7 Trips I (Almost) Regret Not Taking–and Whether I’ll Go in the Future #travel #ttot

Have you ever traveled somewhere and opted not to visit the country next door or to take that highly recommended day or side trip that you easily could have squeezed in?

This has happened to me a number of times. In some cases, I wanted to take the trip and couldn’t. In others, I wasn’t  interested or motivated enough. Once, I took advice that I probably shouldn’t have.

Do I have regrets? Not really (well, maybe about one of the destinations). Each of the trips I’ve taken has been wonderful; missing the side trip (or longer add-on) did not detract from my primary experience.

Fitz globe

Having said this, it’s fun/interesting to look back now and think about those moments in time when I made those decisions—and to look forward to the future. Why didn’t I take those trips? And will I next time around? Or will I skip them entirely?

Here are several of those destinations, an explanation of why I didn’t go and what the likelihood is that I will take that trip in the future.

Day/Side Trips

1. Where: Malmoo, Sweden

Malmo, Sweden

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go

I was in Copenhagen and could have visited Malmoo very easily. It was just a ferry ride away.

I sort of wanted to go, but I didn’t have a burning desire.

Now, looking back, I wonder what I was thinking. I had plenty of time and it would have been so simple.

Will I Make It There?

I’d say that it’s 50/50. I if visit Europe in the near future, I’ll probably go to Romania. Someday, I might want travel to Norway. If so, then I’ll probably check out Sweden, too. As for Malmoo itself, I don’t know.

2. Where: Palmyra, Syria

Palmyra, Temple of Bel

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go

It would have been so easy since I was in Damascus. Plenty of day tours were available and I had the time.

But I had my reasons for skipping it. I’d seen a lot of temples, Roman ruins, etc. over the past few years and was burnt out on them. Plus, the heat was pretty intense. And I wanted to save time for Lebanon.

Also, I knew I was going to visit Syria’s Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers, which was a big deal since I’d never seen anything like that.

Will I Make It There?

I’m confident that I will (but not for a while, I’m sure.) I loved Syria and would go back in a minute, but obviously, that’s not possible right now. The country is a disaster zone, due to the ongoing civil war. Let’s hope the war ends, that peace is restored and that people can rebuild their lives.

Then, we can see about travel…

3. Where: Cajas National Park, Ecuador

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go

I was in Cuenca and it was rainy season. I could have taken the day trip one of two ways—via local transportation (easy for me since I speak Spanish) or as part of a tour (sort of pricey but perhaps worth it because of the size of the park).

I was feeling lazy and in a sleeping-late sort of rut. To do this trip right, one should get up early in the morning. (In very hot weather, I tend to wake up early, but in Cuenca, it was cool). During rainy season, this increases your odds of missing the rain, which tends to come later in the day. Also, it can get cold at this particular park, from what I’ve heard.

Although I had plenty of time in Cuenca–and could have gone to Cajas–I just couldn’t get my act together.

Will I Make It There?

Yes, I believe I will. Ecuador is a very special country to me—I lived there for 1.5 years, after all—and I plan to go back. Next time, I will probably go right to Cuenca and be there during dry season and definitely see the Cajas Park!

4. Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale 1

Circumstances/Why I didn’t Go

I so easily could have gone there. I was right there in Turkey, dammit! But…I took advice from another traveler who told me that tourism is causing environmental damage to the site and that it’s wrong to go. I don’t know much about that, but I know it’s a UNESCO site, which is visited by thousands of tourist every year. Perhaps they should limit the number of visitors?

Anyway, I don’t know why I listened to her. I really wish I hadn’t.

This, of all the side trips listed above, is the one I regret most.

Will I go?

Absolutely! I’m 100% sure that I’ll be back in Turkey over the next few years—it’s one of my favorite countries ever—and so, I know I’ll make this trip. And I can’t wait.

Longer Trips

5. Bukit Lawang Orangutang Forest, Sumatra, Indonesia

Bukit Lawang, orangutan

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go

I was in Lake Toba for 10 days or so days. I had plenty of time to visit Bukit Lawang and many people had told me it was a destination not to be missed.

Unfortunately, I had a nasty respiratory infection and the runs. At the same time. I got sick right before I was going to take this trip. I gave it a couple more days, to recover, but just didn’t feel well enough. The trip involved a 7-hour shuttle, which I wasn’t feeling up to, and a couple of nights in the jungle (which I believe one’s health must be good for.)

Also, I had a flight scheduled from Medan to Bandung a few days later that was non-refundable. It wasn’t worth it to lose the money on that to stay longer.

Will I Make It There?

The odds are 80/20. I want to return to Indonesia in a few years–not yet since I was just there last summer. I’m sure I’ll return to Sumatra. When I do, I’ll try to check out Bukit Lawang.

Or maybe I’ll go to Kalimantan instead. We shall see.

6. Swaziland, Africa

MEDFLAG 09: U.S. Army Africa Partnership strengthens ties with partners in Swaziland 090813

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go

I was in South Africa visiting some friends. My trip was 5 or 6 weeks long and included Cape Town, Pretoria and 2 safaris. At one point, I got the idea to go to Swaziland. It’s definitely not a day trip—it’s another country, one that requires some time to do..

Because I came up with the Swaziland idea at the last minute, there just wasn’t enough time to do it justice. I didn’t want to rush it. Had I thought of it a week earlier, I probably would have made it.

Will I Make It There?

If I ever return to South Africa, absolutely! Just not sure when that’s happening. I have other countries to visit before I revisit SA.

7. Colombia

Circumstances/Why I Didn’t Go


When I lived in Ecuador, I wasn’t all that far away from Colombia. Maybe 5 hours from the border. Of course, traveling to destinations of interest would have involved some very long bus journeys.

As much as I wanted to go, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea at the time. It was 1996 and the country had been getting a lot of bad press. I’d heard about quite a few robberies on occurring en route to there from Ecuador (on the long-haul buses) and just didn’t feel I wanted to take the risk. I couldn’t afford to fly there, either.

Will I Go?

Yes, definitely. And know what? I’ll appreciate it more than I would have back in the ’90s. The reason? I learned how to salsa dance after I moved back home from Ecuador!

I learned salsa from my students, some of whom were from Cali, and thus, I must dance it there. I’m itching to go to several cities, including Cartagena, and I know I will.

How About You?

Any trips you missed out on by choice or for some other reason? Why didn’t you go? Do you regret it? Think you’ll make it there at some point?

Photo Credits
Globe: Norman B Levanthal.

Malmo: CT Snow; Palmyra: Adrian Zwegers; Las Cajas: Notafish; Bukit Lawang–Arian Zweger; Pamukkale–Son of Groucho

Swaziland: US Army Africa; Colombia: MparraG

14 Responses to 7 Trips I (Almost) Regret Not Taking–and Whether I’ll Go in the Future #travel #ttot
  1. Maria
    January 27, 2013 | 1:34 pm

    No regrets in either direction! Why? Because at the time, it’s what I thought I wanted/needed (or not). *grin*

    Would love to see Ecuador with you. Bet that would be a blast!

    • CB Driver
      January 28, 2013 | 12:20 am

      Cool to have no regrets! Sometime I’ll tell you about the one place I actually regret going to…

      Re: Ecuador…ooh, cool idea!!

  2. Jeruen
    January 27, 2013 | 2:41 pm

    I have two types of answers, both perhaps not the one you’re looking for though.

    First, in 2008, I was in Denmark as well, in Helsingoer. Helsingborg, Sweden was just a ferry ride away, I could practically see it across the Oeresund. As I have previously crossed borders just to increase my country count (I crossed the Danube to Sturovo, Slovakia and strolled around the small non-descript town while doing a day trip in Esztergom, Hungary), I somehow wasn’t in the mood to shell money a round-trip ferry fare ticket just to step in Swedish soil for a few hours. Maybe the fact that Denmark was expensive deterred me from it. And yes, I’ll probably head to Sweden some day, being based in Europe now makes it easier. But probably not to Helsingborg.

    Second, I’ve had these instances when I would be in an airport, flying back home, after a very good travel stint. This happened to me while flying back to the USA from Mexico in 2011 and Guatemala in 2012. I always had the “What if I was in a bus crossing the border to Guatemala?” or “What if I was in a bus crossing the border to El Salvador?” I had so much fun in my trip that I just wanted to press on, but at that time, a dissertation was waiting for me to be written, and so I had to go back home. As it turned out, I did go to Guatemala the next year, and who knows, I still have the rest of Central America in my bucket list.
    Jeruen recently posted..The PrivatizationMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 28, 2013 | 12:19 am

      Hi, Jeruen. Interesting re: Denmark and I can relate to what you’re saying re: the prices. I was staying with a friend, but I still found it expensive–especially the restaurants.

      Cool that you’ve got Central American countries on your bucket list–will be great to travel there!

      As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts…

  3. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home
    January 27, 2013 | 5:00 pm

    1. Not going up the Eiffel Tower. I stood below the Eiffel Tower and looked up – my phobia of heights talked me out of going up and I thought I’d return one day…
    2. I didn’t get to climb Rinjani volcano in Indonesia. I was in Indonesia, but unfortunately I was stabbed and found myself rushing back to Ubud, Bali, to relax and recover.
    3. Leaving India. On my second day in Calcutta there was a big earthquake in my hometown and I lost a family member. A few days of misery and sulking later and I was on a flight back to Christchurch to be with family. I’m glad I went home and I would never regret being there with my family, but I wish I hadn’t left India.
    Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home recently posted..Where I Want To GoMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 28, 2013 | 12:17 am

      Hi, Izy. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      What the hell happened in Indonesia? OMG–sounds horrible. So sorry to hear it. As for India, that sounds so intense. Good you went home, but I can understand how you felt.

  4. Hogga
    January 28, 2013 | 12:08 pm

    I’d love to go to any of these places

    • CB Driver
      January 30, 2013 | 12:18 am

      Yeah, right? Would be nice.

      I would imagine that you’d love Colombia!

  5. Erik
    January 29, 2013 | 7:58 pm

    I’d say you were probably spot on not going to Columbia back in the late 90s- it had bad press for a reason. I remember working at a travel bookstore back in 1998-2000 and we only carried one book on Columbia period, since only the insane visited there.

    Now, Columbia is right up there with the safest, most popular destinations in all of South America.
    Erik recently posted..New Zealand- Day 24- Two Drives and GlowwormsMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      January 30, 2013 | 12:19 am

      Thanks, Erik. I think so. Good to hear this–always nice to be validated!

      Glad that things are so much better there now. Maybe I’ll get there within the next two years!

  6. Kelly
    January 30, 2013 | 12:08 am

    I can totally relate to this! I try not to have travel regrets but some of my biggest what-were-you-thinkings are when I neglected to visit Washington DC not once, but twice. I just found I loved New York City so much that I wanted to spend ALL my time there. I really want to see DC one day but I love NYC so much that it’s not too big of a regret, I had my reasons. My silliest one was when I lived in London for two years and totally neglected to see Leeds, Manchester, York and Cornwall. What was I thinking ?? I did make it to the Oxford, Bath, Brighton and Bournemoth however.

    • CB Driver
      January 30, 2013 | 12:22 am

      Hi, Kelly. Are you from Australia? I can understand how that would happen with New York. There’s so much to do there. I live in NJ, right next door, and feel like I haven’t seen enough of it!

      Washington DC is definitely worth the time. I also think Philadelphia is cool, too.

      I hear you re: London… I’ve never been there, but if so, I’d want to go to some of the places you listed–mostly because I’ve met folks (or chatter with them on Twitter) who are from there. I find that I always hit if off with people from the north. They seem really nice and down to earth.

      • Kelly
        January 30, 2013 | 12:45 am

        Close, I’m from New Zealand :) I’ve never been to new jersey either, though I did make it to Staten Island. I also never went to niagara falls. It’s a good excuse to go back though, I don’t think I could ever get enough of NYC ! Very jealous you live in New Jersey.
        Kelly recently posted..Learning to flyMy Profile

  7. Naomi
    January 30, 2013 | 2:34 am

    I lived in the UK for about 18 months on and off and visited London a number of times. I didn’t visit the tower, Buckingham Palace, or any of the art galleries, churches or institutions, though I did go to the British Museum just before heading to Egypt. I didn’t visit any of the tourist sites and don’t regret it. They are still there and at the time I just wasn’t interested in any of that royal pageantry etc. I’ll go back one day and will probably appreciate them better. Meanwhile I cycled the countryside of a huge part of England, Scotland and Ireland which was more my scene. Regretted not getting to Wales though…And living in Glasgow was awesome, means I understand pretty well any UK accent no probs! The Scousers couldn’t believe it when I understood them!
    I went to Palmyra and loved it, but Krac de Chevalier is the more awesome experience if you had to choose between the two, so I think you made the right choice. I’m so glad I got to visit the Alleppo souk and also Damascus before all this terrible carnage going on there now. I too feel so sad..
    My burnt out Roman ruin that I missed was Ephesus. I’d seen some great ruins in Syria and Jordan, with awesome amphitheatres and the like (Palmyra, Jerash), so we just stayed at the campsite and got totally trashed on cheap vodka instead. I regretted it later, but hey, Turkey and Ephesus is still there right?
    Pamukkale I don’t reckon was all that special really. There are quite a few other places in the world that are very similar. The only awesome thing about Pamukkale was sneaking into the hotel and swimming in the pool with all the submerged roman columns, and that was probably more the thrill of getting in for free!
    I spent 3 weeks in NYC once, and only headed upstate twice. The woman I was staying with was a bit upset that I didn’t want to visit Washington DC, but I totally had my days full enjoying NYC, so don’t regret that either. I’m with Kelly on that one.
    I regret not seeing more of Czechoslovakia back in 1990, but at the time the govt made Aussies exchange 50USD for every day we were in the country, so I just did five days in Prague and left. It was such an amazing time to visit Eastern Europe, immediately after the fall of communism, and I definitely intend to visit Europe again. Trouble is that now I can only spend 3 months there, due to the fact they don’t have extended visas available for longer stays and I’m too old for a work permit.
    And I don’t think you lost out not going to BL, there are better places to go for a more authentic wildlife experience.
    Naomi recently posted..How does my garden grow?My Profile

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