Why making mistakes while traveling is important

Making-mistakes-backpacking “What If” – two powerful words that potentially stop travelers with crippling fear.

It is natural to worry about the possibilities of being stranded alone in a city where you don’t speak the language, having your passport stolen, or missing a train and spending the night on the street. However, to allow these “What If’s” to keep you at home is a huge mistake.

You will definitely make mistakes while traveling; it is part of life on the road.

Usually, they are little mistakes that hurt your bank balance and pride more than your health. A comforting thought is that at this moment there are hundreds of travelers around the world making mistakes, and if they can recover, then so can you. I have spent more than three and a half years on the road and haven’t gone a single week without making a random travel mistake. Some have been big, like not booking accommodation which meant spending a few nights on the street, and some have been small, like heading to the wrong airport. As time went on, I saw these mistakes for what they really were – opportunities.

Looking at your errors in a positive light, will change your entire outlook. Mistakes make you a better traveler and a stronger person. Now I cherish these crucial moments as they have taught me valuable life lessons while traveling the world. make-friends Meet other travelers

Once on the Greek island of Paros, I missed my ferry. Looking around, I noticed four other people had also missed it, so I walked up and started a conversation. By the next day when a new ferry showed up, we had all become fast friends. In fact, we got along so well that I changed my plans to travel with them for the next month. Today, I still stay in contact with them, have met them regularly in different countries, and consider them close friends.

You might think this is a fluke, but it happens over and over again. I’ve met most of my closest travel friends because I have missed a bus, train, or ferry. The next time you make a mistake, look around. There is a good chance you are not the only one. After all, misery loves company. Use this as an opportunity to start a conversation and make new friends. This is a good way to meet locals as well as travelers.

Live in the moment

Some people want a planned itinerary from the second they step onto the plane until they arrive back at their doorstep. However, nothing goes according to plan when traveling and when plans go awry, you need to think on your feet. Spontaneity sets you in the moment completly. It helps people come out of their shells, and shows them that the world will not end if they stray from their schedule, or get off the beaten path.

Mistakes usually end in unexpected adventures and exciting stories. Think about it. When people tell you stories from their travels, they do not spend an hour describing every painting they saw in the Lourve, but they will excitedly share all the funny misadventures that happened to them on their way. Losing wallets, missing trains, or driving a day in the wrong direction becomes the highlight of the trip.

Discover your strength

As you make mistakes, one of the first things you will figure out is that you are not a fragile human being. When everything goes wrong and you have the patience and determination to figure it out, you will discover you are stronger than what you thought.

I have learned that I possess not only the courage to face my fears, but also the unknown.

This realization has given me confidence not only when traveling but also dealing with everyday problems in my personal life. Honestly, I love making travel mistakes. They have opened doors and have given me a fresh perspective on traveling. If you embrace your mishaps and learn from them, you will make valuable friends, gain a deeper understanding of yourself, and experience traveling on a new level. Let’s embrace our travel mistakes and venture into the unknown.

Stephen is a long-term traveler and enthusiastic adventurer. You can check out more of his musing of life on the road at his website A Backpackers Tale Travel Blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | January 7, 2015
Category: Vagabonding Advice

3 Responses to “Why making mistakes while traveling is important”

  1. Cara Says:

    Just what I needed to read when I needed to read it! Thank you!

  2. Stephen Says:

    Hey Cara,

    I am glad you found this article when you needed it, and that you found it helpful!

  3. Samantha Alexander Says:

    When it comes to mistakes, I might top the class. Then why cannot I commit mistake while traveling. Yes, I have made friends over the years, but made mistakes by paying extra for rooms, bar fights and some amazing memories. End of the day, we are humans, we tend to make mistakes.