During these challenging times, reminiscing about past travels is a nice escape. I love to relive all the terrific experiences from various trips. Still, I also tend to think back on what I would have done differently. My modus operandi when planning travel is to save money (and points) while achieving good value, but, as much as I try to avoid any missteps, it’s impossible not to make a a few.
I should start off by saying that this isn’t a very long list. I’m more apt to regret overspending than underspending, but those instances are fairly rare as well. Because I tend to over-analyze decisions, impulsivity doesn’t guide my choices very often. To some degree I envy those who are able to choose an option quickly and not look back.
In 2007 I toured around northern Europe – my first time visiting Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. It was a wonderful summer adventure that ended in Helsinki. There I realized that I probably should have added a least a couple of extra days so I could take the ferry over to Estonia to visit the capital city of Tallinn. At the time, I was tired and keen to head home so I had minimal regrets in the moment of departure. It was only later, looking back, that I really wished I had included one extra stop. I’m not sure when I’ll make it to Estonia. I don’t usually regret an itinerary choice as long as I enjoy the places I do visit. For some reason, this one bugs me.
I love going to different types of museums and the Newseum was on my list for quite a while. However, every time I visited Washington, DC I decided to skip it in favour of all of the free Smithsonians in the area. I thought I’d get to it eventually but since I was very interested in seeing it, I should’ve just paid the hefty admission fee. Now it’s closed indefinitely so it can relocate and who knows when I’ll get the chance to visit. Dang it.
Theatre Ticket Blunder
This is the only one where the feeling of regret was immediate. Buying theatre tickets (from the official seller) is a real dilemma for a budget traveller. They tend to be expensive, especially for the most popular shows, even if you have a discount code. So, with limited funds, do you choose really good seats for one show, middle-of-the-road seats for two shows, or cheap seats for three? I’ve made the wrong decision a few times and I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. Avoid the third option.
It’s not pleasant when you realize while sitting in a very large theatre that you really should’ve sprung for a better seat. You discover that it’s an awesome musical but you cannot even make out the performers’ faces. This problem arises most often when I’m not very familiar with the show, making me hesitant to splurge, but then it turns out to be one of my favourites. One way to avoid such a quandary is to make good use of discounts like TKTS and Broadway Week deals which make the good seats more affordable.
This one doesn’t involve leisure travel but it does involve high airfare as an obstacle. Much coverage has been given to all the students who have missed out on graduation ceremonies this year due to restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, I’ve been thinking back on my decision to forgo attending one. It was 2003 and airfare from the Maritimes to western Canada was expensive and I had already returned home to prepare to start my articling year. Law school was sort of an unexpected detour in my life’s trajectory and I should’ve just coughed up the cash for the plane ticket and participated in the formal acknowledgement of the achievement. It was a great three years and since I didn’t have an undergrad graduation, I shouldn’t have let cost dictate my choice. At the time, I told myself it wasn’t a big deal but for some reason it now feels like a dumb move to have intentionally missed it. If only I had some Aeroplan miles back then. Maybe I’ll go to blogger school someday and attend the graduation…
Putting Off Local Travel
Although I live in Atlantic Canada and I’ve been to every other province (no territories yet), I have not been to Newfoundland and Labrador. I also haven’t been to PEI since before the Confederation Bridge opened in 1997. I’ve only barely scratched the surface of New Brunswick and there are many places here in Nova Scotia that I have yet to visit.
On a couple of occasions when travelling I ended up chatting with someone who had recently taken a trip to Nova Scotia. They start rhyming off all the well known points of interests in the province and I realize that I’ve been to maybe half of them, or it’s been decades since I last visited.
I guess the reason is that I tend to believe that precious travel funds or loyalty points are best used to visit more exciting destinations. If they are spent close to home, they can’t be spent far away from home. And because these local sightseeing opportunities are so close, there’s no real rush to visit. I could go tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, whenever. You start to take the easily accessible places for granted – at least I have.
This list of budget-related travel regrets was pretty random, but it does make me consider what trip planning decisions I’ll make in the future when travel becomes a possibility again. Perhaps someone reading this can learn from my mistakes. In the meantime, I definitely want to capitalize on the chance to enjoy the interesting places nearby when tourism eventually starts up again in the region.