14 Travel nightmares that actually happened to me... and how you can avoid them
I talk a lot about all the best experiences that have happened to me during my travels….
The amazing sunsets, and white sandy beaches. However, there’s a lot of incredibly shitty things that have happened to me too.
Bad things happen everywhere! Whether you’re at home or, on the other side of the world... That's life.
On the plus side, the these experiences I’ve had traveling, are ironically, also, the most valuable life lessons I’ve learned.
So, where do I start… Maybe, with the biggest hurtle I ever face planted over?
Ya, let's start there...
#1 Breaking my leg in Cambodia
Hands down the worst of it. Every traveler’s nightmare right next to, scooter accidents (oh, just wait for it, we’re just getting started)
What you can do: ALWAYS buy travel insurance.
You can find the full disclosure on how I broke my leg here.
Carry your insurance policy info on your phone or, in your wallet. It's probably wise to not do dumb shit either. Yes, take risks (I mean live outside of your comfort zone) but don’t EVER risk your health, period.
#2 Losing my $1000 security deposit
I was a native 21 year old, it was my first experience renting, and traveling alone. I was desperate to move out of the hostel I was living in.
Like most crooks my landlord was very good at building my trust... Long story short. When I asked for the money back, he told me I never gave him that kind of money. Shocked, it was my word against his, and I never did get any of my money back.
What you should do: Make sure when you’re spending a long-term aboard and, you want to rent. Sign an agreement, READ IT, and check to make sure you’re protected. Always get your own copy too. (or take pictures of the initial document)
Scamming backpackers who are renting short term stay is unfortunately, a common occurrence.
#3 Waking up on the side of the road in Thailand
WTF. I know right. I literally can’t tell you what happened, I was black-out-drunk. I must’ve tried walking home (alone) and obviously didn’t make it. I woke up, on a bench outside. Then I hailed down a taxi and try to explain to him where I was staying (lord knows I had no fucking idea.) I was depressed for a few days after that, disappointed in my life choices (obviously)
What you should do: Stay with your friend ALWAYS. If you don’t have a friend then, don’t get too fucked up. Especially when you’re traveling by yourself (duh!) This is how women are taken advantage of!
Tip: Save your hotel/hostels location on your phone under home (in google maps) before you go out. JUST in case you have a few too many drinks, at least you can always find your way back.
#4 My luggage was lost for 5 days while I was traveling alone in Fiji
This is a small part to why I am now so anal about packing a carry on to perfection. I have been without everything, besides the clothes on my back once.
That ONE TIME, I flew from Melbourne to Fiji and, the airlines couldn’t track down where my backpack had gone for 5 long (and very stinky) days.
What you can do: Always take a picture of your luggage that way it’s easy for the airlines to identify. If you’re bags is lost for over 24-hours. See what kind of compensation the airline responsible for can provide you with. Always travel with an extra set of clothes, swimsuit, as well as all your essential toiletries (in your carry on.)
For a list of carry on essentials visit my post here.
#5 My iphone was jacked on a Ferry in Greece
I went through the morning from hell to get on this god damn ferry. I was sweating my face off by the time I sat down. I went to plug in my dying phone (a row down from me) I turned to my friend for 5-minutes, turned back, and there was the charger hanging there… Without my phone attached. I couldn’t believe it.
What you should do: Don’t leave your belongings unattended, EVER. Like never, ever, ever. If it’s valuable enough that you’ll be devastated if you lose it, don’t leave it sitting anywhere (it’s sounds like a no-brainier but, you’d be surprised.)
#6 Lost my passport in Australia
I was walking to the Sydney Opera House at night, when I dropped my passport. I went back the next day, and nothing had been turned in. I was staying in Sydney for a while, so I didn’t bother grabbing a new one, until I had an upcoming trip.
What you should do: Contact your Embassy ASAP, file a report. It may have been turned in, and legally it’s the Government’s property, so, if it’s been found, they’ll have it. Mine was turned in, and if I would’ve went there straight after it happened. I would’ve gotten it back. Instead, I didn’t bother and, in return, I had to apply for a new one. (which was expensive, complicated, and a massive pain in my ass.)
Tip:Always take photos of your documents/passport.
#7 11-hour bus ride without A/C or a toilet
The budget backpacker in me decided it would be an okay idea to travel 11-hours on a bus from Venice to Nice. Um, HELL NO! Never again!
It was a traumatic experience (I think I held my bladder over 2 hours) and, I was sweating profusely the ENTIRE 11 hours. How fun!
What you can do: Always check the bus details before you book online. It will tell you the amenities available on each bus. On websites, such as Rome2Rio you can also read customer reviews for each bus line (this is very helpful because sometimes the online description of the bus is out-dated)
Tip: Arrive early to insure you get a seat you’ll be happy with. If you can, take the trains in Europe (a bit more expensive however, the comfort level is incomparable)
#8 Finding pesky crawlers in my suitcase
That one time in Croatia….
It was obvious the moment we dropped our bags in our room, there was a serious ant problem. The owner tried to tell us, it was because the people from earlier left Pizza in the room. So, we turned a blind eye to the matter. Until we left… suddenly I noticed hundreds of ants crawling all over my suitcase, and when I opened it up, there was plenty more! It was a serious ant party! I felt itchy for days after that.
What you can do: If you are unhappy with your circumstance, or your place has a problem that wasn’t addressed on Airbnb prior to booking. Contact Airbnb immediately, don’t wait. You have a right to a clean and comfortable living situation, always.
Tip: if there’s ever an ant problems (very common in the tropics) MAKE sure you don’t have food hidden in your suitcase or, leave food open, they will find it!
#9 Missing an international flight
I’ve missed a few flights ... This was the worst one to miss, and the only reason why I didn't make my flight is because, I had the dates mixed up. I showed up at the airport confused because I couldn’t see my flight on the departure screen. Only to learn it was yesterday.
What you can do: In the case of missing a flight because of pure stupidity. You’re left with is the compassion of the airline company... I cried a bit, explained my story, and was thankfully only charged a $75 rebooking fee. For the next day flight going to Hawaii (I was very grateful.)
#10 Paying $300 to check my bag at the airport
Still to this day I will NOT fly with Ryanair... Guys, this is how budget airlines make their money!
What you should do: Don't leave adding luggage for the airport or 3 hours prior to check in. Always add luggage as soon as online check in opens. If for some reason (I’ve experience this, especially when I booked through third-parties initially) you can’t make changes to your reservation online, and add luggage. Call the airline directly, or show proof that you tried (I would screen record my attempts)
#10 The 4 girls one toilet food poisoning scenario
Between myself and the other three gals I travelled Thailand, Bali and Singapore with. There’s quite a few, seriously, embarrassing stories to be told about each other.
One night, after spending the day on a booze cruise in Koh Phi Phi Island. At 3 A.M we all suddenly became violently ill within minutes of each other. Two of us headed for the bathroom, while the other two were forced to vomit over our balcony.
Not sure if it was from the food on the boat, excessive sun exposure, or drinking alcohol in the sea water (probably a healthy mix of all three TBH.)
What you can do: If you get food poisoning in another country go to the pharmacy right away and grab electrolyte packages. Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun, and eat dry bland foods. If your fever last longer than 2 days seek medical attention right away.
#11 Quite literally being trapped in another country
One of the worst feelings was when I was trying to get home from Cambodia after breaking my leg. Getting to the airport on my crutches, with all my shit was a struggle enough. Then learning we couldn’t get on our flight to Vietnam because our visas were invalid! The visas we had, couldn't grant us access to enter the country, until the following day (it was 100% our fault, we overlooked a crucial detail about the dates being accurate, before booking our flight)
What you can do: If you’re ever at the airport and you can’t board your flight because you don’t have the correct visa requirements. Get online right away! Most visas take 3-7 days to finalize but if it’s an emergency, there may be a service offered online for expedited visas. These take no longer than 15 minutes to process (Be warned, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for it)
#12 Losing my wallet, including my passport inside it
Not only was I flat-broke, working in Melbourne, just trying to save up enough money to buy a plane ticket up the coast of Australia. I then stupidly lost all access to my finances too.
What you can do: Retrace your steps, file a police report, cancel your credit cards right away. Ask a friend/ family member to book whatever you need with their credit card online. Or, locate a Wester Union if you need direct cash to be transferred to you. If you're working somewhere, ask for an advance, explain your situation. Stay put, until your replacement credit card comes through the mail.
Someone thankfully handed in my wallet to the hostel shortly after. The money inside it was gone, and my credit cards were already canceled at this point. BUT, I did get my passport back!
#13 Surviving a 36-hour travel day
I always say to myself never again, and then, the cheapest flight I can find will have 3 layovers and, I book it forget. Disregarding I ever promised myself otherwise.
What you should do: Pack a lot of snacks! If you get to your airport and the food is crap... it’s 100x worse.
If there’s a VIP lounge, try and get in there!
See what kind of amenities the airport offers with apps such as GateGuru or LoungeBuddy.
This way you can plan your travel day in advance. If your layover is more than 10+ hours, see if you can get a temporary 24 hour visa to explore the city you're in (given the city limits are close enough)
#14 Falling off my scooter...twice
I was just plain lucky. Nothing horrible happened. Both were clean wipe outs, I walked away with only a few scratches on my knees. I'm not proud of it, but, I wasn't wearing a helmet either (I know, I'm an idiot) I also banged up my scooter, I had to take it to the auto shop to repair the mirror and break handle. (In Bali this is thankfully very cheap)
What you MUST do: Always wear your bloody helmet! The roads are insanely hectic in South East Asia. If you're not comfortable driving a scooter DEFINITELY don't start there. I admit I did, but, I'm just super ballsy, and look... I still had my share of unfortunate events.
Try to only travel short trips on your scooter, and please, don't drink and drive...
Please share your insight on travel plans gone wrong.
I'm dying to see who can relate!