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General Travel

What's your biggest travel mishap?

I run a podcast called The Daily Travel Podcast​. Every weekday I put out a conversation with a traveler to explore how and why they've made travel a bigger priority in their lives. As a part of the lightning round at the end of my interviews, I ask a handful questions. This question is a new addition that's getting great answers, so I thought I'd put it out on Trippy!

So, what's your biggest travel mishap?

Mine was crashing a moped in the middle of nowhere in Bali.

15 Answers

top answer by
Ross from Fort Collins

I was dating a girl in college and she had never been out of the country before, so I invited her on my already planned trip to Costa Rica. we couldn't make the dates work so I just extended my trip a week and when I went to the airport to drop off my friends I would pick her up and do our extended week together. She was very nervous about traveling by her self for the first time so I gave her $600 cash to travel with (that was all the money I had for the week together). So the first part of the trip was great and as it ended I was looking forward to having girlfriend time on the next week by ourselves! I took the bus from dominical to S.J. And spend my last cash getting to the airport. so I am waiting at her gate as people are getting off her flight and she isn't there! I panic a little and ask around and she wasn't on the flight! I start to scramble and the airport people are asking me were I'm going and with no choice I do the classic "my flights in the morning just gunna sleep here till then" and to my horror the told me that the airport was about to close and it wasn't a 24 hour airport! So I should just hit the ATM and grab a cheap room right?! At this time of my life I had no bank account no Email address much less an ATM card, so I am stranded in S.J. At night with no money and no were to go! So I start looking for bushes to sleep in around the airport when I here in English "are you ok" I turn around and there are 5 gringos standing there watching me build my bush fort! They were missionaries from the USA! They took me in, fed me and got me in touch with my family! These people saved my life, I don't know how many of you have spent much time in large cities in Central America but it can be very scary at night by yourself, the cops seem to shut down like the airports at night lol! So I got an early flight home, and had a great story to tell! But that's not the end! What about the girl? She honestly was told not to go by her family. They said that it sounds to good to be true, "a guy bought you a plane ticket and $600 to meet him in Central America, your gunna be murdered!" funny thing is that we are now married and have traveled the world together! Funny world!

15 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Brenda from Long Beach

Just happened. Like an idiot, I stored the "important duffle" above my head on the train from Naples to Florence. You know...the one with medicine, ekectronics, contacts, my favorite little dress. 8 days in on a 31 day trip. Lesson learned. Always put stuff overhead ACROSS from you so you can keep an eye on it.

6 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Renate from San Francisco Bay Area

It was my first solo-jaunt overseas. I had had many a discussion - yes, some heated - with my husband who was not at all happy about the prospect of my travelling alone and to such a far-off location. It had been a huge step for me to decide to do this - whether he approved or not - and to make the plans and to carry out my long-held desire of travelling to Italy. But, I did it. I had dreamed of Italy- and Florence, especially - ever since taking an Art History class as an undergrad. My plan was to arrive in Rome, enjoy my day in the capital but then head to Florence for the majority of my trip and then continue on to Venicefor a few days. I landed and navigated Fiumicino Airport pretty well, arrived at the main train station, Stazione Roma Termini without too much trouble. My B&B was near the station so I pulled out my map of Rome and decided to walk and it took a good while to find it but eventually I arrived. After a rest in my room where I could hear the bells of The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, I ventured out for a walk of exploration. I spent some time in the beautiful basilica and then headed toward the Colosseum which glowed against the night sky.I loved the Sacred Road or Via Sacra. I passed the Roman Forum and saw sculptures and ancient architecture and was simply drenched in history. It wasn't long, however, before I was actually drenched as the sky opened up and a torrent of rain soaked me and I hadn't thought to bring an umbrella. (I have since learned much more about preparing for European rain which seems much wetter than California rain - oh, that's right, there is no rain in California!) On a particularly slippery path near Via Cavour, my feet flew from under me - SPLAT!!! - and I used my outstretched hands to brace myself. I felt immediate pain in my right wrist. Intense, excruciating. Being a good nurse I convinced myself it was simply a sprain. But, I couldn't carry my baggage to the train station the next morning, had to request help at the B&B, and couldn't write in my journal on the way to Florence (I am, of course, right-handed). Still in denial, but in a lot of pain, I finally phoned my husband (who is a physician) the following day. He told me I might have fractured my wrist at a particularly nasty location that doesn't heal very well and directed me to head to the nearest Emergency Room. It was hard to make that call after all his chagrin and worry and fretting about my trip. But I am glad to have spoken to him because, at the Hospital of Innocents (designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, it was originally a children's orphanage and is is regarded as a beautiful example of early Italian Renaissance architecture - ah, Art History close up and personal!), an xray was taken and I had broken my wrist. This experience is on record as the biggest travel mishap thus far in my life but it is also one of the greatest adventures. I learned much about the Italian healthcare system, about casts and orthopedic departments, I made new friends, and have incredibly smile-inducing memories directly related to my distal radius (wrist) fracture! What's more, that trip cemented my wanderlust and I have become an avid solo-traveller. After all, what's the worst that could happen - I break my wrist or something?

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Italy (country)
  2. Florence (city)
  3. Rome (city)
  4. Venice (city)
  5. Fiumicino Airport (attraction)
  6. Stazione Roma Termini (attraction)
  7. The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (attraction)
  8. Colosseum (attraction)
  9. Sacred Road (attraction)
  10. Via Cavour (attraction)
  11. Hospital of Innocents (attraction)
4 thankscomments (4)

answered by
Kelly from San Francisco

Getting lost in Paris on New Years Eve at 2 a.m. with a stranger, in a dress and heels, while it was pouring rain. There may or may not been a few bottles of champagne involved. It's safe to say that the night was filled with mishaps, and things I would recommend NOT doing in Paris on New Years Eve. It's a really funny story!

4 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Billy from Chicago

In 2006, I was studying abroad in Seville, and went on a last weekend trip to Barcelona. I ended up having 6-7 too many drinks and passed out on the beach. When I woke up, ALL of my stuff was predictably gone from my pockets. I had no money, no identification, and had a flight to back to Sevilla the next day before my turn home to Chicago. It took about an hour but I was able to talk my way onto the plane and get back to Sevilla (where my passport was). Then when I got to Chicago I asked for quarters at the O'Hare International Airport station until security just let me on the train. I saw two people that had given me quarters and gave them back. It was awkward. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Seville (city)
  2. Barcelona (city)
  3. O'Hare International Airport (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by

My wife got me into travel. And originally she did all the planning. For her 50th birthday I took over the planning and didn't plan to tell her anything until we left for the airport. She did know we were going to go somewhere, just not where.  The secret wasn't kept. But important details were.

We landed in Oaxaca late on a Friday night. Took advantage of buying a cab voucher in the airport and were soon on our way to the B&B.  We arrive. The guy at the desk was surprised. They had no more rooms. Not for the two weeks, not even for the night.

My Spanish is terrible and my hearing worse. We ended up typing on the hotel's computer to get any understanding at all. Birthday trip, now very close to midnight Friday and we have no place to go.  Great Start!

The guy from the B&B did call around. Found a place "just a few blocks away" that is unadvertised. Directions were communicated. Communications were confirmed.  We set out in the dark to walk to the new place.  She was not happy.  I couldn't blame her.

Eventually a voice calls out in the dark. Our host had waited on the sidewalk for us. The new place was...better than the original one. Several blocks closer to the zócalo, cheaper, and very spacious. 

This image is from their courtyard.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oaxaca (city)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Jenna from Oakville, Ontario

Well that's easy! 

Haha ... I've had a few travel mishaps 
1. Getting stranded in a foreign South Africa city (I don't know the name) without hotel, food and nothing open - I cried myself to sleep that night haha 

2. Riding on a night bus in Kodagu with no toilets and broken seats only to wake up at 3:00am to a loud 'thunk' and a being taken to the hospital with stitches in my head 

3. My favorite story ... being chased by a wild orangutan in the middle of the Sumatra Indonesian jungle... the long story is here:

I love to learn more about your daily podcast! If you are ever interested, here's my blog:

I have too many stories to tell! 



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. South Africa (country)
  2. Kodagu (metro area)
  3. Sumatra (attraction)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Cherie from Bay Area

The best thing about a travel mishap is that it makes an interesting story to tell later, so I'm glad someone asked this question! ^_^

I have a few... 

1) We were in Paris, trying to catch a flight back home the day the November 2007 transit strikes started. Getting to the airport was nearly impossible, and we ended up walking around for about 6 miles with all of our luggage until we were lucky enough to catch a popup vanpool. Lesson learned: Don't stress too much – it would be totally OK to be stuck in Paris for a few more days... weeks.. months.. ;) 

2) We were in Christchurch during the 2010 Canturbury Earthquake (7.1), sleeping in a camper van. Lesson learned: If camping in NZ, do not park near any brick structures. Also, Kindles are useful for more than just reading! The internet was out and we did not have access to smartphones while traveling, but our Kindle was able to send emails to our parents to let them know we were OK! 

3) Someone broke the door of our cottage in La Fortuna while we were out, rummaged through all of our bags, then took off with a locked bag which included all of my husband's clothing and camera. Lesson learned: A locked room means nothing. Neither does a locked bag. Leave bags unlocked or attach the locked bag to a large piece of furniture to make it more difficult to steal. Also, camera is never going out of our sight again. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Paris (city)
  2. Christchurch (city)
  3. La Fortuna (city)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Kyle from Costa Mesa

I was on a boat trip around the Maldives and on the second to last night (luckily not the first) I broke a bone for the first time, my collar bone.  The next day consisted of a few hour boat ride with our surf guide to the nearest inhabited island with a hospital and the day was certainly one of the more interesting days I've had.  For some context, when I walked in some kids freaked out, some scared and some excited.  When I asked why, my surf guide talked to a local and told me that any kid under 6 years old had never seen a person with white skin before.

After getting looked at I was given a make-shift figure 8 brace (which turned out to be amazing) and we headed back to the main boat. 

So this is the biggest mishap I can think of but all in all,  I only missed 1 day of surf, I had buddies with me to carry my stuff in transit, and they had talked the airline into giving me my own row on both flights  (26 hours total) so I could prop up my arm (thankfully).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Maldives (country)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Denise from New Orleans

When I was about 22, I traveled alone to the UK. I was in a public mall and a man grabbed me and tried to pull me into a doorway. I broke free and ran into a store. I was REALLY shaken and told the store clerk what had happened, she was totally ambivalent & didnt bat a lash. This was around 2002-03. As a New Yorker I think Im aware of my surroundings & pretty savvy, but you never know.

2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Francine from Alton, Illinois

It was my first international trip to Toronto. I was so excited about obtaining my first stamp, but didnt know what to expect. I arrived at the airport and checked in at the kiosk. I inserted my passport, but the machine read "no passengers under this name". Trying to control my composure, I tried again, and received the same error.  


I looked at my passport, to see maybe I faced it the wrong direction; and finally I realized the misspelling of my name. I was now Franzchine instead of Francine. I expected sirens and a group of police yelling "Freeze!!" hysterically. Obviously in my head I'm the next Al Capone. Hey, sometimes my imagination can be a little cray cray. What can I say, I think highly of myself at all times lol. Needless to say I made it on my flight, but it was very difficult filling out my form for customs. I threw awy three applications, trying to spell my new name.

2 thanks

answered by
Andy from San Francisco

My story is more of a mistake that turned out to be a fun 3 day detour in Shanghai. 

This all happened during a trip to Dalian from Manila via Hong Kong. So I was a Chinese passport holder living in Manila at the time. I was living under a single-entry tourist visa, which meant that if I left the country I would have to get another visa to go back in.

I thought that I could go to the consulate general in Hong Kong and get the visa there. But I found out when I showed up that because I'm not a Hong Kong resident, I could only get a visa in mainland China. I must go to a Philippines consulate, and they only exist in a few major cities, not including Dalian. 

So at the last minute I had to arrange a 3 day trip to Shanghai so I could go to the consulate there. I knew no one in Shanghai and had to rely on some family members in Dalian to hook me up with a hotel room. This was not the most ideal of situations, but I was going to make the most of it. 

I've never been in Shanghai before and knew very little about the city, so I decided to just spend the first night walking around and exploring. I followed the main street and simply walked towards the brightest part of the city, which happened to be Nanjing Road. This area is one of the most concentrated shopping districts in the world. It is literally several miles worth of shops and cafes and restaurants. At one point I thought I had deja vu because the stores started repeating themselves. 

Eventually I stopped in a bar to get a drink and to rest. The bar was empty except for 1 or 2 patrons, and so I struck up a conversation with the staff. I told them that I was there on my own and wanted recommendations for things to do. They immediately referred me to their manager who used to be a tour guide. Score!

The manager comes over and shows me a list of places I should visit. She then offered to walk me to the bund that night to show me around. Perfect!

So that night we walked around the bund and checked out the architecture, and then the new developments on the other side of the river. 

The next day, she calls me in the morning and tells me that she took the day off and that we could go around Shanghai together. Awesome!

That day we ended up visiting a former emperor's rock garden, had tea in a traditional tea house in the middle of a lake, and ate the best soup dumplings I've ever had. We ended the night at the biggest karaoke hall I have ever been to, singing Chinese songs I barely knew the words too. 

So in the end, my little mishap actually turned out to be a great side trip. I will definitely return to Shanghai again. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Dalian (city)
  2. Manila (city)
  3. Hong Kong (city)
  4. Shanghai (city)
  5. Nanjing Road (attraction)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered by

I've had lots of adventures.  If they turned out OK, I don't consider them to be disasters.  Things like, a man flagged us down on at a highway construction site in Belize and asked us to take his baby (maybe 2 years old) to his wife in Placencia.  Which we did.  But I couldn't help but think it might be some kind of scam.  Also my checkbook with my credit card and money slipped out of my pocket at the Belize zoo.  Didn't discover it until four hours down the road.  But someone turned it in to the lost and found - with all the money and credit card in it. On that same trip we went to Tikal and the hotel had no record of our reservation.  But I had a voucher so they found a place for us.  And then when we went to fly back home, the airline had no record of our reservation.  A nice lady finagled us onto the next plane out.

In 1964, I took a night train from Frankfurt to Paris.  (I won't go into the whole business of the porter propositioning me) When I got off in Paris, my toilet case has slipped down behind the seat.  Fortunately I didn't realize that I had to show my ticket to get out of the station, so I sat down and had a croissant and coffee for 2 francs and when I went to pay I realized it and ran back and the train was still there.  Then when I tried to buy an onward ticket at one end of the station, I was directed to the other end of the station, and then back to the ticket windows.  Somewhere along the way I lost my change purse which had my Eurail ticket in it ($130 worth).  But someone found it and I got it back. 

The only true disaster was - I always wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (bucket list item).  So I flew to Sydney and got on a cruise ship and booked the excursion.  And then I got the Australian flu and was confined to my room, very sick, and couldn't go.   I also wanted to see turtle nesting in Costa Rica.  But when I got there, the walk down the beach was too much for me and I had to opt out. 

1 thanks

answered by

I once fell in to the gutter in Medan and almost drowned in indonesian poop.

Got away from some very bruised legs though and a really cool scar that I still have on my right leg.

Little story about it here:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Medan (city)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

Long story short, I was briefly stranded after spinning a convertible into a snowbank during a blizzard, while on my first solo road trip around Olympic National Park.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Olympic National Park (park)
1 thankscomments (1)

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