Have you ever gotten back from a trip and realized that you could have had a richer experience? That you kind of squandered your trip? I hate that. It sucks and sadly it's happened to us more than once. You think we'd learn. A few years ago we traveled to Thailand for two weeks of island hopping. I read about all this fascinating and epic stuff we could do when we got there, and I was really excited about the possibilities. Justin was stoked too, and we spent a lot of time talking about deep water soloing, kayaking, cooking classes, and swimming with monkeys (because I'm weird like that). When we got there though, aside from taking ferries around to the islands we'd decided on, we pretty much did nothing! Well, not quite nothing. We read five books a piece, but we hardly did any of those awesome things we'd talked about. We had a wonderful time and it was incredibly relaxing, but when we got home we couldn't help but realize that we'd gypped ourselves a bit. Especially by not going climbing in Railay, a hot spot that draws climbers from around the world! I will note that the one thing we didn't sell ourselves short on was deciding not to swim with monkeys. There was a beach on Koh Phi Phi where loads of monkeys apparently come down to the beach for a dip and are very acclimatized to humans. I kept whining to Justin about going to see them, but then one day we were hiking around the interior of the island and came across a troop of monkeys blocking the path. When we tried to gently shoo them they got really aggressive, and I'm not going to lie - we got kind of scared. Hey, don't judge, monkeys can carry rabies. Anyways, after that I stopped asking to visit the monkey beach! Moving on. A few months ago we traveled to Mexico and short changed ourselves again. We spent a week in Playa Del Carmen, a beach town a short ferry ride away from the island of Cozumel. Justin loves to dive, and everyone kept saying that Cozumel has great diving. We thought to ourselves, this is perfect! We'll be right there in Playa Del Carmen so we'll just hop the ferry to Cozumel, and Justin can go on some dives while I go snorkeling. Instead, we lazed around in Playa the whole time. Now you might be thinking that we walked around the town taking in the sights, trying different food, and hanging out on the beach. Nope. We pretty much just sat in our hostel reading books and eating cheap food from the mini mart down the road. And it wasn't even a cool hostel! We were way back in a dark, dingy room with frightfully noisy neighbors practicing musical instruments below us. How we just sat in there I don't know. We're still filled with shame just thinking about it! Our guilt has been somewhat soothed by talking to other people who have had similar experiences. While we were living in California we were visited by a friend who was driving from Alaska to the boarder of Mexico. A trip like that has huge potential for being epic, which is exactly what she thought it would be. When she visited us she was a two hour drive away from the end of her trip and totally depressed. She described how she had planned to stop and camp and see all kinds of sites along the way, but instead had driven pretty much straight down without seeing or doing much. "Every day I just felt tired or thought that going to see a certain site was too far out of the way, and now I'm almost done and my trip has been so boring!" she lamented.
This April we traveled to Nepal and were determined to come home without any regrets. So we trekked, went on a multi day rafting trip, shopped the markets, tried loads of food, and even ended up right in the middle of the April 28th earthquake. Sounds awesome (except for the earthquake) right? But truthfully, we really didn't feel like doing some of that stuff at the time, especially the rafting part. Our time was limited so we had to start our rafting trip the day after we finished our trek. We were so tired and so sore that the thought of getting up early the next day to spend hours paddling through rapids didn't sound fun in any way. We even tried to cancel the trip, but the office said they couldn't refund us. Anyways, I'm glad they couldn't because of course we ended up having a crazy awesome adventure. We came back from that trip knowing that it had been epic from beginning to end - no regrets. It was a good lesson for us. We still don't feel like we have to pack a trip with wild adventures (we love our books too much), but we're going to make a more purposeful effort to commit to a few sweet activities each trip and not let ourselves back out of it! It doesn't need to be something major or expensive. It could be as simple as hopping a bus to a temple or taking a detour to get in an extra border crossing. Whatever it is, doing something will definitely be better than doing nothing. You almost never regret something you did, only the things you didn't do. So if you see us post something here that doesn't sound like we made any effort to do interesting stuff or backed out on something without a good reason, call us out on it! A little gentle shaming can be a powerful teacher.