Travel regret. This is a topic that has haunted me ever since I went on my first holiday. You see, as time goes on there are a few factors that might come up and cause you to have travel regret. On my first holiday in Europe I traveled for a month straight, spending only a few days in each city, which you can imagine was exhausting. Unfortunately, there came a time when I had to choose between experiencing the night life, visiting one monument and skipping another, or simply having a relaxing day to recover from the non-stop craziness of travelling. Not only that, but there are certain places I have been and towns I have explored that I had no idea of the significance until long after I got home. That is probably the most heartbreaking regret I’ve felt before; knowing I had the chance to see such a wonderous piece of history and my own naivete caused me to miss out.
I can remember being in Athens. We had just climbed back down from the Acropolis, with sweat covering every inch of our bodies. I was hot. I was tired. I was thirsty. I was cranky. We had come from Rome just a few days prior, where we spent twelve hours walking around the city so, you can imagine that I wasn’t quite “up” for anymore walking. I decided to go back to our cruise ship to relax and unwind. I’d seen the Acropolis, that was good enough for me. Wrong! For starters, although I have never been a big fan of museums, the Acropolis Museum is not one you want to miss.
The Acropolis Museum was built to showcase every artifact found at the site of the Acropolis. Imagine, nearly 4000 items spanning a time frame of 2000+ years. Well, like I said, I didn’t go and now, the only way I can see Nikai, the female statue found on the slopes of the Acropolis, is to visit the museum website. Jewellery box lids, cooking and heating equipment, storage pots, male and female statues, animal statues and so much more containing such a powerful link to our history sit in the museum. If only that were the only travel regret I had.
I ended up in Paris after a long journey through Europe. I was a little sick, definitely tired, and a little bit over-exposed to history. Once you find yourself passing through Rome and spending every ounce of brain power to imagine the complex and long history of such a glorious city, it is hard not to clock out a little. Unfortunately, that is what happened when I ended up in Paris. I’d seen so many monuments and walked so many cities that a part of me just decided I didn’t care. I went to the Eiffel Tower and I bought macarons on the Champs-Elysees, but my experience of Paris stopped there. The Louvre was closed, the catacombs were busy, I hadn’t realized that Trocadero Square existed, and I don’t know why I didn’t care to go see the Notre-Dame.
It is certainly bad enough to have visited a city and missed out on some of its most popular sites, however, there is another travel regret that I have popping up more often now; especially considering my travel column. I know I’ve seen something and I go searching through my photos as evidence for a column or simply to reminisce and I realize, for whatever reason, I never took the photo. All I have of my experience at the Rialto Bridge is a vague memory of an irrelevant poster hanging off the side.
The Rialto Bridge is one of Venice’s most famous bridges and is in fact the oldest of the bridges on the Grand Canal. The beautiful stone arches and proud ramped design make the bridge an unmistakable icon of Venice. The Bridge of Sighs is 11m long and sits cramped in a small canal. The Rialto Bridge is almost 32m long and owns the Grand Canal with its statement shape. I have a photo of the Bridge of Sighs. I have no photo of the Rialto Bridge. Travel regret.
Checkpoint Charlie is now a popular tourist attraction in Berlin, but during the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main crossings between East and West Berlin. Unfortunately, when I visited Checkpoint Charlie, I was too concerned by the numerous gypsies and worried about getting pick-pocketed to snap a photo. Travel regret.
After thirty-three countries and well over a hundred cities, the one thing I don’t need to be told is that travel isn’t perfect. There are always going to be choices to be made because unless you have unlimited time and money, you simply can’t see everything. Weather, politics, naivete and plain bad luck will cause you to feel that tick in your brain that we call travel regret. And although we can’t control a lot of what happens when we travel, being prepared and informed will help to make sure you don’t experience the same regrets I have. Snap a photo but remember to look with yours eyes too. Become best friends with the internet because the amount of tourism information you can find about a city will excite you. But most importantly, make sure you do book that trip, and you do see that city because the absolute worst travel regret you could experience is the regret of simply not going.
Emily Meyer is still relatively new to the wonderful city of Medicine Hat, having moved here in May 2016. She was born and raised in Ontario and lived in Australia for a year and a half. Emily has visited 33 countries and will share some of her experiences and advice for globetrotters of all ages.