“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets” -Arthur Miller
In life, I try to live with as little regrets as possible. My motto Live Gnarly stems directly from this practice — To wake each day and embrace the possibilities, to take every opportunity presented to do something epic, and to overall lead an awesome existence.
But it doesn’t always pan out that way; especially with travel, and especially when you are a complete travel noob.
Trust me, mis-adventures made up the majority of my trip. But that’s what makes it exciting right?
Inevitably after traveling to New Zealand and stepping foot in my first foreign country, living the backpacker lifestyle, and being forced to return home early, I find my self left with some regrets.
And a few far more blaring than my regret of trying Vegemite…
So below you will find a list of my top 5 Travel Regrets, a nifty and reflective blogger game I was tagged in by Rexy Edventures Blog!
Not Scoring a Job In Wellington.
Windy Welly: The capital of New Zealand and by far my favorite city in New Zealand (okay, tied with Napier) also held the biggest roller-coaster of emotions and experiences for me.
Like a mashup of Marilyn Monroe and Beyoncé, I fell in love with the city’s architectural curves and class. Every wall was splashed with gnarly street-art, every corner had a musician playing, a lane called Cuba Street was filled with nifty cafés (bloggers drink your hearts out), and it was always active.
They even had bean-bag chairs in the grass by the harbor to drink beer in the sun.
Yeah, freakin’ sweet.
This was the city I wanted to work in. To live in.
Except there was one problem. I waited way too damn long to look for a job. It turns out, my first time traveling abroad can be used as an example how NOT to budget correctly.
I suddenly found myself with less than $25 in the city (watch this funny video confessional). For two weeks I illegally guerrilla camped in the woods above the city to survive, and after failed attempts to find work, I took a kiwi fruit packing job hours away that saved my ass.
Regretfully, I was never again to see the city I so dreamed of working in before I left…
Not Exploring more of The South Island.
The South Island is a nearly untouched jewel of New Zealand. With most of the country’s population living in the larger business cities of the North Island, the South Island is left to nature’s ravishing beauty.
Sure, you do have large cities like Christchurch (which was unfortunately ravaged by earthquakes). But the main expanse is covered by rolling hills, awe-inspiring fiords, Milford and Doubtless Sound which are said to be one of the most magical places on the planet, and glistening antarctic glaciers.
Anytime you hear fiords, it’s worth seeing. And there are probably some cute penguins at the glaciers.
Due to a trip doomed from the start, I ended up missing out on the best of the South Island.
After a horribly botched attempt at hitch-hiking, I made it down to Christchurch to pick up a girl from the airport that was coming to see me from the US. We had plans to make it to one of the two famous Sounds, but instead we found ourselves stuck in the city wrestling with our schedules.
By the end of the first week together, the girl that I was quite infatuated with had a sudden change of heart about our relationship. What followed was a month of bickering, arguments, and frustration instead of adventure and exploration.
It was miserable.
Luckily, we did make a quick trip to Queenstown and had a chance to relax in it’s lakeside and mountainous beauty and had a chance to bungie jump again!
But after two quick trips to Queenstown and Christchurch, we were back on a bus to the North Island leaving behind what most backpackers raved was a lush and soul changing landscape to be experienced.
I will erase this regret someday and explore it…
Not Hiking the Tongariro Crossing
“In the East there was a dull red glare under the lowering cloud: it was not the red of dawn. Across the tumbled lands between, the mountains of the Ephel Dúath frowned at them, black and shapeless below where night lay thick and did not pass away, above with jagged tops and edges outlined hard and menacing against the fiery glow.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Tongariro Alpine crossing is home to the volcano Tongariro, one of three active volcanoes in New Zealand, and also the range Perter Jackson chose to star as Mordor.
You can literally hike to Mordor, pretty wicked huh?
And you would think if I passed through this area three times and also had the chance to hike the crossing twice I would have.
The first time I was in Tongariro National Park was on a sponsored Stray Bus Tour around the North Island. Everyone was jabbering about hiking the crossing and passing their Lonely Planet guides around to show everyone who didn’t know just how awesome the place we were headed to was.
Well, when we pulled up and our bus driver chimed over the loudspeaker, “Alright everyone, there is a big chance you cannot hike the crossing today because of the rain” we were all up in arms and looking to chop off heads.
It’s just a little rain right?
Turns out our guide wouldn’t take us. Even when enticed with a bus load of eager travelers willing to dish out $65 each, the guide said the weather conditions change so fast on the crossing that it was too dangerous for even him to hike.
Instead, we did a hike around the base. Beautiful, but nothing compared to the crossing.
The second chance I missed was while I was packing kiwi fruit the small town of Te Puke. A bunch of friends from the factory decided they were going to leave at 4am to drive 3 hours and hike the crossing. By this time it was in deep winter, and I hate the cold, so I decided not to take them up on the offer.
Plus the trip was put together at midnight while they were drunk.
Yes, they returned having seen the beautiful emerald lakes resting in the crater, but they also returned miserable. It was one chilling cold and they were all exhausted and frigid.
Oh, and one of their cars broke down and they sat in the freezing cold for 4 hours waiting for a tow, and being in the middle of nowhere, they were forced to pull the car along by a rope attached to the other.
Still, I regret not hiking Mount Doom one of those times…
Not Skydiving in New Zealand.
Slap me in the face; I know I’m a fool.
New Zealand is a country that oozes adrenaline out of every pore; offering up heart-pounding adventure and tonsil rupturing extreme sports even in the most remote areas.
Throughout my trip I found myself shooting over the highest legally raft-able waterfall in the world, absailing into caverns hundreds of feet below ground, and leaping off bridges with a bungie cord strapped to my ankles (twice.)
So how the hell did I miss my chance to jump out of the plane over one of the most stunning skydive destinations in the world?!
Idiocy. Well, mainly a busted budget. But that’s linked to idiocy.
I was even hired to write an article pretending to be a hostel’s camel mascot that went skydiving. Yes, I got to take photographs of a plastic camel in a plane, but never got to go myself.
In the middle of my trip I was suddenly hit with a brick in the face, which is a fitting analogy for completely running out money. This led me to working in a kiwi packing factory for 3 months instead.
I was even in talks with a guy I became good friends with that ran Auckland Skydive and said he wanted to toss me out of a plane REALLY bad, and I was totally down, but it never panned out.
This is one I may regret forever…
Not Staying the Full Year.
You only get a year-long Visa in New Zealand once in a lifetime.
I left at a mere 8 months in, cutting that once in a lifetime chance by a third.
After 8 months of being in the country, I realized travel was definitely the lifestyle I want to live. The last three months of that time had been spent packing kiwi fruit in a factory and had given me plenty of time to reflect.
I want to travel longterm. But I was not ready yet.
Sure, I had changed drastically as a person and realized this was my dream, but I was not yet the person that could do this long-term.
Before I sold all of my belongings, quit my job, and left for New Zealand, I had just ended a 2 1/2 year-long court case from a drunk driver that hit me. They crippled my car, crippled my credit, and I received barely any compensation for the destruction they had caused on my life.
Instead of paying off the debt from my medical bills, I used the winnings to buy my ticket to New Zealand without much forward planning.
Adventures that start like that are stellar, but I was still haunted by my debt. It was time to take care of that anchor that dragged me down once and for all so I could travel worry free. So I returned back to the United States and work two jobs currently to tackle this task before my big planned trip this May.
I can’t say I don’t regret leaving New Zealand, because I do, but it was what I needed to do at the time.
“There are no regrets in life, just lessons” – Jennifer Anniston
Wew, Jennifer Anniston isn’t just a hottie, but she nailed it on the head. As much as travelers and people chasing their dreams try to live a regret free life, it WILL happen.
You will have regrets. You will wish you had done something you missed out on. That’s life. But instead of dwelling on them, take them as life lessons learned.
And I learned PLENTY of lessons on my first adventure abroad.
One day I will return to the Land of the Long White Cloud to do what I regretfully missed, but until then I am tasked with crushing my debt, buying my mother her gravestone, and saving for an epic adventure in May!
Please, share your travel regrets and lessons learned below!
Now time to tag 3 of my favorite bloggers for the game!