15 People Share Their Travel Horror Stories


There’s a great big world out there full of adventure…and uncertainty.

I love traveling in the U.S. and in other countries but you have to know how to be aware of your surroundings, or else you might end up in a very compromising position…

Then again, sometimes things are just totally out of your control and you fall into some bad luck for no reason at all.

Traveling can be a crapshoot, ya know?

AskReddit users weighed in with their stories of travel gone wrong.

1. City of lights.

“Went to Paris with my buddy for the night in September. Trouble at the hostel around midnight. No place to sleep. Bar/club hopped until about 4.

Froze my ball$ off while I slept at a bus stop until we got chased out by a couple of cops. Spent the rest of the night in front of an ATM on top of a heat vent. Took the first train back in the morning. Cr*ppy night, great memory.”

2. Into the slammer.

“Thrown in jail for a night on an island in Thailand (Lanta) because I was working illegally (bartending at my hostel without a workers permit) and they were asking 30,000 baht (1,000 USD) in order to let me go.

I said nah because I wasn’t about to pay that, especially knowing they would take less. They were just being greedy knowing I was a young American kid and trying to take advantage of me.

I got out of it by staying in jail for much longer than needed in order to drive the price down (total of about 16 hours). Eventually paid 6,000 baht (200 USD), and even got a ride back to my hostel from the police. Overall, very civil extortion and bribery to be completely honest.

Got roughed up a bit in the beginning but never really hurt or anything.”

3. Not friends anymore.

“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, when 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 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 haha. 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.”

4. USA.

“I took a road trip solo across the US. It turned out that my 17-year-old car was not up to the task, and it died on the side of the road ~5 hrs from home.

I had to hike down the highway until I found a farm where I could get the number for a tow truck, and then I got towed to the nearest town, a couple miles away. I was in contact with my family the whole time (this was when I still lived with my parents), and eventually my grandparents decided that they would drive down in two vehicles and give me their spare car.

After I got that car, I managed to get through the rest of the trip without any major problems (aside from one flat tire that i was able to get replaced easily), up until the third last day of my trip. I still had about 1000 km (600 miles) to go, and I rear-ended another car, totaling my grandparent’s vehicle.

Again, I was extremely lucky. I was only about 2 hours from my brother’s place, so he drove out to get me and all my stuff, and then I spent the night with him and took a greyhound home.”

5. Oh, boy…

“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’s taken two surgeries, but he’s perfectly fine now. Unfortunately, it happened on the 3rd day of our trip to a place that required a boat to get to any nice beaches, and he wasn’t able to get in and out of the boats. So we ate and drank a lot at local restaurants.

This February, we found out I was pregnant 6 days before a long awaited trip to Thailand and Malaysia. We’d 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.”

6. That’s bad.

“I was barely three weeks into a planned 9-month RTW trip. Started off in Peru, hiked the Inca Trail and came down through Bolivia into Chile. Spent 24 hrs 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/cramps from sitting cramped so long on the bus.

Went to the hostel but later that day I fell down on the floor and couldn’t get back up again. I didn’t have any strength and had to crawl back to my room. Luckily there was someone in the dorm and they called an ambulance.

Got to the hospital and was having trouble describing what was happening to me… luckily there was a doctor there that spoke some English and said I most likely had Guillain-Barre syndrome.

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. 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.. 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 and she came and visited me in the hospital. Ran up a $300 bill on the phone using the Internet (this was in 1998).

At the end of the 10 days though my strength was finally starting to return but still very weak. Needless to say, being paralyzed meant an end to the trip. 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… doing 3 months instead of the original 9. 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%… took another 6 months or so. Now I’m fully recovered and haven’t had any relapse.”

7. As we speak…

“Currently in one.

Bought a Chinese knockoff Honda Win 110 in Hà Nội. Drove to Ninh Binh. Drove further to Dong Hoi… But the engine busted two days ago. Got a new engine for about 80 Euros or 2 million Dong.

Started yesterday at 4 in the afternoon to make it to Đồng Hới. Drove 40 kilometers. Engine died every 10 kilometers. Dies uphill. Neutral and 1st gear are almost impossible to get in. Drove back to mechanic who gave me the new engine.

His store was closed at 8PM when I arrived there. Went to the hotel across the street where I slept the day before.

Then he showed up. He was a little bit embarrassed that he did not fix it correctly. Hotel staff gave us a room (gf and me) and huge plate of food for 8 Euros.

Now I am sitting and waiting for the motorcycle… in a small deserted town between Nịnh Bình and Đồng Hới.”

8. Ouch!

“Got so badly sunburnt in Thailand every time I smiled my face bled.”

9. Not a good time.

“I stayed in a really sketchy hotel in Cairo, with mice running along the skirting and bare wires protruding from the wall just above my pillow.

After a couple of days I wanted to find out whether the wires were live, so I touched them together and shorted out three buildings.”

10. Scary.

“Parents got mugged in Colombia.

My brother and I were about 50yds ahead of them and heard my mom scream in panic. Sprinted back, just in time, to see her swing her purse around and connect.

Guy went down hard thanks to the $1200 Nikon in her purse.”

11. Bad luck.

“In Ecuador my wife’s bag was stolen, she lost all three of her passports.

In Botswana, I was hitching a ride in the back of a truck which ran off the road. In Morocco my train derailed. In Israel, my friend fell down a mountain and was taken to hospital by helicopter.

But in every case, everything turned out fine. Traveling is awesome!”

12. OH MY GOD.

“My family took a trip to Sudan (To visit my Dads family). My brother came back with a sever rash all over his back.

The rash persisted for a few weeks, and the doctors had no idea what it was. Then, we were at the park one day and he started complaining about the rash to our mom, saying it starting to hurt more.

She ignored it, thinking he must have rubbed it on something by accident, when he feel to the floor screaming with pain, and literally hundred and hundreds of flies came flying out of a single hole at the base of his neck. He was 8.

Apparently some sort of African fly had laid eggs (or more likely cocoons or something) in his back when we slept. They hatched when we were back in England.


13. The friendly skies.

“Flew with China Eastern Air to visit family in Hong Kong.

The businessman seated in the aisle was a rude as$hole that constantly made displeased faces at me. He wouldn’t even f*cking stand up when I needed to get past him to my window seat (f*cking bizarre). He clearly knew I needed to get past him, but made me climb over him, glowering at me as I passed.

The seats were concrete, the air was stale, and the food was stand-up-comedian level inedible: dry rice and sh*tty, bland fish. There was no in-flight entertainment and they announced that no electronic devices were allowed at any time.

I only brought my phone with me to keep my occupied, so I was SOL. So all I could do for hours was just try to force myself to sleep as to not be conscious of how awful this all was.

On my return flight back to Japan, the airline decided that they couldn’t let me fly without having a ticket booked to leave Japan. I explained that I have flown into Japan almost a dozen times without a departure ticket and it has never been an issue.

They did not care and insisted that it was illegal (it’s not) and they would deny me entry (they wouldn’t). By the time I jumped through enough of their idiotic hoops to get on board, they decided that 1 hour was not enough to make my connecting flight in Shanghai, so they would have to book me on another flight tomorrow and charge me a few hundred more dollars for that.

I flipped them off, went down the hall to Cathay Pacific. I gave them money, they gave me comfortable seats, pleasant crew, good food, in-flight entertainment, and no f*cking bullsh*t.”

14. The Dirty South.


Downtown was really nice. Olympic Park, World of Coke, a very good Aquarium, and blah, blah, etc.

Outside the perimeter was like running the gauntlet in the post-apocalypse. I had a guy come up to me, pull up his shirt showing a revolver in his pants, and say, “Hey, white bread, you got fi’ dollas fo’ a hit?”.

I still tell myself giving him $20 while my daughter went pee in the worst gas station bathroom her or my wife have ever seen wasn’t a “mugging”.

I’m certain if our car happened to break down there we would have all 3 died terribly.”

15. Indonesia.

“Traveling in Indonesia, we had just landed in Jakarta and after one night we were headed to an ‘idyllic’ surf spot (near Cijulang) that was meant to be a quiet paradise according to the lonely planet guide.

We had done extensive planning for the trip, although we seemed to have missed that we arrived just as the biggest Muslim festival of the year (ede) was finishing that included some of the only public holidays in the year.

The bus travel from Jakarta to the South Coast took an extra 6 hours, nearly doubling the time due to the traffic on the road.

We arrived and couldn’t find a hotel, being followed by the local mafia that make hotels charge more when they direct you there. Managed to find a suitable place in the end.

Unperturbed the next day my friend and I (the third friend was throwing up all day due to bad food in Malaysia a few days earlier) tried and reach this ‘idyllic’ spot. We find out the only way to get there is along this windy track and the best way is on the back of a moped.

So my friend and I (who are both over 6 foot) get this local to drive us there on the back of his moped. This seems like a bad idea already, until we arrived at a bamboo bridge which when driven across with 3 people ends up with a moped falling over. Luckily we didn’t fall in so kept going to this beach.

We arrived to the lovely spot only to find about 15,000 locals that had the same idea

We were the only white people there, also the only people over 5’10. People stared at us, asked to take pictures with us and were generally just confused when they looked at us.

All in all it didn’t go great but IMO that’s what makes the difference between an adventure and a holiday”

Have you ever had any bad experiences while traveling?

If so, please tell us about them in the comments.

We’d love to hear from you!