We are constantly hearing and seeing on social media about how amazing other people’s trips have been, which in part is what inspires us to travel ourselves. But how often do you hear about the other side of travelling? The travel fails. Those scary moments, embarrassing moments and absolute hilarious moments. Travelling is not always perfect. It’s not moving from one picture perfect postcard moment to the next. There are long arduous journeys along the way, toilets which make you feel a little sick to use, moments when you’ll feel homesick and all you can think about it is your warm comfy bed back home. That’s not to say travel isn’t worth it and most of these moments can be looked back upon in the future with a great deal of amusement. They make the best bar stories and they are the anecdotes which will stay with you the longest. Travelling wouldn’t be travelling without them – it would be holidaying which is definitely not as great an adventure!
So for this reason I decided to share with you some of my own travel fails and funny stories..
The Greece Hire Car
What could be more idyllic than hiring a car on a greek island and driving around stopping at little beaches and view points?! This is what we thought when my friend and I set off on a trip to see Shipwreck beach on Zante island in our little Daeo Matisse hire car. We were using google maps to orientate ourselves and it seemed to be working well until we came across some road works. We followed an alternate route instead where we found the road gradually disappearing – suddenly we realised we were unintentionally off-roading. I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed in the hire car contract..! So after a bit more google maps consulting, we decided it was a similar distance to turn around as to keep going so we figured we might as well keep going forward. Big mistake. We went around a steep bend and as we did the road gave way. I tried reversing, no luck, our only option was to go down. We had to balance the car by sitting on the same side and the clutch was burning but somehow I managed to get us down without rolling the car much to our relief as we were now in the middle of nowhere with no one likely to come past and stop and help! (Surely no one else would be stupid enough to drive that road without a 4WD?!) We managed to make it to our destination and watched the sun go down over the beautiful cove from a prime position on a cliff opposite – it really was stunning. Eventually we headed back to the car when it was almost dark. Only it wouldn’t start! Seriously could we have any more bad luck?! I went in search of help and found only 1 group of people left – all of whom were Russian and spoke no english! A lot of miming about off roading later and one of them had fortunately managed to solve the problem (a misplaced fuse) and we were back on the road. This time we followed the Russians back and got there with no further disasters feeling extremely grateful to our new Russian friends for saving our bacon!
- Never go off roading without a 4WD! (Ok a tad obvious perhaps!!)
- Never be the last person to leave a view-point after sunset – unless you have some car knowledge and a set of jump leads!
2. The Lost Luggage
Never fly with Afriqyah airlines. This is the advice I was told before booking my flights to Ghana but I ignored as I was a skint student at the time and they offered a great deal! Another big mistake! Our luggage somehow ended up in Libya and I learnt the hard way about packing enough toiletries and clothes in your hand luggage to get by with! But it gets worse. Every few days we were told our luggage was arriving, we’d turn up at the airport to be told the flight was delayed. We’d wait around a few hours then ask someone else “oh no that flights not today – try tomorrow!” A week later, several wasted trips to the airport and 2 smelly girls wearing much the same outfit as they arrived in and we were finally reunited with our bags allowing us 2 weeks to travel around Ghana instead of 3!
- Do your research about airlines beforehand and follow other travellers advice!
- Pack enough in your hand luggage to get by for 48 hours if you need to!
3. Multiple Broken Cameras
If you are following this blog you will know by now that I like photography. I like travel photography even more. It is a HUGE part of my trip and I’m lost without my DSLR. So imagine how I felt when sailing around the Thai Islands and my camera starts doing strange things and a few days later conks out completely?! The very minute I stepped off that boat I was off to find a new camera. It was a no-brainer for me, I couldn’t carry on without a decent camera. I had success at a department store just before my flight to Bangkok and feeling relieved I set off for Angkor wat in Cambodia (where tomb raider was filmed!) I took my shiney new DSLR out of the box and went to take my first photo of the beautiful sunrise over the stunning temples and went to check the screen – it was black. Every photo I took was black! I had gotten incredibly unlucky and had gotten a faulty camera! I debated long and hard but in the end I went and bought my 3rd camera. It wasn’t an easy decision – I was now £700 out of pocket – but it was the best decision I made that trip. Especially as after South East Asia, I went on safari to East Africa and had an incredible time photographing wildlife. I never got any photos of Angkor Wat but I can remember how stunning it was and who knows, maybe one day I will go back!
- Make sure you budget for the unexpected.
- If you’re getting a new camera for your travels, buy it in advance and test it out properly before you leave the country!
4. The Wrong Airport
I’m usually running late for everything so I was proud of myself when I made it to The Gold Coast Airport on time to pick up my friends. I was sat outside when I got a text
“We are here, where are you”
“Right outside arrivals”
“You can’t be, we are right outside arrivals”
“Can’t be! There’s no cars here!”
The penny dropped a few baffling minutes later. Wrong airport… My friends were at Brisbane airport not The Gold Coast! An hour and a half later and we were reunited, me feeling a tad sheepish..! Another travel fail but at least we all had a good giggle about it!
- double check travel arrangements with travel buddies in case anything has changed.
- When things go wrong, try to see the funny side!
5. The Lost Scorpion
Sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a home stay seemed like a great adventure until we saw a scorpion then promptly lost the scorpion. We survived the night but the next day opening our rucksacks felt a tad like the Russian roulette!
- keep doors shut at all times when the creepie crawlies unless you want to curl up with scorpions, tarantulas and snakes…!
6 . A close encounter with Australia’s most deadly snake
It was a beautiful spring day In Australia, perfect for a stroll along the beach so I put my flip-flops on and off I went with my boyfriend at the time. Now anyone who’s spent any time in Oz will know that the weather changes extremely quickly. Suddenly the wind picked up and started spraying sand in our eyes – not so relaxing. So we decided to head for the forrest instead. Working in an emergency department, I felt fairly sure it was too early to worry about snakes as we hadn’t had any snake bites for several months. So imagine my surprise to come face to face with an eastern brown snake whilst scrambling up a hill. I couldn’t step back with my boyfriend stood right behind me. I knew the Brown snake was aggressive AND deadly and my flip flops certainly weren’t going to protect me! We stared at each other for a moment and then he slowly slithered away. I was incredibly lucky that he seemed so sleepy – a few days later, when he’d woken up properly, it would likely be a different story! That week at work, the snake bites started coming in quick and fast. I certainly learnt my lesson!
- Flip flops are not appropriate footwear for trekking in Australia (yes this should have been obvious but when you live somewhere you can get a tad blase!)
- If you do see a snake, avoid any threatening sudden movements and slowly back away! If you do get bitten – apply bandages around the whole limb to reduce spread of venom and then get to hospital asap. Most bites are not usually venomous even when the snake itself is venomous as often they will give a dry bite as a warning so not to waste their venom!
7. The day we ALMOST got kidnapped (kind of)
I was travelling with a friend of mine on my first independent travel experience in Ghana. We felt super organised as we turned up at the bus station at 3 am having organised taxi’s the night before. What we didn’t realise was as this was the ONLY bus going to the national park that day, it was full already! We hadn’t taken notice of the route from the hostel – all we knew was that the route involved lots of dark lanes and we were pretty remote! The bus station itself looked like it was home to a few dodgy characters and was about to get very quiet when the bus left. Oh god, what should we do?! It was likely dangerous to stay and dangerous to try to find our way back alone up those dark lanes…! A guy we’d spoken to the previous day spotted us and came over “ Girls don’t worry, I know a local bus, come with me!” “Ummm no way!” I was picking up a bit of stranger danger and the idea of following this guy we barely knew down those dark lanes was almost as unappealing as heading off down them by ourselves! But then we found a couple who were in the same predicament as us and had decided to follow this guy. Weighing up our options we decided there was safety in numbers. 4 of us with one local guy seemed reasonable odds so we set off in search of this ‘local bus.’ Several dark lanes later and we found ourselves in a deserted car park but there was indeed a bus. They insisted on taking our luggage and we just had to keep our fingers crossed that it was on the roof! We then sat there for an hour, just us 4, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into! Should we split or stay? We were still debating this when suddenly the bus was flooded with locals! Turns out we were parked next to an old mosque and they had been praying en masse. Suddenly the bus was full, I had a chicken on my lap and we were off to Mole National Park! In the end it was one of my favourite journeys – authentic, local Ghana, and was finished up with a lift the back of a pick up truck to our final destination.
- Safety is in numbers – stick as a group when you can!
- I’m naturally a bit cautious which is probably not a bad thing when travelling but it’s good to be reminded that in general, there are an awful lot more good people in the world than bad. As long as you take sensible precautions, it’s nice to trust in the decency of most human beings from time to time!
- The best experiences are the truly local ones not the ones set up for tourists. Try to use local transport at least occasionally! You will have the more unique experiences and the most interesting conversations. But don’t expect air con or high quality toilet breaks…
8. The most horrendous bus trip EVER
Myself and 2 friends decided to venture to some of the more remote areas in Indonesia to experience some impressive volcanoes – Mt Bromo and Mt Ijen. Whilst I can’t say the journey wasn’t worth it as both were beautiful places to visit, I do regret being ripped off by a travel company that we organised the trip through. Our luxury air con mini bus we had ‘treated’ ourselves to turned out to be cramped with no air con and even the windows didn’t work properly! The journey was 16 hours and the driver refused to stop for toilet breaks. We eventually persuaded him to stop for 1 break after a lot of arguing but the rest of the time we rationed our water so not to need more wee stops! We arrived past midnight after a nightmare journey in a cramped minibus in 40 degree heat, dehydrated, and had to be up 3 hours later to start our trek to Mt Bromo for sunrise! Even the local bus they had arranged for our onward journey in Bali was also 8 hours with no toilet stops so we decided to hire our own taxi which felt like absolute luxury!
– the interest is packed full of information, tips, do’s and don’ts. Make use of this, read blogs, forums and trip advisor and find a company that has been vetted by other travellers first.
And a couple of funny stories for your amusement…
9. Slapped in the face by a wild eagle
In Kenya having a picnic on safari, my friend sat opposite was enjoying a chicken drumstick. A wild eagle had a touch of food envy and swooped down, fast as lightning, for the chicken. Only problem is, my face kinda got in the way! Suddenly everything went black and felt a bit oily! I looked up seconds after, baffled, to find my safari buddies rolling around in stitches. “Leanne, you’ve just been slapped in the face by an eagle!” Well I guess not everyone can say that!
10. Best bartering story
I pride myself on being quite good at bartering (but also fair.) I’ve even had friends travelling with me ask me to do the bartering for them in an art shop – turns out bartering is sniffed at there, Oops. But I had no intention of bartering when I stopped at my last African market in Ghana on the way to the airport. I was just killing time as I had no money left! 2 beautiful oil paintings drew my attention instantly. I loved the colours and the abstract images of women carrying babies and carrying water – really women are the …. The seller noticed me admiring the paintings, “how much miss?” I apologised and explained I didn’t have any money left, I was just browsing but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Well what else can you give me? At first I was shocked “ What are you implying?! I am NOT that sort of girl!!” But then I saw his attention drawn to my smelly trekking sandals. “What about those?” he said, pointing at my feet! Now I had fully intended on sticking these in the bin at the airport, I even had flip-flops in my bag ready for a quick change. Surely no one would actually want these horrendous ugly trekking sandals which I had waded through rivers and mud slicks in?! But he seemed genuinely excited by this trade ( 1 pair of gross shoes and half a packet of biscuits) and as I left with my paintings, I saw him parading them up and down to his market friends! I guess one persons rubbish is another’s treasure after all..!
So as you can see I’m a tad accident prone but I escaped all these misadventures to tell the tale! Did you enjoy these stories? Do you have some of your own? I’d love to hear them! If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to share on social media using the buttons below!