Bloggers and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Travel Day

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Anyone who has traveled for any length of time knows that travel is definitely NOT unicorns and rainbows all the time. Sure, it's fun and life-changing and can be amazing. But, as with any situation where complete control is out of your hands, things can easily go wrong when it comes to travel.

Whether it's canceled flights, bad weather, sickness, scams, or something much worse, bad travel days are inevitable the more often you travel.

In honor of the release of my friend Lauren Juliff's book about travel mishaps (called “How Not to Travel the World“), I asked a bunch of travel bloggers to talk about some of their WORST travel days and experiences on the road.

Bad Travel Days

Oh, and one of MY worst travel days? Probably the day I almost died in Iceland. But this post isn't about me. Check out all these other unfortunate stories!

Volcano Violence

Jeremy from Travel Freak

It was a beautiful morning in Quito, Ecuador when I decided to hike the Pichincha Volcano. This 15,000-foot monstrosity, most notably known as an acclimatization hike, would take the majority of the day, but with good weather on hand, I would be able to take my time and fully appreciate the wondrous landscape.

In typical fashion, I was running later than expected. I should have gotten a start at around 8am, but instead it was 10 by the time I finally began my ascent. What I didn’t realize is that, at this altitude, and in this particular region, weather conditions can change in the blink of an eye.

I was nearly to the summit when it happened: thick pellets of hail began to stream from the sky. A thick fog enveloped the entire volcano, and I couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of me. The rain was intense, and huge strokes of lightning cracked through the bleak, dark sky.

Being within 30 minutes from completing the hike, I vowed to finish, no matter the weather conditions. But I just couldn’t shake the thought of the headlines:“American Tourist Struck by Lightning During Massive Hailstorm on the Side of a Volcano in Ecuador.” And what’s more, I was still going to have to climb down!

I returned only mildly injured, with a few scrapes and bruises, and covered in mud. I was soaked head to toe, and had received a veritable beating from the ice bullets. And since my camera died at the summit, I only had moderate proof of my experience that day. But the story still remains! (Click here to read the full story)

Gun Fights and Drug Busts

Heather from Conversant Traveller

Aftermath of the gun fight at Sani Pass

Maybe it was because the birds had stopped singing. Maybe it was because we were alone in no-man’s land. Or maybe it was the gunshots ricocheting off the valley walls that told us something was wrong up ahead. Hubbie and I were tackling the notorious Sani Pass between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. A road famed for its dramatic hairpins, we’d planned for plunging drops and treacherous weather, not bad guys and shoot-em-ups!

Skidding to a halt, our driver raised his substantial eyebrows in question. Did we want to venture on? It was a long way back to the border, and there were a couple of quad bikes with our names on at the top, so really we had no option but to continue. Besides, we wanted to know what was going on.

After the exchange of fire had ceased, we inched cautiously around the corner and I slid down into the foot well, wishing I’d packed spare underpants.

A lone policeman was standing in a cloud of lingering gun smoke beside an abandoned vehicle, his weapon trained at a pleading figure on the ground who was watching his accomplices flee the scene. Curiosity soon got the better of hubbie, who jumped out to assist the poor cop who had apparently forgotten his handcuffs. I played the girl card and stayed safe in my foot well. Had he taken leave of his senses? The bushes beside the road rustled and I felt sure the bad guys were there, ready to pick us off, one by one.

It turned out to be a couple of bemused goats!

In lieu of proper restraints, our driver sat on the captive until backup arrived, whilst hubbie went to examine the truck. The cocaine inside would have fetched millions, but the drug smuggler who had the misfortune to be caught was just the driver. A guy simply trying to feed his family with the small cut he would have made, and I couldn’t help but have some sympathy for him despite the crime.

We eventually continued our journey, both shaken and stirred, and I really could’ve done with those spare pants!

A Kitty Scorned

Laurel Robbins from Monkeys and Mountains

Barcelona Cathedral

My flight into Barcelona was supposed to arrive at 12:30 am, but instead it arrived at 2:30 am. I was tired and cranky and eager to get to my hotel. As I picked up my bag from the baggage carousel, I noticed that it was wet. Damn airline, can’t even keep my bag dry, I mumbled to myself as I hopped in a cab to my hotel.

As I started unpacking, I noticed a smell, then realized it wasn’t just my suitcase that was wet, but that it was all my clothes too. It slowly dawned on me that this wasn’t the fault of a careless airline. but the work of a spurned cat that was giving me a clear sign that he was not happy that I was leaving him! Yep, my cat peed inside my suitcase, over all my clothes!

At 3:00 am I proceeded to hand wash my clothes in a tiny hotel sink using a combination of hotel soap and shampoo. For the record, it’s not very effective! The next morning I met my tour group in slightly damp clothes with a still faint smell of cat urine which I vainly attempted to cover by over perfuming myself!

Plummeting Plane

Rachel Elizabeth from Blond Wayfarer

The Smurfs danced on the screen in front of me. I remember choosing the Smurfs, because this older Boeing had seven in-flight entertainment channels.

As my eyelids drooped, my butt flew inches from my seat. I grabbed the armrests. If I hadn't been strapped in, the flight crew would've had to peel me off the ceiling.

Next to me, my mom gasped in disgust. Spilled wine stained her shirt. Her bottle struck the floor. Above her, overhead compartments flung open. My stomach churned as the plane plummeted again. The neverending falling sensation caused unfamiliar panic to rise inside my chest.

Then the dreaded announcement came:

“Cabin crew return to your seats.”

Flight attendants buzzed in the aisles. “And to think it's gonna get worse,” I overheard one of them not so subtly whisper.

“I'm stupid for traveling. Never again,” I thought, my mouth now dryer than paper.

Lights flickered. A passenger screamed. I closed my eyes, anticipating the next drop.

All was quiet a grueling fifteen minutes later.

After we arrived in London, the pilot apologized for the unexpected rough air, and admitted it was the worst he'd flown through in ages.

My flying fear hasn't gone away three years later.

A Bad, Bloody Day

Amber from With Husband in Tow

Looking for Signs 1

After a miserable press trip to an island that will remain nameless and an 11 hour bus ride, we were fried. We were living on nearby Bali and were trying to make a decision on whether to change our flight home, or to try to make the most of our time away by sticking it out the two nights we had left. We made the decision to stick it out and found a cheap room on points at the Sheraton. At the time, a lot of personal stuff had been going on, and we were making some big changes. I thought we could use the few days of resort living to smooth things out.

Part of the “let's make the most of a bad trip” involved making our way into the warm water from our comfy lounge chairs. Eric got a head start and was floating in the water as I made my way in. The sandy bottom quickly gave way to the sharpest coral on the earth, in some very shallow water. Eric realized where he was and tried to stand up to wave me off.

When he waved me off, though, off came his wedding ring. Immediately I tried to join him so we could try to find the ring. But it was a lost cause. The coral was deep and sharp. We tried to feel around with our hands, while the tiny waves kept making us lose our balance. After a few minutes, we knew it was no use.

We carefully walked back out and realized what had happened. We were bloody from the coral – my knuckles and hands, feet, and knees. It was a mess. The security guards were helpful, at least. They helped me clean my wounds, reported the incident, and helped to look for the ring on the beach.

When we were firmly out of danger, and with bactine on our wounds, I sat down on the lounge chair and cried. I was not all that sad about the ring, per se. After all, we expected Eric would lose it in the first year, and instead he lasted 13 years with it. That alone was an accomplishment. It was just a sign to us when we were trying to make some big decisions about living in Bali, about friendships unraveling. This was the last straw. It was certainly a sign, and one of our recent bad travel days. (Read more here.)

Not As-Advertised

Becky from The Girl and Globe

vangvieng

After a few weeks of mentally exhausting travel, I set off on an overnight tour known as the Vang Vieng Challenge looking for some fun. With two days of nonstop activities like hiking, abseiling, ziplining, camping, and a via ferrata (assisted rock climbing), I thought I was in for a treat. I love the outdoors and physical adventure and this one was jam-packed with excitement! Unfortunately, the experience was nothing like the description.

We bushwhacked through overgrown trails, tackling mud slides and leeches as we went. Trees sprung up out of nowhere in the middle of our zipline course and falling rocks were common while climbing on the via ferrata. In short, nothing went right. The appetizer to our dinner – fried maggots – was one of the best parts of the trip, which says a lot about the tour.

This trip was supposed to be nonstop thrill and instead it was one hour of fun buried under thirty hours of frustration. But, hey, you can’t win them all.

Malaria Surprise

Melissa Shearer from The Mellyboo Project

When most people think of spending 3 nights in a beach hut on the shores of Lake Malawi in the famed Kandi Beach area, you would think it would be wonderful and that nothing could possibly go wrong. That’s what I thought… and then I came down with malaria. I woke up a few short hours after falling asleep to waves of severe nausea, hot and cold sweats, and general achiness. After several attempts at trying to vomit to make myself feel better, I finally managed to make a complete mess of the bathroom – at about 4am.

I found myself sleeping for the entire 9-hour truck ride from Kande Beach to Lilongwe, only to find my tour guides shipping me off to a private clinic in a taxi (that they had arranged and negotiated the price for), getting the news of my malaria diagnosis (and a number of bottles of pills), followed by getting extorted by the taxi driver – resulting in me having to pay nearly double the negotiated price!

And to top it all off, I’d been guaranteed by my tour guides that the campsite in Lilongwe had strong internet – good enough to Skype – only for me to arrive and find out the network was down and the Skype date I had arranged with my boyfriend 6 days prior was not going to happen. Cue the tears!

An Awful First Day

Stephen from A Backpacker's Tale

Piazza Navona

The first day I ever traveled solo became an extremely bad travel day. I landed in Rome, my head buzzing with all the possibilities of traveling in Europe for the next two months. Little did I know, my excitement was going to be short lived.

I walked up to the ATM to get some cash and entered my pin. I stood waiting to get my cash. One minute went by, then another. After about five minutes and still no cash, panic set in and I knew I was in trouble.

I walked to another ATM and shakily inserted my card. After a moment a message appeared on the screen, “You have withdrawn your daily limit.”

I quickly exchanged what little cash I had, grabbed a cup of coffee to shake off the jet lag, and thought about my next move. I decided to grab a phone card and call my bank directly. I went through three phone cards before I found one that worked.

The bank representative tried to convince me that I had indeed withdrew money. In turn I tried to convince him that I most certainly had not and if they didn’t fix this I would spending the next 24 hours roaming the airport. They wished me well in my airport wanderings but left me penniless.

However, due to the kindness of strangers, this bad travel day worked out nicely in the end.

Camera Boo-Boo

Nat from A Cook Not Mad

In 2012 we took off on a great train trip through Europe. One of our stops was Colmar, a real fairy tale town. Walking through town one night, we came upon a traditional dance troupe putting on a show. People were standing all around, and I was in the front, camera at the ready, when I heard something click. And as I brought the camera up to my face, my brand new wide angle lens came away from the camera and plummeted to the ground. This all happened in slow motion of course, and as I watched it happen I let out a screech, the crowd staring at me at this point gave me a look of empathy. I picked up the lens and we scurried to the hotel. The glass wasn’t broken but the attaching mechanism was badly damaged.

This story does have somewhat of a happy ending. Arriving at our next stop, Munich, after several beers, Tim got the courage to try and fix the lens and did a wonderful job. It’s still not 100% but it’s functional.

Stomach Rebellion

Sadie from Eclectic Trekker

Sadie

I recently signed up to volunteer on a small island where the living conditions were rustic to say the least. On my third day there, my stomach decided to turn on me and called on a mass evacuation of my insides. It’s not nice when you have a proper toilet, but it’s even worse when you are using an outdoor toilet with a sheet door and tarp walls. Oh and there could be giant centipedes and huntsman spiders in there at any moment!

At night, there wasn’t any electricity, so you needed to wear a head torch in order to navigate. Of course I forgot mine when I had to make about the 10th mad dash to the toilet. On the way there, I stubbed my toe on a protruding root and ripped the tip wide open.

I was fine at first until the blood loss hit me. I broke out in a cold sweat and became very lightheaded. Then my stomach thought this would be a great time to release itself AGAIN!

I had to be helped to the toilet since my legs were too weak to hold myself up, AND someone had to stand outside and make sure I didn’t pass out. So embarrassing!

Guarded Gates

Neysha from Travelsuras

I lived in Panama when I was young, and over the years I’ve gone back to visit old friends. One summer I spent three weeks hanging out in the city with two of my girlfriends.

One of the few nights we decided to hit the town, one of the girls (the only one who still lived in Panama) decided to leave early. No problem, we thought; we could take care of ourselves. Until we found it nearly impossible to find a taxi to take us back to Fort Clayton (the old military base turned residential zone). Once we finally did, the shady guard at the front gate stopped us. He insisted we step out because we didn’t have our passports. The driver looked back us, noting that we were two oblivious young girls. After exchanging a few words with the guard, he hit the gas so hard it took our breath away. I’m not sure what the guard would have done if we had gotten out of the taxi, but I can’t imagine it would have been anything good. We made it to my friend’s house safe and sound, but I’ll never take that risk again.

A Long, Long Walk

Caitlin from A Girl Abroad

Caitlin

We'd just finished a few days in Capacobana in Bolivia, and were preparing ourselves to explore the Uros Islands in Peru. This meant a little border crossing and a short bus ride into Puno.

We left our hostel early one morning to a warning from the owner that the roads were closed while an industrial dispute took place. Thinking she was just trying to keep my group of 8 at the hostel an extra night, we decided to take our chances and headed out.

When we arrived in Illave, we discovered the main road (the only road) through the town had been covered with all sorts of rubbish from tyres, barbed wire and even entirely destroyed vehicles. Not a single car was capable of passing through. We had to walk.

Walking across the town took us about 2 hours.

My group and I love a good hike though, so didn't find that to be an issue.

What caused the real pain for us was the diarrhea.

It's a very unpleasant experience having to walk for 2 hours, carrying all your gear, and constantly feeling the need to rush to a toilet, even for those of us who hadn't caught the bug yet!

Brussels Biking Disaster

Alexandra from International Spooning

They told us not to go. “Steer clear of Brussels; it’s big, not very nice, and it’s horrible for biking.” We had every intention of heeding the advice of many, but the Beer Mecca of Cantillon was lulling us in too sweetly, like the Sirens who lured sailors to their doom.

The day started off pleasant enough – in fact, it was great. We had secretly been led to a Belgian chocolate dream filled with free tasters. But, when we got to the city, things took a turn for the worse.

As we cycled into Brussels, the bike lanes disappeared. On a narrow street, I pulled over to let a van go by but my shoe got stuck and I fell over. The street was busy and everyone stopped to see if I was okay. I would have cried from the pain if it wasn’t for all of the attention. A French-speaking Belgian woman pulled me into her apartment and doctored me. Neither of us shared a language, but I was overwhelmed by her kindness. I set off with wary but renewed hope.

Later we tried to navigate a very busy street and thought the sidewalk would be better. As I got onto the sidewalk, though, my bike slipped and I fell over again. My bandaging from earlier protected any new scrapes, but twice in one day was too much. I spent the next half-hour crying on the sidewalk. I eventually got back up. The next day we decided to train out of Brussels instead of riding.

Bad News on a Plane

Bryan from The Wandering Gourmand

Celebrating our first class upgrades after our previous flight was cancelled mid-air due to a plane malfunction.
Celebrating our first class upgrades after our previous flight was cancelled mid-air due to a plane malfunction.

I was half-asleep as I listened to my audiobook. Through a haze of knowledge by osmosis, something didn’t feel right. I leaned towards my wife and whispered, “I think the plane is turning around.”

“No,” she said. “I’ve been on a plane that had to turn around before, and we did not turn around.”

I leaned back in my seat only to be nudged by the passenger next to me. “Is it me, or did we just turn around?”

“We just turned around,” I said.

Moments later the captain yelled into the intercom. “Are you listening to me back there?”

The announcement that one of the plane’s engines was running low on oil pressure followed shortly. We were returning to Charlotte to await further news on if we’d make it to St Lucia for the first night of our brief babymoon.

As we approached CLT, the plane started to circle again. The captain came back on and said that the plane was too heavy to land. We were burning fuel until our landing weight was right.

The German pilot across the aisle confirmed that this was bad.

I was no longer concerned about missing the first night of our babymoon. I was concerned about living through the next hour.

After another thirty minutes, the captain announced that we would be landing and it would not be an emergency landing. We ended up arriving in St Lucia a day late, but at least we made it.

A Hawaiian Nightmare

Heather from Adventroverted

My friend and I took a trip to Oahu for six days and it turned into a slight disaster. First, she lost her credit cards before she got on the plane and we had to use my account for everything. Then, I was so tired when I got on the airport shuttle in Hawaii that I hit my head, HARD, on the door of the van. My head was throbbing for days, and on top of that I had the worst cramps of my life.

We also didn’t rent a car, so we took the bus around the island. We were shoved against sweaty, smelly people and almost got run over several times. Not to mention the bus missed our stop several times.

Hanauma Bay was a complete bust, and we wasted a lot of money for water that was impossible to snorkel in and our gear was non-refundable. My phone broke on the North Shore, nothing in our hotel room worked, and Waikiki tourists were the worst.

On top of everything, my friend and I discovered we wanted completely different things and were irritated with each other the whole time.

The Queen of Travel Misadventures

Lauren Juliff from Never-Ending Footsteps

How Not to Travel the World

It was the night before I was due to enter Laos when I ate my first cockroach. Accidentally, of course, because I was drunk.

Little did I know that what I’d assumed would be a fun anecdote to tell friends for years to come instead marked the start of my worst travel experience.

I crossed into Laos the following morning and clambered on to a slow boat; I was going to be riding it down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang over the next two days. On the final morning, I was taking a nap when an elderly Laotian woman died of malaria. I had to spend the next six hours sitting beside her body and listening to the sobs of her grieving husband.

My traumatising experience didn’t end there. After deciding to splash out on some fancy accommodation to recover, I ended up in the guesthouse from hell. First, I was locked out of my room and watched as the owner hacked off the doorknob with a machete. Then, I was locked inside my room because I no longer had a way of opening the door. Several hours later, after somebody finally heard my cries for help, I changed rooms to one that was filled with bugs. It was only available room left in the guesthouse and Luang Prabang has a curfew; this was my only option.

Cockroaches kept running over my face as I tried to sleep, so I ran outside and curled up in a ball on the ground. When two backpackers offered to let me sleep in their room, I was grateful for their generosity and agreed. I must have been out for an hour when I awoke to find one of them sexually assaulting me. I made to escape, only to discover they were staying in my old room: the one without a doorknob.

Somehow, I escaped unscathed, and the following morning, I checked in to one of the most expensive hotels I’ve ever stayed in.


Lauren's “incidents” are plentiful – she really *might* be the unluckiest traveler I know. But, her misfortunes come with a silver lining – she wrote a book about them (along with how travel helped her get over crippling anxiety and learn how to eat scary foods like rice)!

The book is a fun, easy, and funny read, and goes to show that, despite the bad days and misadventures, travel has the power to transform just about anyone.

You can buy How Not to Travel the World here.


And now it's YOUR turn – share one of your worst travel days/experiences in the comments below!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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98 Comments on “Bloggers and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Travel Day

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  1. Its 1982 (pre-internet, no ATMs and no cell phones) and I’ve been backpacking and eurailpass-ing around Europe for two months with a friend. We go to northern France to get a ferry to Ireland to spend a few weeks on the last leg of our trip. We arrive in a small French town and find that the ferry is on strike. There’s no where to sleep but the train station bench. The next day we get a train to the next town over, where there’s supposed to be a ferry. It was cancelled without reason. We slept on the train station bench. The next day we get a train to the next town over (mind you, these towns are a day’s train ride away from each other) and a) there’s no ferry and b) we are out of francs (no such thing as a euro yet) and c) it is a French holiday and the banks are closed – no cashing travelers checks. We were fried and decided it was the end of the journey for us. We got an overnight train from there to Paris (not a sleeper car but sleeping on the train seat was way better than a train station bench). From there we took a train to Brussels, where the cheapest stand-by flights to JFK could be found. A night in the airport and then we were able to fly home. I’ve still never made it to Ireland.

      Ugh, definitely sounds like a nightmare! Hopefully you’ll make it to Ireland one day, though – just maybe not by ferry. 😉

    Wow! This topic has obviously struck a chord with many other travelers by the amount of comments and stories on the post! I know that Tom and I try and post the good before the bad to keep our blog positive, but it is so necessary to have an outlet to vent when these things happen! I know a lot of our non-traveler friends think we shouldn’t complain since we are ‘living the dream’, so this thread seems to be the best place for everyone to get it all out!

      Definitely! I try to keep my blog really positive, too, but every once in a while you do have to talk about the bad, too!

    Being taken by rogue taxi drivers and attempted extortion has to be among the worst experiences for me. I don’t know where my balls of steel came from on that day, but I stared them down, refused to pay, got out of the car, and walked until I got to the border. The guards were surprised to see someone on foot. It was one of the crossings where you’re stamped out of one country and a few kilometers later stamped into a new country

      Wow, that definitely does take some balls!

    Wow, some of those are pretty epic. Is my worst travel day my very first adventure when my backpack went missing, never to be seen again? Or is it when I woke in Australia to a giant rat scurrying across the room? Or is it when I took a 36 HOUR bus journey on a baking hot bus with no air con?

      I think the lost backpack would stress me out the most! (Though those long bus rides are pretty awful too!)

    Great read! I always get so worried that this stuff will happen to me. On my first flight by myself (and I was terrified of flying), I missed my connecting flight because the first flight was delayed due to the pilot being drunk and having to find a new one (I overheard the desk, but they said maintenance issues over the intercom, haha). I had rushed to the airport after college finals, so the whole day was stressful. I knew I was going to be stuck in Chicago overnight. I went up to the attendant desk when I got off the first flight to reschedule, and I don’t know why (still, to this day), but the lady at the desk started screaming, cussing, and going off on me for no reason. I was already so stressed that I broke down crying, and a pilot from a different airline who happened to be on my flight jumped to my defense and started telling her that airlines should never treat people like this. Families came up and hugged me, asking if I was alright (I was 18 and looked 15 at the time). It literally traumatized me. I did not sleep all night and just sat in the airport Not to mention, it took my mom 4 hours on the phone to get me on a flight within the next 24 hours (they were supposedly all full, and when I got on my flight the next day, there were only maybe 5 out of 100 seats full….). And then they lost my luggage. So that was a whirlwind of a first solo flying experience haha

      Oh geez, that sounds awful! 🙁 Nobody deserves to be treated like that!

    I can really relate to the bad in-flight experience story… virtually the same thing happened to me, but to a slight lesser degree from the sounds of it. And with the same result: still trying to get over that! Fortunately I’ve had really great flying experiences ever since (knock on wood), and I think facing my fears by flying more is actually helping…

      I’m glad I don’t have a fear of flying – I can’t imagine doing it if I was terrified of it! Glad to hear yours is getting better though!

    In 2011 I decided to visit Cartagena, Colombia. It truly is a beautiful, but I was hustled on a public beach and not having a good grasp of the currency, I allowed myself to be robbed blind. Then I was accosted as I was walking down one of the historic streets! Men don’t always no their boundaries. It sounds bad and it is bad but it hasn’t stopped me from seeing the world. Brilliant post and thank you for sharing the giveaway! 🙂

      Glad to hear it hasn’t stopped you!

    Thanks for sharing these stories! I have a flight related disaster… This Last year I travelled to the Philippines from my home for the year, South Korea. Travelling to the train station, en route to hopping aboard a train to catch my flight in the capital Seoul that evening, I checked my e-mails. The e-mail address was unknown and the subject mentioned a timetable, ‘why are school messaging me in the holidays?’ I wondered. But curious, I opened it. Luckily curiosity didn’t kill me, instead it saved me from a wasted trip to the capital! My flight was cancelled due to an ‘airplane situation’ no alternative offered, only a cancellation. The only alternative that sprang to mind was sky scanning for another flight. I found one, from the city I was in, Busan, leaving just over two hours from that point. I scrambled back onto the subway in the direction of Busan (Gimhae) International airport. The sky scan wouldn’t book online so I had to go inside. I used the airports free computers, thank you Korea for being so internet-generous, and booked the flight. A cheaper flight, somehow, and printed my details. I was way too cocky at this point, as the check-in desk didn’t have my details. Of course they didn’t, how could they, 10 minutes after I’d processed an online booking? So I checked the details, went to the Air China service desk and asked for help. I saw that I’d have to wait until the office opened, which, time difference allowing, meant I’d have to wait until 5pm (Korea time), around 15 minutes before the gate closed. I waited and waited, I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t stop, I had to keep moving, as though moving and willing everything to be ok would make it so. I ate kimbap as a further distraction and loitered by the desk. 5pm struck and I called. There was an answer! The lady explained they couldn’t process the flight until they were open but that she could do it immediately, phew, thank you, phew. I waited a few minutes, the Air China desk guy had to kindly print out my itinerary, what a champ. Then with no sign of the previous smug look, I walked over to the check-in desk and hoped they might have me in the system. Yes, you’re in. I was in, so was my baggage, I made it.
    The same trip, on my return flight from Manila, I was so tired/hungover (definitely self-inflicted) and really sad (due to personal circumstances) that I faffed around in the airport and neglected organising myself. I had my nails painted with just over an hour until my flight was leaving. Then panicked that I’d lost my ticket. Found it. Then remembered the Philippines charge a departure tax, my cash amounted to 0 PHP. I questioned the security guy – can I pay by card? No, he replied. I suspsected he hadn’t understood my panicked babble, but went off to the card machine anyway. Which didn’t accept either of my cards. I ran back, nearly in tears, pleading to pay by card. Which I did. Stamped and through, yet it was too late. The plane was 10 minutes away from the departure time but closed. The doors were sealed and ready to deliver the passengers, me not being one of them. The attendant had no sympathy, I believe she searched around the departure lounge for me. I understood. I got it. I left and went off to book another new flight. (In contrast, the missed flight lead me to spend time with an impeccably polite guy on the information desk who helped me to find the best flight, with his iPad.) This then sent me to a new city, en route to Busan, for a night’s sleep, I e-mailed my best friend in England as I was terrified of arriving there alone, but luckily found a hotel deal from the airport, I was annoyed with myself for taking the easy option but I also forced myself in exhaustion to not care too much). Thank you for offering the competition and providing a platform for everyone’s stories!

      Oh man, two flight nightmares in one trip! That’s rough!

    Loved reading these stories! Luckily I haven’t anything too crazy or bad happen to me on my travels.. well at least not yet, anyways!

      Knock on wood, right? But these definitely show that the bad days make great stories later! 😉

    Very nice read!
    Alas! When you travel long and hard, mishaps are bound to happen LOL! My blog is not even 2 years old but I’ve been travelling since BEFORE I went to university and did my GAP year!

    I’ve fallen off the ski-lift whilst on the black ski run in the Czech Republic even though at the time I was only a blue skier!

    I arrived at 3 a.m. for my “executive deluxe” room that I had already paid for in Delhi, only to be told to “go to the other hotel across the street” at the dead of night.
    Needless to say. I didn’t!

    I arrived at the only hostel on the Isle of Skye (at the time) to be told that the only private room they had, that I had reserved (‘cos of my son), was “no longer available” and we had to sleep in the managers’ office!

    I was mugged by a bunch of children in Egypt and I had to ask a local stall-holder that I had bought something from previously, to lend me some money to get a taxi back to my hotel. My hotel keys, suitcase keys and purse were stolen so we had to break open the lock of my suitcase! The list could go on.
    p.s. I paid him back the next day!

    I have been pretty lucky with not to horrible travel days or experiences. Having all my day trips canceled due to weather and lack of signed up participants is always a huge disappointment!

      Aww yeah that always stinks! And bad weather of course can’t be controlled, but it certainly can ruin a day!

    These events always get me chewing on ideas: do we experience worst travel days or perhaps worst travel moments? Or do we perceive less-than-awesomeness because an aggregated string of events culminated in shitting our pants (or cats pissing in our luggage haha)?

    It seems that a broad spectrum of our travel experiences could swing in either the awesome or less-than-awesome direction almost arbitrarily: one day the experience is an adventure and the next it’s super uncomfy.

    We might all agree though that these bad—read: unexpected?—travel days/moments offer some of the most meaningful moments of our lives…moments etched into our characters, steeped in problem-solving, and fodder for some really fun story-telling (and book publishing!).

    These moments are often the inspiration for subsequent trips and arguments to drag our our friends out of the cubicle to join us for the unexpected…

    …or maybe they do just really suck. 🙂

      I think it probably depends on the person! In many cases, you can laugh these experiences off and they turn into great stories later. But, as they’re happening, they certainly seem to be the worst.

    Great reading the stories. Likely my scariest experience was getting hepatitis A in India in the 1980’s when traveling alone. Didn’t know what was wrong at first, high fevers,uable to keep anything down, fainted and hit my head on concrete. Went to a doctor and my eyes were yellow and liver so tender the MD couldn’t press on it. Took me month to get strong enough to travel. The Tibetan medicine worked great, but being alone and so ill was very scary!

      I can’t even imagine how scary that would be! Especially in the days before cell phones and the Internet – I’m sure your family back home was worried, too!

    In Peru I was on a bus and witnessed a violent car jacking right next to me. Even though it didn’t happen directly to me, and the driver was ok, it was still super scary to see, and made me waaaaaay more cautious about everything and I spent the rest of that trip paranoid. But I still love Peru and would go back again!

      Hooooly crap, that would be so scary!!

    Oh, feel ya! It’s definitely not only rainbows, glitter and butterflies all the way… I once got food poisoning while being on a date with a local hunk – but that’s NOTHING next to these stories!

      Food poisoning is still awful, though! I’ve definitely been there, too – though never while on a date! Eek!

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