Traveling is meant to be a labor of love. Exploring unfamiliar areas, meeting people of exotic character, incorporating yourself into a new culture. It sounds like a dream come true.
However, what if you find yourself helplessly lost in these unfamiliar areas? What if the people you meet or anything but pleasant? What if your culture clashes with another in violent ways? Suddenly, your dream vacation is your worst nightmare.
Some of those who have survived such a journey which they would rather forget took to Reddit to relive the horror. These stories will make your last cramped flight, tenuous road trip, or bug-infested campsite seem like paradise.
"I was traveling in Bruges, Belgium, once and had decided to try to drink as many different drinks as I could. When night time came around, I was hammered. I met up with a couple of cute girls and a guy from my hostel who all wanted to go out to a nightclub for drinks and dancing and of course I was all for it.
At that point, I was already wasted and don't remember going out that night. I remember bits and pieces thanks to photos. We went out for food and pre-club drinks and because of my earlier drinking, I was already smashed. We finally ended up at a local club which I later found out had a reputation for getting tourists into trouble. I don't remember the club so I am going to skip to the point that I do remember - waking up.
The next day, I woke up with a hangover to end my humanity. I sat up in bed looking around and noticed I had three room keys and nothing else. There were three things I ALWAYS carried on me: my wallet, my phone, and my camera. Also, for some stupid reason, I usually keep a 'backup' credit card in my backpack at the hostel but I just happened to have it in my wallet this day because I had to use it. I was missing all of these. I searched around my bed, looked under everything and couldn't find anything. I started to worry and, mixed with my hangover, I started to puke.
I walked down the stairs into the street in front of my hostel and there was my phone on the ground smashed into a thousand pieces. I don't even know why. I searched for the small data chip to try to at least save my pictures from the phone, but it was lost.
I went to the front office of the hostel where, upon entering, the girl behind the desk started laughing at me. I asked her why she was laughing at me. She started explaining to me how the previous night, I was beyond smashed. I kept coming to the front desk for a replacement key to my room. Apparently, I kept coming back to her because I thought I had lost my key three times (three room keys). She thought it was funny, so she kept giving me a new one. I didn't explain to her my situation and decided to go sit out on the curb for a bit. I had lost all my money, credit cards, camera, and now my phone was broken.
Do you get that deep gut feeling of just being totally ruined? Stranded in a country with no money, no nothing; at that point, I started thinking of how I was going to call my mom or dad and explain to them that my trip was over and I needed emergency funds to get home. The whole thought of everything made me puke even more.
Sitting outside on the curb, the girls and guy who I went out with walked up to me. Finally, I thought I might get some answers as to what happened the night before. Apparently, at the club, being as wasted as I was, I started dancing with some local girls and drinking more. At another point, I had told my friends that I was leaving the club with some random girl I met. They didn't approve of me leaving and tried to get me to stay, but they didn't know I was blackout wasted because I can put on a decent poker face. So, I ended up leaving with this random girl.
Sitting on the curb listening to all this, the girls were laughing at me. I told them about my situation, about losing all my stuff, how worried I was, and ultimately how messed up I was. That was when one of my friends took out of her purse my wallet and camera and handed them to me! She told me that, before I left the club, I told her something bad was going to happen to me and I needed her to hold my things. I gave her my wallet and camera! Wasted me at least did something right. It was stupid, but at least it worked. I was so relieved, I started puking.
More witnesses, I found out, also saw me in front of the hostel that night arguing with whom I suppose was the girl I left with from the club. Apparently, the girl had smashed my phone because I didn't have any money to pay for the taxi or any money in general. I think now she was trying to rob me. But I was wasted enough at that point to irresponsibly hand off my stuff to my friends before, which saved me."
"My first solo trip I ever did was to Kuala Lumpur. I never ever thought I would be the kind of person who would travel alone, but due to tourist visa issues, there I was, 20 years old and flying solo. Despite my family's worries, everything went shockingly well until it was time for me to leave.
I had planned to take the bus to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal but my plan fell through due to the crazy maze of renovations at the bus station. I remember following the signs and somehow ending up outside with no other tourists in sight. This was at night, too. I wasn't sure how to get to the airport. I have always had this deep-seeded fear of missing my flight, so I panicked and ended up taking a taxi so I would get to the airport on time.
First of all, the taxi driver quoted me WAY too much. That should have been my cue to walk away, but I was still afraid of missing my flight, so I swallowed my bitterness and accepted. As we were making our way to the airport, the driver began flicking his headlights on and off. Finally, he pulled over in order, he told me, to fix his lights. I was basically vibrating with nerves at this point.
Is he signaling to someone?
Finally, he got back into the taxi and we continued on. As we were driving, the taxi driver communicated to me in broken English that his taxi's headlights were broken, and that he was going to switch cars. This immediately made me suspicious.
'What do you mean, switch cars?' I asked. 'Where is this car?'
At his house, he told me.
'Do you mean another taxi or YOUR car?'
We would be going to his house and switching to his personal car, was his answer.
I was, right away, panicked that this stranger was trying to take me to his house. My reaction: 'NO! That is NOT OKAY. I am NOT going to your house and getting into your car. Either you take me to the airport or I am getting out of this taxi right now and finding a new one.'
I guess the taxi driver didn't want to lose out on the massive fare he was counting on, and took me straight to the airport. Apparently, his headlights actually WERE broken. The road to the LCCT did not have many streetlights on it either. At that point, I was feeling super vulnerable. My phone had less than 10% battery at that point.
I was thinking, if something happened to me at 9:30 pm on my way to the airport, who would I contact? What would I do? All I could do was follow the advice given to me to always pretend to call someone to let them know you're in a taxi and you're on your way. Although, of course, it would've been great if I had ACTUALLY been able to call someone and give them the taxi's license plates as well.
Obviously, I ended up fine. The driver took me to the airport, I left his taxi without a word, and made my flight with plenty of time to spare. I learned my lesson: panicking can lead to the kind of clouded judgement that leads you into bad situations, which leads to MORE panicking. I think back on then, realizing I was way too concerned with blending in with the locals and I didn't want to stick out as a tourist by asking questions when I didn't know what was going on. Asking for help is good.
Also, don't ride in taxis with broken headlights."
"I rented an ATV with my wife on Koh Tao in Thailand on one of my first trips to the islands. They asked for a passport in trade, so my wife sacrificed hers. Well, we brought it back, barely driven and supposedly scratched. They were asking for $100 to repair it. I told them to give me my passport. No luck.
I reported them to the local tourist police. It turned out that they were in on it. I tried to negotiate a lower price. It was an island mafia, which I would only learn after living here. I asked for an official report. I headed without the passport (not without giving a final warning to the shop) to Bangkok and applied for an emergency one for my wife. We also filed a formal complaint, which probably ended up in some trash can.
However, funny enough, this was during Chinese New Year and we lived in China. The Chinese embassy wasn't open for 10 days to give us our visa, nor would our plane let us on without the visa. So, we slept in the airport for 10 days.
How did we overcome it? We went to Immigration, the US Embassy, and then the Chinese Embassy."
"I decided to travel with a friend of mine for Spring Break. I flew to Venice a day before him. Next afternoon, I randomly ran into him on the street. He told me he had lost his wallet in London and had decided to fly to Venice anyway. He had no phone or way to contact me so it was by an act of God he found me and didn't get stuck without money in Venice.
Later on in our trip, we got separated on our way to a train station in Rome. He freaked out and, instead of looking for me, smuggled himself onto a train and hid in the bathroom. We found each other again on the plane out of Rome and we were both furious at each other. The guy is a cartoon character and made that trip fiftyfold more stressful than it had to be. But at least he's lucky.
We also had no money the whole trip because I had to pay for everything so we were constantly hungry. He spent the last night at Heathrow because I only had money left for a single train ticket back to London. Our friendship didn't quite survive that ordeal, though, luckily, my friend paid me back immediately after getting back to our apartment. He was a good guy, but an absolute mess at everything. He had the worst hygiene I have seen in a human being. Once, he dropped his contact lens on the floor of the Athens metro and tried to put it back in. His parents always bailed him out, so he was used to these situations, unlike myself, of course.
Traveling with anyone is always tough. If they're not family or my girlfriend, I just travel solo now."
"I took a late train into Paris at the Gare du Nord station and didn't have enough money for a hotel or hostel that particular night. I did, however, get used to 'roughing' it a few other times, so I was just going to sleep at the station or something. I didn't plan it out too much. The one thing about the Gare du Nord is that it is not in the best section of the town. Also, they close the train station for about six hours, so you can't stay there.
I went outside the train station and there was nothing but bums and some crazy guy in the street wasted off his rear end, yelling and throwing bottles at passing cars.
Forget this, I thought, and started walking down the street, trying to find a place where I could post up and sleep for the night. I was carrying my large backpack and it was obvious I was a tourist. I headed one way and spotted some people who started looking at me as if I was gold. I stopped, turned around, and walked quickly back to the station.
Eventually, I started heading down another street. It was not looking any better. By that time, it was about 3 am. The addicts and drinkers were in full control of the area. I went back to the station and decided to tough it out near the guy who was yelling at passing cars.
I posted up in a corner near a McDonalds. I was so tired I was battling myself to keep one eye open on everything in front of me. Homeless people were staring at me and I was getting the feeling something bad was going to happen. Then, a giant freaking rat jumped around me near my backpack. I jumped up, said, 'Forget this,' and started walking up another random street.
Exhausted and my body shutting down, I crashed on a bus stop bench on a quiet street, somewhere. I closed my eyes but never slept. After a few hours, I walked back to the station, got on the train, and got the heck out of there."
"I was barely three weeks into a planned, nine-month RTW ('round the world) trip. I started off in Peru, hiked the Inca Trail, and came down through Bolivia into Chile. I spent 24 hours on a bus from Calama to Santiago. When I got off the bus, my legs buckled under me. At first I thought it was just muscle fatigue or cramps from sitting cramped so long on the bus.
I went to the hostel but, later that day, I fell down on the floor and couldn't get back up again. I did not have any strength and had to crawl back to my room. Luckily, there was someone in the dorm and they called an ambulance. I got to the hospital and was having trouble describing what was happening to me. Luckily, there was a doctor there who spoke some English and said I most likely had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
I spent the next 10 days in the hospital in Santiago as my strength kept getting worse and worse... I couldn't open a bottle of water or even squeeze toothpaste. There was no pain though, so it felt really weird. They put me on immunoglobulin therapy. I was supposed to travel with a girl through southern Chile. I hadn't met her before, other than talking on the phone. Luckily, she had given me the name of a local contact and I was able to get in touch with her. She came and visited me in the hospital. I ran up a $300 bill on the phone using the Internet. This was in 1998.
At the end of the 10 days, my strength was finally starting to return, but I was still very weak. Needless to say, being paralyzed meant an end to the trip. I had to go back to the US, where I spent two months in physical therapy. I still couldn't run or jump.
After two months, I decided to try to resume my trip, at least partially, by doing three months instead of the original nine. I went back to Chile and Easter Island, then continued on to South Africa, and spent a month on an overland safari truck going up to Nairobi. I think being outside and active helped me get better much faster than moping at home. Even when I got back from the trip, I wasn't 100%. I took another six months or so. Now, I'm fully recovered and haven't had any relapses."
"My 'funniest' story is probably when I broke my leg in Cambodia. I was fighting a shark, a tiger, and an anaconda... No, I wish it was that interesting.
I was jumping out of a snorkeling tour boat. My foot caught the bench inside and stopped me. My whole leg twisted and I slammed against the side of the boat before breaking the bench, falling into the water, and swearing profusely.
We went back to shore and the nice Swiss nurses I had been speaking to before proclaimed my leg to be fine if I could walk on it. I hobbled a little and I could do it with some extreme pain, but I was able to have my friends help me to a tuk tuk. We thought about a hospital, but it didn't exactly look legit. But, we were going back home to China in three days, so we figured it would be fine.
I stayed home that night, sat on the beach, and didn't move the next day. I had a friend carry my bag our couple of travel days. Within a couple of days, I could zombie-walk. By the time I was back in Shanghai, I could manage with a strong limp. I was fine.
Two weeks later, I was bending down in my apartment to throw up with food poisoning when I heard a crack near my knee. Fifteen minutes of agony later, I decided I should probably go to a hospital. The next day, I got my lovely cast for eight weeks. It was fun."
"I was in Munich and planning to meet up with friends in Prague the following day. I bought my express ticket to Prague, looked at the sign on the train, and even checked with the conductor that this was in fact the express train to Prague.
After about two hours, the train stopped. No one got off, so I figured it was just a repair or something. Several more hours passed. We pull into a city and everyone got off. After waiting for a bit and thinking it did not look like Prague, and I asked someone. Apparently, when the train stopped several hours ago, my train was separated into two trains - one heading to Prague and the other to Hof, Germany.
End of the line. There were no more trains that night, so I was stuck in Hof. Annoying, but not the end of world. Getting to Prague the following day required a series of connections. Having learned from my previous day's experience, I opted not to follow the crowds and instead just looked at the signs at each stop. I was to get off in some small Czech city. I saw that name on the sign, followed by a series of letters and though, Oh well, got to follow the signs.
I got off. No one else did. From the look of things, I was in some farmer's field, but I figured a small train station must be on the other side of the train. The train left the station and nope. More fields.
Then, I was starting to panic. I had one hour to make my connection that seemingly must have be on the other side of the city. Maybe it was a nice city, but as far as I could tell, everyone was shirtless and tattooed. Moreover, no one spoke English or German.
To communicate in order to get directions, I started running up to people going 'Choo choo!' and making a train motion with my arms. After about 45 minutes of slowly edging closer, I finally saw a sign for the station.
I made my connection, met my friends, and got wasted."
"My husband I have such a history of bad travel luck that it's a running joke.
Our first big trip together was to Taiwan, during typhoon season. We got trapped overnight in Taroko Gorge due to a landslide and had to replan several activities due to weather closures.
Six months later, he crashed a motorbike in the Philippines, breaking his collarbone. It took two surgeries, but he is perfectly fine now. Unfortunately, it happened on the third day of our trip to a place that required a boat to get to any nice beaches. He wasn't able to get in and out of the boats. So, we ate and drank a lot at local restaurants.
One recent February, we found out I was pregnant six days before a long awaited trip to Thailand and Malaysia. We had been planning it for 18 months. The first few days were great, but after a long day in the sun, I got very sick. Long story short, due to low blood pressure, I fainted through a glass door, shattering it and landing in the glass. I sliced through the tendon in my hand and was unable to use it for the next six weeks. Then, the morning sickness started. I spent a lot of time in hotels while my husband did all the fun things we planned. I insisted.
We're a little hesitant to plan any future travels."
"I was in Goa in 1999 and my visa ran out on the 28th of December.
Forget that, I'm not going to leave yet. I'm having too much fun. I'll see in the New Year and then go to Bombay and get an extension so I can legally leave and go home.
On about the 5th of January, I was burned out from partying too much, abusing way too many substances, and I was running out of money. I took my last 2,000 rupees and got my butt to the nearest local bus stop. As I was about to get on the bus, I checked my pockets.
Uh-oh, I'm somehow down 500 rupees already.
I thought back to the bus stop where there was one other guy waiting with me, who suddenly got up and left when I was stretching my legs. I figured it must have fallen out of my pocket; he saw it and took it. It was a bit of a bummer but, ultimately, no biggie. I still had money left to get food and a hotel.
I eventually get to Bombay after about four transfers and tried to find a hotel. Sadly, none of them would let me get a room without a valid visa. I begged and pleaded, saying I was going to the police tomorrow to extend it, but they were all a bunch of imbeciles, despite me offering to pay more. As I was walking down a staircase having given up, I saw a family living on the stairwell.
Well, if they can do it, so can I.
Later that night, I came back, found an empty space between floors, and bedded down for probably the most uncomfortable night ever. Just me, the hard floor, my bag for a pillow, and supreme heat. I must have slept a total of about two hours that night.
The next day, I was up nice and early for obvious reasons and hot-footed it across town to the police quarters in charge of extensions. As I get out of the taxi, I stepped over some homeless guys smoking smack under a blanket, and went into the building a bit weirded out. It took about an hour of typical bureaucracy before I sat down at a table with an officer.
After a few minutes of 'umming' and 'ahhing' he said, 'We have decided not to prosecute you.'
He did a subtle cough and stuck out his hand. I gave him 500 rupees (about £10 at the time) as it was the smallest note I had.
'This is too much,' he said.
'Sorry, I don't have anything smaller,' I replied, honestly. 'Buy the wife something nice.'
I could not believe I had just said that, but he smiled and pocketed the cash. He duly stamped my visa and I was on my merry way. I went back to a hotel, got a room, and spent the next four days wandering the streets in a daze."
"As a college graduation present, I took a Euro trip beginning in Istanbul, on to Izmir/Efes, then to Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Paris. After two days in Istanbul, I was flying to Izmir and started feeling some pretty serious back pain. I assumed it was from sleeping poorly or something else minor, but by the time I landed and picked up the rental car, the pain was unbearable and I was on the verge of vomiting.
Thankfully, the Swissotel was understanding enough to let me check in at 10 am. Then, I vomited as soon as I walked into the room. By that point, I assumed I had a kidney stone, but I was not sure how to get emergency care in Izmir, Turkey. I hailed a cab and the hotel concierge told the driver to take me to the hospital. Where I ended up was, not surprisingly, less than ideal.
It took two hours to see a doctor. She felt my stomach and moved my legs before declaring there was no kidney stone. I was squirming uncontrollably, so they finally gave me injections of some sort of pain medicine. It helped, but it certainly wasn't morphine. They sent me home (not actually home, of course) with a pack of syringes and vials of the pain medicine.
I woke up in the middle of the next night in excruciating pain again. I contacted a relative back in the U.S. who had a business connection in Izmir. I must note that every Turk I actually interacted with was VERY nice and hospitable. The business contact picked me up on the first day of his vacation (while his family waited on him before they all left for a trip) and took me to a more advanced hospital (comparable to U.S. standards) and translated for me all day. It turned out that I had a 7mm stone lodged in my kidney that was revealed in a CT scan at this hospital. It was too large to pass, so I had to catch the next flight back home to have it surgically removed.
Thankfully, Delta waived the additional change fees and rebooked my ticket home. Additionally, Hotwire reimbursed me for all of the prepaid reservations after I provided a medical reference for the issue. Missing Italy (what I was most looking forward to) and Paris sucked, but I couldn't risk my health."