Top Nav

Post-Travel Regrets: What I Wish I Did More in My Travels


brooke at desert sculpturesAt this point in my life, I’ve done my fair share of travels. I’ve done a bit of everything: worked as an archaeologist on my Spain holidays, studied Spanish on my Guatemala holidays, took a long stab at Russian in Kyrgyzstan and became a teacher for a while in Ukraine. My life has been blessed with experiences and memories that I hope to add to in the future, only now I’m finding that there was something else I should have been doing more of when I was on the road.

Actually, it’s almost depressing the amount to which I wish I had done things differently on the road. What, exactly? I simply didn’t take enough photos of things that mattered: people I met, places I went to, my meals, where I studied, where I taught, and most of all — me. I am seriously lacking the photo memories that prove I was even there.

The problem here stems from many issues. Traveling alone means you have to do your own photo shoots. Carrying a dSLR means that it’s not always convenient to whip out the giant piece of electronics. Hating being the focus of attention means I don’t typically enjoy posing for photos.

brooke at menindeeIt’s stupid, right? Why should I even care what anyone else thinks? When I was traveling with Heather on the east coast Australia road trip, she constantly whipped out her big camera to photograph her meals. I, on the other hand, always have this strange sense of awkwardness come over me if I do something that would seem to draw attention. Most of the time, I probably stick out like a sore thumb already, so what’s an extra photo going to do.

Today, I met some travelers down at the Sydney Opera House. While I was waiting for them to arrive, I looked on at all of the happy tourists taking their happy snaps in front of this iconic building. A mother and daughter did one of those awesome jumping shots that make just about anyone look awesome and like they’re loving life; the little girl made me giggle with her extra hard attempt to make the same height as her mom. I bet they are going to love looking back at that photo.

I want that. I want the moments that make an experience special — not the landscapes and the scenery — but even the bed I slept in. What about that yurt I spent time in at Lake Issyk-Kul? What about the awesome guesthouse that I stumbled into after landing in Bishkek? I don’t have photos of those things, and I wish now more than ever that I did.

brooke with kyrgyz beerMaybe I take experiences for granted as they happen. I remember feeling like life was just life in Kyrgyzstan, and the amount of photos I took clearly reflects that. I was there for 5 months, yet I lack documentation of all the little things that I find myself raving about. Lagman! I didn’t even take a photo of my favorite food dish of lagman — one that I crave like no other from time to time.

One of my resolutions for the new year would be to rectify this issue, which is part of the reason I really want to strive for documenting my daily life in my awesome 2011. That’s part of the plan, and the other is to maybe reassess my camera situation. Right now, I have a dSLR that I hate to carry around and am not good enough to really use to its full capabilities. While I might always tell myself, “No, you want that for your African safari,” I really can’t say that will be in my near future. Perhaps investing in a quality point-and-shoot is the option for me at this juncture in my life.

For me, I’m totally wishing I had taken more photos on my adventures. What about you? Is there anything you think you should change on future travels?



33 Responses to Post-Travel Regrets: What I Wish I Did More in My Travels

  1. Kieron December 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I totally know the feeling Brooke! I’ve missed so many great photo opportunities because I’ve been hesitant to pull the camera out in fear of looking silly.

    We recently caught up with Dina and Ryan of Vagabond Quest and were in awe as Dina approached a complete stranger in a crowded bar and asked him to take a photo of our group! That’s something I would never ever even think to do… way too awkward for me!

    We plan on taking a lot more photos on our RTW and attempting to manage them on a daily basis when we’re on the road. You should totally get involved in Photo 365 in 2011 and take one photo per day, definitely would be a great way to document your daily life.

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:04 am #

      Oh, awesome you got to meet Dina and Ryan – isn’t Dina adorable??? 🙂 I totally agree that she is awesome at pulling out the camera when necessary, and we should both take a page out of her book. Good luck with overcoming your own awkward demons. Maybe the 365 project will help me overcome my issues.

      • Erica December 26, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

        When I did the 365 days project it completely kicked my butt but was completely worth it. I feel much more comfortable with myself and with the pictures that I am able to create. I TOTALLY suggest it!

  2. Annie December 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m with you too. Although I seriously love photography (even though I’m clearly no good at it) there’s something about taking photos in the middle of a crowded street or restaurant that makes me self-conscious.

    I’ve started to get over it a bit now that I’m blogging because you never know what you are going to want to talk about, post about or what pictures could just turn out amazing without you even realizing it!

    Anyway, I think buying a smaller but still high quality camera will definitely benefit you. Don’t give up on your big one but tone it down until your more comfortable taking pictures in public then get back to it!

    I agree that although pictures aren’t all there is to memories, they are a great addition, so get out that camera! 🙂

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:06 am #

      Cheers for the motivation! Yes, it’s on my to-do list for January to investigate other camera options. I think I’ve done well at times to be more open about my public display of photo-taking, but overall, I suck. I know now that I really want those memories and I’ll work extra hard to make sure I get them!

  3. James Shannon December 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    A point and shoot will do you just fine, no big rig necessary … my HP Photosmart, which cost me $102 CDN, shoots pics at 12.2 megapixels … together with a 1GB memory card, it can shoot 23 minutes of video and 465 pictures.

    The rest is in the eye, basic photographic principles, and lots and lots of volume!

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:11 am #

      James – first of all, thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂 I am definitely going to do things differently in the future. I bought this camera before I started traveling at the end of 2007 because I thought I would eventually make friends with it and learn to love it. I love the quality of shots I can get, but it is just not worth it now that I am missing what matters.

  4. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World December 24, 2010 at 12:18 am #

    I’d like to take more portrait pics of people who live in the area I’m visiting. Being too polite to ask for photos without permission, but too shy to ask for one, I’ve been struggling with this aspect of traveling for awhile.

    I think I’m getting better at it, but definitely something I’d like to get better at.

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:16 am #

      Agreed. It is so hard to make myself ask people if I can take photos of them. Maybe we should assign ourselves homework and then check on each other to see that we did it 🙂

  5. Emily December 24, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    I’m usually good about taking pictures, but lately I came to the same realization as you: I’m never IN any of my pictures. On my last trip I tried to do better, but I ended up with a bunch of awkward self photos where my head looks giant and one where a nice lady decided to take a full-body picture of just me instead of me with the church I was standing in front of. Clearly this is an area I need to work on.

    I get self-conscious about the food photos too but have been trying to just ignore the voices in my head and remind myself that a) probably no one cares what I’m doing and b) if they do, so what, I’ll never see them again anyway.

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:19 am #

      Oh yeah, I know the self-portraits you are talking about 😉 What about a table-top tripod? That might help to get the good self-portraits. You can join in on the homework idea (above) — we should start a group of us motivating each other to be more outgoing with our photos!

  6. Caroline Eubanks December 24, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    I’m the exact opposite. I take entirely too many pictures and forget to be in the moment. But I have to say, my tiny Canon Elph has served me well over the years, even with my recent upgrade to a DSLR. It’s never too late to start taking pictures! And I will likely be taking dozens of pictures of myself in front of the Opera House when I get there!

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:25 am #

      I bought a cheapie pocket camera to go with my dslr back in the beginning, but it took a beating and became more of a hassle to use (took too long to take photos), which is why I didn’t use it much. I’ll be working on it! And, if you need someone to take shots of you in front of the Opera House, I’ll be around 🙂

  7. Rebecca December 24, 2010 at 3:46 am #

    This line made me so sad!

    “Right now, I have a dSLR that I hate to carry around and am not good enough to really use to its full capabilities.”

    You absolutely can’t hate your any aspect of your camera! If you hate any part of it, toss it/sell it/whatever and get something you feel comfortable with, especially if you care about pictures. My first solo trip to Europe I still had a film camera and there are no pictures of me. I finally upgraded to a digi point and shoot and for my trip in NZ and Aus, my sister was so sick of my pictures, because I spent so much time trying to get myself in the shot with the correct angle (a good thing, in my opinion!). Point and shoots are the BEST for traveling alone. I got so good at taking pictures of myself, people would offer to snap me, but I got so used to seeing myself at a certain angle, I didn’t want to mess it up:-).

    I like to think I am a “photographer” but if I don’t know what all my buttons and features do, the camera is not worth it’s weight. Give me point and shoot (and simple buttons that I know what they all do!) any day:-).

    Why be embarrassed to take a picture in a crowded area? It’s not like you are ever going to see these people again:-)

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 11:28 am #

      Rebecca, you’re so on the money with your advice 🙂 I’ll be making changes soon for sure!

  8. Tony December 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    For future travels I’d really like to make better use of video. I take quite a few clips but nothing that’s overly enagaging. Creating vlogs isn’t so easy so having some kind of plan for capturing good amount of clips to stitch together with commentary would be good. Have to try it I guess!

    With the camera I travel with both a dSLR and point-and-shoot. I use the video function on the point-and-shoot (since it’s fairly discrete & not bad quality) as well as for situations where it’s more convenient.

    I’m hoping the Lobster Toast is alive today.. 😉

    • Brooke December 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

      Lobster toast still kicking! 🙂 I’d love to do video… I actually like piecing them together, but my current computer setup is crap. Sigh.

  9. ayngelina December 25, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    I’m so with you on this one but I decided to take the advice I gave you. In 2011 I will take a shot of me a day, even if it’s just the outstretched hand one to get over this terrible habit.

    • Brooke December 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

      Woohoo! Awesome, I’ll totally follow your photo a day journey in 2011!

  10. Connie December 26, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    I totally understand how you feel about taking more photos. I’ve been in Asia for almost a year now and in the beginning, I was taking pictures of EVERYTHING. Trees, fruit, streets, cars, buildings, lamps, insects, houses…EVERYTHING. Now, not so much. I wish I hadn’t lost my enthusiasm for things but some times I just can’t be bothered to fuss with getting my camera out. I’m hoping all these will change now that I’ve gotten myself a spiffy new camera!

    Brooke, I will join you in 2011 in trying to better document our daily lives! Good luck!

    • Brooke December 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

      Thanks, Connie, for the comment and stopping by 🙂 I’m so pumped for 2011!

  11. youngandthrifty December 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    I know exactly how you feel. I’m not a big fan of being in pictures myself, but do regret not having pictures to prove I was there.

    I just got a DSLR too and find it harder to whip out on the fly. Carrying both a small and a big one seems excessive too 🙁

    • Brooke December 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

      Indeed. I hate the idea of carrying too much stuff. I’m going to downgrade for sure.

  12. Laura December 28, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    I know what you mean about this. I do take a lot of photos but somehow I often wish I had gotten more. One of my big goals for 2011 is to take my photography more seriously – I’ve had a DSLR for a couple years but like you, haven’t become great with it yet. But, I love my camera and enrolled in a photography course this year. I am going to try to be more proactive about getting good photos. I hope you find a solution that works for you!

    • Brooke December 28, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks, Laura! A smaller camera & the photo 365 project should get me in a good way. Good luck with your photography course!

  13. Rish January 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    i have the exact same problem! i have this awesome dslr, but when i pull it out, i feel like ppl stare at me more than usual. plus, it can be heavy and bulky during a night out.

    so, i guess i have to invest in a nice, lightweight point and shoot as well.


    life is so hard.

    • Brooke January 4, 2011 at 3:48 am #

      Seriously. I need a point and shoot asap, but I’m broke 😉

  14. Rebecca January 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Ha ha, I’m the same! But more because I FORGET to take photos! My boyfriend and I have been so many places together and at some major sites we have no photographic evidence that we were there. And then I see friends’ photos and they’ve remembered to take all the important shots!! We travelled through Costa Rica and Panama with a friend and she kept asking us where’s your camera? Why aren’t you taking photos? oops.

    • Brooke January 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      Oh yeah, I forget sometimes, too! Sometimes I’ll even leave my hostel without having my camera at all. It’s a habit I’m trying to kick in the new year 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

  15. kevin January 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    No kidding. I’ve traveled around the world, and have maybe 3 pictures with me in it. Even though I’ve downsized from the “big” slr to a compact camera, it still seems way to big to carry.

    Another thing I put on the list is that I like to send postcards from the road to my Godchildren, but many times have just not gotten organized enough to find a mailbox in whatever country I’m visiting.

    Safe Travels!

  16. j March 31, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    Agggh, me too. It’s almost like I underestimated how much I would do over the last five or so years and how many people I would meet and stuff I would see. The clarity of the memories does fade. Luckily I have a couple of good journals stashed away somewhere in storage,..and I resort to stealing shots from the albums of facebook friends I met along the way, where necessary.


  1. 365 Photo + Blog Project One Month In - Stats, Growth, Thoughts - January 31, 2011

    […] it’s been a process and a chore, but a fun and interesting one. Remember when I said I regretted not taking enough photos of myself on my travels, sometimes just because I felt awkward being in the photo or taking the […]

  2. Pocket Sized vs. DSLR... Or Can We Have the Best of Both Worlds? - July 26, 2011

    […] to Kyrgyzstan in a few months, and a major goal is to take loads of photos this time (unlike last where I barely took any photos at all!). I need to get my camera situation straightened out once and for […]

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes