One traveller’s horror story is another’s cautionary tale, which is why we’re indulging in some monumentally terrible travel horror stories. Also, they’re hilarious.
To be quite honest, the thing that gets most of us through the mundanity of working life is the glimmer of happiness that sits at the end of the proverbial rainbow: travel. So you really hope that you don’t waste your sweet, sweet travel time on disasters and screw-ups. Especially the kind that probably could have been avoided with a little extra preparation and forethought.
To get you into the savvy traveller mindset, we’ve rounded up some of the best and most embarrassing travel stories shared by strangers on the internet. Laughing at others’ misfortune may seem cruel, but it’s all in the spirit of being prepared.
#1 One Glass Won’t Hurt
If there is one rule that you absolutely should not break, it’s “do not drink the tap water”. This is non-negotiable in some destinations and the consequences can be dire. Just ask Reddit user BaconWrappedEnigma, who found out the hard way that “one glass won’t hurt” is not the appropriate attitude to have towards questionable water.
“I was backpacking through South Asia when one night I ran out of bottled water. I had been severely warned not to drink ANY tap water. So the place I was staying at had a watercooler thing and I thought “hey one glass won’t hurt, right?” WRONG. Ended up sh**ting thirty times in one night, almost died of dehydration.”
Don’t let one bad choice turn your holiday time into bonding-with-the-toilet time.
#2 Always. Pack. Sunscreen
Even if the forecast says complete cloud cover with a zero percent chance of sunshine, pack sunscreen. Wear sunscreen. Just do it. If you wear sunscreen every day, you might end up aging like Jennifer Anniston, and if you don’t you might end up like Reddit user markovitch1928, who literally lost the ability to express happiness while on holiday.
“Got so badly sunburnt in Thailand every time I smiled my face bled.”
#3 Cultural Differences
Things work differently in different countries, so make sure you do your research. Otherwise, you might find yourself wasting your time on things like public transport stuff ups, tipping miscalculations, and accidentally using a French public toilet as a shower. That last one is what Reddit user Adrienne27 admitted went down in Paris, and it is a terrible but extremely amusing case of lost in translation.
“Went to use one of those free standing, self-cleaning bathrooms in Paris. I didn’t know you had to let the doors close and let it run its wash cycle after every use. I went in immediately after someone walked out and got sprayed by dozens of jets loaded with water and blue cleaning fluid.”
Be careful who you choose to travel with, because the inevitable challenges you’ll face and your prolonged proximity can bring out a different side of people. People you thought were your friends can become a complete pain, like the travel buddy of Reddit user iputmylifeonashelf.
“The final straw for me was glancing up from the bed where I was texting someone, and seeing my travel partner unclogging the bathroom sink in our motel with my toothbrush. When she was done, she put it back in the glass she got it from, and never said a word.”
Choose travel buddies wisely.
#5 It Happens To The Best Of Us
When you’re travelling to new places, the food is a big part of the experience, and under no circumstances would we recommend avoiding the authentic cuisine. Some of the most delicious dishes in the world are prepared outside on a traditional indoor kitchen set-up and street food is mostly safe.
But there’s always a risk that your stomach might respond badly to something, especially if you’re a tourist. So come prepared to avoid being bogged down with an intense case of FOMO or a terrible transit experience, like Reddit user Laslo_Jamf.
“I was hitchhiking in Morocco and would, out of necessity, have to eat the street food which didn’t look like it was prepared in the most hygienic of manners. I made it two weeks ok, but the last two days I contracted giardia and shit for like 5 days straight. The flight back to Paris was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had.”
For some travel fails, the fix is as easy as remembering your headphones. Long journeys require enough phone battery and entertainment sources to keep you going, so think ahead. Or else end up like Reddit user JfArcher, who got caught in a never-ending Rihanna loop.
“Taking a 12-hour bus ride in Serbia while the bus driver played a CD on repeat with Rihanna’s Disturbia playing.”
Actually, that doesn’t even sound so bad because tbh that song is a banger.
#7 Read The Reviews
You must, and I cannot stress this enough, read the reviews. The internet may have brought endless chaos into our lives but, on the bright side, it has given us access to review-based confirmation that you are not getting scammed. When booking accommodation, try not to end up sleeping on a soiled boat like Reddit user ihopeyoulikeapples.
“Signed up for a three-day trip to Amsterdam that said it had good accommodations in the centre of the city. It actually turned out to be a boat that was docked in a canal nowhere near anything. It was the middle of winter and there was no heat on the boat. The sewage system malfunctioned and leaked everywhere on the second day, so the boat stunk. There was nowhere to even buy food nearby, so I spent most of the trip huddled under a blanket feeling cold and hungry and wishing I had the energy to walk into the city.
#8 No Flush
Sometimes, nature calls, loud and powerful, at inopportune moments. In fact, there is really no opportune moment to get diarrhoea , but in a foreign country while you’re meant to be having the time of your life is definitely worse than most. Too many people find themselves in a similar position to Reddit user DrPepprrr – in a strange land, clogging a stranger’s toilet.
“I was a missionary in Mexico, out in the street when Montezuma decided to pay a visit… I had to run to the nearest door and ask to use their bathroom. They let me in and I destroyed their toilet. Only problem… they didn’t have any working water… I told the guy it wouldn’t flush and he said “it’s ok… just leave it…” To this day I still feel bad for leaving a hot rotten mess in that poor guys toilet. He had no idea what he was waiting for him in there…”
The least you can do is pack yourself an emergency kit in case disasters like these strike, because at least that’s a problem you can actually solve. Other than that, cross your fingers and hope for the best. (Although arriving extra early to the airport never hurt anyone.)
This article was originally published on junkee.com