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Our worst travel experiences

9 of the worst travel experiences from 10 years on the road!

Bad travel experiences, we’ve all had them. You may not believe me but being a full-time traveller does have its down-sides. It’s not all amazing sunsets, exotic beaches, sampling exotic & yummy food and lie-ins every day. There are tough times. It gets very tiring (despite all those lie-ins), you are highly likely to get food poisoning at least once from all that exotic and yummy food and sometimes those exotic beaches hide scary marine creatures like nurse sharks and stingrays. But you know what, for me a full year of travelling even with those minor hardships is 10 times better than a year of working 9-5.

So here’s the ugly truth about travelling – a list of 9 of the worst travel experiences that happened to us while on the road. 

#1   When our Halong Bay trip fell through

We booked an overnight cruise on one of the junk boats that famously cruise through the magnificent Halong Bay. We spent days deciding on the best boat for us, we walked to probably every travel shop in Hanoi and asked lots of questions and when we finally decided on ‘the one’ we started to get really really excited. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you base your whole South East Asia trip around. So, we set off that morning full of excitement and wonder. But alas a massive storm was about to hit the bay. In the end we only got to spend 3 hours on the boat. A massive disappointment.

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The boat cruise in Halong Bay

#2   The bus journey from hell 

From Hue to Hanoi in Vietnam – 17 hours in total (5 hours longer than we expected) with an overflowing toilet and lots of noisy locals. Freezing cold aircon. Blaring pop music. Pretty much hell for 17 hours, okay maybe 16.5 (I think I managed to fall asleep for 30 minutes).


#3   The time I got food poisoning in El Cuco, El Salvador

I don’t know how I got it – probably under-cooked chicken like everyone else. But we were staying at a really remote Turtle Sanctuary come hotel and there were no Pharmacies nearby so I just had to ride out the constant vomiting in a sweltering room with no air-con. Other than this little blip, we loved our time in El Salvador

#4   When we couldn’t find an operating cash machine on Livingston Island

And so had only $7 to our name for a full day and night. We were certainly hungry leaving on the boat the next morning.

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Trying to de-stress in Livingston. Guatemala

#5   When we spent the night in a murder-scene type hotel room in Guatemala City

It smelled like urine and had an unbelievably creepy vibe. I’m pretty sure it was filled with drug lords and hookers. Amusing if we were in another part of the world but not so funny when staying in one of the worlds most dangerous cities. Thankfully we were literally there for 10 hours before we had to catch a long bus the next morning. Here’s what we recommend doing in Guatemala.

#6   When we had bed bugs in Dalat, Vietnam

Imagine happily lying on your hotel bed after a long day of sightseeing when you suddenly start feeling really itchy. Then imagine, lifting off the  bed sheets and the mattress protector to find lots of teeny-tiny bed bugs. I may have let out a scream or two or three.  Thankfully the hotel allowed us to change rooms asap. I’m itchy now just thinking about it.

#7   The nightmare boat ride from Gili Air to mainland Bali

We both managed to catch a 24 hour vomiting bug on the island. Plus it was really stormy that morning, which made our already weak stomachs even worse. It took two hours longer than we were told. And it was jam-packed, I think I was squashed into a two-seater with three other people.

Not the boat in Bali but a very similar journey on the Rio Dulce, Giatemala

#8   The time my debit card would not work anywhere in San Salvador

No money, big problem. Plus all the banks were closed for annual holidays. Thankfully the American owner of our hostel was very understanding about us not paying our bill on time. In fact we couldn’t pay our bill until three days later.

#9   The time I got hit by a moped in Hanoi

If you’ve ever visited South East Asia and in particular the Vietnamese city of Hanoi you will know that crossing the road there is a death wish in itself. Needless to say it was only a matter of time before I got hit. It was only a little clip on the back of my legs. But it was still pretty scary and painful and I pouted for the rest of the night, Paul was sick to death of me.

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The ‘bloody’ road I got hit in Hanoi, Vietnam

Despite this, we are very lucky to live the life we do

Looking back at this list now I realise how incredibly lucky we were in comparison to some of the other travel horror stories we’ve heard along the way. And to be honest I think my travel stories would have been a lot worse were it not for my very sensible other half or ‘street smart’ as he likes to call himself. My advice to avoid any dangerous encounters is simple – don’t be stupid. I know a lot of my friends and family were worried about us travelling through El Salvador, but as long as you use common sense and don’t go looking for trouble, then trouble won’t find you.

Take a risk with a life of travel

So, my question to you is are you willing to risk your stable 9-5 job for a year on the road, are you willing to risk months away from family and loved ones, are you willing to risk putting yourself in many situations outside of your comfort zone? And then guys there’s the most dangerous risk of all the risk of not spending your life doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

Hope you enjoyed reading (and hopefully laughing) about our 9 worst travel experiences. I’d love to hear your bad travel experiences in the comments below.

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Not every travel experience is a good one right? So, here's a humorous list of the worst travel experiences we've experienced on our travels.
Not every travel experience is a good one right? So, here's a humorous list of the worst travel experiences we've experienced on our travels.

9 replies on “Our worst travel experiences”

It is definitely not what social media shows usually – only smiles and happy sunsets. But it is good that you can laugh it off and continue your happy travels and most importantly that you are together in whatever happens.

I got itchy just by reading your terrifying bed bugs story, this is one of my biggest fears when booking a room, haha. It’s good that you can laugh about the bad experiences, they make up great stories afterwards 🙂

We’re only part time travelers, but had some bad travel experiences as well. Love that people tell about them so others can see that it’s not all about beautiful beaches, sun chairs, cocktail drinks etc, but they are all experiences you probably wouldn’t been without in the end. Makes good stories though 😛 Bed bugs sounds like a nightmare… ugh! Hope you didn’t get any in your bag traveling with you guys.

each of these experience is more familiar than I want it them to be. Look on the bright side: spending time in a murder hotel room makes for easy role playing and pretending you’re a hit man or drug dealer. Unless you actually are one of those, then it’s criminal business as usual..

Bed bugs……yikes! This is such a fun list… the ‘bad’ experiences often make great stories later, don’t they. But reading about bed bugs makes me feel itchy, too! LOL!

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