If you have had your fair share of globetrotting experiences, then you may be well-accustomed to an unexpected change in your travels. Sometimes, bad things happen, even if you were well-prepared before the trip. You could become ill, your airline might lose your luggage, you could get lost, and more.
When you’re on vacation, you have to live in the moment. You can’t always plan everything. You’re in a new place and you don’t know where you are at all times. For the experienced travelers, they are used to the suspense and thrill. Amateur travelers, on the other hand, panic and don’t know what to do.
You’re not alone. Many experience horrible travel situations. These are only 35 of the most insane experiences. Can you believe these happened?
36. Better Late Than Never Seen Again
I was in Guangzhou, China at a trade fair and at the end of the day I was SO tired plus I was jet lagged and just wanted to go to my hotel room and sleep.
There was a line for the Taxis (think of Disney attraction lines, like velvet ropes that zigzag through a hall) and there were like 200 people in line. I didn’t wanna stand in line for an hour so I walked towards the metro station (it was like a 45 min metro ride to my hotel) and then some guy walks beside me, looks both ways and says to me “private taxi?” And I was like “yes please” guy told me “wait here” took my briefcase, left and then came back in a brand new Honda Accord, I hopped in the back and off we went.
Like three blocks from there we stopped at a red light and suddenly some guy opens the passenger door, jumps in, and takes the key off the ignition, another guy opens the driver’s door grabs this dude by the shirt collar drags him out of the car a throws him on the ground, and the first guy (the guy with the key) goes around and turns on the car locks the doors and drives away with me in the back..
I was 1000% sure I was being kidnapped. In China of all places. My heart beating at like 250 bpm. We drove in silence for like 5 mins and it felt like an hour. Then he turns at a dead end street, pulls over, turns around, looks at me, reaches for his pocket.. and whips out a badge.
He was an undercover policeman. And there was a sting to catch illegal taxis. Which ironically often kidnapped to tourists. Dude takes out a video camera a makes me tell him how everything went down, how much I paid him etc. So in some courtroom in China there was a video of me testifying against some dude that probably went to jail thanks to me.
The policeman then went to the street waved at a taxi with his badge out and put me in the cab and told me never to take anything other than the cars that were painted like this.
35. Slick Border Crossing
We were crossing the border from Malaysia to Thailand over a bridge. As we were making our way across no man’s land, this local looking guy ran out of nowhere in his underpants chased by 2 guys. He got to the Malaysian side and a soldier put his hand up to say he couldn’t go through. He did a U turn, dodged the 2 guys chasing him and ran to the Thai side. Again, a soldier put up his hand to stop him. He did another U turn, dodged the guys, tried to jump on a scooter, but as he was taking off, they pulled him off the scooter. He got away from them again, but was stuck on the bridge with no way out.
We got to the Thai side, checked into Thailand and to this day, still wonder how the hell he ended up almost naked, in no man’s land, with 2 pissed off guys chasing after him.
34. The Cop Was Also Trying To Rob Him
Was in Cambodia when a group of men tried to mug me. Spotted a police officer very close by. I look at him for help and he proceeds to also demand my money.
At the time it was a bit of a prickly situation but today it makes me laugh just thinking about how I felt when I finally understood the cop was also trying to rob me.
33. They Were Lost In Translation
Wife and I dined out in a remote town in Italy. Wife decided to take a shortcut out of the parking lot and ended up in a ditch. The only chef and waiter came out to help. Chef ended up twisting their ankle badly. The waiter brought his car and tied a rope to mine to pull it out. His bumper ripped off. All the while we were communicating through gestures because I didn’t speak Italian or they English.
32. They Thought He Was A Spy
I was in Berlin when it was a divided city. To go from West Berlin to East Berlin I, as a US citizen, went through Checkpoint Charlie. Some friends and I were meeting in East Berlin for dinner one night. We were traveling separately. The thing to realize is that once you were on East Berlin soil, you were on your own. If there were any problems, I was told to seek help from the Russian occupiers. (The Cold War was still real, so this was just surreal) We were to have limited to no contact with the East German military or police. So, I get through Checkpoint Charlie and walk into East German soil. I stopped at their checkpoint— it was like a little horse stall where you stood and had the East German military look at your passport. I handed it over. He looked at it, said something in German. I said I didn’t speak German. He began accusing me of being a spy. I was escorted out of the “stall” and into a very plain holding room with a bench running the length of the room. That’s all that was there. I remained standing. It was January and really cold. I wondered what my friends would do when I didn’t show up as planned.
About 30 minutes later, two soldiers came into the room, handed me my passport, and let me go.
I drank a lot that night.
31. They Dodged A Bullet
My family and I were taking a 16 day trip across Europe a few years ago. We were supposed to get on the 11 AM train to Paris from Munich that morning, but we all had gotten up early and decided to take the 9 AM train instead. Found out later there was an incident with an armed gunman on the train we were initially planning on taking.
30. Forced To Walk A Long Way
When I was 18, I went traveling around Europe by myself. One of the things I wanted to do was visit the beaches at Normandy and because I love Band of Brothers, I decided to stay in Carentan. While I was there I got a train/bus to the American military cemetery and spent a few hours there and at Omaha beach and then went back to catch my bus. I somehow managed to miss the last bus by about ten minutes and with it being a Sunday everything was closed early. So I was stuck in Normandy 20ish miles from my hotel and my phone battery was nearly dead, so I had to make a decision between trying to find an English speaking taxi firm or to use it for maps. My stupid 18-year-old self decided it’d be better to walk it: six hours and a few sketchy looking French villages later, I got back to my room and stuck my mouth under the tap in my bathroom because, to top it all off, I had no food or water with me at the time.
29. They Had No Idea What Was Going On
I was near Oxford Circus in London on Black Friday last year, waiting out in the front of a shop for my friend when people started running out of the underground screaming and shouting. Next second, police cars come flying onto the scene. I ran back into the shop where my friend was. The security closed and locked the doors but we could still hear a lot of screaming and shouting. I was standing off to the side when someone comes running down Oxford street shouting “Get down! Stay down!”. At this point in time, no one has any idea what’s going on and I think everyone assumes the worst— that it’s a terrorist attack on the busiest shopping street in the UK on an incredibly busy day. I hid under a clothing rack for what seemed like an eternity, just waiting. After what was realistically about five minutes, I and everyone else in the shop re-emerge and move to the back of the store.
It turned out to be a fight in the underground that triggered an alarm but having absolutely no idea what was happening and just sitting was terrifying. We were just standing at the back of the store on Twitter trying to find out if it was an attack or just any sliver of information so we knew something.
High on adrenaline, my friend and I then went to Primark, bought cheap pajamas and saw An American in Paris at the theater next door.
28. Good Thing He Was Canadian
About six or so years ago, in Mexico, my grandpa was driving along the highway (not far from Hermosillo) and was pulled over. His truck was suddenly surrounded by heavily-armed men yelling at him to get out. He got out of the truck and was pushed to his knees. They started raiding the truck and taking anything they could find. They took his wallet and started throwing all of his pictures of us on the ground and saying he’d never see his family again, that he was going to die. They took the gold chains he was wearing, his family ring, all of his money, even his shoes. Then, while going through his truck, they found his passport. They started yelling (in Spanish) “He’s Canadian! He’s Canadian.” After discovering he’s Canadian, they didn’t shoot him and allowed him to live. They took off in his truck with all of his belongings. He decided to walk to the next town over, and after a few miles, he comes upon a pair of shoes. Brand new, same size as his.
27. Going Down The Wrong Road
My husband and I took a two-month road trip throughout Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany for our honeymoon, a trip made possible by a Garmin GPS. Somewhere in a gorgeous little town in the Loire Valley, France, GPS tells us to turn down “road”. We do, but immediately it looks weird— tree encroaching very close to our little Fiat, and a very tiny asphalt road that gives way to dirt. I voice my concerns and tell him to back up because there was no turning around. He says we are fine and continues. A few seconds later the road narrows further, and crumbles into the river— thank god he was paying attention. We back up, and circle around to find our way via another route. On the parallel street, we end up seeing the terminal end of “road”, which is actually a pedestrian walking path with steps at the end.
26. In The Middle Of Nowhere
Blew a tire 400 miles from home at 10 PM with not enough cash to get a local hotel room. Since this was southern Utah, we had to hope that a tire shop would be open on a Sunday. We ended up sleeping in our car in a parking lot with our twins.
25. An Exhausting Trip While Having The Flu
Plane to west coast Costa Rica was two hours late. Made it to the bus station on time the next morning but they sold out of the 10 AM tickets. Had to wait in blazing hot sun for the 12 PM tickets. Took six hours to get to central Costa Rica in a poorly ventilated loud bus that was impossible to nap on. Missed the last bus to get to the east coast by an hour. Scrambled everywhere to find a hostel or place to stay and had no luck. Ended up finding a taxi driver willing to drive us five hours to the east coast for $300 USD. All while having the flu and running off of five hours of sleep.
24. She Was Being Watched
I stayed in a mixed hostel dorm in Washington DC (I’m a woman) and woke up early in the morning feeling watched. I looked across the room and saw a dude on a top bunk sitting up and staring at me. He was sitting on his bedding which looked like it hadn’t even been slept in. When he saw me look, he smiled and waved. He didn’t drop the stare.
I turned away, pretended to go back to sleep, then turned back quickly and he was still staring. It was about 6 AM and everyone else was asleep.
I got up to get an early breakfast as I didn’t fancy getting murdered. Managed to switch rooms once the front desk opened.
23. He Played Too Hard
I traveled around Palestine for a few weeks and was staying with a family in the Nablus area. It was a pretty typical poor village in the West Bank. They had a single basketball “court” with a single basketball hoop. If you’re American, think of the type of hoop you’d see in rural Indiana. Just really beat up. I was playing basketball with some locals, and on one particular play, I was just wide open and instincts kicked in. I took off and one hand tomahawked the ball as hard as I could. I ripped the rim completely off the backboard. Everyone just stopped and looked at how I completely destroyed one of their only sources of entertainment. I had like 20 sets of eyes just glaring at me. I felt awful, but everyone was extremely nice about it even though I knew they hated me for it. I’ve never felt that level of embarrassing sadness since.
22. Queue Dueling Banjos
Getting followed by a farmer wielding a machete in Nosy Be, Madagascar, while trying to find and bathe in a rural waterfall. He showed us the waterfall but stayed with us while staring at us and sharpening his tool. We were so creeped out that we left after ten minutes and he followed us back up the hill. We darted to our ATV and left as fast as we could.
21. All Alone At The Train Station
I traveled somewhere on the train to see a crush (I was 14 years old) and the train journey took awhile.
I finally ended up being at his at 6 PM. He walked me back to the train station and left. Then, I was told by the attendant there were no more trains going and I should look for a bed and breakfast.
I ran and ran and tried to remember where my crush stayed, I was crying, my family was leaving for Hong Kong in the morning and I was a three-hour drive away from home.
I don’t know how but my crush ended up finding me, he said he found out the trains weren’t running that late into the night, and he called his dad to pick me up and drive me back home.
Pretty sure I peed myself crying a little, too.
20. They Thought She Was A Terrorist
Coming back from Italy last summer with my parents the week there was a terrorist attack in Spain and there was a manhunt for a woman with brunette hair and an average build. Pretty much the security seemed really lenient for most of the people going through customs. However, the description of the terrorist on the run basically described every single female in the airport and my mom had to stand in a line with a ton of middle-aged brunette females, for what felt like hours. Eventually, as all the males were already on the planes that were delayed, the women filtered in one by one after passing customs. My mom also caused a scene because she wasn’t having the whole “you look like a terrorist” accusation she was getting from the airport security who were doing their job, drawing more attention to herself and causing an even bigger delay. Fun times.
19. Driving On A Train
I was driving through Switzerland in the Alps when all of a sudden the road just ended. There was this random guy in the middle of nowhere gesturing for me to literally drive onto this train. I had no choice, so I drive up the little ramp and onto the train. So here I am, confused as hell. literally driving on a train. Another worker tells me to stop, and the train starts to move. Instead of building a road through this mountain, you drive onto a train with a bunch of other cars, and it takes you through the mountain. Didn’t know that was even a thing, and neither of the workers I saw spoke any English. Was really freaky, but worked out and is a good story when you look back on it.
18. They Really Wanted The Money
Getting a cab from Senzo Mall in Hurghada, Egypt. I had 80 EGP in my pocket separate from the rest of my money, which is what I paid to get to the mall. Cab driver wanted more and I foolishly pulled out my wallet. Another driver was standing at the passenger door trying to grab my cash while the driver was trying to get my cell phone out of my pocket. I think they managed to grab the 80 EGP but I got out of the cab and went back into the mall.
17. An Unexpected Guest
Camped in the Okavango Delta and had to sit in a mokoro (kayak-like boat) in hippo-infested waters for an hour waiting for a wild elephant to leave our campsite.
16. It Was A Happy Bear
Hiking in Colorado, I came across a black bear. I was too young to know how to handle this situation so we didn’t know what to do. My dad said to stand still, after doing that for two minutes it was still just sitting there staring at us. He eventually told us to just run down and try getting away. Luckily the bear didn’t try following us, but looking back on it I could’ve easily died if the bear wasn’t so nice.
15. Sleeping In A Medieval Town
My friend and I, when traveling from Rome to Barcelona, got stuck in an old medieval French village in the south of France from around 10 PM to 7 AM because we got the wrong train. We ended up having to sleep on a hill next to a fake castle and trebuchet which they must have used for acting out plays, we happened to sleep next to some spiky vegetation that took literally weeks to get rid of completely from our belongings!
14. Visiting A Ghost Town
Traveling across the States we visited a ghost town, I forget where somewhere around Montana (I think). Anyway, we didn’t have a satellite navigation and were reliant on a paper map so we took what we thought was a short road leading to the car park. But, it turned out to be about five miles of dirt road through a Hills Have Eyes looking environment, including huge savage dogs running after our car… when we left the ghost town we took a different exit and ended up straight on the highway.
13. Sick As A Dog While Traveling
Traveling to Singapore via Bangkok, which from the UK, meant a thirteen-hour flight a two-hour wait then another three-hour flight. I got travel sick nine hours in and couldn’t stop. That was the first time it ever happened and ever since. At exactly the nine-hour mark, I’m gone and it doesn’t matter what I try.
12. They Didn’t Arrive At The Same Time
My high school marching band freshman year went to Hawaii over the summer for a parade (not paid by the school or anything). The band was split up onto three separate flights: two going through Denver, one through Chicago, all on United. The flight landed in Chicago and their connector to Hawaii got canceled due to plane malfunctions. They were forced to spend the night at the airport. They were then re-routed to DC and put on a 12-hour nonstop flight to Hawaii. Absolutely brutal.
On the way back, I came back with my parents (still on United, worst airline) and our flight got canceled in LA around 6 PM, stranding us until 3 AM.
11. He Just Wanted To Go Home
My brother was in Portugal. Was in a park rock climbing and when he returned to his car he found he was locked inside the park. As soon as he tossed his backpack over the fence and began to climb over it, a couple drove up and grabbed his bag and took off as he stood dumbfounded on the other side of the fence. His passport and wallet were taken as he watched feet away.
10. They Had To Pay To Stay Out Of Jail
Was in Cancun, Mexico, for my high school graduation trip. I had been on a cruise to the Bahamas with my parents before, but this was my first time out of the country alone.
Cancun has basically one street, at least in the tourist areas. So you go to the club area, and away back to your hotel. Well, we thought the bus turned around after the clubs, so we end up in a pretty sketchy area. This is after the clubs close, so we didn’t have much money left. So we have to take a cab back to our hotel. There are like eight of us piled into a normal cab, so way too many. Well, we get stopped by the cops, and basically, they say they will take us all to jail if we don’t pay them off. They then started waving their guns at us. We manage to pool our money and give them what they decided was acceptable.
9. The Worst Honeymoon Ever
To make a long story very short, it “rained” in my hotel room in Istanbul during my honeymoon (water flowing from four to six points along the ceiling).
The hotel got us into another room but it was four bunk beds and we had to share the room with another couple. On our honeymoon. We spent the next day sightseeing while the hotel did our laundry and got us set up in a private room again. We get back and they had us in the same room as before, except now it smelled like an old bath mat.
Still, had some of the best food of my life on that trip, so no harm done.
8. Facing The Raging Rapids
My friend and I were canoeing the Bow River through a place called Horseshoe Canyon. The current was picking up and the rapids were getting more intense and most of the canyon was cliffs so portaging was very hard. We almost ended up going through a waterfall and would have capsized if we did. Luckily, we managed to get up a cliff, wandered onto a movie set that was shutting down production. One of the security guards helped us portage our gear downstream to a safer part of the river and we picked up from there. I was pretty rattled though since I could have gotten my friend killed.
7. They Thought They Were Stealing
Got ridiculously harassed in Botswana at a supermarket because I took up a candy bar, changed my mind about getting it, and decided to put it back. They, however, were convinced I stole it. Didn’t help that their English was bad and we didn’t speak their native tongue (I was with my family). Bunch of shouting, crying and almost fighting, and we were able to leave. We went to the police station to report them but I doubt that did anything.
6. All Snowed In
I got snowed in in New Orleans of all places. The city shut down for like a quarter inch and I couldn’t escape for a couple of days.
5. Taken To The Wrong City
Stayed up all night at Manilla International. Tried to sleep in a back hallway. Got a cab set up to take me to a hotel I could see from the terminal. The cab drove by that to a completely different place in the city. I didn’t get out, just said bring me back to the airport. So I didn’t get kidnapped and that was great.
4. It Could Have Ended Badly
I was in Mexico when an intoxicated guy fell out of the bus behind us. My friends and I quickly pulled the guy out and dragged him to safety. Otherwise, his head would have been driven over. Not scary to me but that guy almost got his head taken off.
3. It Was Supposed To Be A Comforting Trip
On a family cruise from the U.S. to Mexico to help my aunt get over her husband just dying, we all went snorkeling at the first port stop. My aunt’s best friend’s husband had a heart attack while snorkeling. We had to leave these two elderly widows behind in Mexico to make it back to the ship before it left us. Rest of the trip sucked.
2. Just Trying To Come Home
Detained in Israel. Detained in Germany. Detained in Ukraine. Detained in the US. I’m from the US and they were asking me why I’m coming back. Maybe I want to go home?
1. They Just Wouldn’t Go Away
Tuzla, Bosnia, 2010.
My buddy and I stopped at a restaurant near the downtown center for lunch. It’s quiet and the owner took our order. While the food was being prepared, a Roma woman approached our table. She stood and slowly curled out her hand, begging for money.
If you travel in the Balkans, you get used to this. The best action is to do nothing. Say nothing. Wait for them to give up and leave. But this woman was persistent. She stood there like a statue with her palm extended as my buddy and I tried chatting in English about other things.
Then, they started gathering.
Her Roma troupe started appearing across from us, taking up seats on a far wall and slowly collecting like crows on a telephone line. The Roma woman stood stock still with palm extended. Another waiter came to our table. He saw the situation and ran inside to get the owner.
The owner, a middle-aged Bosniak fella, came outside. When he saw the situation, he started calling out in Bosnian. I don’t know what he said, but I think it was the Bosnian equivalent of AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! Because as he called out, windows opened in apartments around the square. Middle-aged men stuck their heads out to hear the alert. Then they came running.
In under a minute, a group of Bosniak men assembled near our table. There was a lot of shouting and finger pointing toward the Roma. It was getting heated. The Roma answered back, but I could see their determination waning. The Bosniak men held firm.
Just before things got really ugly, the Roma woman walked off. Her troupe then peeled away and melted into the town square. The Bosniak men smiled with success and sat down at tables. The owner went in and came back out with free drinks for everybody.
“Sorry for trouble, all good now,” he told us. We all had drinks and some laughs. But for a minute there I thought these guys (likely war veterans) were going to get really ugly with those Roma.