They say a journey is not measured in miles, but instead in experiences. While this may be true, these experiences aren’t always the picture perfect tales you see plastered all over your friends’ social media accounts. Traveling often forces people into insane and extraordinary situations that they’d never experience in their day-to-day lives.
So I got to thinking, what’s the crazy travel story I’ve ever heard? Then I got to researching, and found some of the most bizarre, funny, and downright scary travel stories ever. Luckily for you I’ve compiled them all here for your enjoyment. Some of these might shock you. Click below to get started.
The Train to Pound-Town
When I booked a cabin-ticket on the overnight train from Krakow to Berlin I imagined it would resemble a luxurious trip on the fabled Orient Express. I was very wrong.
It was unbelievably loud and bumpy. People were drinking all night and shouting to each other in Polish. I ended up going back to my tiny private room to dine on a single croissant and some jelly babies when I heard someone loudly snoring in the room next to me.
It kept getting louder and weirder sounding. So I went next door to see what was going on only to find their room door open and two people umm… not snoring. Turns out what I heard was more like grunting. You get the picture.
In retrospect, it was a truly funny traveling memory. If you don’t find yourself in a situation like that occasionally, you’re doing it wrong. – Caleb A.
Honey, I Glued Your Feet To the Floor!
I was flying from Moscow to Copenhagen. After spending nearly 24 hours at the airport, I finally got on the plane and fell asleep right away. When I woke up, I suddenly discovered that my feet had been glued to the floor!
It turns out that the woman in front of me had a large jar of honey that had turned over and the contents had spilled out across my shoes, sticking them to the floor. She was sleeping too and had no idea it had happened.
It ended up taking over and hour to get all the honey off my shoes. The lady felt terrible and offered to buy me new ones but I declined as they were quite old. – Marco V
Always Ask What’s In Your Food
A few years back I was in Peru doing some light mountain climbing with some indigenous folk. So I’m rappelling down a mountainside when suddenly I slip, and I start to fall. Just falling, ahh ahh, I’ll never forget the terror.
When suddenly I came to, I realized I was coming down off of a bit of a trip after unknowingly eating some indigenous food that was cooked with native, organic hallucinogens. It ended up being a hilarious memory, but was extremely scary in the moment. – Alexa S.
The Bus Change
I was on a Greyhound alone when about 1/2 hour into the trip the driver announces that there is something wrong with the bus and we’d have to go back and change buses. So we get back to the station and we all watched the driver just get off the bus, into his car and drive away.
We were then told by the confused security guard that there was no bus and we had to wait in the bus depot for 6 hours until the next bus got there. It was a god-awful experience. However I can’t help but laugh thinking back at what must have happened in order for the bus driver to just walk-off like that. – Jess R.
Homeward Bound is Always the Hardest
“When I was younger I traveled solo across Europe for 2 years. The entire trip was such a wonderful experience… except for the end.
I was in Greece when I finally decided to book a flight back home to the USA via Italy. I thought it would be nice to make a few stops while on my way to Italy so I purchased an open-ended ticket with a short term expiration date.
During that final stretch, I got sea sick on an overnight hitch-hiking voyage across the pirate ridden waters of the Aegean Sea from Samos (Greek Island) to Kusadasi (Turkey). I had to “sleep” on the deck-floor. NO ONE spoke English. I was starving and there was no food on board.
Upon arrival the Turkish border guards took advantage of me and over-charged me for a “visa”. I spent nearly my last euro on a bus ticket for an 18 hour trip to Istanbul. I then had to bargain with a local pilot there for a flight to Italy.
I finally get to Italy only to get food poisoning from Pasta with clam sauce. I hobbled my way to the airport just to find out my plane ticket for my flight home had already expired.
I ended up having to get money wired to me from family, but I eventually made it home and haven’t been outside the country since.” – Ryan L
“My younger brother gets stopped every time he enters the US because one-time a few years back he decided to buy a Ham in Canada and try to drive it back over the border. He even declared it and everything. The border patrol obviously confiscated the Ham.
They must’ve ended up putting some kind of mark on him so every time he goes through customs they hand search his luggage. The deed has earn him the nickname ‘Hamburglar'” – Siobhan S.
No Way San Jose
I was on a study abroad trip in San Jose, Costa Rica, with a large group of students. We were on a bus ride in the mountains when the driver of our bus slammed on his brakes and careened off the side of the road.
There was a taxi in front of us that had slowed down and a body had been thrown out of the car. I don’t speak much Spanish but did gather that the man who had been thrown out probably wasn’t treated very nicely by the two other men inside of the taxi, which had then sped off.
We spent the next few hours stopped on the side of that road in a school bus in a shady part of San Jose giving a statement to the police about we saw. I actually cracked up when I overheard one of my classmates being questioned on whether he saw anything say, “No Way San Jose” – Deidra K
Leave No Man Behind
At the time I was a serving as a nuclear machinist on an aircraft carrier for the Navy. Best description is a plumber basically working on equipment that costs more than the damn boat. We spent about six months straight out to sea without hitting a port. My boat at the time was notorious for hitting records for not seeing land. So as a reward for our dedication, they allowed us to pull into a port in Crete, Greece, for a little rest and relaxation.
I was so excited to finally get off the boat that I didn’t even wait for my crew-mates to tag along, figuring I would meet up with them as soon later. I headed out alone and popped into a bar near the port and down a coupled scotches. I woke up chained to a pipe in Souta Bay, Crete. I had been stabbed in the back and was under arrest by the United States Navy. To this day, I don’t remember anything except getting off the boat and drinking a pint of scotch.
Stand-By For Inconvenience
My buddies and I planned a trip to Florida for spring-break. My boys always give me flak cause my dad is a pilot so I never pay for flights, but in-turn I fly stand-by.
I had class the morning they flew out so I planned on taking a late flight and meeting them down there. When I finally got to the airport, the flight I was aiming for was pretty full so I wasn’t sure I would get on. One of the people hadn’t shown up and the gate agent gave me the last seat on the plane so I was pretty excited. I called my friends who were already there to let them know I was going to make it, and to get the party started.
However, right before the door was about to close that other person actually showed up so they kicked me off of the plane.
That was the last flight that night so I had to stand outside in the rain, wait for my luggage to be unloaded and then call my friends back and tell them I actually wasn’t going to make it. It was embarrassing.
On top of all that, I had to spend $70 on a cab ride back to my apartment because all of my friends had already left and wait to fly out until the next day. – Graham S.
Ol’ Bandana Ninja Is At it Again
I had to sleep in the airport terminal to catch my connecting fight early the next morning. We were ushered to a specific area for sleeping, with the doors to the main airport closed off by metal gates. (I’m unsure if this is a standard thing, I don’t fly much.) The area probably would have had enough seats for everyone there if people weren’t taking up 3 per person for baggage/lying down.
I managed to snatch a seat next to an old man wearing a pink bandana around is lower face, and a yellow bandana around the top of his face. He seemed to be snoring/sleep talking, which I thought nothing of until Bandana Ninja started grabbing my legs in (or not in) his sleep. I immediately freaked out and moved to the floor.
Eventually morning came and I managed to make it onto my connecting flight and took my seat only to find out that my seat partner was none other than ol’ Bandana Ninja. I was on edge the entire flight, ready to scream if he cam near me again. But luckily he just sat their watching cartoons. What kind of grown man does that? – Jennifer N.
The Floor is Lava
I was studying abroad on a coach bus trip from the UK to Paris. I ended up sitting next to a cute girl whom I chatted with for the first hour of the journey. Everything was going fine until she got up to use the bathroom in the back of the bus. She must’ve been in there for about 15 minutes. When she came out she had this super embarrassed look on her face, so I asked her if everything was ok. She just said “yes” and turned away from me looking even more embarrassed.
I didn’t’ understand what had happened until I heard people in the back audibly groaning louder and louder. It turns out that “cute girl” to my right clogged up the toilet and it started to overflow. It wasn’t long until it’s contents spread across the entire floor, going to and fro in waves as we drove. Basically, it was an eleven hour game of the floor is lava.
“Cute girl” just sat their with her face in her hands for the rest of the trip. Yea, we didn’t talk much after that… – Jake O.
This Never Happens
My wife and I backpacked Africa a few years back. When we came into Zimbabwe, we were feeling adventurous and decided to do something different from the safari’s for a day. We decided to book a white water rafting trip on the Zambezi river, something we had both thought about trying before.
While we were being geared up the guides briefly mentioned, in a very “this never happens but we’d better cover our bases” sort of way what we should do if the whole raft tips over. Now, my wife and I are not thrill seekers and have never rafted in our lives; we had no idea that a raft flipping over is commonplace in white water rafting.
Fast forward to the rafting itself. We had gone through a few of the rapids and were having a blast…until we approached a wall of white and the raft (with us in it) just got rag-dolled. Now, remember that I am under the impression that this NEVER happens. I’m all hands on deck, adrenaline pumping, trying to find my wife under the boat. I’m screaming her name and can’t find her, flying down the river under the boat.
Finally I pull myself out from under the boat, struggling to get a breath and look for my wife. Standing on top of the overturned boat is our guide, laughing his ass off. We found out afterwards that they sink every boat on purpose so you get the “full experience.”
So, if you ever go white water rafting, just know that the boats flip, otherwise you’ll have the most frightening experience of your life. – Jason W
The Things We Do For Love
So I’m studying abroad in England, and this girl I’m a bit crazy for has an internship in Germany. One weekend I plan on visiting her. On the way to the airport, an ATM eats my debit card.
I fly over anyways because I couldn’t stop thinking about her and there was likely not much blood in my brain at the time. My remaining cash would barely cover the bus ride into town so I decide to try to walk it. It’s obviously too far to walk, and after a couple of hours I’m back at the airport, paying for the stupid bus.
So I finally get into town. This girl is staying at “42 Ginheim” and on a nearby map I see that there’s a neighborhood called Ginheim. I hoof it over there. It’s summer and fairly warm, but morale is still high.
In the late afternoon I’ve made it to Ginheim, and there’s large apartment buildings with numbers to them. Jackpot. I leisurely make my way through them, finding 39 … 40 … 41 … 43 …
There is no 42 Ginheim. I ask a couple of people about it and they say there isn’t one. I have no idea why. Her name isn’t on any of the other complexes either.
She should be getting off of work soon so I’m wandering the area, calling her name. People start to peek out at me from their windows. I’m a fish out of water and don’t have a penny on me.
It gets dark. I’m frankly out of options or ideas … I can’t afford to go to an internet cafe and try to get in touch with her that way. I wonder how I’ll even get back to the airport to fly back.
This young blonde woman walks up, and I figure I’ll ask if she knows anything about 42 Ginheim. She speaks perfect English “Oh! She probably meant 42 Ginheimmer Landstrasse. It’s 5 miles that way.”
I thank her profusely, and 5 miles later she is hugging the crap out of me.
This is long enough, so I won’t get into the part where I missed my return flight, spent the night with a conspiracy theorist who gave me a knife, or met the Lithuanian missionary who offered to buy my plane ticket for me … life is fun. – Lucas C.
It Ain’t Easy Being a Mob Boss
My friends and I rented an apt for a couple of nights when we were on vacation in Florence. It turns out that we were unknowingly staying in an apartment complex owned by a local mob boss, who happened to share a last name with my father and I.
It was at 3 am on our first night in the country, when the entire complex was raided by the Italian anti-mafia police in a huge sting. We were woken up by a helicopter flying dangerously close to the windows of our rented apt.
Swat-style policemen stormed in and arrested 54 people. Because of my name, my friends and I were detained for questioning but they luckily soon realized that it just a coincidence. It was all over national news. – Ricky G
The (Bad) Luck of the Irish
My Dad is your stereotypical Irish bloke. He’s a proud drunk and a degenerate gambler. That being said, his big dream was to visit Las Vegas. He talked about it for years before finally pulling the trigger.
Being the great son that I am, I lent him my GoPro so he could have the entire trip on film. Long story short, he ended up gaining quite a but of internet notoriety after he got confused operating the GoPro. He held it backwards the entire time!
Instead of capturing his trip to Las Vegas, he managed to film nothing but hours of close-ups of his face. The first time we watched it back was unbelievably funny! – Joe G
All Thanks To Bill Murray
I was with my friends at a bar in Charleston, South Carolina talking to them about potentially proposing to my girlfriend, when we spotted none other than Bill Murray hanging solo in a corner booth. My friends decided he’d be the perfect special guest to deliver some advice to the potential groom-to-be.
Although he initially brushed us off, he later decided to crash our little party to deliver some sage pre-wedding advice.
“Take that person and travel around the world”, he said. “Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world… If when you come back you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
We may not have traveled the entire world, but we did backpack Europe for a month. It was the best trip of my life. I proposed to my now wife the second we landed right at the Airport. Thanks Bill! – E.J.
I had a dream trip booked with my girlfriend, but unfortunately we called time on our relationship before we were due to set off. The breakup hurt but I couldn’t get my money back and I wasn’t going to let that trip go to waste so I used it as an opportunity.
My solution? I found another Canadian girl with the same exact name to take her place! Oi had a blast with my new fake GF, although romance didn’t blossom from it. However the story has a happy ending.
I ended up getting press coverage on the craigslist ad I listed while looking for a replacement travel partner. It ended up going pretty viral and it led to Marriott International providing me with free rooms for the trip! It also gave me a platform to start my charity, a Ticket Forward. – Jordan O
The Stow Away
I was waiting for a taxi once in Munich. It was cold outside and I was tired, drunk and wanting somewhere to keep warm. I decided to cosy up in the luggage hold of a coach bus for a while.
Unfortunately, I dozed off a bit too long and awoke several hours later in Switzerland with my passport, phone and money back in Germany. I had a full blown panic attack, but was eventually able to calm my self down.
I found a stranger who was nice enough to lend me some Euro for a bus back to Munich, where I was thankfully reunited with my belongings – Rob M.
The Kissing Bandit
I was visiting a temple in Guangzhou when a young girl came up to me and ask if I wanted to take a picture with her. Initially I thought it was because I am 6’7 surrounded by normal-sized Asian people.
I agreed and I stood with her on the stairs three steps below her to get in the frame. When the camera went off she jumped up and gave me a give me a kiss right on the lips! I thought it was hilarious, my wife, not so much.
Life Can Change in an Instant
We were deep in the heart of the Amazon when my husband Dave slipped on a set of steel stairs and broke his back. After a 10-hour ordeal to get him out of the Amazon by skiff boat, floatplane, moto taxi and finally a make shift ambulance, we made it to a small hospital in the town of Iquitos.
There was no way in or out of this town expect by boat or plane. Dave spent 8 days in the hospital undergoing CT scans, MRIs where they found that he fractured two vertebrates. The worst part was waiting for an air ambulance home. The hospital in Iquitos couldn’t do anything for Dave expect try to control his pain. So he spent the week on high doses of painkillers.
Finally after several days of phone calls, gathering up paperwork and organizing insurance, we secured an air ambulance back to Canada where Dave spent another nine days in hospital and another four months of recovery and physiotherapy. It was an ordeal, but also an eye opener and reminder that life can change in an instant. Be grateful for everything that you have.
Um ‘Equis’ Me, That’s A Deadly Snake
One of the scariest moments we’ve had as a family was when we were exploring a network of caves in Panama with friends and got separated from some of the children in our group by an extremely venomous snake. Two children had walked ahead and stepped directly over an ‘equis’. Also known as the Fer-de-lance, a bite from this snake is usually fatal. As the snake occupied a narrow spot in the gorge there wasn’t enough room to by-pass it safely. Our guide hurled a handful of rocks at it and luckily for everyone, was an excellent marksman! The memory of that moment however, and what could have been, still sends chills down my spine.
An Angel in Brussels
I lost track of time on my solo trip in Brussels. I had been exploring the city while enjoying the delicious Belgian brews all day when I realized I had no idea how to get back to my Couch-surfing host’s home. I thought I could retrace my steps by memory even though it had been at least a half hour walk.
About 20 minutes into my walk back I realized I was definitely in the wrong part of Brussels. Every man was staring at me, cat calling, and giving me the up down. It was well into the night time when a group of three not-so-nice-looking men started to approach me. I made a run for it into the parking lot where a woman stopped her car, asked me what in the world I was doing there and told me to jump in immediately. She informed me I should have never been where I was and drove me where I needed to go. I’ll never know what could have happened, but I am very thankful she was there.
Snakes on a Plane
Last year I was on an Aeromexico flight when an real-life snake dropped from the overhead compartment bin into the cabin. Passengers freaked the hell out rather quickly. One person actually yelled out in fear, “snakes a plane” like the movie. That one made me laugh.
What didn’t make me laugh however the fact that the plane was immediately diverted back to the Mexican airport we took off from and I ended up missing my connecting flight as a result. What was supposed to be a two-hour plane ride from Torreon, Coahuila to Mexico City turned out to be a much, much long trip. Luckily no one was hurt.
I got married last year and actually honeymooned without my wife. Two days before departure my wife Sana lost her passport. We had our honeymoon planned for months, and rather than cancel our trip and lose all that money, I just kept my spirits high and went solo.
I thought it would be funny to post a bunch of photos of myself on my travels with a picture of Sana’s head everywhere I went. The whole chronicle ending up going viral and getting picked up by big news outlets like CNN.
Slapped By an Eagle
In Kenya having a picnic on safari, my friend sat opposite was enjoying a chicken drumstick. A wild eagle had a touch of food envy and swooped down, fast as lightning, for the chicken. Only problem is, my face kinda got in the way! Suddenly everything went black and felt a bit oily!
I looked up seconds after, baffled, to find my safari buddies rolling around in stitches. “Leanne, you’ve just been slapped in the face by an eagle!” Well I guess not everyone can say that!
Are You Ghana Pay For Those?
I pride myself on being quite good at bartering. I’ve even had friends traveling with me ask me to do the bartering for them in an art shop. I had no intention of bartering when I stopped at my last African market in Ghana on the way to the airport. I was just killing time as I had no money left!
2 beautiful oil paintings drew my attention instantly. I loved the colors and the abstract images of women carrying babies and carrying water. The seller noticed me admiring the paintings, “How much miss?” I apologized and explained I didn’t have any money left, I was just browsing but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“Well, what else can you give me?” At first I was shocked “ What are you implying?! I am NOT that sort of girl!!” But then I saw his attention drawn to my smelly trekking sandals. “What about those?” he said, pointing at my feet!
Now I had fully intended on sticking these in the bin at the airport, I even had flip-flops in my bag ready for a quick change. Surely no one would actually want these horrendous ugly trekking sandals which I had waded through rivers and mud slicks in?!
But he seemed genuinely excited by this trade ( 1 pair of gross shoes and half a packet of biscuits) and as I left with my paintings, I saw him parading them up and down to his market friends! I guess one person’s rubbish is another’s treasure after all..!
I am Not Emu-sed
This isn’t really a personal travel story but I see a lot of weird / funny travel related stuff all the time as I work at a very high end hotel in New York City. It’s a pretty normal occurrence for us to host very wealthy VIPs on a weekly basis, and with that often come some pretty ridiculous requests. Once, a very rich and well-known family staying at the hotel requested for distilled water for ladies to bathe with. It took 300 bottles of mineral water to fill the tub.
Another time, we got a special request from a family from Kuwait who wanted their berries for breakfast to all be of the same size. Not only that, but they also wanted a pound of fresh, organic, Emu meat to be served with their breakfast. Mind you we don’t have Emu meat, so of course I was the one chosen to scour the city for fresh Australian Emu meat at 7am on a Tuesday. It’s amazing what you can get other people to do for you when you have enough money.