Travel Problems : When Things Go Wrong While Travelling

Travel Problems

I recently joined a group of frequent travelers in an online discussion about our worst travelling experiences. Misadventures and travel problems included wallets getting stolen, pneumonia, severe dehydration, vehicle accidents with broken bones, and chemical poisoning. These are the times when travel insurance is essential. But as you don't know when you're going to end up in a situation when you need it, it's best to be prepared and have it all the time.

Travelling is not always about picture-perfect sunsets and exhilarating adventures, despite what you see on Instagram. I’ve had my fair share of  travel-related mishaps, although they may not have been as bad as the above.

Here are some of my worst travel problems


While on a trip in the KZN South Coast, we were enjoying a leisurely boat ride on an estuary, marveling at the abundance of hippos and crocodiles, when we received a phone call from a friend to say that our house had been burgled. Needless to say, it was hard to enjoy the rest of the trip.

Our house was broken into again, the day before we left on a three-week trip to Malaysia. We didn’t sleep that night because we had to fix our damaged alarm system and broken doors and gates before leaving. While travelling, we were worried about further break-ins.

In Rome, Italy, thugs tried to open and steal from my husband’s backpack several times. Then, my son’s HP tablet was stolen near the crowded Spanish Steps along with the brand new leather bag he’d just bought in Florence.

Flight Delays

In Shanghai, China, our connecting flight to Beijing — from where we were due to fly back home — was cancelled. No one at the airport seemed to speak English. We were in a predicament. Our tour guide, who was only supposed to drop us off at the airport and leave, had to step in and eventually managed to get the airport officials to resolve the problem satisfactorily.

Injuries while traveling

We were walking in Melaka, Malaysia, when I slipped on a patch of green moss and fell down. I was muddy and bruised. When I got back to the hotel, I washed the mud off, but the bruises and the pain remained for the next few days.

Melaka Travel problems

Melaka , Malaysia

Food poisoning while traveling

My husband and I were staying at a boutique hotel in South Africa. Their fine dining restaurant is regularly listed as one of the best in the world, but we got food poisoning there. We had to rush back to our room, trying desperately not to throw up all over their lavish Persian carpets en route.

My worst experience with food poisoning was on one of my most recent trips. After a week of enjoying the delicious street food in Thailand, we were at the airport, getting ready to head home. It was Christmas Eve, and Starbucks was handing out complimentary green lattes. When it was time to check in, I went to stand in a long, winding queue. As I was finally nearing the check-in counter, everything began swirling around me. I told my husband to take my place in the queue and dashed for the nearest toilet. I spent the next hour there, and we almost missed our flight as a result. I’d still go back to Thailand in a heartbeat, though.

Other travel problems

We’ve also had car breakdowns (like the time we got stuck on a mountain), kids suffering from motion sickness, and numerous other forms of food poisoning. I’ve heard of people being bitten by sharks, drowning, and falling off mountains. We were on a cruise ship in the Caribbean , when the son of an acquaintance who was also travelling on the same ship had his fingers severed while ice skating, and had to be air-lifted to the closest hospital.

Travelling can be fun, but anything can go wrong at any time. Just ensure that you have additional protection. And do carry Imodium, too.

What travel problems have you experienced ? Let me know in the comments below.

For the positive side of travel, see 25 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Traveling.

Disclosure: 13 .  All experiences are my own.

Travel problems

12 comments on “Travel Problems : When Things Go Wrong While Travelling”

  1. Caught some bug when I was at Universal studios Singapore. Lucky I fell sick after I got back to hotel. . Cos I had an awesome time at Universal . Popped some immodiums & valoid tabs. Nearly missed my flight to Penang. Ended up staying in my room on the island fr next 2 days. Staff at Hard Rock hotel spoilt me... Also they had an on-site doc who gave me an injection and the next day I was perfectly fine. Won't stop me from traveling.

    1. Wow, it's a good thing that you had medication with you and that the staff took care of you. I learnt my lesson the hard way. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very helpful post. Thanks for sharing your personal experience and making the readers aware of such travel problems. Keep sharing such interesting posts.

  3. While visiting Lalibela, Ethiopia I became very ill one night. The hotel called a doctor to come see me and the doctor called an ambulance. It was Christmas Eve night. They got me all fixed up in record time but by the time we left the hospital, it was late and everything was closed. The manager of our hotel miraculously showed up, with a flashlight, and walked us home!

  4. Ha, my top travel tip is 'always carry Immodium'! 😉 These sound awful (especially knowing that your home had been burgled), but it's great to know that you came through everything so well.

    1. Imodium is now at the top of my list too Nicky. I used to carry it in my bag before then stopped for a while but it's back again. 🙂

  5. How crazy, I was just writing on my blog about preparing for issues that can creep up but sometimes you really just get smacked by bad luck, don't you!
    I've come really close to missing a couple of flights and had tons of cash flow/accommodation booking mishaps too 😛
    great post!


  6. Sounds like you've had some scary experiences! I'm not very well-traveled, but have been lucky enough to not experience any major problems while exploring. It's such a good idea to be prepared. Thanks for the suggestions!

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