Last week, I lost my passport. It was by far the worst thing that has happened to me while traveling. Sure, getting hospitalized due to food poisoning in Costa Rica was pretty bad, but emotionally, losing nine years of stamps is worse. So I thought it only fitting that has we get half way through the series on reader travel experiences, this installment’s question would be “What’s the worst thing that happened to you while traveling?” Here are the other travelers’ worst moments on the road:
“On my first visit to New York, I soon found out that the hostel I had booked was not in fact ‘Upper West Side’ as advertised, but in the depths of Harlem. This wouldn’t have been too much of an issue except that I arrived at 2am and there was no one at the hostel to let me in, despite the racket I was making! Let me tell you, I don’t want to recommend being a single woman alone in the middle of the night in Harlem to anyone! I thankfully survived til sunrise, but not without hearing multiple gunshots, being harassed by a gang, and having to make a run for it with a giant suitcase.” – Nicole
“The most memorable one was in Latvia when I had some weird ‘stalker’ who kept touching me up on the bus, and then when I got off the bus early to avoid him, he followed me through the forest for three hours before I eventually lost him. It was a shame I never got to see the castles I originally went out to see because of him.” – Rob
“Either getting robbed in Bali, or struggling with getting a ticket for a 12-hour train ride in Thailand. We absolutely had to be in Bangkok and left it until the last minute to buy a ticket for the sleeper train. The only tickets they had were for 3rd class ‘standing.’ We had to stand up for 12 hours on a cramped train all the way.” – Slice
“We had just crossed the state border of Northern Territory and South Australia. Though it’s the middle of the desert, it was pouring rain. Despite trying to find somewhere to pull over and stop for the night, we hadn’t been able to find anywhere after a few hours of looking. We hit a large puddle in the road, and it felt like a tire had blown on the RV. We pulled over to check the tires, and although it turned out that they were fine, we sank almost to the chassis in the soft mud on the side of the road. My poor husband had to dig the caravan out of that shoulder in the twilight and the rain, while I kept the kids occupied and happy in the car. We kept driving and came to a road house not much further along the highway. We pulled in, but because the roads were so slippery with the rain and the fuel on the ground, the back end of the RV clipped a truck window.” – Amy
“Having to leave before I am ready to go.” – Maria
“In 2010, I went quad biking in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was going great, right up until the moment where one of my tires hit a rock and I lost control. I flew into a ditch about two meters deep, and the bike turned over onto its side. If I hadn’t been thrown clear, chances are the side of the ditch would have taken my head off. As it was, my worst injury was a banged-up knee and a long strip of road rash along one arm. I had to pay $400 for the bike damage, another $75 to get cleaned up at the doc’s, and get some antibiotics and painkillers to make sure I didn’t get an infection, then had to take a night bus to Sihanoukville, still wearing the same clothes I’d crashed in, trying my best to hold my sore arm away from the other passengers to make sure nobody banged it!” – Susan
“Witnessing the point-blank assassination of three drug dealers at a bar in Puerto Rico.” – Mike
“I came down with swine flu when I was traveling in Turkey. One of the biggest advisories during the season of swine flu was to not get on a plane while ill, but I was stuck in Istanbul and needed to get home. I was petrified that the airport would have a fever detector and I would get detained and not be able to leave. Thankfully that didn’t happen. It was still a pretty miserable experience though.” – Allison
“My sister’s car blew a head gasket near Death Valley in August, where the temps hovered around 123, and we had about $50 left because we were due back to her home in a day. There was no Western Union, signs were posted to not leave your car at night due to rattlesnakes and not to leave your car if you run out of gas. This while showing a skeleton holding a gas can. The message was that in the very hot desert we would die within a day or so from dehydration. It took us five days stranded in the desert before we got back to her home in Santa Cruz.” – Joy
“Waking up with a cockroach on my face.” – Jemma
“A week before Spain’s dictator Franco died, I was wandering round a corner in Madrid, admiring the architecture. A soldier appeared from nowhere, stuck a machine gun in my face, and demanded I go with him. Young, cheeky, and foolish, I argued with him. He pushed the gun closer into my face. I obeyed. He takes me to Las Ventas Bullfighting Ring and demands I buy a ticket for the fight.” – Sonia
“Someone came into my room while I was sleeping and stole two cameras, $250, an MP3 player, and a watch. It was the creepiest thing to know someone came into my room while I was asleep.” – Hopscotch the Globe
“Experiencing last year’s four-minute-long, 8.8 Chilean earthquake only 50 miles from the epicenter. And then spending the next five days sleeping outside, never without my Swiss army knife and a golf club because of all the escaped convicts from the nearby prison that fell down. Fun times!” – Tia
“Randomly decided, en route from Morocco to Greece, to catch a bus all the way up rather than flying. Unbeknownst to me, I had contracted some sort of marine bacterial infection in my eye while surfing. Ended up in four days of excruciating pain on a crowded, nonstop bus, only to get to Paris and be told that “I would be permanently blind in one eye.” The bad? Two weeks of quarantine, a missed flight to Greece, and a ban on further travels for awhile. The good? I recovered my sight completely, and being trapped in Paris started my love affair with the wonderful city.” – Yolanda
“Being stuck on a train with Nomadic Matt for five days while traveling through Canada!” – Andrew
I asked my readers a series of six questions about travel. Read their answers to the other five intriguing questions:
Why did you start traveling?
What is your greatest travel memory?
What’s the one item you can’t travel without?
What advice would you give to new travelers?
What is your greatest regret?