With all the posts online glorifying travel, I wanted to explore the not-so-pretty side of it all. While you’re abroad, you’re constantly faced with new challenges. You’re out of your comfort zone, not knowing what to expect and trying to figure out your surroundings. Sometimes it can be beautiful, cathartic, and even life changing. But travel can also put you in unfortunate and possibly disastrous situations.
You might have read about my uncomfortable hostel experience in Milan in which I roomed with a ‘sex slave’ with a foot fetish who kept asking to massage my feet.
Yup. That happened.
From the experience I learned that anything can happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. To outline this further, check out these stories from other travel bloggers who prove travel isn’t always so glamorous!
Travel Gone Wrong
Carmen from Carmen Everywhere
“My worst travel experience happened during my last Thailand trip last year. I was traveling in a bus from Koh Samui to Krabi. The whole journey included a ferry, a bus, and another bus. On arrival to Krabi I discovered that a small part of the zip of my suitcase was open although the lock hadn’t been forced so I thought it was a matter of the suitcase being too old. However when I arrived in hotel and opened my suitcase I discovered 300 Euros were missing!! It was obvious that the travel agency staff who handles the baggage from one transport to another had been stealing from people’s baggage and I guess they used a knife or some good tool to open zips because my lock was intact. Hence I learnt to keep my valuables in my handbag when taking transport.”
Sally Cochrane from Safe Travels by Sally
“Sixteen and my first time overseas solo. Nervous and excited at the same time, I accidentally left my my warm, wool coat at home in my hurry to get to the airport. Did I mention I was to travel to Northern Italy in the wintertime? Brrrr! When I arrived in Paris, I was told that my ongoing flight to Trieste, Italy had been cancelled and instead I was put on a flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia where it was currently snowing and -5 degrees. Without a phone to contact my host family, who were expecting my imminent arrival, I was put on a bus across the border to Italy. Luckily, I found them waiting for me when I arrived but boy was I cold by that stage.”
Izzy Pulido from The Next Somewhere
“Before a 13-hour train ride from Agra to Udaipur, I decided to order a mango lassi from a train station canteen. It came to me unrefrigerated and pre-made but still I guzzled it down. WORST MISTAKE EVER! As we boarded our $3 train, we were in shock to find that we got what we paid for: a bare minimum sleeper compartment with tiny berths that would uncomfortably be our resting quarters for the evening. My boyfriend took the top berth while I took the middle berth with just enough space to fit a sleeping human being. As I lay there feeling dirty and anxious, I started feeling severe body aches. Thinking it was because of my lack of space, I tried to re-position myself. Turns out it wasn’t just my body cramping up… I was severely food poisoned! I attempted to go to the bathroom but it was dark and I couldn’t find my balance as the train swayed viciously. I had to hold in all my “issues” for the next thirteen hours and then some since the train broke down for a good four hours! Oh and it was also my one-year anniversary </3!”
Amy Trupmeter from Globetrotter Guru – “I Skipped a Train Fair in Serbia!”
“On the way back from Novi Sad to Belgrade in Serbia, I proudly handed over my ticket to the conductor. He didn’t sign and handed it back to me with a stern look on his face. Something was wrong! He said something in Serbian, and I said ‘I speak English.’ ‘Another ticket?!’ he asked.
Erm, no! The woman in the train station had only given me one, even though I’d asked for a return. I explained this to the conductor. ‘You must pay money 370 Dinars’. Oh dear, so I spent my last 300 Dinars going round the museum in Novi Sad! I thought I had a valid return, but obviously the woman in the ticket office didn’t understand me – I didn’t make myself clear enough. I explained this to the conductor, and said the classic ‘Sorry, I’m English!’ line. I pulled out my credit card! He said something in Serbian, and then, moved onto the next passenger. The guy in front of me smiled and said ‘It’s ok!’
So there you have it, I skipped a train fair in Serbia ;-S. Not my proudest moment, to say the least. I attempted to go back to the office in Belgrade, which was closed. My only saving grace is that I have promoted Serbian tourism!
If you are travelling by train in Serbia, and need a return ticket, make sure that it is stamped on both sides! And always have a contingency cash buffer.”
Marisa Martin from The Traveling Storygirl
“Sadly, traveling isn’t always the glamorous life that people make it out to be. Sometimes, a trip just goes terribly wrong. I had one of these trips in 2006. My family and I went on a five-week-long motor home trip across the continental U.S. Trouble hit the second day. In the middle of the Arizona desert, one of our tires blew in the middle of a desert thunderstorm. Two days later, the motor home overheated while climbing through Veil Pass in Colorado. It was the middle of summer and the intense heat cracked the water tank and made it impossible for us to have water. To add insult to injury, we hit a deer that night winding through the woods and it took out the whole front of the motor home. Everything seemed to go smoothly for about a week, until we were driving through Missouri at midnight. As a car’s headlights shone into the motor home, I saw that it was filling with smoke. It turns out that our transmission had blown out so we were stranded in Missouri for two days while it was repaired. Five thousand dollars later, we were back on the road. A few days later while traveling through North Carolina, the fan belt snapped so we had to fix that. When we were in Washington D.C. the next day, the 120 degree weather caused my grandmother to have a mild heatstroke. She felt better in a few hours but it was not a good addition. Around a week and a half later, the brakes on the motor home failed and we had to have those replaced. Although we limped home at the end of the five weeks, I can say that that trip was one of the most memorable. We saw wonderful sights and created lots of memories that we will laugh about in the years to come. The people you travel with can get you through anything!”
Tracey Pictor from Journal of a City Girl – “Breaking Down in the Desert”
“After spending the morning walking through Sossusvlei Desert in Namibia, it was midday, the sun was beating down and it was time to head back to our rental car and drive onto our next destination (60km away). As we neared the Sossusvlei gate the car started emitting smoke and came to an abrupt halt. We were literally in the middle of nowhere surrounded by desert, and what felt like miles away from civilisation. Once the car cooled down, we slowly drove it to the nearest gas station where the mechanic declared it completely undriveable! Namibia is a vast country, distances between towns are hundreds of kilometres and cell phone signal is sparse. So we spent the day walking around in the blazing heat, dragging our luggage and begging to hitch a ride to our next lodge. The gate (where we were stranded) consists of a gas station and the ticket office, no luxury of taxis or multiple eateries to idle away ones time waiting for our replacement vehicle. By the time we finally made it to our next destination the experience of walking through the oldest desert in the world became a tarnished memory.”
Thank you to all the bloggers who participated in this post! As you can see, unpredictable things are bound to happen when traveling. While abroad make sure you trust your gut and stay cautious as you would in any situation. Take preventative measures so you can minimize risks. And if you have any “travel gone wrong” stories as well, please let us know in the comments!