I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their travel fails (collaboration post).
We all fail sometimes, right? Although it may sting at the time, we can usually laugh about it later, or at least have a good story to tell. And who has better stories than travellers?
To that end, I asked my fellow travel bloggers to share their best, or at the time worst, travel fails with me. I’m also sharing one of my travel fails, of course. As you might expect, some of their stories are quite extraordinary, so let’s dive right in! While you’re at it, go check out their blogs too. 🙂
#1: Falling off a horse in Namibia
If I had to tell my grand kids any stories about my biggest travel fails, my trip to Namibia would definitely top the list. I had travelled to Namibia to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary for two weeks and horse rides were one of the activities offered. On that particularly fateful day I had confidently declared to the group that I had been riding since I was a kid and yes, I would be fine riding a horse without being led.
The ride started out relatively smooth, when we spotted some giraffes in the distance and walked towards them to get a better look. It was at this point that my jittery horse got scared of one of the giraffes and backed up into a thorn bush. He then took off running towards the herd before I hit my head on a low hanging branch and got knocked out of the saddle. I then had to be strapped on top of a jeep and driven to a nearby hospital 40 miles away where I spent 2 days in completely agony. The whole trip was certainly an adventure, but looking back it was so hilarious how that entire day panned out and I now have one of the best travel fails stories to tell around any table.
By Kanupriyaa from the My lost camel blog
#2: Running out of money in Turkey
Back in 2010, I decided to go to Marmaris for a long weekend with my friend. At the time, I lived in Izmir, Turkey as a student and only brought 300 TL in cash. That, only for us to find out that we only had 70 TL combined when we wanted to go back to Izmir. The money we had in our pockets was only enough for 2 bus tickets back to Izmir, and nothing else. We were even too scared to go to the public toilet, as it would cost us 1 TL. We left our money in our dormitory and our bank card was inoperative.
We eventually walked to the bus stop and asked whether the student discount was eligible for us. We got a 4 TL discount that we could use to buy some mineral water and go to the public toilet. When we spoke to each other in Indonesian, someone at the bus stop heard us and recognised our language. He left and came back with an Asian girl following him, and asked whether we were Indonesian. He was a cafe owner in Marmaris, and he had Indonesian staff at the time. He said it looked like we had some trouble at the bus stop, so he called his Indonesian worker at the cafe nearby. They were generous, and as it turned out, he also took the same bus as us, and bought us some sandwiches and lemonade for our journey on the way back to Izmir.
By Marya from the Beau Traveler blog
#3: Missing the ferry in the Seychelles
When you travel to your dream destination (in my case the Seychelles), you are a bundle of excitement wanting to get to your destination as soon as possible and be awed by its beauty. Probably the worst way to start such a trip is by being stuck in Immigration and missing your ferry ride.
So, as it happened, we had planned to take a ferry from Mahe (where the airport is) to the island Praslin where we had a booking for 3 days. As is the case with luck, we got stuck in Immigration long enough to miss our ferry ride. Now, normally that would not lead to any recourse, as we could easily take the next one. However, the next one was the last one leaving for the day and it was fully booked. After hours of praying, pleading and maybe crying, the Captain was sympathetic enough to finally take notice and give us seats. We reached our resort maybe half a day late, but still thankful to be in the paradise that is called Seychelles. And that’s how the vacation of our dreams started.
By Karan from The Wicked poet blog
#4: Ghost beach resort in Bulgaria
After solo backpacking with three kids for four months in south-east Asia, we landed in Romania looking for a relaxing holiday and drove over to Bulgaria. It was the start of autumn, although the sun was still bright and warm during the day, the evenings were getting cooler and the leaves were starting to turn brown. We were keen to discover more of Bulgaria’s coastline, so we booked an apartment near Sunny Beach through AirBnB and made the four-hour drive across to it.
When we got to the town it was entirely deserted. None of the shops seemed to be open, none of the lights were on and the streets were empty. This is not what we were expecting! We found the apartment complex, but the front gate was locked, the pool was drained and no lights were on. I managed to walk around to the back of the building and found the caretaker having a sly smoke. He spoke Bulgarian, Russian and a bit of German and we managed to decipher that the complex was shut for the remainder of the year.
We spent three hours in the car park, on the phone to AirBnB & the perplexed owner, who couldn’t understand why the apartment was closed. We gave up, cancelled the booking and found a hotel that was still running. None of the hotel’s facilities were open, however, and we were the only ones staying there. We found a local supermarket, made some sandwiches, used the hotel’s wi-fi to book something in Sofia and left the following day. It turns out that most of that area closes down for the season and only the very local of locals stay.
By Emma from the Journey of a nomadic family blog
#5: Losing rented scooter keys in Bali
On the second day of our trip to Bali, my husband and I decided to rent a scooter. It was our first time renting a scooter in a foreign country. We rode all the way to the south of the island to visit the famous Uluwatu Temple. We reached the temple at around 3 pm and parked the scooter outside the temple. The temple area is enormous and exploring the whole area took almost an hour and a half. We then watched the Kecak Dance performance in the temple’s amphitheater. After the show ended, it was time for us to leave. By then the sun had set and it was completely dark.
As we were about to leave, my husband realised that he had lost the scooter keys. We were so worried that we would be charged a hefty penalty. Frantically, we looked for the keys everywhere, but we couldn’t find them. Feeling lost, we went back to the parking lot. And guess what? We had forgotten the keys in the scooter’s ignition itself.
Not only did we thank our stars for finding the keys, but also for the fact that our rented scooter wasn’t stolen. The damages that we would have had to suffer had that happened would have been huge. Lesson learnt? To not get carried away in the excitement of checking out a new place and to be extremely mindful of our actions on a trip abroad.
By Vrushali from the Mumbaikar Mom blog
#6: Second degree foot burns in Pakistan
One of my most painful travel fails to date happened when I visited the famous Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. It was a hot summer day and I couldn’t think of wearing anything other than open shoes without socks. When I arrived at the mosque, my jaw dropped marveling at the breathtaking Mughal-style architecture of the holy site and its giant courtyard made out of beautiful red brick. Before entering, one of the guards kindly reminded me to take off my shoes. No problem, I thought. I left my shoes at the entrance and proceeded to walk through the shade.
However, the painful experience began when I decided to explore more of the mosque and cross the courtyard in the center. As soon as I set foot on the red brick floor of the sunny courtyard, my feet began to burn. “I should be able to make it to the other side if I run fast enough,” I thought. Nope. After about half a minute, the pain became so unbearable that I decided to run back into the shade, but I was already so far in that no jumping could help anymore. I tried hard to stay as modest as possible in this holy place and avoid screaming or making funny grimaces, but it was almost impossible. By the time I reached the shade, I had already contracted second-degree burns on my heels and had to walk on my toes like a ballerina for the rest of the day.
Oh, and just shortly after this painful experience, I spotted a path across the courtyard laid out with wet cloths to help visitors get to the other side painlessly. What a travel fail!
By Arabela from the Spicy travel girl blog
#7: The case of the missing road
We once went on a weekend getaway to Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage site in India. We were feeling particularly adventurous, so we decided to drive all Friday night for nine hours from Hyderabad to get there. We had a sleepy and rather short day exploring the site. On the next day, Sunday, we were to go to Hippie Island near Hampi for lunch before driving back. Google Maps showed that we could get there by car through an alternate route (not from the Hampi town side that required getting on a boat), which was on our way back to Hyderabad. This was also confirmed by the receptionist at our hotel, which was situated in a nearby town.
So, we set out on this alternative route and got to the point where, per Google Maps, we were to take a right turn towards the so-called island. But how could we, there was a river in the way. Upon asking a passerby, we learnt that there used to be a road to the island from this side, but the dam was recently opened, flooding the road. We would have to trek down to the river and get on a boat. We had no time for it. So, we set out on another 9-hour journey without any lunch or food stops on the way (because there weren’t any). It was a horrible short vacation!
By Trisha from the Try wandering more blog
#8: Getting Kicked Out of Gansu Province, China
My husband and I travelled around China for the first time back in 2009. Our first mistake was choosing a remote, Western Chinese province as our destination when we didn’t speak any Chinese. But we really wanted to visit the Labrang Monastery, one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is located not in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but in Gannan prefecture of Gansu province, which means that foreign tourists are allowed to visit independently. Or so we thought.
Our troubles began when none of the bus drivers would let us on their buses going towards the monastery. Eventually, one driver accepted us, but then he forced us off the bus in a random location before we’d reached our destination. With no other options, we started walking, but it wasn’t long before two police cars screeched to a halt next to us, and we were surrounded by a Chinese S.W.A.T. team. They took us to the local foreign affairs official, and he finally explained in English what was going on. Unbeknownst to us, that area had temporarily been closed to foreigners, because of anti-government protests by the Tibetans who live there.
Luckily, the English-speaking official was a very kind Tibetan man who even took us out to lunch before driving us back across the border personally! Ten years later, we finally fulfilled our dream of visiting the Labrang Monastery, and it was everything we’d hoped it would be.
By Wendy from the The nomadic vegan blog
#9: The wrong Cordoba
Last but not least, here’s one of my favourite travel fails to date. During my first independent trip to Spain in 2012, my friend and I were booking accommodations as we went. One of the towns we decided to stop in was Cordoba, a beautiful Andalusian city. We sat down in a cafe and started browsing the hostel offerings on Booking.com and checking out the reviews. We came across a great hostel, which promised a rooftop terrace with salsa lessons and barbecues. Both of us were already planning our dancing queen outfits and, since my friend was vegetarian, I remember making a comment that they’ll surely have some eggplants on the grill as well. Further browsing revealed more great hostels with central locations, tango and salsa lessons and mandatory barbecues. We were a bit surprised, as those are not exactly typical Andalusian features, but we both confidently figured that maybe Cordoba had a very Latin American neighbourhood there.
Anyhow, we happily booked the hostel and the confirmation email stated our receipt was in Argentinian pesos. You see where this is going, right? Well, we didn’t. Although it seemed a bit weird, we figured maybe the owners preferred foreign currency. We sat in that cafe, discussing the unlikely fortune of barbecues and dance lessons like two idiots, and fantasized about cocktails on the roof for quite a while, until one of us raised the currency question again. The more we discussed it, the weirder it seemed. We even tried to find the hostel on Google maps and the app kept saying it doesn’t exist in Spain, until the words ‘do you think there’s another Cordoba’ came out of my friend’s mouth. Both of us were like ‘naaah’, but we checked it anyway.
Yes, there is a Cordoba, Argentina, and yes, we booked a hostel in Cordoba, Argentina, instead of in Cordoba, Spain. And yes, we got to write an extremely embarrassing email asking the hostel for a refund of our reservation because of our mistake, which we luckily got.
This was actually the first collaborative post I hosted on my blog, so I hope you liked it! Big thanks to everyone who submitted their travel fails stories and stay safe out there on your further travels. Do you have any great travel fails to share? Tell me in the comments.:)