Travel stories: the bad and the ugly

While most people travel in hopes of finding enlightenment, discovering new cultures, meeting like-minded people, or even just for the sake of drinking copious amounts of alcohol, most travelers know that life isn’t always an endless party on the road.

The longer the time spent on the road, some travel experiences might start to resemble something out of a bad horror movie – the missed flight, food poisoning, running out of money, discovering that your hostel dorm mate is actually a serial killer, etc.

Fortunately, the best parts of travel far out-weight the bad, and by the time you’re home, most travel horror stories are simply reduced to an entertaining tale you tell to some random guy you’ve just met at a party after indulging in too many drinks. Luckily my travel “horror” stories are pretty minimal. Here’s a few of my most memorable experiences below. What is your worst experience travelling abroad?

Beijing, China
At least I think it was in Beijing…this happened while I took a taxi into the city. It was raining so much the streets were flooded and of course there was a huge traffic jam. The opposing lane had very little cars since not much people were heading out of the city, so my driver after much frustration in the non- moving lane, steered the car into the opposing lane, and drove exceedingly fast down the wrong lane as incoming cars honked and swerved. At the time I was completely freaked out but now that I think of it, if taxi drivers drove like that in New York City and everyone is actually able to get to work in time, they would be making some crazy tips. Lesson learned: never take a taxi in China.

Cairns, Australia
I stayed at this really sketchy hostel during the night of the Germany vs England world cup match. Of course I was cheering for Germany, but had to keep my favouring country a secret as the hostel was divided to about 98% Brits, 2% Germans. After the game in which Germany won 4-1, tensions mounted, and the Brits started shouting insults at the German guys, calling them Nazis, and making war references such as “You may have won that game, but we won the war. TWICE.” This one German guy then grabs this girl’s England flag and starts to burn it with his lighter, only to have three huge Brits run over and tackled him to the ground. Shirts were being torn, and blood started spilling until security came and broke up the fight.

And let’s not forget the bugs on the floor of the hostel, and the creepy old man in my dorm room. I stayed up all night, and left that hostel asap. Luckily my friends came up to Cairns the next day, and we all checked into a much nicer hostel. Although I have to admit, that did make for an interesting story. Lesson learned: don’t stay at hostels named after a mental institution.

Brisbane, Australia
I went to a backpacker’s bar with my Irish friend and we noticed a full pitcher of beer on an empty table. There was nowhere else to sit so we ended up sitting there after getting a few drinks. My friend decided that no alcohol should go wasted and decided to take a sip of the beer in the pitcher, despite my protests. A few minutes later, some sketchy guys came over and tried to hit on us, in which we pretended we were a lesbian couple and ran out of the bar. My friend later tells me that she didn’t really feel well so we ended up going to a much nicer bar with a much better crowd (where ironically I met my then future boyfriend). To this day, I’m positive that that pitcher of beer was spiked. Lesson learned: pretty self explanatory, don’t you think?

Paris, France

At the Charles de Gulle airport for my flight back to Canada, the airport made their departure announcements in both French and English. Only, the English the girl spoke over the announcement was so indistinguishable, I think I understood the French better than the ” English.” I was completely oblivious of what they were saying until last minute, another person took over making announcements, and I heard the words “last boarding call,” ” Toronto,” and “gate 5.”

I ran for my life over to the gate and showed the guy my ticket, causing him to look panic stricken. He said something into his pager, and a few seconds later, about ten airport staff members surrounded me, speaking worriedly in rapid French (none that I understood). This continued for about fifteen minutes much to my confusion, until finally a small car drove over to the gate, everyone directing me to get on, and drove me to the front of the airplane, where I had to quickly run up the stairs of the plane. I think I’m probably banned from the CDG airport now. Lesson learned: never fly into French speaking countries.

* note: at CDG, there’s no tunnel that goes from the gate directly on to the plane because the airport has only one floor. Instead, a shuttle bus (which I missed) takes you from the gate to the airplane.

image source: ibiblio.org

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15 Comments

  1. September 7, 2011 / 10:58 am

    Wow, those are some interesting stories there! Nothing like traveling and seeing it all. I mean all. 🙂 Pretty cool!

  2. September 7, 2011 / 12:37 pm

    love reading about your experiences in those places.

  3. September 8, 2011 / 2:59 pm

    I can't believe they worked so hard to get you on that plane in Paris! =P

    Our worst travel story is from our year driving around the U.S. in a motorhome. I wrote a post about it (http://technosyncratic.com/2011/02/09/rv-disaster/) and used that same photo you did!

    Basically we had a black tank (you know… excrement) issue, which led to liquid feces flowing down the top of our RV. It was awful. So very, very, awful.

  4. September 8, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    ahahah, really love having travel stories to tell and love to hear them. Pretty good ones you have here.
    I mainly have stories about cancelled flights and spending nights in the airport, the usual…lol
    Love the new blog look BTW. 🙂

  5. September 9, 2011 / 3:01 pm

    Wow! great stories.

    It's the curse of the Irish i swear. We see beer just sitting there, not a friend in sight… and our hearts just go out to it. We are compelled to comfort lonely alcohol.

    🙂

  6. September 10, 2011 / 1:14 am

    HHHMMMmmm… two of your four stories happened in OZ?? What are you trying to say??!!

  7. September 10, 2011 / 4:46 am

    wow..you've definitely had quite an experience. I'm very intrigued with that mental institution hostel. How football can change a man!

  8. September 11, 2011 / 12:20 am

    Haha, it just means Australia is the most interesting country I've been to! 🙂

    And yes, in some European countries, arent there family rivalry over football teams? And how it's unacceptable to marry someone who doesnt support the same team as you? Crazy stuff

  9. September 12, 2011 / 6:51 am

    Life is about bad things as well. Something bad happens always when you travel, it wouldn't be fun otherwise 😀

  10. October 3, 2011 / 8:39 pm

    Agree with the comment above-it just wouldn't be fun or interesting otherwise! It's bad while it's happening and fun when you retell it!

  11. February 7, 2012 / 9:23 pm

    These kind of experiences are part of the one big adventure of life. Just remember that after all that hell, they will just add to the stories that you tell.

  12. Jeff
    April 16, 2015 / 11:04 am

    Albuquerque, NM is not a safe place to visit.

    I would strongly warn anyone that you will get victimized if you visit Albuquerque, NM.

    We were on vacation there. Our car was broken into at Petroglyph Park in Albuquerque, NM.

    The guard still wasn’t telling anyone we were robbed?
    The guard had 10 cars to manage in an are the size of a high school track to manage and could tell the police officer who was in his park.
    There are no cameras
    There are no Obvious signs stating we could be victimized
    There are no signs that is this Area is NOT under the jurisdiction of the US Park Service
    There are no gates to control access
    The window to the Exit is blocked
    We reported the incident to the US Park Service office and to the Open Spaces office.
    We left our business card for contact information.
    No one contacted us.
    No one offered to help us.

    US Park Service, Open Spaces and Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and Albuquerque government are in denial about the problem and at a loss as to how to fix it.
    They are focused on how to find the perpetrators, not how to prevent it from happening to someone else.

    If you visit Albuquerque you will be victimized and no one will offer assistance.

  13. August 24, 2015 / 3:31 pm

    Michelle, some really interesting stories you had!
    I’ve just put some of my bad experiences into a post, check it out, if you get a chance 🙂
    Cheers and safe travels,
    N.

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