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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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