Despite careful planning, preparation and the best of intentions, bad things happen to good travellers. While #travelfails make for sad and terrible moments in the moment, they do supply great stories and travel memories for the future. From awful aviation adventures to terrible train trips, laugh and learn from these not-so-terrific travel experiences.

Awful Aviation Antics

Kevin Wagar’s family trip to Jordan was marked by a series of airline ineptitudes that created travel chaos for his young family. Though things began smoothly enough for the long flight from Chicago to Amman, the airline decided to move the entire family (including the under-two-year-old lap child) into an emergency exit row.

‘Somehow airline staff didn’t realize that children are not allowed in emergency rows due to their inability to open the door in case of emergency,’says Kevin. ‘It took so long for the airline to sort out the issue and get us new seats that we ended up running across O’Hare airport trying to catch the flight before it left.’

They made it and enjoyed a magical time in Jordan. But when it was time to come home, it was airline déjà vu.

‘On our return flight, we ended up the same issue that took an hour of sorting. Then a mechanical issue forced a two-hour delay, causing us to miss the connection home to Toronto and landing us in O’Hare as the airport shut down. We were stuck there with two young children at midnight, with no one at the airport, and a dwindling diaper supply. More weather delays, mechanical issues and flight cancellations ensued, and finally, two days late, I crawled back into work, exhausted but happy to be home.’

Train in Vain

In 2010, Katja Gaskell and her family were living in New Delhi, India, and battling – for the second summer – with intense heat. With temperatures reaching over 40C during the day and not dropping below 30C at night, they were desperate to escape the city and literally run for the (cooler) hills.

They headed to the Old Delhi Railway Station at night with a two-year-old and a four-month-old waiting for an overnight train.

‘Train stations in India tend to be crowded at the best of times but the railway station in Old Delhi was heaving,’ says Katja. ‘The station was packed with hundreds of people and carts laden with enormous sacks of rice and stacks of televisions precariously piled, all winding their way at speed through the crowds. We managed to find a space to wait for the train.’

The train never came. The family waited for hours as the two very young children became increasingly hot and bothered and the station even busier.

‘We were determined not to be defeated so left the station and piled into a car to drive to the hills. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn very early on in the drive and what should have been a five-hour car journey became one that took over 10 hours over pot-holed roads. This was definitely one Indian travel experience that we have tried to forget.’ 

Scooter Swipe

Cacinda Maloney and her friend had just stepped outside on their first outing on the first day of their visit in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Suddenly, her friend’s phone disappeared right out of her hand.

‘It happened so fast that I barely even saw it,’ says Cacinda. ‘And I was within a few feet of her. We were both taking photos of a hotel right near the curb and holding out our iPhones, when suddenly a moto driver sped by and grabbed the phone between her hands and sped off.’

This type of thievery is called the “scooter swipe” and is a bit of a thing in Ho Chi Minh City. While the odds of recovering the phone are likely slim to none, it’s a cautionary tale for anyone who enjoys taking photos outdoors.

Lost in Translation

Traveller Kirsten Maxwell and her husband were backpacking through Europe in 1998, before the dawn of smartphones and GPS. They were ambitiously covering 14 cities in 23 days and had decided to take the overnight train from Budapest to Prague, via Slovakia.

‘We settled into our private couchette for the night, when suddenly, we were awoken by banging on our door and voices yelling in some foreign tongue,’says Kirsten.‘We had no idea what was happening. My husband went over to the door and opened it, only to be “greeted” by two armed guards holding guns and yelling at us in a foreign tongue. We tried to communicate through pantomime, but the guards were upset we were traveling through their country and had not “paid for a ticket”. They insisted we hand over our passports immediately.’

The Maxwells handed over their passports and the thousands of korunas demanded by the guards, who seemed satisfied, returned the documents and moved on.

‘In our stupor, we thought we’d handed over an insane amount of money. But after recovering our senses, we realized we had been ordered to pay a whopping sum of $30 USD. The entire experience left us drained, but in the end, it made for a good travel story.’

 Do you have a travel fail story? Share it in the comments. 


Photo Credit: Pixabay