Village in Malta. What a dud attraction. I think I spent 15 Euro which was about $17 to walk around the 1980 set of the movie. Popeye and Olive Oil and the gang sang and danced tunes from the musical. And they did it badly. Located on the sea there are water trampolines and slides– but I had no intentions of doing either. So it was a total waste of time and money. Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than any ole something.

What was the last travel experience you wish you hadn’t spent money on?



#4 Letting My Guard Down



We were in search of warmth from the cold German winter in Mallorca. I can remember thinking about how happy we were. And I took my eye off the table for a brief moment. My husband turned his back on the table for a second or two. It was all it took for someone to sweep in and take off with my purse, our passports, and the kid’s inhalers. Unfortunately, this mistake cost us a fortune.

1. We had to cancel all my credit cards
2. Buy replacement medications without insurance
3. We had to stay in Spain an extra 3 days (+car rental) because it was a holiday weekend
4. However, with no embassy in Mallorca, we had to purchase flights for all four of us to Barcelona where they had an embassy
5. Two extra nights in Barcelona
6. Purchase replacement passports
7. Purchase flights from Barcelona back home to Germany
8. And I did all this roaming on our cell phone

You can’t ever forget to be vigilant no matter how quiet and unassuming your environment is. Thankfully USAA insurance reimbursed us for a lot of the cost later. But it was still a costly lesson we didn’t have to learn.


#5 Not Doing My Due Diligence



I screwed up, I know it and I admit it. It took months to plan our two week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. And during my initial research, I budgeted for a certain amount. Unfortunately, the cost of the Vietnam visa increased a lot the week prior to our trip. And I wasn’t tracking the change. Yeah, I messed up and we had to spend $270 instead of the usual $50 to get into the country. But I really regret that it put my hubby in a bad mood he had a hard time rebounding from. We were only there for 5 days and he spent 2 of them pretty upset. Failing to do the research is one of the most common travel mistakes to make.


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  1. Vanessa

    I let my guard down once and thankfully it worked out. But ever since it doesn’t matter where I go, I’ve learned to be way more observant and open yet cautious of people I meet on my travel adventures. We grow, that’s all we can hope for- thanks for sharing.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      That’s the way you should be. It keeps you safe. Thanks for sharing and come back often to share more of your travels with us.

  2. Matt Barnhart

    I went on a trek in Nepal. I had no idea they were so blatent when it comes to stealing. I stupidly left my wallet in the pack my porter was carrying. When I got into my pack at the first teahouse on the first day of the trek my wallet had about 10 us dollars left in it.

    They said, they I must not understand the currency and had been giving too much money away. For Christ sake, that was my first day, I hadn’t had a chance to spend money yet.

  3. Scribbling Geek

    I think animals, and wildlife in general, should be appreciated like nature. From a distance. Fun as it might be at the moment, we shouldn’t make them our toys.

  4. Meg

    Oh man, almost all of my travel regrets are when I was traveling alone and I thought “This might be cool, and I’m right here, might as well go in!” and found myself in some sad mini-museum or gimicky restaurant. I love solo travel, but when I travel with my husband it cuts down on that impulse!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Meg, I completely agree. My husband is the same way– however, I think it works both ways. I think sometimes I miss out on experiences because of his hesitancy. But I tend to do more research when he comes because I know how he is. So I don’t get the go with the flow mentality that I have when I travel solo.

  5. Becca Talbot

    I have the same regrets about going to attractions with animals in captivity – I actually recently posted about my experiences with killer whales 🙁 and I am going to write a similar post about elephant rides too – which I regrettably did in India x

  6. Nati

    Oh my! regrets, regrets! I used to have a million… also travel regrets!! and now, with age, I look back, and I’ve made friends with my past and say to myself: everything happens for a reason. Yeah, maybe I reach that point when I’m old enough (may be too old?) and see things differently!

  7. Zenja | Bearly Here

    Sorry to hear about you being robbed! That always sucks, but especially when you are in another country.
    In general, we all make mistakes, but I guess that’s the way we learn. I hope you will have less regrets in future!

  8. Princess Quinn

    I once had wanted to do the elephant ride on Thailand before. But after seeing the documentaries, I wouldn’t dare try it.

  9. Amanda

    I am with you on the animals should not be in captivity! It actually took me the same experience to realize that. In my case it was swimming with dolphins. I always wanted to be a dolphin trainer, until I saw and was experienced to the movie, The Cove.

  10. Shanelle

    Thanks for sharing these. All good things to think about while traveling. I think it’s so easy to let your guard down when you start to familiarize yourself with a city, but that’s not always the best thing to happen

  11. Coralie

    What a thought provoking post. I rode an elephant many years ago, as a teen, and have always felt guilt about how the mahout struck the elephant’s skull with an iron bar. Looking through today’s lens, I’d refuse any excursion/event involving such animal cruelty. I stopped visiting ‘zoos’ long ago….
    My top tip for money/document safety on hols is to bodyline everything! A good crossbody bag is a must, I always use a money belt and I often tuck my credit cards into my bra!!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hey girl!!! So I guess you didn’t read my story about Mallorca and getting our passports stolen. Because that was the first and only time I ever wore a cross body bag. LOL!! My daughter bought it for me for Christmas because I thought it would be a safe option for a travel purse. Well I guess it is when you wear it. I took it off while we ate and poof it was a lost body bag. Looking back it was because I didn’t hand carry it that I even forgot I had brought it into the restaurant that day. Because I didn’t even notice it was gone until hours later.

      It make me sad to see confined animals and I’m not even one of the people who claim to be an animal lover. I don’t even like military people having dogs, because often we don’t have the space for them to run. Some are responsible pet owners, others not so much. I remember seeing yards all dug up on when we lived on-post because they spent the majority of time fenced in. Which is cruel and expensive because if the military gives you grass and you don’t give them grass back, they make you pay for re-sodding.

      Thank you for your comment and supporting my blog– it is much appreciated.

      1. Coralie

        Hey – I did read about your terrible experience in Mallorca. Thanks for raising awareness of the consequences of losing your bag.So dreadful about what happened. When I travel, I’m practically surgically attached to my cross body bag – and I always keep my hand on it too. It was a tip from my dad years ago.
        Loving your blog and the way you storytell about your experiences:)

  12. Alexine

    Such a great list of travel tips that every traveler should not missed. I remember that photo you have in Popeye Village in Malta.
    I’m sad to know about what happened to you guys in Mallorca. I never had a problem there but I’ll keep in mind about those things. Happy travels anyway!

  13. Catherine Santiago Jose

    This is such a great post and very informative too. I’ve agreed in everything you’ve said, especially in using animals for their benefits. I hope this kind of thing will change.

  14. Sheila

    Don’t beat yourself up, everyone makes mistakes. Learning from them is what is important. I am so saddened by your Barcelona story. What a horrible experience. I’m wondering, what you do differently now to protect your valuables when traveling. This is always a concern of mine.

  15. Irina

    Regarding your stuff being stolen, maybe you could plan a trip to Barcelona, try to “reclaim” the experience, maybe you could move on and gain something positive. It was a good thing you had insurance, and they covered some of the costs. You can never be too carefull when travelling abroad!

  16. Nicole

    I think if I started a list of all the travel mistakes I have made it would be several pages long. lol As long as we leave with some good memories and maybe learn something along the way I think it makes up for all the mistakes.

  17. brittnie

    Mistakes are a part of life and they definitely happen on the road. They serve as great opportunities to grow and often epic stories. Thanks for sharing yours with us!

  18. Brittany Vantrease

    I couldn’t imagine having my personal things stolen with all of that information. I would have been a wreck and would have had no idea what to do. I’m so glad everything worked out for you in the end.

  19. arv

    Every travel leads you to some takeaways which help you with your next trips. Yes, not doing something is a better thing than to be stuck with a bad choice.

  20. Stacie

    I’ve made all of these mistakes at one time or another. I think any traveler has. We get excited about something and we rush in. We don’t do our homework. We also forget that thieves are everywhere out there.

  21. Echo

    I agree with you, that living a full life without some regrets is impossible. However, I think the true measure is when we learn from those past mistakes/regrets and move past them.

  22. Lisa

    Sadly, it happens to the best of us! But it’s how we learn. I too made the awful mistake of riding an elephant in Thailand. At least we know better now!

  23. Heidi

    I can’t believe there’s actually an attraction dedicated to Popeye! That’s too funny. Getting your purse snatched is devastating in any situation, but that must have been horrible while travelling outside of the country with kids. Yikes!

  24. Heather

    I don’t travel much but when I do I usually avoid the touristy things. I like to get off the beaten path but then this could be scary in a lot of areas too!

  25. Carina

    I also regret riding elephants in Thailand. As soon as I was on ththe elephant I wanted to get off. They would whip them to make them move. I also pet baby tigers in Thailand but I’m starting to learn they probably drug them up.

  26. Thuy

    My friends have gotten their passports swiped before (once at a club in Australia while we were studying abroad) definitely a hassle. Thanks for sharing your travel mistakes and I hope I won’t make any of these on my next trip.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You wanna know what’s really sad ad funny? When we were in Barcelona getting our temp passports, the clerk shared that a man had had his stolen twice on the same trip. And he was a NYC policeman. She told him, he should go home. Its a hassle. I would have loved to explore a little bit more of Barcelona, but we weren’t in the mood.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I know— you felt violated. We didn’t even realize it until later since it wasn’t there. When we went back later it was long gone.

  27. CARMEN

    I regret riding an elephant in Thailand. I did it twice – first on our honeymoon, second time with my family. I didn’t know any better. Now, that I have read a lot of posts about it, I really regret it and never posted my photo riding an elephant.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      My feelings are when you know better you should do better. Its when you do then you don’t that I have a problem with.

  28. Joan

    Oh wow these are really good regrets, I also hate having to pay for an attraction only to disappoint and not be done well, makes you feel like asking for your money back lol.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you— I think, lol. I have more, but these are the ones that shaped my travel bucket list and the way I will forever approach travel.

  29. Monidipa Dutta

    I regret a ghost tour walk in Germany. It wasn’t spooky at all. There was nothing paranormal, I couldn’t feel as I’m highly sensitive. It was so damn disgusting. But again, we learn from our mistakes I guess.

  30. Sarah Bailey

    It is interesting how we all change and develop different views over time. I also think things which were once the norm like riding an elephant are becoming more wrong as we realise more about how they are treated.

  31. Joanna

    I also regret riding an elephant in India. It was in a so-called “sanctuary” and whilst it was just a brief walk around the park, without a wooden box or anything else on the elephant’s back, I still can’t stop thinking about how bad that was…. recently I read about a luxury hotel offering guests elephant rides as package deals. It infuriated me!

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