After my feel good top ten travel moments of 2013 post and my ten amazing experiences while travelling the world, I thought I would head over to the dark side of travel for this Flashback Friday and go through some of my worst travel experiences.
Travel is not always fun, in fact sometimes it’s bloody horrible. It’s easy to focus on the good because, thankfully, mostly travel is awesome. There are some experiences I never want to live again though. My tag line for this site states that I will share the good, the bad and the ugly of travel – here is the ugly! Here are my top ten worst travel experiences in chronological order…
I have posted about this one before, so you can read the whole story. Basically, I started to feel sick just before I flew to Europe and became very sick on my third and final flight from Singapore to London. I actually ended up fainting!
The crew were horrible to me. I was told I was lucky to be given water and that it was my own fault for drinking too much – even though I hadn’t had any alcohol. I was also criticised for travelling alone. On arrival at Heathrow airport, I was actually taken off the plane in a wheel chair by paramedics!
It was all very dramatic and not a recommended way to start a holiday, particularly my first backpacking trip alone at 21.
I have no idea exactly what happened, but it was not good!
In bad travel experience #2, we were walking around Quito, checking out a market when suddenly we were coughing. Everyone around us was coughing too and starting to pass out on the ground!
We thankfully reacted quickly and started running as fast as we could. Once we left the area, we were ok and stopped coughing.
I loved Turkey, but I struggled being a solo female traveller in Turkey.
Men were constantly trying to pick me up. I covered up – despite being very hot, I wore ankle length skirts or trousers, and t shirts that covered me up. I wore the fake wedding band, did everything I could basically, but it was relentless. I would end up back at my room upset as I felt I had to start being very rude to everyone who tried to talk to me, as no matter how innocent their conversation started, it always lead to them asking me to come to their home. I do not recommend young females travel to Turkey alone – the only place I have been where I would say that.
Anyway, on my final day in Istanbul, I went for a long walk to an airline office. It was all on main busy roads, and I would have thought I was perfectly safe. On the way back, I soon realised that someone was following me. I dodged around and thought I had lost him. Then, when I was walking behind a bus that was parked at the side of the road – blocking the cars going past from seeing me, he appeared out of nowhere and grabbed me around my waist and between my legs, rubbing my girl bits.
I screamed and yelled as loud as I could, and he thankfully jumped back and started screaming at me. He actually looked shocked. Do some men really think women want to be treated this way? I ran onto the road and when I reached the median strip, I broke down on the ground and cried for quite awhile in the middle of a main road.
It was lucky I was flying out that night anyway, as I couldn’t stay in Turkey a second longer after that. The whole incident still makes me want to cry today. I have rarely told anyone this story, as I hate thinking about it. It is without a doubt my worst travel experience.
My Flashback Friday post on why I hated my visit to the Egyptian Pyramids is actually one of my most popular posts. Basically, there were so many touts hassling us in Egypt and at the Giza Pyramids, that it was impossible to enjoy them. My whole three days in Egypt were horrible and this is definitely one of my worst travel experiences.
I had some dramas crossing from Mexico to the US by land in 2006. It started when the Mexican Army tried to take us away from a bus we were travelling in, saying that we had to leave the country immediately. It didn’t improve from there!
We made our way immediately to a US border crossing, only to have them not allow us to get an exit stamp from Mexico, not believe us that Australians don’t need a visa and to give us the third degree.
It was all made worse by the fact that we had to travel back over the next day to get our Mexican exit stamp and repeat the whole drama again.
This is just a summary. It was a stressful 24 hours and a bad travel experience that I never wish to repeat. You can read the whole drama in the links above!
I was riding along on a bus, when bam, my then boyfriend had a seizure. He had never had one before, and I had never seen one before. It was very scary.
The tour guide rung 911 and soon there were paramedics and police there. We ended up spending a night in hospital and changing our plans to remain in the US while he had tests. We had 7 months of our trip still to go and we nearly had to cancel it all. Thankfully, he ended up being ok and we continued our trip. It was a horrible couple of days though.
I was walking along the main road in Sofia when I heard a zipper sound… I started to turn around and there was someone’s hand in my backpack!!
I looked around and I realised I had been surrounded by young women, and my travelling companion was a few steps ahead of me. I screamed at the girl, and she pulled her hand out. The group then encircled her and they slowly walked away, while I screamed out to my friend and at the girls.
I tried to check if they had taken anything while my friend tried to get to the girl who had had her hand in the bag to see if she had something. My bag was full and it was hard to tell. My friend couldn’t get to the girl thanks to the circle surrounding her. He told me later that one of them had stood in front of him, so he had to walk around her and that is how they separated us.
While this was going on, an old local woman was screaming at us in Bulgarian. It seemed like she was telling us to leave them alone. Everyone else just watched or walked on. I’m not sure what was worse, someone trying to rob me or all the people that were complicit in it. It seemed like the old woman was part of it too. I would have thought it someone tried to rob you, they would at least run off! Even if she had taken something valuable, I’m not sure I would have been able to get it back.
Luckily the zips on my bag were loud and not that easy to open so I had been on to her straight away. My bag had also just been stuffed full with bakery products on top, so she hadn’t been able to get to my wallet at the bottom. When we got back to our hostel, we saw a sign on the wall that said to be weary of groups of well dressed, young women and described exactly what had happened to us!
We had loved our time in Bulgaria, so it was a shame it had to end on such a sour note with one of my worst travel experiences. In saying that, I think things like this from time to time can be good reminders to be on our guard. I have always been aware since then to not let people get in between me and other people I am travelling with like that again.
Waking up in the morning to hear the news that the country I was in had just had a military coup is a very strange experience. It is hard not to think of violence when hearing the words “military coup”, and it was quite scary. It turned out to not be that big a deal, but we did not know that at the time. In fact, we knew very little as all the news stations were turned off. Many people have told me they are jealous that I was there for such a big occasion, but I wonder if they would have been if it had turned out to not be peaceful. It was definitely a bad travel experience.
I had loved loved loved Guatemala on my numerous trips there until our last one.
It felt like everyone was trying to rip us off constantly and it was very trying. The final straw was the last day we were in the country on our way to the Mexico border. Yet again, the chicken bus guy tried to overcharge us and yet again we had to argue to try to pay the right fare. In the end, he refused to lower the price and we refused to pay, so they stopped the bus until we hopped off! It was all quite dramatic and a little bit upsetting that no one stood up for us.
We ended up getting on the next bus that came through and having to pay the fare again. Needless to say, we were happy when we made it into Mexico!
This was the most recent bad travel experience. Some of you will remember that we flew Bangkok – KL – Manila last year and I accidentally booked our night round KL airport for the wrong night – so we turned up and not only did we not have a room but the hotel was fully booked and we had a hard time finding somewhere else that wasn’t booked.
This may not seem like a huge deal but after a long day with a baby and a two year old, driving round in a taxi in the dark to yet another hotel that was full was hugely stressful. It was not one of my finest moments as a travel planner and not one I am likely to forget any time soon. I check any booking x 1000 now (compared to the x 100 I did before this happened!). It was right up there with the other silly mistake I have made – when I booked two seats on a pricey plane trip from French Guiana to Brazil – both in my name instead of one in J’s name!
There you have it – my top ten worst travel experiences. They were all bad and a couple were downright terrifying, but really, given just how much I have travelled, there is really not that much that has gone terribly wrong. I have done a fair bit of travel as a solo young female too. Perhaps something to consider if you are someone who is a bit scared to get out there and see the world 🙂
You can also read some other travel bloggers worst travel experiences.
What was your worst travel experience?
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