Travel Problems : When Things Go Wrong While Travelling

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 additional protection is essential.

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 and 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.


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

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 country, 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.

We’ve also had car breakdowns, 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. The son of an acquaintance had his fingers severed while ice skating on a cruise ship in the Caribbean 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 bad travel experiences have you had? 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.

Read about how I got stuck on a mountain here.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join over 30,000+ fans

Leave a comment:

Kanika Bakshi

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

Jual Batik

Very useful article. thank you.


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!


    That must have been a scary experience, Deah. Thanks for sharing!


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.


    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. 🙂

Abhijeet Deshpande

It’s a reminder of frustrating things we tend to overlook while taking a macro, romanticized perspective about travel. Well written post. Thank you

Melissa Javan

Wow those are terrible incidents. So sorry. I don’t remember bad stuff happening to us but we don’t travel much.

Julie O

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!



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!

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment:

Send this to a friend

Read previous post:
Pyramids of Giza Reverse Bucket List
Which African country do you secretly want to explore?

“If you only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa twice." - R Elliot Have you ever wondered which African country you secretly...