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. Β 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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travel bucket list

 What horror stories can you add to the list?

129 thoughts on “23 Experiences You DON’T Want on Your Travel Bucket List”

  1. Great post. I was dying while reading it and all the comments.

    I also have one, curiously also in Nha Trang and involving vodka red bull buckets:

    Waking up to loud pounding on the door of the room, jumping up and looking at each other through the haze of the previous night, running to the door, “Bus here, bus here, bus here!”
    “Be right there!!” Looking around the room, at each other, back at the room. “What happened?” Then frantically chucking everything laying everywhere into our packs and running downstairs and barely making our bus. Then having to go through the Vietnamese highlands on an all day bus ride. Damn buckets.

  2. This is one I won’t be showing my parents. πŸ˜‰

    Will add:

    –Deciding that it’s a GREAT idea to meet a guy for a drink alone at 3:00 AM on a weeknight in front of the Duomo in Florence, after many of the bars close but the drunks are still hanging out, eager to harass the first single woman they find. :-/

    1. Traveling solo and being offered “the trip of a lifetime” by a seemingly normal wealthy man on a boat at the more remote end of an island.

      That doesn’t scream kidnapping/rape/or a similar story to the demise of poor Britt Lapthorne then I don’t know what does

  3. Oh man, I almost couldn’t make it through the list, it was painful to read!!! But, well in the end its the crazy stories that make for the best stories haha. Glad you survived and kept traveling! XOXOXO

  4. You just me me laugh so much! Although these are not for the “perfect travel” bucket list, they do make for amazing stories, unique adventures, and memories that will always make you laugh at yourself. Would love to hear more about the Gorilla… πŸ™‚

    I have one to add – Spending a Category 3 hurricane on a Caribbean cruise. It was hurricane Lenny on 1999; which formed unexpectedly late on the hurricane season, and oddly enough, it traveled eastward (instead of westward as 99% of hurricanes do). So halfway on the trip the captain decided to stay in the deep sea and circle it instead of docking for fear of sinking the ship. It was scary, but an amazing experience none the less.

    1. Wow Norbert! That sounds really scary. I always live by the motto,”Make your life a story to tell,” I think that must be why the Universe keeps sending me horror stories to experience, as they do make good stories.

  5. Wow, yeah, I don’t think I’ll be adding any of these to my bucket list!

    One of mine that I’d add:

    Letting a confused cab driver in Beijing deposit you and a few American friends at an all-Chinese techno club instead of where you wanted to go. Being one of 3 white girls in this place, you proceed to be dance-raped and groped by very sweaty, drunk Chinese men who can’t understand your pleads of “No, go away” when they try to drag you off the dance floor. Meanwhile, your male friends think this is hilarious.

  6. Wow! I have to say after reading this that I’m glad I didn’t try the food at the late night market in Luang Prabang! I love the one about toasting in Koh San Road as your plane is taking off πŸ™‚ Too funny. This makes me wonder what my list would look like… For some reason, It’s harder to remember the mishaps than it is to remember the good times, thankfully.

  7. It’s amazing. I’ve yet to hear of an experience at Lake Toba that didn’t involve a magic-mushroom tripping local! Unfortunately, my story involved being harassed by an 80-year old woman who repeatedly banged on the door of my guesthouse room throughout the entire night demanding that I eat some mushrooms with her.

    And that warning about there being no need to add the “Extra” onto your order of “Happy Pizza” needs to be spread around more often. I ended up stuck in a hammock for three days unable to move after trying out the Extra version myself…

    Excellent round-up of some of the more unique moments of traveling!

    1. That is hilarious Earl. I can just picture the old lady banging on your door. Craig will be happy to know that your after effects of the extra version lasted for three days.

  8. Having to extricate my drunk and weeping friend from the local guy she had been flirting with all evening at a lively bar in Mombassa – and I was somehow the bad guy – huh?

    Going to a tour operator in Delhi to buy train tickets. After an hour of hard sell I gave in and agreed to buy a 2 week tour with car and non english speaking driver. The whole experience completely spoiled India for me as I ended up touring EVERY temple my driver wanted to visit instead of doing my own thing

    Passing a mean looking dog in Bangkok and realising too late that he was going to bite me – aaagh!

  9. Great list! The thought of waking up and seeing bed bugs on the wall really freaks me out. Have experienced them several times, but have never seen them – think it’s better that way.

    1. Yeah, I can still see them and it freaks me out. I never really suffered bites from them although my friend would break out in red welts all over her body. It was horrifying!

  10. This is brilliant! Love it.

    The bed bugs still make me shudder. I ended my InterRail journey in Turkey and had been separated from my girfriend at the time for about 2 months. Two nights before she arrived to meet me in Istanbul, I was attacked by bed bugs and had bites all over my body for her arrival! Not what you wanted to be dealing with!

  11. I love this post! Of course these are all undesirable things at the time of happening and not things I would put on my bucket list but look at the stories now!! You’re still alive, so all is well!! πŸ™‚

    I can’t wait until I have something to add to these!!

    1. After reading your last post Annie, I think you are starting to build your own horror story list! One of my favorite sayings is “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It’s certainly having experiences like these ones that make you a much stronger person, and they always make great stories.

      1. I agree with that saying and I did think of my recent trip while I wrote that, the broken nose and coffee mishap will probably stick with me forever but I hope that I have more interesting stories to come! I have a lot of world left to see, so I can only imagine what lies out there for me!!

  12. Ahhhh…. the lighter side of travel! Great list. Hey, at least you’re able to poke some fun at it now. Why are the best travel stories the ones that weren’t funny at all when they were happening?

    I’ll add the time we got caught in a monsoon while on a beat up ferry in Thailand. The rain was actually horizontal, everyone and everything was drenched!

    Another “not funny at the time” moment was being called over the airport communication system in Lima Peru, then escorted by the Polizia to the airport tarmac where I was met by 10 fully armed guards with bullet proof vests… and sitting in the middle of them is my backpack… GULP! Images of “broke down palace” came to mind. “Did someone plant drugs in my bag?!” Ended up being Nicole’s hairdryer, their shitty x-ray machine thought it was a gun!

    1. That is so funny. No more hair dryers in your backpack. I would have been completely stressed out. Those ferries in Thailand are scary enough on a good day.

  13. Ha ha, love this!

    Add to the list:
    – Being held up at gunpoint in Mexico and refusing to hand over your camera (can I please keep the memory card?) – luckily I am alive to tell the tale, but not something I’d recommend doing!
    – Getting absolutely sloshed and then having to wake up to go fishing in Darwin in the most horribly rough weather. Oh, and then vomiting in front of your boss’s husband.
    – Living up to the stereotype of the silly first-time traveller and getting ripped off by touts in front of the Bangkok Palace

    Ah, the list is endless but what fun!

    1. Hung over fishing is a Darwin ritual πŸ™‚ Every weekend many men & women take on our seas & pray to keep their breakfast down!
      Well done :p

      Held by gunpoint in Mexico though? I wouldn’t keep my breakfast!

  14. Reading it… I had a really good laugh. The typical travel stories, which many seems very well known! There was just one point I couldn’t laugh & is just horrible… 14! I lost part of my photos of Southern New Zealand & loosing photos is just sad!

    1. Actually that is the only one I can’t laugh at, truly devastating. I can just barely laugh at my motorcycle death ride and I still freak out today sitting on the back of a bike because I know just how vulnerable you are when sitting there. That was my worst travel experience ever as I truly thought I was going to die.

    2. I lost a month’s worth of travel pictures and videos from Brasil about 4 years ago and I’m still bummed about it to this day. Just sad is right, especially since I didn’t even lose the camera; a friend accidentally deleted them while trying to delete one they didn’t like of themselves.

        1. I had that happen to me too! Me and my long distance fiance saw each other for the first time in 5 months and finally decided to get married. We went to Seoul South Korea and we had taken all kinds of pictures from where we met up near Busan, to Seoul. Well one night going out and finding this craft beer bar using this TERRIBLE map, I accidentally left the camera in the cab! It was the only camera and we couldn’t find any disposable ones. We don’t have any pictures of our honeymoon, nor of our wedding day itself except one or two on my husband’s camera. I don’t think I’ll ever stop regretting it!

    1. It sure does! You’ve just got to continue to wear the smile and move onwards and upwards. You can take something positive from everything.

  15. Hilarious! Great list! Unfortunately, I’ve experienced a few of these along the road as well! I’m not looking forward to repeating any of them soon though I’m due to board a 8 hour bus from Siem Reap to Kratie in the morning. Wish me luck!

  16. Crystal aka Traveler's Barista

    OMG!!! The next time I feel the urge to complain about something I’m going to imagine bed bugs crawling up the wall, magic mushrooms, passing out in a unknown place or loosing my passport. Great stories, thanks for sharing!

    1. There is always someone worse off than you!! Ha Ha. I survived all these so now I can laugh at them and appreciate the stories they have colored my life with.

  17. I don’t think you can say you’re well traveled until you can come up with a list at least half as long as this! great list!

    Loved the one about the pickup truck with the wheel rolling off – so random! Random always gets me laughing.

    I’m sure many of these resulted in deepening the amazing bond you must have with fellow travelers, not to mention your husband. In the end, was it worth it?

  18. I HATE list posts, but this one has pretty much resurrected the genre. Brilliant, especially number 13 – any sentence that starts “too many Thai whiskey buckets” is never going to have a happy ending.

    Not sure why number 6 is on the list though – sounds like a perfectly ordinary evening in my lovely country.

    Stumbled and Reviewed..

  19. I’ve read this post three times now and it still makes me laugh so hard!! Brilliant. Especially #2, #9, #18 and #21 are hilarious. We experienced #11 and #14 ourselves πŸ˜‰ We’ll see how our list of not-so-enjoyable experiences looks when we’re done with our trip – so far everything went pretty well, fingers crossed it’ll stay like this.

  20. Great idea for a post! Some more to add – taking a 24-hour bus trip in northern Pakistan during the first day of Ramadan. Bus doesn’t allow female travelers to get out for 10 hours – no food, water or toilet breaks.

    Getting stuck in one country due to visa issues while your spouse is stuck in another one due to completely unrelated visa issues.

    Forgetting the sunscreen for a three-day trek up Mount Toubkal in Morocco, getting sun poisoning and having your lips burn, crack fall off and grow anew. Yup – totally disgusting!

  21. Why the F does immigration always loose peoples passports!? Seriously though, I have heard of this happening on numerous occasions. They are so anal about travel Visa’s and correct information etc, and they go around loosing peoples passports. Shit!

  22. Number one sounds just like a road travel experience I had in Laos during the monsoon season…. Fun times, really…

    I would add:

    -Taking a sleeping pill after 24 hours of travel and then going to take a shower instead of going to bed. Nedless to say, I fell asleep in the shower and woke up in the morning in bed, in my pajamas and with all the lights off! It was as if nothing at all had happened…
    -And then there’s digging buses out of snow….I mean why must buses travel at extremely high altitudes anyways?

    1. That is hilarious Aaron. Probably not so much at the time. Do you know how you got from the shower to the bed? Did someone help or were you sleep walking?

  23. Hmmm… these are good ones – incredibly cringeworthy!

    I was tear-gassed in Bolivia, robbed in San Francisco and drugged unconscious in Cancun… and I broke my toe in The Bahamas. Nothing compared to all the illnesses you got hit with.

    Be careful out there!

  24. Note to self: I do not need extra happiness with my food… CHECK.

    The only thing I can add is:
    It is probably not a good idea to walk to the nearest bar in BFE Japan with metal umbrellas during a very serious lightning storm to get your booze fix.

    1. Extra happiness with food is not good. With anything else it is fine (except shakes). Booze fixes can lead us to some very precarious situations. I hope you enjoyed the drink in the end

  25. Deciding to ignore the “please don’t drink” sign above the basin in your cheap hotel in Malatya, Turkey. 2 hours later, wake up and proceed to vomit for the next 24 hours at 30 minute intervals (including spraying Pepsi colored vomit all over the hotel bathroom). Then having squitty brown diarrhea for the next week causing you to lose 7 kilos in as many days. All in plus 40 degree Celsius heat.

    Frequent bathroom breaks on the return flight to the UK, and fellow passengers on the train from Manchester Airport to Leeds avoiding eye contact as the sound of your bowels being strangled echo through your tin-tube hell.

    Best diet ever though – at least I came back with a tan and looked fantastic. Every cloud!

    1. That is funny Tom. Pay attention to those signs!! I must say I do enjoy, once the pain of the sickness is all gone, losing some weight from these catastrophes. I lost a lot after tick bite fever. The best I looked in years!!

  26. #14 happened to me in September 2009. My digital camera was stolen probably 36 hours after arriving in Sydney in my hostel. Upon realizing it, can we say tears? Cried all day. 😐 An older man saw me crying and offered to buy me a new one. (No thanks. Didn’t want to pay him back in a certain way.) Bought a new one the next day – really pissed but it had to be done. Still have the camera to this day.

    Adding:

    – being swarmed by a group of some weird flying bug in our house in Uganda (still don’t know what kind of bug it is to this day)

    – waking up with itching bug bites on your stomach and nowhere else but your stomach (maybe the bites were from bed bugs? Still don’t know to this day) in Uganda….. And since it happened only once since you were there for a month and a half, you’re wondering what the f— it was and where the f— it came from 😐

    – the humongous roaches in (insert any warm-climate country here), some of which are of the flying version 😐

    – eating some delicious food in Ticino canon (Switzerland) and being sick with the “runs” for the whole time there, realizing later that it was probably because it was pork that you unknowingly ate and you didn’t eat pork for religious reasons at the time (no longer involved in any religion and pork isn’t a problem anymore)….. Oh, and you ate the same dish every day because it was so good, but didn’t put 2 & 2 together 😐

    That’s all for now off the top of my head. There’s probably more but just woke up and my brain is still asleep. 😐

    1. Nothing hurts more than losing all your photos. I ate pork unknowingly in China too (we are vegetarians) I remember being really sick that night from it. I had read somewhere previously that if you had not eaten pig for a long time, if you do eat it you will get very sick. Makes you think about just how good of a meat it is to put into our bodies in the first place. You can’t beat the horrible insect and disease stories!

      1. That, and if the meat isn’t cooked properly. Ugh. 😐

        Tried to kill a big roach in the Dominican Republic with bug spray and the bastard flew at me. That was probably my loudest scream ever. 😐

  27. Oh, my goodness! This is hilarious! Yes, not funny I suppose if you were the one going through it, but what a life! Interesting and wonderful.

  28. Arriving in Darwin, Australia at 3 a.m. to be told my room wasn’t booked until midday and that there was some sort of conference going on so there was no chance of a room nearby. Ended up sleeping on a sun bed by the side of the pool with a plant slapping me in the face in the breeze.
    Standing on the corner of ‘The Gateway to India” in Mumbai realizing that the only thing I had between me and living in the gutter was my camera. I had jumped out of the taxi leaving all my valuables including my passport on the back seat arranging to meet the driver on the corner 15 mins later. Half an hour later it dawned on me that I had been extremely trusting. Luckily, he did turn up 40 mins later due to a traffic jam. By that time I had been working out how I was going to get help, planning to approach any European that passed and plead, find the British Embassy.

  29. Number 12!! πŸ˜€ A guy I met in Siem reap hostel told me that he had 10 happy shakes in Thailand, but he didn’t know what it was. I mean, it is named ‘happy’ after all. Who know it’s that ‘happy’?? πŸ˜€ Brilliant.

  30. Wow, those are some experiences! But they always do make the best travel stories, don’t they? I woke up in a rice paddy once in Japan and had dirt in my eye for a week. I’ve been telling that story for 12 years now!

    1. If it leaves a story to tell and I’m still alive than I’m happy to go through the dramas πŸ™‚ I’d like to know why and how you woke up in a rice paddy. Sounds like a good story there!

  31. There are always some crazy stories like those you mention. But if I posted something like this on my blog, my mom would never let me go anywhere I’m afraid πŸ™‚
    The good thing about travel is that even if something bad happens, we know better how to deal with it, the continuous travel teaches us how to react!

  32. Hilarious list Caz! I have a lot of friends with horror stories that tend to involve alcohol and falling asleep on the NYC subway! Next thing you know, you’re way, way out on the outskirts of the city!

    One thing I would add ot this list was an experience I had when visiting the Temples of Angkor a few years ago with my family. My grandmother had arranged for this fantastic guide for us and we were trying to make it up that hill (what was it called?) with the temple that everyone goes to watch the sunset…

    We were running late and our guide feared we’d miss the sunset. So we’re racing up the hill and the guide suggests we take a shortcut off the trail. It wasn’t till we got to the top (in time for sunset) that he tells us that the hill was littered with land mines due to it’s relatively recent past as a Khmer Rouge stronghold… I’m sure the guide knew it was a safe shortcut, but still, it was a rather jarring experience!

  33. Caz, thumb up for your blog! It’s a bitter experience but sweet in memory. Keep going Caz, i m looking forward you sharing…^^

  34. As I was stuck in a very uncomfortable position in an opening referred to as the birthing canal during a (according to the pamphlet) ‘quick and easy’ caving trip in Hungary, I thought yea this is something I am not recommending to anyone’s bucket list.

  35. Caz
    Love your blog, you are a very entertaining writer!!! And thank you for reminding me of the joys of having a good attitude whilst heading down the highways and byways of this amazing world

    Adding:
    Expensive lesson 1 A car smash and grab at St.Raphael in south of France, where I was so stupid, and left my little bag with $3000 cash, $4000 travelers checks, my passport credit cards…after having traveled by eurail pass and been so careful…

    Walking on the manmade seawall in Bali,slipping and cutting my leg in 35 horizontal slashes, being rushed on the back of a motorcycle to a small clinic where they sanitized the bowl with fire and sewed me up

    Sitting crosslegged in the campervan enjoying the afternoon with some fine Aussie wine and reaching over to close the door, throwing my balance off and falling to crack my eyebrow open…

    Deciding to get off the 115′ motor yacht to stay inside Atlantis for the hurricane, unknowingly signing up to sleep on the floor with thousands of others, with no alcohol allowed, while, the rest of the crew had a good ole hurricane party on board

    I also enjoyed a 24 hour, supposed to be 4? red dirt encrusted bus ride with broken bridges, flooded roads, broken drive shafts,…from Siem Reap to Thailand

    The 6 hour fast boat from Thailand to Luang Prabang at 75 mile an hour speeds in a longtail boat with helmets and no leg room (still think I would take this over the slow boat)

    I traveled continuously for 6 years from 2000-2005…Now I have a 5 year old and am looking forward to, and interested in sharing, the love of the journey of traveling, and the insight into ourselvesand world that this kind of experience creates.

    1. Oh dear! I have heard about how dangerous those fast boats are between Laos and Thailand and to avoid them at all costs. We took the slow boat!! You have had quite the experiences, they sound way more dangerous and exciting then all of mine put together. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  36. These kinds of things are one of my favorite parts of traveling! Such great stories.

    Something I’d add would be… Sailing through the Malacca Strait (by Malaysia and Indo) in the middle of the night, only to drag the boat right over a huge net the fisherman just laid. Which resulted in him, and several other locals getting livid, yelling at us, demanding the motor to our dinghy, demanding hundreds of dollars, tying their little boat to ours, and slamming into us.

    It was quite an experience. Haha. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, along with all the other gnarly situations!

    Love your guys’ blog, glad I came across it!

    1. Nice one Melody!! What an amazing story to tell. I love it. You must have so many from a sailing adventure. How cool. Thank you for finding us and enjoying what we do.

  37. Eurgh, the bed bugs one reminds me of backpacking through Australia. In Noosa we went camping and in one night I was bitten over 100 times by a mosquito. My friend I was in the tent with wasn’t bitten once. I had just recovered from this when I had bed bugs up in Cairns… over 100 on one leg ( I got bored of counting after that).

    Also, a bus we were using to get to the school we were painting in Malawi wasn’t quite big enough for all of us so one of the group had to sit on the gear stick. Half way into our first journey smoke started coming up through his legs, we all piled out of the mini-bus, turns out the engine underneath where he was sat had set alight. Made for such a funny story after everything turned out all right.

    1. Ick Emma! What a horrible experience with the mossies and bedbugs. I feel your pain.

      What a hilarious story about the gear stick. Africa creates the BEST travel stories. The journey really is what it is all about over there!

  38. Playing tug of war with your purse and a large baboon in Cape Point, South Africa. My purse contained all of my money and my passport … he thought it contained a sandwich.

  39. Brilliant! I know these things must have been painful at the time but at least it makes a good story!

    I had a similar experience involving bites and sandflies in the Amazon. There were 46 on my arms alone at one point!!

  40. Read this in an open plan office. Had to explain the incessant giggles. Thanks Caz I needed that laugh today.

    As close to death as you’ve come, they make great stories!

    1. So glad I could give you and the office giggles Roma! I think as long as they make good stories, it’s A-okay and you have to laugh in the end or you’ll just go crazy.

  41. Travelling 12 hrs in a sleeper bus from Ahmedabad to Diu with no AC even though that’s what you’re charged for. The travel agents say it’s 9 hrs but listen to lonely planet instead. the “sleeper section is essentially a tight coffin where two people sleep together – feet to head. And if you buy the double sleeper, make sure to pay for 2 seats! otherwise a creepy guy who’s extremely excited to share the coffin with “a city girl” will end up sleeping next to you.

    1. Sounds awful! What country was this in? Thanks for the heads up for everyone Mansi. Sleeping in a coffin sized space is just not for me!

  42. sounds like you experienced what life is like in those parts of the world. what a tragedy. your very privileged, stop complaining

    1. There’s no complaining Niru. This is a light-hearted post. If you look around on my site more you’ll see how grateful we are to have travelled the way we have and we rarely complain.

  43. I’ve been itching to travel, and these stories remind me that it’s not always as great as we remember!

    Mine is camping on the beach in the back of our pickup in southern Baja with only an old dirty (but frequently used) pit toilet and being violently ill through the night from the Mexican ice. I chose to dig holes in the sand rather than use the toilet.

    1. Oh that is one that’s hard to forget!! The food poisoning and toilet stories are always the best! I hope you get to travel again soon!

  44. Margaret Lewis

    Ah….memories!
    I ended up in a really bad area in Nairobi long after dark with a friend and taxis refused to pick us up. We ended up walking and were escorted by street kids and a man wearing only bubble wrap all the while being lectured to by the kids about how dangerous Nairobi was.

    1. The picture in my head of the man only wearing bubble wrap is priceless!! That would have been quite freaky at the time. Glad you made it home safe, but again it highlights that there are always good people on hand to help.

  45. OMG this is just too funny. I have yet to experience anything of the sort on the list and I don’t wish to anytime soon. The closest horror experience I’ve been in is when our boat in Langkawi got caught in a storm and we were clinging on to dear life in our life jackets. Since then, I’d check on the weather forecast before we get on any boats.

    1. Well that is a pretty scary story Fie. Being out on the water during a storm is terrifying. I’m glad it all turned out okay in the end

  46. Being grossly hungover and hopping onto a (prebooked) boat out onto the Great Barrier Reef— I slept all the way to the Reef only to find photos on my camera a couple of days later of me looking like a corpse curled up on a bench. i have no idea who took these photos but it was a sight for sore eyes— I was in Airlie Beach the night before and met Germans and the local Bogans and they introduced me to Goon—-the local drink—– if only i knew how bad the hangover was going to be……….

  47. Having to take a poop one early morning while camping along the river in Nicaragua and you find the only cloud of mosquitos in search of a nice poop spot away from camp. Running away you jump a fence to take that long-waiting poop where you land in a pile of cow manure, losing both chacos and your only set of clean clothes to the knee-deep pile of muck. Giving up helplessly with your need to poop, you dig a hole behind the next available tree: the width of your wrist, and relieve your bowels. Looking up to enjoy your poop and the river view, an entire dug-out canoe of Nicaraguan men are watching you empty yourself into your shallow hole. “Buenos dias” is all you can say.

  48. Let me think…

    1. At a bus stop in Madrid I almost got beaten up with a metal stick by a skinhead, because I refused to give him money. I was saved by my friend who dragged me into a cab. The skinhead ran after the cab trying to hit the back window with his stick. The cab driver was an elderly man who didn’t hit the speed pedal because he was trying to call the police! We did escape though.

    2. While teaching in Nepal, one day standing at the board I felt a huge diarrhea “attack” coming…I asked the teacher in the opposite classroom to watch my students and ran to the toilet. I made it just in time. I was very relieved, haha.

    3. On Kho Samui, a man hit me in the face twice (my glasses fell on the ground and I was pretty much blind) because I had refused to pay his wife at the internetcafe (she tried to charge me like 4 times more than the rate). My then boyfriend heard me screaming and rescued me. We left the island the next day, my nose hurt for weeks.

  49. Oh My Gosh, great post. I was cracking up about missing your flight while on Khao San Road, ahah, my fiance and I did the same thing last year there, but it was our train. And thanks for the tip on the Sumatra hike, no tigers for me please.

    I would add getting in a drunk driving accident in Nicaragua in an open air semi truck to the list. Our shuttle driver was wasted and we didn’t know it until we went flying off the road. Definitely my scariest moment ever when traveling. Something we think the wacky transport in other countries is harmless fun, until your no seatbelt means your hanging onto a roll bar for dear life.

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it

  50. Great post!! You are missing: Traveling southern Africa by truck and getting your passport, camera and money stolen in an unpronounceable lost town in Namibia, with people you barely know, because you were making an internship in a ground tour.
    Plus, I diddn’t have the luck of having my embassy in that country….That was heavy!

  51. Great list!
    I haven’t done much travelling myself, but recently I went on a mission trip to run a youth camp in the Philippines. This was my first time overseas, except for a cruise when I was 14 (I was 17 this time, and went without any of my family). On the final day, we had a parade through the town and some of the locals offered us a ride on the back of a motorbike during the parade. I accepted, along with three of the other girls, all on the back of the bikes. They rode up and down the (super long) parade line and then zoomed off out of the town! I didn’t know what to do and got super worried about where we were going.
    It was fine, though as it turned out they were just taking us to ride over a bridge over the river, which was actually fantastic!
    We had a few bike races, needless to say the rest of the team were quite impressed and a little jealous that they missed out. The safety was questionable, though – no helmets, thongs (flip flops), shorts and singlets!
    On our last night, everyone else was asleep except for two of us and about three locals who we were staying with. So, we went on a midnight motorbike tour of the town, racing across the bridge again and winding through the tiny spaces between buildings, where my knees literally brushed on both sides! Did I mention, it was about 2a.m. and dogs were chasing us?
    Again, a story to remember, though nothing like yours!

    1. Wow! Great story. I love wild memories like these. It’s something you’d never even think of doing back home, but for some reason all seems harmless and safe when you’re in a foreign country. Not that I’d recommend anyone do it, but it’s a crazy fun memory nevertheless

  52. These are quite the experiences! I too experienced getting bitten by bedbugs and watching them climb up the walls. We left right away the Niagara Falls B&B in a hurry in the middle of the night.

    But one story I can add….
    Thinking avocado juice in Zanzibar, Tanzania is a good idea and waking up the next morning with multiple trips to the bathroom just before a 15hr journey home. To save yourself embarrassment on the 45min taxi ride to the airport, you take anti-diarrhea meds only to end up throwing up in a garbage can at the airport entrance… While two men casually have a conversation within arms reach. It’s going to get out of you one way or the other.
    To settle your stomach you try anything: that weird mix of antacid, powdered milk and ginger ale brews In Your stomach and ends up painting the airplane bathroom in white chunks. You feel sorry for the flight attendant that goes in their with a bucket after you.

    (then somehow a few months later you get hit with food poisoning AGAIN just before another 15hr journey home. Just because the first time wasn’t fun enough)

  53. Some great things to avoid! Macrae has done the 9 hour bus ride in Cambodia and it wasn’t fun… we heard that the silverback gorillas experience isn’t for the faint at heart, but like you said, a great story to tell πŸ™‚

  54. Oh # 13!!! We spent our honeymoon in Antigua. Despite our best efforts and massive amounts of OFF, 200 bites later caused my eyes to swell shut! Husband only had 6 bites…

  55. I sincerely hope these experiences were combined from many different people. Otherwise I feel quite sorry for you πŸ˜‰ Mind you, you gave the rest of us a really interesting read!

  56. Getting to your hotel in Anguilla and looking at the view for the first time thinking all the crowds are gathered to watch dolphins in the water but they are pulling a body out of the water instead. ??

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