1. Cockroaches don’t bother them anymore
A friend and I decided we wanted to go to a retreat we'd heard about in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Being broke students we figured our best choice was Greyhound. We boarded our bus and settled in for our 26-hour (with stops) trip. With each 'stop' the bus switched and got progressively worse.
When dusk turned into night, I reached up and turned on my little overhead light.
To my horror, the moment the light came on, an uncountable number of cockroaches (big, small, tiny...) scattered from every visible surface and my friend and I started screaming.
We spent the next five hours jumping, flinching and uselessly flicking off every disgusting insect from us, until we were utterly exhausted.
After many hours of fighting an absolutely unwinnable battle, our horror morphed into total desensitized resignation and we only flicked away the ones that tried to crawl into our nostrils and ears.
2. Surgery saved his life
Wife and I went to the Bahamas and six hours after we got there, I started having stomach pains.
Two hours later, we are at a local hospital where they did a CT scan, which read I was fine.
My wife happens to be an Oncologist and saw my CT. She noticed that my gallbladder was the size of my liver and immediately said, "we are not staying here."
We paid for a medivac to the tune of $22,000 and I was in surgery back home within 12 hours.
My gallbladder was 5 inches with a 1.5 inch stone in the middle of it. The surgeon said it was the biggest she had ever seen.
3. Frozen ride
I was climbing a high mountain in Ecuador called Cotopaxi. We hooked up with this guide company and coming down from the mountain was an experience.
We left the base cabin around 11:00 a.m and it was snowing pretty heavily and was pretty steep going back down the curvy road.
In the van, the three row seats were not actually attached to anything, so they were sliding around the inside of the van, banging into each other with each twist and turn.
And then, the windshield wipers broke. With the heavy, wet snow, this was bad.
When I say they broke, they came completely off the vehicle, somehow.
The driver just rolled down his window, stuck his left hand out and used the broken-off windshield wiper, by-hand, to wipe the falling snow off. While driving. While we were bouncing around in the back of the van, using seat belts attached to un-attached seats.
It was a very cold van, since the window was open upfront. Going steeply down a slippery road on the side of a mountain. With no guardrails. Way too fast.
4. That’s not a parade
Got stuck in a soccer riot in Greece. We were in Thessaloniki and just walking about, when out of nowhere, we see a police motorcade full of motorcycles and horses.
We thought it must be some sort of festival or parade because a crowd was drawing.
We heard singing coming down the block and hundreds of hooligans were marching toward the police. Once we realized what was going on, we tried to leave but things had already started to get bad.
In trying to escape, we got hit with tear gas from the police and found shelter in a random apartment building.
5. Maybe they should give traveling a break
Pick your favorite. My most recent travel album on Facebook was titled, "That time I went abroad and didn't end up in hospital!"
Went to Rome and ended up in the hospital with a liver infection and no English speaking doctors.
Went to Cambodia and got mugged by a group of guys on motos and my local friends decided to chase them with meat cleavers and machetes I didn't know they owned.
Went to Australia and got third-degree burns on my foot on the last day of a festival I was volunteering for. My Brazilian friends found a trolley to wheel me back to my hostel.
6. Capsizing trip
Went deep-sea fishing for the first time in Mexico when I was eight. Two hours in, and 30 miles offshore, our boat began to take on water.
The life vests had never been used and needed to be set up. Our crew hardly spoke English, and we couldn't get a hold of any other boats.
Suddenly, the captain tells us to walk around the boat up to the bow. On our way there, the boat goes out of equilibrium, flips over to the side and capsized, sending everyone flying out underneath the boat.
After sitting in the water for about 30 minutes, hanging on to our spilled bait coolers, in shark-infested waters, we were rescued by another boat.
They took us back to shore, gave us a 40% refund and some free t-shirts.
7. Not the most magical place on earth
When I was young, my parents were in the process of splitting up.
My dad proposed a trip to Disney World with us. That seemed cool. Then, the morning of, he picked us up with this woman we had never seen before and her infant child. Turns out that was our new half-brother and my dad's mistress.
We were then trapped in the car with this woman we hated and forced to go to Disney World with her. We would fight over who had to sit next to her on rides and would squirm away from her in pictures.
We were dragged to Disney World many times after that with our "new family."
Every trip was horrible. I cannot think of any place in the entire world I would dislike vacationing to more than Disney World.
8. They lost their appetite
I'd been backpacking across the world for four months and was staying in Scotland for a few weeks. I was cold, hungry and just about broke.
I decided that I really needed some actual food, rather than the dry oats and stale bread in my backpack.
I found a cafe where I could sacrifice some of my last funds and order real food and be warm for a while. I ordered a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and handed over the cash.
I was so hungry and excited that I stood and watched the young girl make it. As she rolled up her sleeves to show the deep, red pustule scabs on her hands and arms, not wearing plastic gloves.
She eventually gave me my sandwich and I dumped it in the trash outside. I desperately wanted to ask for my money back, but I didn't want to upset the girl either.
9. Third times the charm
Traveling on Philippine Airlines and stuck at the back of a big Boeing jet.
The captain said there was an issue with the generator and then the power of the plane shut off. We were stuck in the dark, with no air, for about 30 minutes.
People were getting frantic and we had a lot of old people on the plane. Some of their caretakers were saying it was too hot and that they are at risk of stroke.
Hysteria broke lose when someone mentioned stroke, but the airline wouldn't let people off the airplane unless you were going to stay off.
Finally the power came on and we still waited to take-off. As the plane was departing from the gate and picking up speed for the runway, the plane died again and power was off.
People lost it and were yelling that if the plane shuts off mid-air, we fall and die.
Pilot went through a third check and said that the plane is fine and everything is fixed.
10. Man on the run
Took a bus from South Station in Boston out to visit friends in Ohio.
The bus gets pulled over about 45 minutes from the Ohio border.
Apparently, a fugitive managed to get a bus ticket and was running out of Massachusetts to avoid trial.
He realizes what is going on and freaks out, locks himself in the bathroom and claimed to have a box cutter to his throat.
Genius took himself hostage.
Everyone on the bus has to exit while police start negotiations. Three hours later, they are getting nowhere with the guy. A SWAT team comes in and flashbangs the back of the bus, boots the door down, takes the guy into custody.
Since the bus was now a crime scene and had explosives detonated, we had to get onto another bus.
That bus was two hours away. Sat at one of those little highway rest stops for five hours in the middle of February.
11. He just wanted a ride to his resort
I went to Phuket, Thailand a few years ago. Did not know all the taxi cabs outside of the airport were being run by the local Triads. They charge a ridiculous amount of money to get you to the hotel or resort.
My resort was a 20-minute cab ride from the airport and the driver asked for $150 USD. At this point, I was surrounded by a bunch of drivers trying to pull me into their taxi so they can rip me off.
I declined all of the offers and call my resort to tell them what was happening. They apologized and immediately sent out a shuttle bus to pick me up.
The shuttle arrived and was immediately surrounded by the gangsters and their roadblocks.
We ended up calling the cops. Police arrived in a couple of scooters, didn't see any problem and simply rode away.
I had to walk for 15 minutes to leave the airport area in order for the resort bus to pick me up.
12. Close call
In 2002, I was with my family on vacation in Washington, DC.
During this time, the DC sniper was in full force.
On October 14th, we were on a bus tour that went to all the memorials at night. We were at the Iwo Jima memorial when we heard a gunshot. This was the shot that killed the FBI analyst in a Home Depot parking lot only a couple miles away.
They promptly loaded us on the bus to take us back, at which point we were stuck in a roadblock for an hour or so.
At the time I was 11 and it was one of the scariest things I can remember happening to me.
13. Spleen there, done that
My mom used to live in Brazil, so one summer vacation I went to visit her by myself.
The flight from New York to São Paulo was about nine hours. Four hours into it, the plane was flying on top of the Amazon and I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my stomach.
I called for help, but they didn't know what was going on, nobody knew.
They took me off my seat and brought me to the first class, but nothing was helping.
Five hours later, after passing out about four times, the airplane landed. I was the first one to be out of the airplane on a wheelchair. I was brought to the emergency room at the airport and passed out again.
Woke up five hours later, not knowing where I was, still feeling a lot of pain.
I was brought to another airport nearby by someone that worked for the airline, where I could take another airplane to the city where my mom lived.
Turns out my spleen failed because of the pressure of the air in the airplane and I had to get it removed.
That whole summer I was stuck in Brazil, not able to do anything because of the surgery.
14. Don’t hop on this bus
Public transportation in Nepal is by far the worst I’ve experienced.
I’ve been to places where you need bodyguards before and been under fairly risky, but moderate, surgery. Those scenarios were far less dangerous than taking the busses up the switchbacks of those mountainsides.
You’ll see multiple flipped buses along the way and when ours almost tipped down a 100-foot ravine, I had a my-life-flashed-before-my-eyes moment.
Everyone on the bus began to rush to the other side and the driver was shaken with how close to death we came.
As nice as traveling cross country for only $20 dollars is, next time I'll rent a Jeep.
15. All it took was a single firework
At the end of our vacation, when we were about to leave a Thai resort island, my oldest brother set off a single firework.
It spiraled over, landed on the thatched roof of the departure terminal and burnt the entire thing to the ground.
He was then arrested and interrogated by Thai authorities for the entire day, as they thought he was a terrorist.
Long story short, our dad managed to bargain his way out of having his eldest son locked away in a Thai prison for all eternity and we left the island that night, minus our dignity and a large sum of money.
16. Have you heard from Tim recently?
My sister and I both traveled to Mexico to visit a friend of ours.
We arrived at the airport in a small Mexican town at around 2:00 a.m. I was already feeling a little sketched out by the airport and after about an hour of not seeing our buddy, we got a bit worried.
He never shows, so we took a cab to the nearest hotel resort and contact our parents to let them know we were there alone.
The trip ended up being decently fun, we were both on edge for a good part of it.
Turns out our buddy had gotten blackmailed by a cartel and had to work for them for several months until he could get out of Mexico.
17. The drinks weren’t worth it
In the Moulin Rouge district of Paris, I walked by a bar and they "invited" my buddy and me in by offering us two drinks for five euro.
I thought that was a good deal, so we went in.
It was a strip bar of sorts, but we were two of only three patrons.
When we were ready to go, we called for the bill, expecting it to be 5 euros. The slip read 738 euros for mine and 570 something for his. Over $1,500 USD for four drinks.
When I told them that I wouldn't pay, the guy running the place (who looked like a rough dude), told me, "You want free? Ok, I give you free."
That was terrifying when two guys covered the front doors and three more came in from the back.
I figured getting beat up for $1,500 wouldn't be so bad.
18. Definitely not a friend
A friend of mine, who came to Vietnam, befriended a local who showed him all around Hanoi.
He was invited to his house to eat dinner with the family, and when they traveled outside of Hanoi, they bunked together in a hotel room for three days.
When it came time for my friend to fly back south to Saigon, the "friend" gave him a ride on his motorbike to the airport. Helped him by carrying his bags for him, too.
When my friend went to go use the bathroom, he asked the “friend” to hold his backpack and DSLR camera. Then he returned to find that the friend had ditched him and stolen all his stuff.
19. Must have really wanted that visa
I recently came back from mainland China, where I lived in a city called Hefei.
I did a visa run (because I only had a tourist visa and had to leave China every two months) to Taiwan, but got a hotel in a city named Xiamen.
On my visa run, my girlfriend and I decided we were going to the beach.
We're having a blast swimming, but a few minutes later my backpack is gone. My bag that had my clothes, my wallet, my phone and most importantly my passport with my visa inside (which I need to travel).
I freaked out, to say the least.
Got the police and managed to get a stolen report with our huge language barrier. Since I didn't have my visa, I had to cancel my flight.
I stayed an extra two days in my hotel room and traveled back and forth to the entry and exit place to get some sort of permit to travel on land.
20. Staying alive
I was on a nine-hour flight. I’d just been given an ICD after having a “once-in-a-lifetime” cardiac arrest.
Unfortunately, an hour into the flight, I had another cardiac arrest.
I basically fell down and was shocked back to life. I was only down for a couple minutes, but for those of you who haven’t died and been shocked back to life, it feels like when you pull the plug on a computer without a battery.
It takes a few minutes to clear your head and re-boot. I came to with everyone around me staring down at me. A few people were yelling that I was having a seizure.
I sat down in my seat and everyone went back to doing what they were doing.
I had to sit there wondering what was happening to me and if I was going to die any minute. That kind of sucked.
21. A lot of road rage
In Tunisia, a couple of years ago, I was a passenger on a Tuk-Tuk.
They came in two models at the time. One was enclosed, where everyone faces the front. The other was open-sided, where the passengers sat facing outward, with no protection.
Thankfully I was riding in the enclosed model this time because a crazy Tunisian taxi driver drove straight into the side I was sitting at.
The metal frame got all bent and glass flew everywhere.
I was a little shaken, but my only physical injury were cuts to my leg because of the glass.
If we had been in the other model, me or my girlfriend would have lost our legs.
I still think of how lucky we were.
22. A peak experience
I was in Crete and decided to take a bus trip into the mountains.
The driver just floored it the whole way, driving full speed along the perilously narrow and chaotically winding mountain road.
I'm pretty sure the back of the bus occasionally swung out over the abyss as he raced along.
After fifteen minutes, I had simply resigned myself to my inevitable demise.
Did I mention he was talking on the phone most of the time?
It was an absolutely crazy ride and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but he delivered us safely to this idyllic mountain café, where I had pancakes with cheese and honey.
23. Bad luck traveler
Worst: In a rental car on a beautiful road trip from Rome down to the Amalfi coast.
Stopped and got out of the car. Locked the doors and look around for two minutes.
Then I turn around to see back window broken. Backpack with laptop, expensive lens, iPhone and wallet is gone. No one visibly around the whole time, except fast traffic which didn't stop.
Complete mystery, which set us back 5,000 euros and spoiled the rest of the trip.
Second worst: I’m freshly arrived in Budapest, get cash (big bills) from ATM to get a taxi.
It’s a 15-minute drive and at the end, I hand a bill (like 20 times the value of the taxi fare, which is one quarter of what we intended to spend the whole week) over to taxi driver.
He hands small change back and is like, "What? You gave me (1/10 of what I gave).”
Then he holds up bill I didn't give him for "proof." The bill I gave him obviously hidden in his sleeve.
24. They waited too long
Got to the airport to fly from JFK to Rochester (a one hour flight) about an hour early.
About 20 minutes before boarding, an announcement is made saying that a part on the plane has broken and they're trying to get a new one.
About an hour goes by and they make another announcement saying that they found a new part, but have no way of getting it to the plane.
They keep updating that same thing for the next few hours.
Finally, after eight hours of waiting in the airport, I get to board my plane.
I could've driven there in the time it took me to wait for my plane.
Eight hours of waiting for a one hour flight.
25. Dragons were sleeping
I was on a boat trip from Lombok to Komodo Island in Indonesia, famous for the Komodo dragons.
The trip took a few days. Just before we were about to land on Komodo Island, the boat hit a reef at about 2:00 a.m. and we began sinking. We had to jump off the boat and swim to shore.
There was even a ten-month-old baby on board. They had no life jackets for babies, so her father tied a scarf around her middle, tied the other end around his wrist, and jumped while holding her high in the air.
We had no idea what we were jumping into.
We were about 200 feet from shore, so we swam until we were thrown into the rocks on shore.
We proceeded to climb the rocks for about 30 minutes and then a luxury dive boat heard our distress signal and sent out their dinghy to pick us up.
Thankfully, it was raining so the Komodo dragons weren't out.
26. They were lied to
My sister and husband booked a cruise/hotel package from a telemarketer, promising them a beachfront resort and first-class cruise ship.
They pull up to the cockroach-infested, non-beachfront, motel (not resort) and break into tears. They tried to get a hold of Ramada to fix it, but to no avail. They screwed them over with the resort, how badly could they screw them over with the cruise, right?
The cruise ship was a tug boat. It's "pool" was approximately 4x4 feet wide, which was generous considering the size of the boat. It would've served better as a skateboarding pipe because it had no water.
Entertainment on cruise ships is already bad, this was something special.
At first they thought it was karaoke night, but slowly realized, no. The pipes on the ceiling in the "club" room had been duct taped over and spray painted black.
In the end they learned their lesson.
27. What a scam
Me and a buddy were vacationing on the island of Koh Pha Ngan in Thailand.
We had rented these little scooters to get around the island. Upon returning them, the owner of the rental shop did a walk around inspection and noticed a scratch about one-inch long, on the bike.
Nothing serious. I could have fixed it with nail polish and no one would ever notice.
He demanded $600 USD for damages, which I laughed at. Could probably buy the whole bike for that much.
He got the cops involved. They took our passports and said we had to pay the guy or go to jail. Such an obvious scam he had set up with these local cops to rip off tourists.
We gave them all the cash we had. The only thing we had left was boat tickets to Koh Phi Phi, the next island on our itinerary.
Once we got to the next island I had to beg an internet cafe owner to let me use the computer to Skype my dad at 3:00 a.m. in the states and beg for money. He was pissed.
28. Rough waters
On a cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, we went across the northern side of the sea, all the way down to Egypt, then we had two days at sea coming back to Rome.
The weather as the captain put it was, "The worst that he's seen since he became a captain 30 years ago."
There were huge swells and occasionally the motors came out of the water. When they went back in, they shook the boat violently. During one of these swells, I was in the dining room and all of the glasses flew off all the tables.
The crew started crying and getting seasick, so it was just a mess.
That day, I rode the elevator back and I could hear it shaking as it was swinging in the shaft.
When I did get back to my room and got in bed, I realized that occasionally the anchor would hit off the side of the boat like a big bell, which vibrated through the entire boat.
It delayed us getting back to Rome by 12 hours and we missed out flight by 20 minutes, so I spent a day in the airport.
We took a small fast boat that operated between Portsmouth and France. It was a stormy day, but the boat had been given the all-clear to go.
After a while at sea, the weather got a lot worse and the boat started becoming pretty unsteady.
Passengers began being seasick and then the staff got seasick. Eventually water and smoke was seen coming in the vents.
Turns out the smoke was from a flare that had gone off by accident, however, I did not think I would live to see another day.
We were the last boat to make that trip that day as the company canceled all the other crossings.
30. They won their case
My fiance and I went to Germany and had a layover in Belgium before landing in Berlin. We landed in Berlin, and our luggage is nowhere to be found.
Turns out all of our luggage was still in Belgium.
We were told that our luggage would be delivered to our hotel, and we would be compensated $75 per suitcase, for each day we were without our luggage.
After almost a week of wearing the same clothes, and no update from the airline, we broke down and bought entire new wardrobes (around $300 USD between the two of us).
The day after we spent all of this money, our luggage arrived at our hotel in Munich.
When we get back to the U.S., we file our claim with the airline and are told that the airline wasn't responsible and we weren't getting compensated for anything.
After getting nowhere with the airline, we filed a complaint with their version of the better business bureau, and after two months, they sent us a check compensating us for everything.