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4 Travel Lessons Learned From Christopher Columbus’ Mistakes

This blog post was updated on August 6, 2019.

On the second Monday of October, many receive the day off for Columbus Day. The day commemorates Columbus’ arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492. While Columbus has since become a quite controversial figure, with some abandoning the day altogether, his adventures and travels did have a tremendous impact on world history. For the travelers of today, we can all learn a thing or two about how to adventure around the globe, without making the mistakes Columbus made. Before you set sail on your own travels of discovery, be sure to keep these travel lessons in mind, all learned from the mistakes of Columbus. He might have sailed the ocean blue, but he didn’t always go about travel in the best of ways.

1. Try to get along with locals.
It is no secret that Columbus wasn’t always kind to the locals he met on his voyages to the Americas. Columbus didn’t really travel to make friends. Much of his voyages involved squabbles with locals. Travelers of today can learn from Columbus’ mistake by seeking out locals. Interacting with those who live in your travel destinations can be an incredibly enriching experience.

2. Understand that the world is quite big.
One of Christopher Columbus’ most embarrassing of travel mistakes was his lack of knowledge for geography. He thought that the world was much smaller. As a result, he arrived to the Americas, believing he had just struck Asia. The main takeaway from this Columbus travel lesson is to always research, listen to those who have been where you are going and understand that you might be going a very long way, far further than you might anticipate.

3. You don’t need the funds of a king and queen to travel the world.

Columbus struggled to get anyone to back his voyage to what would actually turn out to be the Americas instead of Asia. It took Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to fork over the funds to help Columbus find a western sea route to China and India. While travel was a bit different back in 1492, travelers should never follow Columbus’ budget for long distance travel. You don’t need the backing of a king and queen in order to travel. With careful budgeting such as dialing back your cable package or forgoing meals out, travel can be possible even with the smallest of funding.

4. Travel isn’t all about collecting souvenirs to take back home.
It is widely believed that Christopher Columbus had one thing on his mind when he set out to discover new passages of the globe. He wanted gold and lots of it. Many travelers become obsessed with collecting some item from where they have been. While a few souvenirs here and there never hurt, Columbus’ travel error makes us all realize it should be about the places and not just acquiring things from these corners of the world.

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