There is no doubting that travel is one helluva learning experience. So when you do make a mistake, all you can do is reflect and notch it up as a lesson learnt. Looking back on my first solo trip abroad, the following are the 7 biggest mistakes I made and what I’ve learnt from the experience.
Didn’t keep a daily journal
This was probably my biggest mistake from my first solo trip. I have a rough outline in my head of where I went and what I did, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget the little details if you don’t write them down. Since then, I’ve made sure to carry a small notebook with me on every trip so I can jot down what I see and do as they happen.
Came home too early
Looking back, I probably had enough money to stay on for a few more months. If I had known how long it was going to be until my next trip, I would have ditched the flight home and continued on with the adventure. Alas, I did the responsible (or should I say boring?) thing and made my flight. If your gut tells you to keep on going, listen to it.
Spent too much money
I departed with a substantial travel fund, so I was fairly frivolous with my money. While I have no regrets with what I spent, it did teach me a very good lesson about travel budgeting. I now make sure to allocate a daily amount for each country I visit, which ensures I don’t burn through my funds too quickly.
I’m against overly strict itineraries; the last thing I want is for every second of my day to be mapped out. Saying that, it can be equally as foolish to do what I did and arrive completely under-prepared. I quickly learnt that arriving in a new country blind was not my style, so I now make the effort to spend a few hours researching the country I’m visiting before I depart to get a better understanding of what to expect.
Got lost far too often
It happened at every stop. I would arrive at a new place and my brain would conveniently forget to remind me that I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. I’d wander out of my hostel and charge off in every direction, keen to explore the city, only to realise 20 minutes later that I’m horribly lost. Sure, it’s easy enough to grab a taxi back to the hostel (and some say getting lost is all part of the fun) but it would be nice, just once, to find my own way back.
Forgot to tip
Coming from Australia where tipping isn’t expected, it was the one thing which I was most forgetful of doing when travelling through Canada and the United States. I now make sure to look up the tipping etiquette of the country I’m visiting before arriving to prevent any offence.
Took a terrible camera
That’ll teach me for being stingy. Not only did it take terrible pictures, its batteries had to be replaced every few days, so I ended up spending more money on batteries than I did on the actual camera. Thankfully, it died about half way through my trip, which allowed me to do what I should have done in the first place and purchase a decent camera.
Looking back on your first solo trip, what were the biggest mistakes you made?