15 People Share the Scariest Situations They’ve Experienced While Traveling

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Sometimes traveling can put you in some pretty sticky situations. Being in an unfamiliar place where you might not know the language or anyone around you is a prime setting for off-putting and, in some cases, downright terrifying things to happen.

My scariest traveling situation came in Moscow when my brother, my sister and I attended a hockey game and the crowd was 99% skinheads. Let’s just say it didn’t go well, and I still tell that story 15 years later.

Here are 15 similarly disturbing traveling tales from AskReddit users that will make your hair stand on end.

1. Drugged

“When I visited Turkey, some people staying at our hotel came out of their room and explained that they had eaten some cake offered to them by a fellow traveller, ostensibly for his birthday, and they had fallen asleep for over a day, only to find he had cleaned them out, passports, money, etc and took off. Put me on my guard, that’s for sure.”

2. Doesn’t sound like a party

“Went hiking in the Himalayas in Nepal when I was 18 with a friend. We were the only girls on the hike. The entire time on the first day our Nepalese guide (probably early 30’s married man) told us we were going to have a ‘chicken’ party when we got to our first night stay in a village in the mountains.

Not knowing what this was, we were very hesitant. Turns out chicken party meant that all the guys on the trek (guides and male trekkers alike) got hideously drunk and started ramming on our super thin, wooden door with a cheap, flimsy lock clucking like chooks. We spent the whole night sitting with our backs pressing against the door to stop them.”

3. Close call

“On a flight from Atlanta to Pensacola and, as we approached to land the pilot announced that we may have to turn back because of fog. Apparently he changed his mind and decided to try landing and I am sitting there by the window watching the when the fog finally broke. We were barely above the tree tops and I could see the runway was about 500 yards on the right side. The plane suddenly starting climbing HARD and we turned around and flew back to Atlanta.

It was a close one.”

4. Lucky

“I was traveling across Europe with my girlfriend and snapping lots of pictures along the drive as we went through various EU borderless countries. While entering Italy, my girlfriend noticed the “Welcome to Italy” sign and wanted a cliche couples photo. Naturally, I agreed and we got out of the vehicle, took our cringe selfie, and drove into Italy.

20 minutes into the drive we noticed that my girlfriends purse was missing. To contextualize the story, we had been carrying every important legal document we had while we were traveling in case something went wrong and we were stopped by police/TSA. This included our passports, citizenship cards, birth certificates, and drivers licenses. Essentially, this was everything that proved we were who we said we were and there were absolutely no other records of our existence elsewhere. All of these documents were in my girlfriends purse that was now lost.

We realized we had left them at the “Welcome to Italy” sign and I quickly turned the car around and drove as fast as I legally could (I had no drivers license) back to the border. By some miracle, nobody had grabbed the purse and we got al our documents back.”

5. Phew!

“Same happened to me in Paris Gare du Nord (very busy train station). Person I was travelling with left their bag in the cafe there, with all our passports and a bunch of cash in it. He didn’t realise till we got to our destination 3 hours away. Googled the cafe number, tried to speak French to the manager, and we think he is telling us the bag is still there.

Friend gets back on a train and travels 3 hours back to Paris, and it’s still there! So much stress, and a lot of unnecessary money on train tickets, but I’m very glad Paris didn’t live up to its pick-pocket reputation that day!”

6. Passports, please

“Pulled off a bus around 1 A.M. in the morning when I was travelling from Italy to Croatia. The guards at the border of Slovenia I believe stopped the bus. They got on the bus which was dimly lit and had their guns drawn with lights illuminating from the end of their weapons. They were asking everyone for passports.

Mine was in the undercarriage. I got dragged off the bus pretty roughly and was told to kneel on the ground while the driver looked for my baggage. There were about 4 or 5 officers and 1 was behind me with his gun drawn toward me. It could have been for light but it still felt f*cking intimidating. After viewing my passport and lecturing me on always keeping it on me we went on our way.

Slovenia was not nice. Croatia was beautiful!”

7. Don’t get arrested in Africa

“Got arrested by military police in Angola. My idiot colleague was flying a drone where he wasn’t supposed to and the MPs came down with AK-47s and detained us for hours. They clearly wanted a bribe but my idiot colleague kept insisting that they weren’t corrupt because they were police. The MPs finally got sick of waiting for their bribe and freed us after saying that our hotel called and “verified our visas.” They didn’t even know our names or what hotel we were staying in.

We almost got arrested a second time because my idiot colleague started flying the drone around again immediately after we were released.”

8. Terrifying

“Saw a guy murdered at about 3 A.M. outside Rome’s main railway station. This was back in the 1980s. North African illegal immigrants got into a fight and three guys kicked and stomped another one to death.”

9. Top four

“I had lots of them. Here is my top four:

Got stopped at the Slovenian border on our way back from a holiday in croatia. They stopped us because we didn’t have a sticker for their road toll on the vehicle. As we were clearly on our way back, we were charged with dodging the toll both ways. A few border guards complete with guns and dogs also searched our car, because we might be smuggling drugs. Didn’t go down to well with my then 3-year old son, because they took his teddy bear and wanted to slice it open.

Took a night bus from Mumbay to Goa. First scary situation: We were told (after leaving) that we had to changes buses, once we left Mumbay. Got dropped of on pitch black parking lot somewhere. My wife and I were deathly afraid for about an hour, then the new bus rolled up. Next scary moment: Bus stopped for a toilet/smoke break. Jumped out of the bus, lit a cigarette, turned around and saw the bus driver. Huge eyes, wild hair and obviously on something that had kept him awake for the last week and would keep him awake for one more… Next scary moment: realizing that almost the whole way is up and down mountains. I do know about vehicles, especially trucks and busses. Seeing the bus the next morning, made my knees weak.

Went sightseeing in Cape Town. Rode a bus around, walked a bit (all in “safe” areas), took a few pictures. At a traffic light a white man whispered in my ear: “Those black dudes followed you for the last two blocks, as did I. Watch out!”. Went into a coffee shop, trying to calm our nerves. Left an hour later, none of the black dudes around. But the white guy was again following us. Ran to our car and drove off.

Got mugged somewhere in the sticks in Jamaica. when is on holiday there with my parents. Was with a tour going to some waterfall, suddenly there is guy with a machete in front of us, waving the blade and yelling stuff. Gave him all the money we had on us, as the tour guide was telling us to. In hindsight: Might have been a setup by the tour guide.”

10. The bus

“Travelling by bus across Java solo when I was 21. Night time driving in heavy traffic, the bus pulls on to a rail crossing in gridlock. you guessed it, the lights start flashing and the barriers come down in front and behind the bus. We can’t go forwards or backwards and we can see the light from a fast approaching train coming towards us.

Everyone started screaming and ran to the front door banging on the glass and begging the driver to open the door. He either couldn’t or wouldn’t. Longest couple of minutes of my life.

I decided the front of the bus was certain death, went right to the back instead and was contemplating at which moment I should start kicking the window out when someone said (in indonesian, luckily I speak it) ‘its on the other track’. there was a moment where we all held our breath..and then the train passed inches from the drivers window in front of hte bus on the other set of tracks.

Afterwards everyone sat down and started laughing like it was totally normal and we drove on. I was sitting in my seat with eyes the size of saucers no doubt! Stayed with me that one.”

11. Be careful

“I was travelling around Zambia on a three-month holiday on my own when I suddenly fell deathly ill whilst in a backpacker’s joint out in the bush. I was throwing up bile and could barely move until someone found me after almost a day and got me to the hospital in Lusaka which was an hour’s drive.

I was apparently severely dehydrated to the point that my skin was malleable like clay. The doctor had to hydrate me through a drip because I’d throw up anything I tried to drink or eat. Honestly it’s incredible how much I’ve appreciated water since that event. The memories are all a little hazy from the event but I recall being in my hospital bed and all I could think about was a tall glass of frosty water. Moral of the story is when travelling alone, be careful.”

12. Assault

“Posting for my sister.

Her and friends were out drinking in Paris and when it was time to go home the Uber app wasn’t working so they started walking back streets. A gang with their hoods up pulverizes some dude in front of them to the point of almost death. She says they are shocked, and the group starts coming at them, then runs right though her and her group of friends and around the corner.

They spent a few minutes picking up this guys shoes and trying to ask if he was ok (while he’s covered in blood) but they didn’t speak French so they left when other people arrived.

PSA: don’t walk down dark alleyways”

13. Trapped

“I was traveling abroad for the first time, also traveling without my parents for the first time, at 19 years old. I’d gone to Japan with my best friend, and we got two separate rooms at the little business hotel we were staying in about 30 minutes outside of Tokyo. Japanese hotel rooms do not (typically) have tubs the same length as those you would find in the US, but they are very deep.

I was taking a bath one night when I decided to slide down onto my back and dunk my hair to wash out the shampoo, since the little faucet situation wasn’t really working for me.

I ended up stuck and unable to get myself back up from under the water. I was only a biscuit under 5’5″ and fairly thin, I was just perfectly wedged in there. After flailing around I finally managed to grab something I could use to pull myself back up.

My next mistake was telling my mother about it the next day when we called to update our parents on our trip.”

14. Shakedown

“Phillipines, mid-1980s. Olangapo City.

Was stationed in Okinawa, had a chance for a brief leave and took it. Went alone. At the time was a cocksure U. S. Marine in my mid-20s, very physically fit, and thought I could handle any situation. By the way, Olangapo City was outside the former U. S. Air base. City was full of desperately poor thieves and hookers. Preamble complete.

Walking down the street on my way to the Air Force base, a man called out my first name. I ignored him. He then called out my first and last name. Again, I ignored him. He then repeated my name and added in my hometown. Now I’m curious, so I walked over and asked where he got this information. “Your friend from Okinawa is here. He’s drunk at a bar and sent me looking for you. He needs help! Come with me!”

Stupidly, I went with him. (It was believable, as a lot of Marines would get leaves to the Philippines. This stranger announced his name, and I did have a friend with the exact same name due to arrive in a few days.) We get in a trike (three wheeled motorcycle) and him and the driver take me to the really poor part of town. We stop at an alley filled with numerous stalls and bars meant for the locals. About a hundred feet down the alley, we enter a bar. “Looks like your friends in the bathroom… Can you buy us a beer while we wait?” I asked the bartender (young woman) for three beers. After ten minutes, I go looking in the bathroom to find it empty.

“Time for me to leave,” I announce as I returned to the bar. “How much for the beers?” The bigger of the two men says this is a “very special” bar, and each beer is the equivalent of twenty dollars. I laughed in his face, turned around, read the menu, and gave the bartender the payment plus a nice tip. When I turned around to leave, both men are on either side of the door with butterfly knives in their hands. “You go nowhere until you give us all your money,” the one said while waving the knife in the air.

“I’m an American! There’s a military base just down the road. You’re not gonna do a damned thing!” Mustering up all my courage, I walked past them, then up the alley to the main street. I finally turned around to look, and they were not following me. The adrenaline rush, shock, fear, and everything else hit me all at once and I began vomiting on the street.

Later that day I learned that the hotel staff would sell your private information to people. Also, their friendly little ‘chit-chat’ during check-in at the hotel was also sold. I checked into a new hotel later that day.”

15. Hitchhiking

“Oh man, got a couple of these.

Hitchhiking in Serbia, my friend and I got picked up by this neo-nazi dude going into Belgrade. Kept talking about how his countrymen were slaughtered by NATO pigs in the Balkan Wars. My friend and I were Danish and American – as in, from two of the nations most involved in said slaughter. Pretended we were Norwegian and Canadian for a very tense hour-long drive.

Hitchhiking from Bulgaria into Romania, same friend and I were stuck at the border, which was a huge bridge across the Danube, and nobody would pick us up for fear that we were smuggling shit. Finally, the border guards allowed us to walk across the bridge, though the closest thing it had to a pedestrian walkway was a narrow ledge for guards and construction workers, that halfway across turned to pieces of rubble and rebar sticking out of the side of the bridge that we had to walk on, with the water 60 feet below us in the middle of night.

On top of that, we were greeted on the other side by Romanian border guards with machine guns who were very agitated, since they had never seen anyone walk across the bridge and assumed we were crossing illegally.

Got picked up by a guy in France who spoke of nothing but how he was the second coming of Christ and all the other prophets were fakes. Bad vibes.

Hitchhiking in the US, got left in Ukiah, California for the night, a horrible creepy little meth-town. Walked to the edge of town to sleep in a park at about 2 in the morning – turns out it was more of a national park, with warning signs outside about mountain lions, rattle snakes, bears, murderous tweakers and a fucking rabid fox.

Went to sleep next to the path leading into the forest, when, in quick succession, an unidentified animal started circling us, some person wearing nothing but shorts, a t-shirt and a tiny backpack paces straight past us into the forest (at 3 in the morning, mind you) and some car kept getting turned on and off somewhere right behind us in the empty parking lot. Got creeped out, got out of there, met a couple nice homeless girls who let us sleep next to their car and told us we were fucking insane to go to sleep where we did, since the place was murder city.”