8 Things I Wish I Did Abroad To Make For A Trip With No Regrets

If you're lucky enough to be given the means and opportunity to travel, you're in the minority. The excitement and novelty of a brand new location can be overwhelming; sometimes even a well thought-out game plan can be overturned by the beautiful chaos of exploration.

You may think you know what you're doing by the time you've memorized your itinerary line-for-line. Just in case things don't go as planned, however, here are eight things to keep in mind that I wish I would have done when I traveled the world.

1. Stayed In A Mixed Dorm At A Hostel

People will tell you hostels aren't safe, and they may be right. Even so, traveling has nothing to do with feeling sheltered at all times. Taking a bed in a six-person mixed dorm might seem scary, but it creates a context for growth and discussion.

It’ll be one of the only places you’ll ever stay where your neighbor to the right is from Australia and your roommate to the left is from who knows where.

It’s an amazing feeling to experience so many different cultures at once. Just be sure to do your research; online reviews are almost always right on the money.

2. Explored More Ancient Ruins Than Ancient Wines

You’ll never regret hiking Mount Vesuvius or exploring the Great Barrier Reef, but you might be a bit remorseful when you only recall a third of the vacation courtesy of that guy you kept paying to pour shots down your throat.

It’s all too easy to find yourself in a sparkling new place, getting caught up in a myriad of tourist traps and generic activities that you’ll forget a month later. Take the time prior to your trip to delve into your destination’s history.

It was exactly a month after arriving back to California that I saw it: an article telling the tale of the newly discovered ruins, just south of the Spanish town of Cadiz. It was one of the biggest discoveries in hundreds of years, and some experts thought it could be Atlantis. I was so close to that very location, and I missed it.

3. Stepped Over The Caution Tape

Throughout your travels, there will be a lot of confusion. You’re in a foreign place with different rules, regulations, laws and boundaries -- let alone, languages.

You won’t regret crossing that boundary if you’re smart about it. Sometimes yellow tape is there for your safety, and sometimes it’s impeding the epic experience that could be your adventure. Make sure you know the difference.

4. Danced All Night At That Sketchy Underground Salsa Bar

No one should be discouraged from following his or her gut. If you get the feeling that the guy or lady you’re dancing with is on the hunt for a new human lampshade, I highly support your decision to bounce.

On the other hand, the night is young; the tequila is free, and you’re kind of getting the hang of this salsa thing. Keep a steady eye on old Bates over there, but keep in mind that you’re traveling to step out of your inherent comfort zone.

5. Smoked Weed In The Red Light District

Don’t let fears and preconceived notions dictate your actions when you’re in a new place. If it sounds like a bad idea, you’ll wish you’d done it a year later.

I've never smoked weed. Yes, you read that right. So you would think that the ideal first time would be in the marijuana capital of the world, right?

I sat in a seedy coffee shop smack in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, with images of my mother dancing through my head and walked out two hours later without touching the stuff.

6. Not Melted My Bikini Bottom On An Over-Heated Alligator Slide

Life imitates art. Be sure to wear ultra-sturdy garments, both inside the pool and out, as you never know what reptile is going to be making every attempt to undress you.

The friction between my cheap plastic suit and the snarky plastic alligator led to the rapid unveiling of my crotch. By the time I reached the bottom, it was nowhere to be found. It must have been really freaking hot.

7. Hung Out With The Locals A Bit More

When you’re staying somewhere new, adopt the traditions and make them your own; do what the locals do. As tempting as it might be to gravitate toward the people around you who come from your native culture, if you step outside that glass box, the best friends you'll ever make will be foreign.

When I visited my very best male friend in a tiny Swedish town, I had no idea what I was in for. In the interest of brevity, I'll just say it's fair to mention that peppermint shots during holiday dinners really do help get the meatballs down.

8. Pitched The Nuclear Fit I Rightly Should Have When That Guy In Florence Stuck His Hand Up My Skirt

While it’s important to keep differing cultural norms in mind, know that public molestation is a good place to draw the line. That’s pretty much it for this one.

Photo via We Heart It