Have you ever planned a dream vacation only for the experience to turn sour? Ten individuals shared their worst travel experiences that have created life-long memories. Content has been edited for clarity.
Band Trip Bust
“My sophomore year of high school our band was supposed to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We had a week planned out filled with sightseeing tours, small concert performances, and lots of relaxing on the beach. Since our group was so big, half of the group flew to Atlanta while the other half (my group) flew to Miami from Minneapolis before taking off for Brazil. We got to our first destinations and then boarded the plane to go to Brazil. The plane got delayed due to mechanical issues, so we were stuck in our seats waiting around. An hour went by, then two, then three. At that point, the plane was really stuffy and we were all starving. Finally, they told us the air traffic control workers in Brazil had decided to go on strike so our plane couldn’t take off.
We got off the plane and are stuck in the airport for the night trying to rebook another flight. It was pretty late, and we still had a big group of people, so the airport assigned us an empty conference room to nap. The people out in Atlanta couldn’t get a hotel because they were all booked due to the Final Four tournament going on at the same time. The room was FREEZING. All we had were our carry-on bags and the low-quality pillow and paper-thin blanket to sleep on. In the morning we were still trying to book a flight but it did not look good. Thankfully the weather was nice in Miami so we sat outside for a while. After spending a whole day hoping to get a new flight, our directors were unable to book us a new one.
So now we had to figure out how to get home. Well, the only flights open were from Orlando to Minneapolis. So they booked us a hotel in Orlando and we got a coach bus to ride there. On the way, the AC broke and it felt like a sauna on this three-hour bus ride. When we got to the hotel we were able to relax, but still only had the clothes we wore and no other belongings. We finally got a flight back to Minnesota, but without our luggage, because it still got sent to Brazil! We later found out the strike which prevented us from going was only twenty-four hours long.”
Trouble in Tanzania
“I, a female, was traveling in Tanzania with my sister. Unfortunately, our taxi driver from the ferry to the bus station was less than legit. Being somewhat trusting, he asked us where we were going and we told him the town where our hotel was located. He drove us into a sketchy alleyway beside the bus station and his friend pressured us super hard to buy bus tickets for a bus. I had never heard of this bus, and tickets were three times the regular price. They both got upset when we refused, so we escaped to the bus station. There was not a single tourist in sight, and worse still, no other females in a crowd of hundreds of men. We, of course, started getting harassed right away. A security guard came to our rescue and took us to the hotel in the terminal. It turned out he wasn’t a security guard, and he tried to blackmail us into buying bus tickets for his company. This man also knew what room we were staying in.
We went out to buy tickets two hours later. We got separated in the crowd of men who yelled at us and pushed us. Eventually, we bought tickets after a huge ordeal. Long story short, the ‘security guard’ from before asked us to buy tickets from him again. He got super angry when he found out we had already bought tickets. He started screaming at us and more or less chased us into the hotel (not secure, clearly). We locked our hotel room, but we heard him in the hallway yelling and banging for some time. This was around eleven in the morning. We stayed in our hotel room until five in the morning the next day, with only half a bottle of pop and one stale muffin between the two of us. Our room was crawling with cockroaches and our toilet didn’t flush. Needless to say, we were both extremely relieved when we got on the bus (we were convinced our tickets were fake), and left the city limits of Dar Es Salaam.”
Ex-Boyfriend to the Rescue?
“I had a business trip to Vegas four-hundred miles away and I took my own car. Halfway to my destination, the car transmission started to go out. By the time I got there, I could not make my car go over twenty miles per hour. It was under warranty though, so I take it to a dealership nearby. It’s Friday and they could not fix it until Monday. I was broke and the company only gave me enough money for one night and one day in a hotel.
I called my ex. He was going out of the country for two weeks, but he got me a bus ticket home. The bus left at midnight. I walked from casino to casino all day until midnight (with no food). I went to the bus station and they had no record of the ticket my ex purchased. My cell phone was dead. I broke out crying at the ticket counter and a bus driver heard. He was driving to a station fifty miles from my town, which is better than four hundred!
The bus broke down halfway in the middle of nowhere. I had to wait for a new bus in the desert in January. I still had no food. The replacement bus arrived, but I had no ticket. I had to wait with a broken-down bus with the driver until another arrived at six in the morning.
Finally, I got to the bus station fifty miles from home at noon. Still no food. I got my dead phone to turn on long enough to get a friend’s phone number who lives nearby. He does not accept my collect call from the pay phone. I called my sister, and she called him. He agreed to pick me up. I asked him to bring food.
He arrived two hours later sans food. I was grateful he picked me up so I did not complain. I could eat at home. It was only fifty miles away. I could wait another hour.
But no, he had a meeting he had to be at in an hour so I had to wait until later to be taken home. I asked to be left at his house, and if I could use his shower and help myself to his kitchen. He was a bachelor and had no food or clean towels. That’s fine. I could wait to shower, but I needed food. He agreed to buy me Taco Bell, but he did not know where one is. I kept telling him I will eat anywhere but he insisted on buying me Taco Bell.
By the time we found one he is almost late for his meeting. I had to wait in the car. But I had food. I was grateful. Three hours later he was done with his meeting. But now there was traffic. It took two more hours to get me home. I got home, plugged in my phone and there was a message from the mechanic. My car was ready for pickup on Saturday morning.”
“Two and a half years ago, I was on a nonstop red-eye flight from LAX to Heathrow. I had maybe $10 in my bank account. I was going to stay with friends in England and was waiting for money to transfer into my account. Fifteen minutes before the plane was to depart, the pilot came on the intercom and told us something had happened to the flight plan. They said they needed time to re-route, so we’d be leaving about half an hour late. Whatever, it wasn’t my problem, I went to bed.
When I awoke, I checked to see where we were and how long I was sleeping. We were about an hour from Heathrow. Awesome. I got up, stretched my legs, chatted with the flight attendants for a moment, and then went back to my seat. That’s weird, the flight plan said we’re two and a half hours from Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The flight plan of the person next to me said the same thing. The flight attendant had no idea what I was talking about.
Boom. The pilot came back on the intercom. The insignificant nothing which they were talking about messing with the flight plan? The volcano in Iceland had exploded. Heathrow had closed and we were being re-routed to Paris. We made it there two hours before the airport closed.
They put us up in a hotel for the night. But when people tell me ‘So you accidentally had a vacation in Paris, how terrible!’ I reply, ‘Yes, but when was the last time you went to Paris with $10?’
Not to mention they didn’t know when the airport was going to open. We got there at six in the evening, and they told us we had to get up at four in the morning to leave for the airport. But just kidding! We got up at four in the morning, but flights were delayed again so we had to get up at nine in the morning to leave. This went on for three days until they finally chartered a bus across the EuroStar. The entire time this went on, I had no way of contacting my friend to tell her I was okay, I just showed up four days late.”
Long-Distance Gone Wrong
“In my early twenties, I was very dumb and very lonely, and I had just discovered the ‘joy’ of chat rooms. I thought it was great I was meeting girls from all over the world. One of those girls was from the US and I decided, despite almost every single indication this was a really stupid idea, I would go and visit her. We spoke about it, and it was agreed I would be staying with her aunt and they would collect me from the airport when I arrived.
After a long flight, I touched down and made my way through the frankly ridiculous US airport security and waited in the lobby and waited. After a while, I decided to use some change to call the number I had been given. The aunt explained they weren’t collecting me, and should get on the bus instead. I explained I had no idea where the bus was, which one to get on, or where to get off. They gave me an address and I got in a taxi. The driver was cool and was really nice to me, but he didn’t speak English very well and had no idea where he was going. He kept calling dispatch to ask for directions to my destination. The guy on the radio was clearly getting extremely irritated with having to spell out the entire route for him. Eventually, we got arrived. It was a long way from the airport and it cost me over three hundred dollars! I also discovered the airline had smashed my guitar.
The family greeted me and gave me some pizza, and showed me around, however, there was no sign of this girl I was supposed to be meeting. They called her to let her know I was there but she didn’t show. She eventually came over some time the next day for a brief visit. I knew from the first minute I had made a huge mistake, she clearly didn’t want me to be there at all.
I was due to stay for around three weeks, most of which was spent hanging around with this girl’s aunt and her aunt’s cool boyfriend and kids. I rarely saw the girl and she made almost no effort to even speak to me. I basically spent most of my time washing dishes. I had previously agreed to pay some rent for my stay but the aunt actually used me to pay for her groceries too. I basically spent the majority of my money on them.
Anyway, over the course of the next few days, this girl was increasingly insensitive to me and I was losing my mind. Her family kept telling me all sorts of stories about how she did this to people all the time, and they would wait for her to tell me she couldn’t come over because she was out somewhere else. They would drive by her house to see if her car was there and then come back to tell me she was lying to me. It was like they were all using me to get at each other and I didn’t know who was telling the truth. I just wanted to go home. I packed and went to a motel where I had to stay on my own for two days before going to the airport and being charged for the pleasure of changing my flight date!”
Unhappy in Hawaii
“My ex-boyfriend and I had booked a trip to Hawaii about four months in advance. We broke up two months before the vacation. Since two of our good friends were going as well, we tried to be amicable and just go and try to have fun, even though things were difficult between us.
Of course, when we got there, the hotel messed up and booked us in a hotel with one bed rather than singles. They didn’t have any more rooms for singles. So I was stuck with my super emotional ex every night and bickered about why things will never go right between us and why we are not meant for each other. Needless to say, we kind of ruined the trip for our friends.”
“On a trip to Morocco with a friend, I arrived at our hotel, unpacked my things, and went downstairs to explore while she took a nap. I headed back upstairs to check on her and she said ‘Do NOT open the bathroom door!’ as I opened the bathroom door. The worst smell I had ever experienced flooded out. The essence of sewerage, flatulence, and death. My friend ran to the window and got sick, she said she hadn’t been able to stop since opening the bathroom door. Then I doubled over and was sick. We ended up in all sorts of poses gagging and crying for the better part of an hour. When we finally mustered ourselves out the door, we looked quite a fright.
We headed to the reception desk and explained there was a problem with the room and that we needed to change rooms. Staff argued and refused and made all sorts of excuses but we were adamant it was just not possible to sleep in the room. Finally, we were offered a room in the staff quarters and gladly took the bunks over to a guest room.
Clearing our things out of the room was actually quite funny. We did end up crying and getting sick again, but taking a deep breath before grabbing things and tossing them into the hallway was some light relief.”
Deep Dive Dilemma
“Years ago, while living in Texas, my wife and I decided to go on a vacation. We had to do it on the cheap because we were pretty poor back then. We really wanted to go do a scuba dive, but we knew we couldn’t afford to do it and afford a place to stay.
But wait! My wife had a cousin in Miami, and she loved to dive! And she’d love to have us! Excellent!
It took us about twelve hours to drive there from Austin. When we got there, we found out she was in a gated community- and adding people to her guest list was fairly difficult, so she said we should just use her friends’ names. Okay, no problem.
Then we found out her boyfriend (a guy we really liked) was out of state. And then she mentioned she was going to look for a new place to live. Yep, she was in the middle of breaking up with her boyfriend, while we were there.
Okay, whatever. It’s a shame, but it shouldn’t affect us too much. We called a local dive shop and arranged to go diving the next morning. In the meantime, we hit the beach for a few hours and then got some dinner, while the cousin was out apartment shopping.
When we got back to the apartment, it was after dark. And apparently, the security guards checked ID after dark. So we had to call the cousin up to get her to let us in. She showed up about thirty minutes later with her ‘friend’. A guy friend. She told us she’d let us in, but she was going to stay over at her friend’s house.
Sigh. So we got into the apartment and were there for about an hour when suddenly her (soon-to-be-ex) boyfriend showed up. He’d heard about the impending breakup, and wanted to try to avert it. We told him we didn’t know where she was and went to bed. We agreed we’d do the dive in the morning and then get out of Florida.
In the morning, we got a call from the dive shop- the dive was canceled because the dive boat caught fire and sank. We left Miami thirty minutes later.
We actually spent more time on the road than we did in Miami, and we haven’t spoken with the cousin again.”
Romantic Getaway Ruined
“A few years ago, I decided to take my wife for a romantic weekend in Oxford.
The ‘hotel’ – dear God. The supposed Double Room had two single beds, both of which were filthy. The bathroom – in a fetching shade of avocado green – looked like it hadn’t seen a damp cloth in about a fortnight. The room had furniture which reminded me of a student house, and someone had left their own belongings in a drawer.
We decided not to get breakfast which was probably a good call – we later found out they’d been fined for something to do with poor hygiene. I’ve occasionally looked it up on Trip Advisor, and it seemed five-figure fines had not been enough to deter the owner from continuing to run it in more-or-less the same fashion. The hotel recently won an award for being the filthiest hotel in Britain.
Christ knows how it’s still in business.”
Earthquakes And Heartbreaks
“Oh, man. The trip to Palm Springs to see my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding. I was super excited about the trip. I was in first grade, and I had never flown in a plane before. Also, my family had tickets to Disney Land and all of the other things you do when you are in California. The first night we were there I experienced my first earthquake in the middle of the night. Being from the Midwest this was not a fun experience. I woke up the next day and put on my swimsuit to head to the pool when my mom asked,
‘What are the spots on your back?’
It was chicken pox. I mean crazy chicken pox. I even had them in my mouth. Apparently, my family thought it was necessary to cancel the Disney Land trip for everyone in the group because of me. I never got to go to the beach or do anything fun. I remember I couldn’t even take a bath it hurt so much.”
Nightmare In The Netherlands
“I had been fortunate enough to have several bad travel experiences around the globe: I found a dozen ticks on me after riding a horse in Ecuador (one in a place I would rather not talk about), and got lost and slept in a girls bathroom in Belgium during the Ghent Festival.
One however definitely takes the cake. More so because I was attempting to be cool and made a fool of myself, rather than it being a terrible experience. I was on a study abroad and we spent about three weeks in the Netherlands. It just so happened our group was there when the Netherlands made it to the World Cup final. The group members and I watched the game on the big screen at Museumplein, where there must have been at least sixty-thousand people.
As an American who was bandwagoning on the Netherlands team, I felt I had something to prove to the locals. I saw a group of guys who were trying to get one of those oversized three-liter drink bottles opened, but they forgot to bring a bottle opener. I was trying to act cool and grabbed the bottle from them and popped the cap open with my teeth. I successfully opened the drink and they all cheered. But as soon as I opened it I felt a pain in my mouth. I then proceeded to spit out a large chunk of my tooth I cracked while opening the bottle.
I was upset, in pain, and felt like an idiot. My tooth was in pain the rest of the trip until I got it fixed back in the states. To top it all off, the guys did not offer me any drinks and the Netherlands lost the finials. Now I have a constant reminder to not try to be cooler than I actually am.”