23 Experiences You DON’T Want on Your Travel Bucket List

Previously I wrote a post titled 29 experiences to put on your travel bucket list based upon amazing travel experiences Craig and I had done over our travel years.

Travel isn’t all sweet and easy. In fact, it’s very challenging and a lot of hard work, which is why the rewards are always so great.

Many things can go wrong on your travels. Here is my list of travel experiences you DO NOT want to put on your travel bucket list when planning your travels around the world.

What NOT to put on your travel bucket list

Road travel in Cambodia
Impassable Cambodian road

1. Experiencing a 9 hour bus ride from Siem Riep to Phnom Penh in Cambodia that actually takes 24 hours and involves several flooded roads and collapsed bridges. The whole time you’re thinking of your friends who chose to take the more expensive but relaxing four hour boat journey.

2.  Taken on a death ride by a magic-mushroom tripping Indonesian local on the back of a motorbike, on Samosir Island, Lake Toba, as he sings to the tune of  one of your favorite Bob Marley songs “I killed the tourist and then I stole her passport.”

He then goes on to explain how, “If we had an accident no one would ever know or be able to find your body.”

3.  US immigration losing your passports only days before your visa expires and you are due to fly out.

4. Bali belly striking on a four hour boat ride from Bali to Lombok. You spend the whole trip in a 2×2 foot dirty boat toilet. Upon arrival your friends proceed to splurge out on cheap lobster and seafood and get drunk, while you drink tea with salt in it in an attempt to feel somewhat human.

5.  A Silverback gorilla charging you in the jungles of Uganda (actually as long as you’re not hurt this is a pretty good story to tell). We tell the story and more in this podcast on Uganda travels.

6. The central heating breaking down in your London flat, and you and your house mates sit shivering watching TV through the drips leaking down from the upstairs bathroom, wrapped up in your winter woolies and cuddling each other for warmth.

7. Being overweight and extremely unfit, going jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang, Sumutra, to see wild orangutans. Hiking up and over 7 mountain peaks to a riverside campsite. Hard rocks dig in your back, as you try to sleep, while things crash around you in the jungle.

Your guide sits up all night next to you with a big knife on tiger watch, (after he has told you loads of close encounter stories) and no matter how exhausted you are, sleep just won’t come.

Jungle trek in Bukit Lawang
A sleepless night in the Jungle

8. Going out to work on the Pearling Boats in Broome, Western Australia after you’ve been told the cyclone has passed and all is safe, only for it to turn around unexpectedly and you get stuck in the tail end of a category 1 cyclone.

9. Having a beer on Koh Sahn Road in Bangkok, toasting to a brilliant 5 year honeymoon, as your plane takes off over your head heading home to a waiting family tribe in Sydney, unbeknown to you, who thought it was leaving 6 hours later.

10. Spending the day writhing around on your bed, deathly sick from bad seafood eaten at the late night markets in Luang Prabang, the previous evening.

11. Passing out on the Tube (London underground) again after another night in Covent Garden only to travel to Heathrow and all the way back again in time for work.

12. Ordering the “Extra, Extra, Happy” Pizza in Phomn Pehn Cambodia instead of being satisfied with just “Happy”, and getting a MUCH bigger buzz than you planned!

13. Having too many Thai whiskey buckets on Koh Phi Phi, passing out  and waking up to almost 100 mosquito bites on you, smothering them with calamine lotion in an attempt to ease the itch, and then going out on an already organized snorkelling tour of the islands.

Mosquito bites on Koh Phi Phi
Calamine lotion anyone?

14. Losing your digital camera, with hundreds of pictures and movies, including those from your time spent with the Gorillas in Uganda, whitewater rafting the Nile, and camping with the Masai warriors in Kenya.

15. You and your husband getting ear infections from a hostel swimming pool in Broome, Western Australia and then hop on a sea plane a few days later to work on Pearling boats. Your ear drums perforate and for fear of losing your job you suck it up, put on the brave face, and try to maintain your balance through high swells and rainy conditions.

16. Having your foot become mysteriously infected in Indonesia, having to cut your SE Asia holiday short to arrive at your new London destination, with no friends, money, job or place to stay and with a club for a foot.

17. An infestation of bed bugs in your London traveler’s house, and waking up one night to see them running down the walls.

18. Having the time of your life with girlfriends on your European campervan adventure, and after seeking medical attention for your van’s (Bert) recent illness, the Portuguese mechanic gives you the diagnosis “Bert dead. Better off in the ocean.”

Europe Campervan tour
Bert dead!

19. Waking up in your tent in Cape Town with an excruciatingly painful headache, and swollen joints and having to rely on your husband to walk you around until finally the doctors realize you are suffering from tick bite fever, and not the possible encephalitis he previously mentioned!

20. Drinking far too many Vodka red bull buckets at Nha Trang Sailing Club in Vietnam, and instead of walking the block to your guesthouse at 2am, you decide it would be fun to ride in a cyclo. Craig and I both pass out, and wake up in the middle of a remote village 4 hours away by motorbike, as the locals begin setting up the morning market.

The vodka haze prevents your mind from figuring out what has happened, where you are, where you should be, and what you can do next. You burst into tears, and a small boy pulls on your fisherman’s pants and hands you your credit card.

A motorbike conveniently pulls up to take you back to the only place you can vaguely remember a word for, “The Sailing Club”

21. Driving in the back of a rusty, beaten up pick up with 20 local Malawians when all of a sudden you feel a bump and a grind and see your pick-ups wheel rolling down into the ditch below.

pick up travel in Africa
Anyone missing a wheel?

22. Walking into the public toilets in Zimbabwe, with an extremely pressed bladder, and turning around immediately after seeing brown stuff smeared over the walls, women and children climbing onto concrete pillars through the toilet waste to do their business in full view of those waiting, and knowing that the water lapping at the soles of your flip flops was really not water.

23. Getting trapped at the top of a treeless peak in the Rocky Mountains, the most perfect place to get struck by lightning, as a thunderstorm with serious lightning starts cracking up the sky.

More inspiration

We recorded our story in podcast over 5 episodes. Each episode showcases how we made travel our lifestyle despite many challenges, and not matter what life stage we were in.

Episode 3 is where we dive into the dark times spoken about in this post. All episodes are filled with nuggets to help you see how anything is possible. Pull up a chair and your favorite drink and let us help you keep your dreams alive.

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

And more useful nuggets in I want to Know your Secret and You’ve got Time + the end of 22 years of nomadic travel.

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 What horror stories can you add to the list?

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