Family Travel Series: Review of the Carnival Destiny and Reader Giveaway (10,000 Chase Points + Goodies)

by on June 20, 2012 · 156 comments

in Contests, Family Travel, Guest Blog Posts

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This is the final installment in TPG’s Family Travel Series: Cruising, written by TPG Director of Operations, Danielle. Other posts include: Choosing a Cruise While Maximizing PointsIs the Disney Credit Card Worth It For A Cruise?How to Choose a Cruise Based on PointsUsing Frequent Flyer Miles for Cruise Flights, How to Get a Passport for Your Child and Cruising – Anchors Aweigh.

So far readers have joined my family and me while we contemplated our trip, considered the Disney Visa, picked our cruise line, found award flights, applied for passports for our toddlers, and made our way to Port Miami for embarkation – all the while trying to maximize any points and miles earning and redeeming opportunities. So now at long last it’s time to share my review of the Carnival Destiny and throw a giveaway to thank everyone for all of their invaluable feedback and help during this process!

Not sure what to make of this towel creature.

The Good
Although it still felt a touch crowded, we were very happy with our choice to book an Ocean Suite for our stay aboard the Carnival Destiny. Since our children are still nappers, we knew we would be spending more time in our cabin than the average cruiser, so the extra space (and the bathtub verses a shower stall) proved to be invaluable. We even decided to order from the complimentary room service menu and eat in our stateroom for our first meal, since we’d had an exhausting time boarding the ship. The room service fare wasn’t amazing, but the convenience far outweighed our palates at that moment and we were grateful to have it as an option during our trip.

Our little sleepyhead.

Hands down the best part of our vacation was Camp Carnival. Many of you recommended it, and it didn’t disappoint! We went to the orientation the first evening and were relieved to hear you are provided with a cell phone while your child is in the Camp so that the teachers can alert you at any time if there’s a problem. We also learned about the different activities the kids would be engaged in; everything from paper snowball fights, dance, music, story time, face painting, a pirate party, a bug hunt, dino dig, sand art, and more was on the munchkins’ agendas.

There actually weren’t many rugrats on our cruise, so the Camp never felt overcrowded. And much to our surprise and delight, the counselors even assisted with potty-training and he left his diapers behind after a few days with the other Destiny kids. Coincidence? Perhaps…but we’ll take it! Word to the wise, however: the hours for the daycare were much more limited than what we were lead to believe online beforehand. Camp didn’t open until 10am every day and it closed intermittently for lunch, dinner prep, and other staff breaks. Although we only ever wanted to drop the kids off for 1-2 hours at a time, if we had had longer engagements it could have been a problem.

tigers on the prowl!

We also enjoyed many of the other activities aboard the Carnival Destiny. Every morning we received a newsletter outlining the different things to do each day, and the range was quite wide. Art auctions, karaoke, bingo, games, contests, shows, comedy acts, lots of music, gambling, spa treatments, seminars, exercise classes, shopping and more – though none of it was really kid-friendly outside of the Camp Carnival, which did hamper us. Still, the husband and I are actually content just finding a nice spot to read and people-watch so although that doesn’t seem to be the typical cruisers activity of choice, we did “manage” to enjoy ourselves.

One of the adult activities we enjoyed: a mini martini tasting.

Although we aren’t avid gamblers (other than the weekend family Texas Hold ‘Em games with TPG’s parents and siblings), the casino on board was an interesting place to hang out, and we also made use of the gym facilities onboard. Since our island time was cut short due to weather, I did some shopping in the “Fun Shops” and came home with some nifty souvenirs for the grandmas, and we both got a tremendous laugh at all the incredibly staged “photo ops” that were available each night. Mike even made his way to the Carnival Spa for a haircut on board and was pleasantly surprised by the reasonable price.

Playing on the mini-golf display

The Bad
Inexperience played a large role here. It seems as though there are a lot of things about cruising that take some getting used to. Mainly, our dining experience was lacking. We selected an evening meal time (not realizing that they are set in stone) that did not coincide well with our kids’ schedules and the Camp hours and so that made eating in the nicer restaurants next to impossible. We were able to bring the kids to the “better” dining areas during open seating for breakfast and lunch, however, which was a nice alternative to have over the cafeteria-style buffet that was our main dining option. We also were under the impression that there was a children’s food menu available whenever needed – instead our 4-year-old was served apple juice in a wine glass during breakfast, and we found ourselves haunting the poolside grill to scavenge chicken nuggets and fries several days in a row. Destiny didn’t exactly deliver in this department.

The pancakes were pretty good though!

In terms of the ship’s facilities, we found the pool and the water slide quite disappointing. Aside from the fact that the weather was almost 100% muggy and wet, the two open pools (there was a third one that was inexplicably covered by a net the whole time) were both very squat, square, and totally unappealing/unsafe for any small kids who may be unable to swim on their own yet (though you’d think every 10-12 year old onboard had sprouted fins). We never found a wading area or any sort of kiddie pool or sprinklers and since the kids were a couple inches too short for the water slide (and Mommy & Daddy couldn’t accompany them) we had to watch the revelry from the sidelines. But, then again, the fact that we had our own balcony to hang out on when we wanted fresh air was a good alternative to spending a lot of time on deck anyway. However, we weren’t exactly surprised to learn that this particular ship will be undergoing an extensive renovation in Italy next February and renamed the Sunshine in 2013!

One of the other big drawbacks for me was that Internet access was pricey. That wasn’t a surprise at all since expensive and spotty cruise ship internet access is well documented, but I ended up paying over 30 cents a minute to stay connected at a rate of $160 for 480 minutes. On the upside, the WiFi in my room worked great.

little queen of the deck.

One more quick tip: if you’re not a big-time soda drinker, there’s really no need to buy the “bottomless bubbles” soft drink package that was extensively pushed the first 2 days. We really could have made due with just one enrollment and pocketed the extra $36 since Mike preferred the free iced tea and lemonade to carbonated beverages. Oh well – lesson learned. At least we didn’t sign the kids up for it – juice and milk are also complimentary.

The other unexpected expense we had was that washers and dryers were pretty expensive. Each cycle cost $3 plus detergent, and you have to march through the casino to obtain quarters – not such an awesome experience when it’s 2 am and you have a sick toddler (see below for more details) and desperately need to wash pajamas.

The Ugly
Unfortunately our vacation came to a very unpleasant end when our family became ill. We experienced poor weather the whole week – obviously that can happen and it wasn’t the cruise’s fault – that culminated on the 4th day when we were supposed to visit Grand Cayman (the port we were most excited about) but instead had to spend another day at sea because of a tropical storm. Note: if your port call is cancelled, the cruiseline will refund all excursions booked through them and will also return any taxes the ship would have paid for docking. We received about $18 back per person for not pulling into Grand Cayman.

Far worse, however, occurred that night when our Conor became very ill…repeatedly getting sick in his sleep. However, the next morning he seemed much better so we assumed it had been a bout of sea-sickness or something he’d eaten, and let him go to Camp. Twenty minutes after drop-off we were called back because Conor hadn’t been able to keep down his breakfast and we were served with a notice that he was to see the ship’s doctor before returning. Visits start at $125 for the exam plus any medicines or procedures. We immediately took him to the infirmary and found it closed. Mid-morning.

Regardless of what the doctor says, your child is still not allowed to be re-admitted to Camp Carnival within 24 hours of a sick notice, and we would be getting off the ship in Miami the next morning, so at the time we shrugged off the fact that we couldn’t get him in right away to see a professional assuming things would pass shortly and Conor would feel better. We took him back to our cabin for some TLC. A few hours later though, with Conor still very much under the weather and unable to hold anything down, we were back at the door to medical services – and it was closed again. Needless to say we thought this was very strange and disturbing. We have since learned that we could have banged on the door and there was supposedly a nurse practitioner “on call” during their off-duty hours, but there was no notice or sign anywhere indicating this. We had called information before heading down the second time and the hours that were listed in the automated message didn’t match what was posted on the door. It did not make for a very pleasant experience on our last full day aboard the Carnival Destiny.

Our travel plans home also took a hit since, one after the other, each of us (except Mom!) became sick over the course of the next day when we disembarked in Miami. Eventually I took everyone into a local South Beach ER where the doctors suspected we had picked up norovirus on the ship – though there’s no way to confirm that, and it could have just been some sort of stomach bug. However, traveling home while everyone was so sick wasn’t going to be a possibility, so I called British Airways (since we used Avios to book our tickets) and change our flights from Saturday morning to Sunday. Luckily, the British Airways rep I reached sympathized and so we were able to change our award flight home on AA at the last minute (I called a mere 90 minutes before our departure time) after paying BA’s change fees.

Enjoying a rare moment of sunshine in Jamaica.

It’s too bad our cruise ended on a sour note, but in the spirit of making the best of it (and looking back and laughing) we want to invite TPG readers to enter a giveaway contest. A family-wide travel bug is awful, but do you have a story that can top ours? Tell us about your worst travel experience for a chance to win a treasure trove of prizes we brought home with us: Tortuga rum cake, a Carnival coffee mug and Caribbean ground coffee, a Grand Cayman t-shirt, bracelet from Jamaica, and a “sea glass” dolphin (picked out by Miss Keira herself) along with a couple other small goodies including 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And all this comes packaged in a The Points Guy signature beach bag (just in time for summer travels)! A winner will be selected and announced by the end of the week so hurry and tell us about your less than spectacular experience.

The cruise booty.

Thanks again to everyone who weighed in and helped make our cruise happen!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Brian

    Went white water rafting in Costa Rica and almost got killed. Other than that, the rest of the trip was awesome.

  • Aaron

    Being sick with your family is bad, but being sick AND stuck with not just your family but 35 middle schoolers? Worse! My mom used to lead school trips abroad to places like Costa Rica. Coming back via Miami on year, their onward flight to Texas was cancelled. Queue her negotiating for hotel rooms, toiletries, taxis, etc. for a gaggle of youngins and a small handful of chaperons while all the kids set up a very loud base camp at one of the gates. Kids had run out of their ADD medicine (and other medicines), parents expecting their kids were calling her cell phone, airport security was eyeing the whole setup suspiciously, and so on. Fortunately, it ended OK for all parties, but those 3-4 hours at the airport were pretty harrowing.

  • Pattonroberta

    My worst travel experience was when we went to Mexico with my entire family. My father was negative on the trip already and then the plane was delayed several hours and we arrived several hours late, so late in fact that the condo office was closed when arrived. My sister and brother had flown in from elsewhere and were already checked in, but didn’t think to leave any clue as to which unit they were in, so we slept on the beach, under the stars with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. That would have been nice had not been for this experience feeding into my father’s negativity.

  • Jamesrkunz

    I loved animals as a child so when I was 12 my Dad decided to take me with him on his hunting trips to Africa. However, he didn’t do much research into the nation of Ethiopia before we went…

    Our camp in the Omo Valley was rather spartan. They purified river water by sucking the dirt out of it with a large tree root, which led to the water tasting distinctly like cauliflower — a terrible taste at 5 in the morning. Villagers with AK-47s and cattle were everywhere, making the hunting extremely difficult. I was a picky eater and only liked the food they made about 1 in every 3 days, leading to me losing 8-10% of my body weight (and I was a skinny kid!). Chronic diarrhea didn’t help either.

    This went on for about 25 days and then we flew home ADD-CAI-FRA-JFK. Oh, and my Dad put himself in business class and me in coach :)

  • Janeschwalm

    Our worst vacation sounded somewhat like yours. We were going on our first cruise with our kids 6,8 and 11 and my mother. My mom, the kids and I went down to Florida a few days earlier to go to Universal Studios. We rented a car and then drove to Cocoa Beach to wait for my husband 2 nights before our cruise. That night, Friday, was our last good night. Mind you, this was back in 1990 when Disney leased boats for their cruises. We were on the Big Red and norovirus wasn’t know. Anyway, Saturday afternoon (cruise was on Sunday) our daughter began running a high fever. Since we were military, we took her to Patrick Air Force Base for free medical care around 4 PM. Her fever was around 104 degrees. There was a long line there and rather than have everyone wait for us, my husband went back and got my mother and the other 2 kids to go to dinner and then he would pick Lisa and I up. Still waiting when he came back around 8 PM. There apparently was a shortage of doctors there since the first Persian Gulf was going on and most of the doctors from this base went overseas. Finally we saw the doctor and was told she either had an ear infection or it was meningitis…..really???? Got back to the hotel at 10 PM, kitchen was closed and I was tired and hungry. Luckily the night manager heard my story and she opened up the kitchen and sent food over to my room. The next morning, my husband and I took our daughter to Cape Canaveral Hospital where they drew blood, gave her a stuffed Teddy Bear and told us she had a virus that would run its course. Still feverish, she spent a lot of time napping and never made an entire meal in the dining room. On the private island, I held her in my arms and let her lay in the water to bring down the fever. The last day of the cruise she was feeling better.

    Next part of the trip was Disney World where our 8 year old son was sick. Of course, I went back to the room with him. Hubby went back home and we still had one last day in DW. The night before our flight I try to get things ready and can’t find our 4 airline tickets. I call the airline and they say that I have to pay for them again though the price wasn’t outrageous. I let them know I really need to sit together as I have a sick 8 year old and a 6 year old that can’t sit by herself. No problem I was told. As we were getting ready to leave for our flight, we get a message from Disney Cruise lines that they had found our airline tickets in the stateroom. I got this message 1 hour before we were leaving for the airport – could they have called earlier or called my TA sooner since her name was in the folder. Anyway, we get to the airport, show ID and find they had given our seats away even though we had, but not on us, tickets for those seats. Right then and there I throw a hissy fit, cry from being so stressed and tired. The result, First Class Seats that my 8 year old slept through.

    This was one of the worse vacations …..EVER!

  • Jeffrey Chien

    My worst experience was during the February 2007 fiasco that caused JetBlue to totally melt down. My wife and I got a ride to the airport and was scheduled to fly out around 9pm. The flight was delayed till 130am when the plan finally arrived from JFK. We were told they would unload the passenger not clean the plan and rush all of us on board before JFK declared another ground stop. They loaded 10 people and stated too late everyone off the plan. At around 230am the pilot announced that the flight was cancelled since his flight crew has timed out for the day. The crew was escorted out of the terminal by sheriff deputy’s. Luckily I had my laptop and was able to rebook us on the next flight out on US Airways. We went through security 5x that day and had to leave the gate area to go out and print our new tickets while my wife got us a refund.

  • Rob

    One of my worst travel experiences was on my first flight of a two week South America trip. The flight was delayed 3 hours which led to us sprinting through ATL (changing terminals of course) while hearing our names called throughout the airport. Luckily we made it on just in time for them to deplane everyone for two hours due to no air condition on the plane.

  • AriRosenberg

    My worst travel expeirnce is as follows:

    I was traveling from Ft Lauradale back to LGA and the Spirit Airlines flight was full. My whole family was told we were going to be bumped. Last second they put my family back on the plane and said I was the only one needed. I was told I’d receive a voucher (rip off with all the fees on spirit) and a ticket on the next flight out. She gave me a voucher for snacks so I bought a few and put them in my bag. The gate agent couldn’t find a flight out and had to book me on a flight out of Palm Beach. So I had to take a 45 min cab ride to palm beach. When I go through security for the x2 time today, they see all these snacks and take them away. So now I am snackless because I used the voucher at fll not knowing I would be in Palm beach. So finally I get on my flight and spirit was supposed to leave our bags at LGA. Not only did they lose my bag but the rest of my families as well. Then we had to file a whole report with recipts and everything. Finally 8 weeks later we got a small check that barely covered anything. That is why I will never fly spirit it was one long crazy day.

  • Mitch Cumstein

    Great recap, and sorry to hear that you got ill on the trip. It looks like Little C still had a good time though.

  • Drsp

    When we stayed at a Radisson in Corpus Christi for the Big Night Giveaway in December the hotel had an electrical fire at 2am.

  • Ahmedbhuiyan

    My worst travel experience was in 2008 when my family and I went to visit family in Bangladesh. The trip was cursed from the beginning. In JFK our flight was delayed–when we landed in Dubai for our connection to Dhaka, Bangladesh the flight was also delayed by 6 hours due to “fog.” Finally when we arrived in Bangladesh 5 of our luggage did not arrive with us, I had to come back to the airport 3 days later to pick it up and the airport is quite a trek and long way from the city center. This is not the worst part yet, a week later I from a street cart (just couldn’t help my self–it smelled so good) then got sick (very sick) my sister followed me a day later and my mom followed her. All 3 of us sick for an entire week. On our last night before we head back to NY we get burglarized! During the night while we were sleeping thieves cut opened the wooden window in the house and grabbed what ever they could from the bags by the window. This included jewelery, some cash, clothes we just bought, ipod, and worst the digital camera with all the pictures we took in the trip.

    We left Dhaka arrived in London for our connection to NY, but the Emirates plane had a mechanical issue, so the flight was cancelled and we were rebooked on the the next flight the next day. End of worst strip ever.

  • SARA R

    My worst travel experience was heading from Baltimore to Miami. I was heading down to join in a family wedding that evening. For some reason they didn’t announce the destination and only after take-off I discovered the plan I was on was NOT headed for Miami but Detroit. I guess the two gates 21a and 21bI were right next to each other and for some reason even with scanning my boarding pass no one realized I was at the wrong gate. I landed in Detroit where after much amazement they managed to get me on a flight to Miami that was to take off in 3 hours still getting me to Miami in time for the nighttime celebrations. 2 hours later my flight was cancelled for bad weather. A huge snow storm had come in. I never did make it to Miami and didn’t get back to Baltimore until the next night. What a trip!

  • CandyMonster

    If the flight was delayed 3 hours, why were you sprinting?

  • Espan27

    Damn, street food in Oaxaca sure looked good… a few hours later, fever, chills, shakes and stuff coming out of my every which way to Sunday…

  • Rob

    My CVG -> ATL flight was the one delayed about 3 hours (which was all we had to connect in ATL).

  • BobbyB

    My worst experience was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was Christmas week of 2006.

    I was in month number 14 of my 18 month around-the-world adventure. I had been in Southeast Asia for a while and wanted some western food for a change. I went to a local restaurant and had spaghetti. Safe right? WRONG.

    I spent the next 4 days in my hotel bed. Any time I moved it felt like a knife was being shoved into my stomach. I had a nasty parasite. On the 4th day I was finally able to leave the hotel for a minute. I went to the pharmacy where they gave me medication. I was finally starting to feel a little better and ate for the first time since the pasta.

    Aside from sleeping as much as possible I was making over a dozen trips to the bathroom each day and night. The hotel staff were awesome and would go buy me water and whatever I needed. They would check on me throughout the days. I gave them a large tip when I left.

    I never got to see anything in Ho Chi Minh. That meal was my first night there and when I felt well enough I just wanted to leave. I took a bus to Cambodia as planned for New Years at Angkor Wat. Things were fine from then onward.

    I hope to never get food poisoning/parasites that bad every again. I hope none of you get it either. Yikes.

  • Nikdro

    My worst experience also happened after a cruise. We got off the cruise ship in Miami and I wasn’t feeling particularly well. Our plan was to rent a car and drive to Orlando and spend the day at Disney and fly out that evening. I was so ill on the drive home we had to pull over several times so that I could get out of the car. We were running so far behind that we had to go straight to the airport. When we got there to return the car I got out and fell to the ground and my entire body cramped up and I couldn’t move. A paramedic came and after about 45 minutes to an hour I was feeling better so we decided to not go to the hospital and try and catch our flight. We ended up missing our flight and it was probably a good thing because I ended up feeling very ill again later that night and had to go to the ER. It ended up being a severe case of dehydration and they pumped some fluids into me and gave me some potassium and I began to feel much better. Luckily Southwest let us change our flight without any fees.

  • Evodad

    Our best and worst experience was when my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Antigua and having a great time about halfway through after a couple hiccups with the hotel when we first arrived. We had done some excursions, ziplining, kayaking etc., but we wanted to go horseback riding on the beach. All was well as we got the guy to bring the horses down and began our adventure by walking along some of the paths and backroads around the resort. Then we got to the beach and or guide gave the horses a little whistle to get them into a slow trot (I think he just wanted to get it over with sooner). Our horses began to trot and then began to trot faster and within seconds were in a full out sprint racing one another down the beach. I watched in horror as my wife couldn’t hold on and was thrown from the horse to the ground where the sand meets the surf. A concussion and many bruises later and we were on our way home from our honeymoon, cut short by an activity often depicted as romantic in commercials and movies. After the incident and before we made it to the hospital we were told that they used retired race horses, apparently ours didn’t want to retire. The upside was overall she ended up being ok and we have a crazy story to tell about our honeymoon.

  • frenchman619

    Worst experience was flying from BOS to ORD on AA. Flight was scheduled to take off around 9pm, but was delayed for an unexplained reason. Finally boarded the plane at 11pm, but after sitting at the gate for half an hour were told there was a crack somewhere in the cockpit and water was leaking in (it was raining at the time). After retrieving another plane, another delay arose and some electrical issue was discovered. The entire flight ended up being canceled and everyone was rebooked to flights out the next morning. By this time, it was 2am and my flight out was supposed to be at 6 or 7am, so I spent the night in the terminal on the benches with “smooth jazz” playing through the PA system.

  • Em

    My worst travel experience wasn’t so much a failure of airlines, hotels, or traffic, but (like you): immune system. I was spending a month in Paris taking a French class and generally enjoying the summer. About two weeks into my trip, I started experiencing stomach pains. I stayed home from class that day (monday). I only felt worse the next day, and contacted an English-speaking doctor recommended by the school I was studying at. Later that afternoon I had an appointment with this (rather odd) doctor. He asked me questions, pressed on my abdomen, and when I winced, he said “Have you had the appendicitis?” “No,” I replied. “I don’t think it is for sure, but you will go get labs.” So he sent me to a lab (several neighborhoods away) to have some bloodwork done. As I fumbled through the appointment in my two-weeks worth of French, the nurses at the lab all looked at me with sympathetic eyes. “You know why you’re here?” they asked. “Possible appendicitis?” I asked? They nodded. After a bit, the lab attendant came out and said he thought I actually did not have appendicitis, but it would take two days to get my true results.

    So I went back and spent the next two days in my rented boarding house room, which had a 6×8 bedroom and no internet or air conditioning. There was a heat wave that week, so I would lay on my bed or the floor, trying not to have any part of my body touch any other part. My one friend in Paris would stop by every day to check on me. I had already blown through the books I’d brought, so he lent me hers. All I had to read in those days were Dan Brown novels, which I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen myself.

    On Thursday I felt a little better, so I tried to return to class. I made it through lunch, but then had to go back home. On my way, my doctor called. He said my lab results did show appendicitis and that I had to make my way to the hospital RIGHT AWAY. But not before stopping by the lab to pick up my labs to take to the hospital with me. This was 2007–I don’t know how there wasn’t some sort of fax or email, but no, I had to go across town myself, with visions of a bursting appendix running through my head. The pity-eyed nurses handed over my paperwork, and I sought to find my way to the recommended hospital. The doctor had given me directions to a hosptial on the edge of town. I didn’t question his recommendation, and I had no internet to find an alternative. I arrived and found that no one there spoke English. I fumbled my way through my triage interview, virtually in tears from pain and frustration. If I had only gotten sick at the Louvre, there would have been so many English-speakers! But here I was at a hospital where I could barely communicate with anyone.

    They took me in for an exam and an xray, then left me on a bed in the hallway, across from a wrinkled man who would make terrible groans every few minutes. I finally made it through to call my mother, who asked, “If you have appendicitis, can we fly you back to the US first?” No, mom. I don’t think I can get on an 8 hour flight with an infected appendix. So she jumped in the car to fly to me.

    The happy ending of this story is that several hours later, the doctor came to me and said I did not have appendicitis, just some other kind of stomach infection ( to this day I don’t know what it was, since I couldn’t understand him). He wrote me a prescription for two medicines and sent me on my way. I called my mother and caught her in line, saving her from buying a pricy plane ticket. Two days later, the medicines kicked in, and without surgery. At that point, I had lost an entire week of my Paris-sojourn, but at least I didn’t lose my appendix!

  • Jackie

    My worst travel experience? What comes to mind is my journey home from a very lovely solo trip to Spain about 10 years ago. I was traveling from Madrid to Paris connecting to an Air France flight to JFK… I had a bit of a tight connection but I was using my points for free airfare and was assured it was a fine connection, but I was already worried about making my flight…. My Madrid to Paris flight was indeed delayed, so when I got to Paris I was sure that I had missed my flight already, but I still found the shuttle bus to my next terminal and got through security only to find out that my plane was still at the gate! I hurried on and got to my seat for our imminent departure…. but not so fast….. There was a series of 20 minute delays for varied reasons that left on sitting on the tarmac for about 4 hours before takeoff. I realized that I would miss my scheduled train home to Albany NY from NYC, but I still calculated that I had time to make one of the last trains of the night and that i would just get home VERY late. After my transatlantic flight, I rushed from JFK by taxi to NYC to catch an Amtrak train and I found out I could make the 10PM train… Great! I called my husband and let him know I was going to be on my way shortly. I was, that is until the train stopped in Poughkeepsie for unknown reasons and wasn’t starting up again any time soon. Luckily a young woman let me use her cell phone to call my husband to update him. Well we sat in the Pok train station for hours without much information, being strung along with assurances that we would be going soon. It turned out that there were severe thunderstorms causing debris to be falling on the train tracks. We sat there so long that we had to wait for a crew change before we could leave the station at about 4AM, so my 2 1/2 hour train trip was really taking much longer and that was already on top of leaving Madrid very early the previous morning…. Well we did eventually start to inch along to Albany, but the final hour and 20 minutes of the trip took at least another 4 hours. When we got to Hudson NY, about 30 min from Albany, we approached the station, but never pulled up to the area where passengers could be dispatched. We were told that we could not take the train from Hudson to Albany, but that Amtrak would have taxis take us the final stretch of the trip to the Albany Rensselaer station. Well after waiting a while longer and drinking coffee with the crew and having no taxis arrive, a passenger who had connections with a local bus company offered to have a bus pick us stranded passengers and crew up if Amtrak would pay for it. After some negotiations, Amtrak agreed. So, since we could not pull up to the landing, we had to jump down off the train and I had to carry all of my heavy Spain trip bags down a gravely area on the side of the tracks for about 200 yards to get to the station to board the bus. Our bus had to take lots of detours to get us home to Albany due to storm damage from the night before. To add insult to injury, once I got to the train station, my husband had already left for work, so I had to catch a cab home, but I must admit I was never so glad to be home. What would have been a long 18 hour day of travel for me, turned into almost double that!

  • Ryan H

    In 2008 my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I wanted to travel from Baton Rouge down to Pensacola Beach for the day to see the Blue Angels air show. This was the weekend after July 4th and one of the most popular Blue Angels shows of the year, so we knew it would be packed, but worth it. There was a chance of rain (30% or 40%) that day and we were on the fence about making the 250+ mile drive each way in one day if it was just going to rain. We decided to go ahead and go, that we would be disappointed if ended up not raining and we missed out. We drove about 250 miles, with beautiful weather the entire way, when we were about to cross the bridge from Pensacola to Pensacola Beach. That’s where traffic picked up heavily and we were stopped in slow moving traffic, inching along across the bridge for the next hour or so. When we got to the bottom of the bridge, it started raining…no, pouring. It was like a monsoon. We inched our way through traffic looking for somewhere to park and go inside, but there were so many people everywhere that there were no parking spots anywhere. We kept inching through town and it kept raining. It rained so much that the water in the street was up to the door in our car (not quite as much as the rain they experienced last week, thankfully). If we would’ve opened the door, water would’ve started pouring into our car. We pretty much were stuck in our car, inching around Pensacola Beach trying to wait to see if the rain would stop in time for the air show in a couple of hours. The rain finally slacked off enough for us to walk on the beach for about 15 minutes. Then we found out the air show was postponed to the next day. So, we got back in the car and inched our way out of town like all the other people that didn’t have hotel reservations. We spent about 14-16 hours stuck in the car that day, when it should’ve been only about 4 hours each way. All we had to eat for the first 10 hours were Little Debbie snack cakes.

    I tell my wife now that if we made it through that day and still stayed together, we could make it through anything.

  • John

    I thought Brian tries to write about luxury travel at low cost? Carnival is known as the Kmart of the Caribbean! It is probably the worst large cruise line in the U.S. There are many better choices than Carnival. You could not pay me to take a Carnival cruise!

  • Rob

    On our honeymoon cruise we missed the cable car going down at santorini so we had to walk down a steep slope that was covered with slick donkey poop. Needless to say my wife did not have appropriate shoes and there were several slips and we ended up covered in poop. We definitely got some looks boarding the boat

  • Ced

    My worst experience? Simple: flying DTW-CDG-SXB with a checked luggage full of gifts for my family at Christmas, only to arrive home and find out that the luggage is stranded in…Washington, DC. I still don’t know what happened :/

    Keep up the good work TPG. Excellent blog.

  • belinda

    Got my phone stolen while in India, but that wasn’t the worst part which was the return flight home… Had a flight going from DEL->AUH->MAN->ORD->SFO. Forgot to print out proof that I had a ticket out of DEL so needed to get in a separate line to get that printed out before I could enter the airport proper. Then the flight was delayed due to fog so that it was late getting into AUH. But that didn’t much matter as the flight to MAN had been entirely canceled. Spent the next 6 hours trying to ask for if a new flight had been scheduled and sitting aimlessly as it was the early hours of the morning. Finally got put in a flight through LHR, but it was the first flight in the next morning. Then after getting to LHR, there was more sitting until finally I could get on the flight to ORD. At ORD, i realized they had lost my checked luggage which I had last seen in DEL. So then I was filing the claim and at this point it was around 6 pm and there was no way I’d make it on the last flight out to SFO since I needed to switch from international to domestic terminals. They ended up rescheduling me on the first flight out the following morning, but I had no hotel credit and even if I did, I couldn’t leave the airport as I was dressed for a sunny climate and Chicago was at freezing or so. So then I just wandered the airport for about 6 more hours before finally catching a flight home to make it home about 3/4 day later than originally intended. Then it ended up taking another 4 months to finally process my lost luggage… but that is another story.

  • Djsinger

    Sheraton La Jolla, fire alarm twice in the middle of the night. Smell of marijuana throughout the hotel. Not even really in La Jolla!

  • incaman

    Back in the mid 80′s there was a time when the US and Peru did not allow direct flights between them. We flew in July from Gran Cayman on the way down to Lima on Fawcett airlines. Despite calling to reconfirm our tickets for our return (commonly done in those days), while we were at the check-in desk, our tickets were given to to part of a tour returning from Cusco! The relatives (the whole family came to the airport) kept feeding our 1 yo son crackers and cookies while my hoppin mad husband ranted (security was callled to the scene). Later in the evening a friend found tickets for me and my sister-in-law to return on AeroPeru, my husband would return some days later. AeroPeru flew to Jamaica and I, my sil, and sick child who had thrown up on my shoulder from too many cookies?, arrived,without tickets to the US, to find the the hot, unairconditioned airport filled with stranded people because Air Jamaica? was on strike. A British couple took pity on us, giving us their place in in the waiting line, saving us us a day or two of hell in Kingston. Onto Miami and more standby waiting for a flight to Chicago where we arrived sometime around midnight. No buses to Milwaukee so had to rent a car (only Lincoln Towncars available). We finally arrived to Milwaukee the 3rd day.

  • Bexho2000

    Funny but my worst experience was with the same Carnival ship on a trip back in January. First cruise for the whole family together so we went on a 4 day one jsu to test – bad decision as the ship was too crowded and not fun for families. I agree with your point on inexperience. The pools were always full of almost drunk adults. My kids (6.5 and 3.5 yrs old) love Camp Carnival but that was it…On our 4 days on the ship we never saw anyone use the water slides, maybe because the weather was not extremely hot. A night of rough sea did not help the experience. I would love to give cruizing another try with the family (not sure if wife feels the same…) but this time with go for 7+ nights and definitely read as many of the blogs as possible prior to pulling the trigger on the tickets…I learned that price should not be your only determining factor while selecting a cruise ship. Thanks for sharing your experience…and hope I win so I can apply those points towards the next trip …

  • Dan Berson

    In college, I flew to Tanzania with a friend to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. In an effort to save money, we booked our climb with the cheapest local tour company. On day 5 of 8, we ran out of both food and water, so for the last three days we ate only leek soup we pilfered from another company. We had only mountain water to drink, which we had to decontaminated with chlorine tablets. On the night of the final ascent (departing at midnight and climbing through the night), my headlamp battery died and my glasses cracked from the cold. I was essentially blind. Starving, sick, tired, and vomiting, I decided it wasn’t worth making a summit attempt so I turned around and went back to camp.

    The lesson about Kilimanjaro is true: Spend on the mountain, save on the beach!

  • Deniz

    Worst experience was at the Duomo in Florence, Italy. We wanted to visit inside, but there were no signs and we instead ended up in queue for the staircase to the top which was not what we intended to do and there was no room to turn around inside the narrow staircase even though I’m skinny. Italy was experiencing a heat wave and the temperature inside the single-file spiral staircase must have been almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit with no circulation. The forced 463 steps to the roof was not a pleasant climb. Now I know why there are ambulances always parked outside the exit.

  • Marisaj814

    Worst travel experience was with my boyfriend (now husband) back in college for our 2005 spring break trip to an all inclusive in Puerto Vallarta. Starting day 5 of 7, he got the ol’ Montezuma’s revenge and spent the final 2 days and the flight home in the bathroom, I’ll spare you the gory details. As for me, that same day I was kayaking in the water and was flipped over by a wave, as I got up to get the kayak another huge wave came in sending the kayak straight towards me hitting my right ankle. Long story short, I couldn’t walk on it, saw the doctor at the resort and struggled with the minimal spanish that I know to communicate to find out I bruised a tendon. The resort had no crutches but it did have a wheelchair. I spent the final two days in a wheelchair trying to maneuver around the resort that had incredibly steep handicap ramps for food, bottled water and toilet paper while he spent it sleeping next to the toilet. The airport/flight home was an experience in itself, but the fact we made it through it without one argument or neither of us losing our cool made me realize that I would marry him some day :)

  • Stubtify

    Glad you were able to take some good from the cruise. I’ll admit my worst is was a very busy thanksgiving stranded 1,000 miles from either my home, or my family. Really just pure frustration at not being able to make it to the family meal, and instead eating McDonalds and sleeping on the floor. Bleh

  • Baqa

    I was leading a group of 20 people (ranging from 13 year olds to an 80 year old) for a month-long trip in Kenya. Our original flight itinerary would have had us flying mostly BA (except for our first leg SEA-JFK): SEA-JFK-LHR-NBO-LHR-SEA. Literally while we were in the air SEA-JFK the BA baggage handlers went on strike and when we landed in New York there was pandemonium. Luckily for us we had used a travel agent for such a large group and she started working on some alternative for us while we went out around the city keeping everyone busy.

    Late that evening she got us on an AA flight JFK-LHR, but we went knowing that she might not be able to secure us anything out of LHR. Upon arriving there, it felt like we were walking into a refugee station. There were folks stranded at LHR who had been sleeping there for a couple days now! Here I was with 20 people trying to figure out some way to prevent us from joining the campsite until our flights were secured. I literally went from BA help desk to BA help desk scrounging together whatever I could.

    One desk gave me vouchers for coach bus transportation in case I managed to find a hotel (but assured me there wasn’t any way I could find said hotel). Another desk gave me vouchers for food but told me there were absolutely no hotels available except maybe near Gatwick, but that they couldn’t just put me up there. I approached the third desk and said I knew there wasn’t any help they could give near LHR, but *maybe* they could *please* check near Gatwick for me…and they put us up in the (then) Le Meridien Gatwick. Phew! Crisis (somewhat) averted.

    We spent about 1 full day (2 nights) in London before we could get a flight out…and what a flight it was. Our new itinerary was to fly Air Zimbabwe to HRE and then Kenya Airways to NBO. The Air Zimbabwe flight was…an experience. We knew we were getting in deep when I overheard a passenger in line ahead of me comment to her companion that she “…hoped we weren’t going to make an unplanned stop in Libya for fuel like LAST TIME.” Then we spent 2 solid hours waiting at the gate while they shifted luggage around – back, forth, left, right – until they felt we were balanced enough to take off.

    Coming out of HRE to NBO, our Kenya Airways flight made an unscheduled stop in Zambia but eventually we made it to NBO. However, it turns out that our $100,000+ in checked medical supplies were left in Harare. They would eventually make it up to NBO three weeks later (following unending phone calls to the airline(s), the US Consulate, and anyone who would listen). There in Nairobi they sat, being held back by a crooked government official (despite the customs pre-clearance we had obtained months prior), until the day we left the country – when we ended up giving in to his demand for a $2000 bribe and sent them on their way to the hospital they were intended for.

    Our travel adventure wasn’t done yet, though. Our NBO-LHR flight had troubles with the #3 engine…and we sat in a locked closed, un-air-conditioned cabin for 5 full hours with temperatures reaching 110 degrees before they deposited us back into the terminal at 3am to fight for hotel accommodations. The next night – trouble with the #3 engine (same plane). They at least learned their lesson and let us off after only 2 hours (and opened the doors for ventilation during that time). We sat around and I talked with the pilots about our group and our poor luck travelling on this trip. Eventually they canceled that flight too and we had to claw our way to some hotel space again. They flew in a new plane for us the next night.

    The one redeeming part of this whole trip? My conversation with the pilots actually paid off in an act of extreme kindness. When we arrived in LHR and went to the gate for our LHR-SEA flight, I heard them paging my name. I went up to the desk and they informed me that the pilot had radioed ahead and set up a little gift for us. Everyone was provided with a 500GBP travel voucher, 40GBP in vouchers to use in our layover in LHR…and the entire group was upgraded to Club World for our LHR-SEA flight. Maybe it didn’t make up for all we had been through – but it was a nice way to end the trip!

  • mikes

    I suspect that Brian wasn’t footing the bill, though I’d have gone upscale rather than pay for a suite on Carnival. This as a “platinum” cruiser on Carnival. The thing is, there isn’t much you can do with cruising that is analogous to the points game on land.

  • Jmansour

    has to be the time we went to israel and had dial up internet speed and no doors to the bathroom or even a shower curtain!! was a nightmare!!

  • mikes

    It was back in the day… roughly 1995, before cell service was available on ship (ie. the good old days) and phone service was about $7 a minute. The day after embarkation, I get a letter saying that my credit card has been rejected. As I said, this was in the old days when I was naive and only had one credit card. The purser’s desk said that I’d have to call the CC company myself to get it straightened out, and I declined. So I was on a cruise for 7 days with effectively no money. I always cruised cheap and ~10 years ago there was much more entertainment on the ship, so I made it through. Carnival wound up giving me 15% off my next cruise due to that SNAFU, so it cost them a decent amount of money.


    Note that with the soda card, you can also get juices all day long at any bar. We use it quite a bit with 2 little ones (though technically you’re not supposed to ‘share’). But, yeah, at $6 a day you definitely need to think how much soda you’ll really drink.

    That is the thing with GC: because of the tendering it doesn’t take much to make for an unsafe condition and a cancelled port. When next you’re there, do hit the turtle farm. The best thing on the island by far for the kids.

    Destiny is being refurbed and renamed sometime soon. She’ll be called the Sunshine. Why? Who knows?

    Carnival’s customer service has definitely gone downhill. On shore is downright horrendous. Not that the individuals don’t try, but it’s clear that they have very limited information, authority or responsibility. Still, it’s cheap and when travelling with 4 I’m willing to deal with some BS to save $1000 over Disney. Until the kids get older, anyway… :)

  • Rob F.

    Flew into Venice Italy with our 1 Year old daughter and took the bus from the airport to the water taxi. When we excited the bus our bag was stolen with all our electrical stuff, my daughter’s paper lap ticket for the return and my wife’s resident card. The resident card was the hardest part to get back.

  • Spencer W.

    Still hoping to take the family on a cruise–and hoping we don’t run into sickness or other issues along the way!

  • Gary

    My worst travel experience was the weekend my wife and I got engaged. Everything was magical (Got engaged at Disneyland) we had an amazing dinner and then boom… she got food poisoning and couldn’t keep anything down for the rest of the weekend. So much for celebrating and enjoying the Magic Castle! Oh well… everything worked out, we’re married and expecting our first child!

  • Brad

    My junior year of college I studied abroad in Rome for a semester. I lived up in the NJ/NYC area, but our group flight was departing out of Dulles. I could have jumped on a flight from EWR to IAD and met the group there but, since my cousin lives outside of DC, my family and I decided to drive down and spend the night with them before I hopped on my flight. Little did I know what was in store for me:

    36 Hours before takeoff – Northern New Jersey

    My family and I went out to dinner at a local pub/restaurant. I figured that since it would be one of my last nights in the US, I had to have a true American delicacy — an ostentatiously large steak. The food was good, I choked down as much of the steak as possible and went to sleep on a full belly, packed and ready for our drive to DC in the morning.

    24 Hours before takeoff – Somewhere in Southern NJ or Delaware

    I started feeling a little queazy as we drove down the turnpike, but I figured that it was just car sickness and maybe a little bit of nervousness. As the drive progressed, I started to realize that there was something not quite right happening in the deepest depths of my intestines. At this point I thought that, at worst, it would be a one off bathroom stop and I’d be good to go. I had no idea how wrong I was.

    20 Hours before takeoff – Outside of Washington DC

    Arriving at my cousin’s house I made a beeline for the bathroom as my dad went in search of a nearby pharmacy to find some sort of stomach-soothing agent. Once I made it to the bathroom, all hell broke loose. My dad returned with some Pepto, Immodium, Tums, etc. unfortunately these worked about as well as trying to dam a river with a piece of plywood.

    20 to 6 hours before takeoff – The guest bathroom, my cousins house, outside of Washington DC

    To this day, still one of the worst nights of my life. I spent the entire night periodically getting sick and using the toilet for its intended purpose. I couldn’t keep anything down, food, water, even the medication I was trying was coming back up. By the morning, however, I felt like I had been through the worst of it and was excited to go to the airport.

    3 hours before takeoff – IAD

    I had gotten to the airport without much incident and was feeling markedly better. I checked my bags, said goodbye to my parents (you’d have thought I was going to Mars, from my mother’s reaction) and headed to security. Surprisingly, security was a breeze and I ended up, after taking a few trams, at my gate with significant time to spare. This is where I made my most grave error in judgement.

    2 hours before takeoff – food court, IAD

    After not having eaten in 24 hours and not having thrown up in 4, I was feeling pretty hungry. I decided that, rather than risk airplane food, I would try and find something safe to eat in the airport. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I had a turkey sandwich from Au Bon Pain along with an orange juice. After keeping it down for ~30 minutes, I immediately felt better.

    30 minutes before takeoff – airplane bathroom nearest my seat, coach, United flight from IAD to FCO

    It turned out that, although I was able to keep food down, my digestive system was working overtime (presumably because it didn’t trust me after the last fiasco). I don’t know if you’ve ever had to fully utilize the airplane bathroom before takeoff but let me tell you – there are two horrifying consequences. The first is that the flight crew looks at you like a leper; the second is that each subsequent passenger who uses that bathroom KNOWS beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you were the one who christened the bathroom and therefore were responsible for the smell.

    After that humbling experience I settled down in my seat (an aisle, THANK GOD) and prepared for takeoff. I had an empty seat next to me right up until the last minute, when a gorgeous girl who was also my age asked to scoot by. This was irony at its best, considering that my neighbors on flights are usually people who are either a.) completely non-social, b.) 20 years older than me, c.) incredibly odd, or d.) a passenger of size lawsuit waiting to happen. Anyway, she sat down and we started talking – she was also studying abroad at Rome, spoke pretty decent Italian, and was excited to spend a semester in Italy. As we taxied over to the runway, I thought that things were looking up.

    Duration of the 7 hour flight – somewhere over the Atlantic

    Luckily, after some small talk, the girl next to me on the plane ended up falling asleep. This was good news, as for the remainder of the flight, I had to run to the bathroom every hour on the hour, with no exceptions. It was undoubtedly the most uncomfortable, embarrassing, and altogether disheartening flight of my life. By the time we landed in Rome, my excitement about studying abroad had been replaced with fatigue, hunger, irritation, and embarrassment.

    24 to 36 hours after takeoff – Rome Italy

    After some careful consumption of pasta and panini alike, my digestive system was finally back to normal and I could finally fully embrace my time abroad. And so ends the worst travel experience of my life.

  • Andy

    Worst travel trip for me was flying on Air Tran years back (never will again). Was heading out for a weekend to meet up with college friends and had booked a red-eye flight Friday night LAX-BDL, with a brief stop in Chicago (without changing planes). The idea would be to sleep continuously on the plane, and wake up Saturday morning upon landing in Connecticut for a crazy weekend. So I pop a tylenol PM before the flight to help. Well….. Problem #1 — plane gets delayed in Chicago. OK, not a problem, I can sleep. But, Problem #2 — they force us to switch planes for unexplained reasons. Well, there goes the hope for continuous sleep…. Problem #3 — the outbound plane to BDL is delayed and we’re on the tarmac for a couple hours (I’m trying to sleep but at this point, it’s getting tough with no air circulating and no food/water). Problem #4 — outbound flight to BDL is canceled after sitting on the tarmac for 2 hours! Uh oh, now comes the mad rush to the gate agent (yes, one) at something like 3am (I can’t remember exactly). The adrenaline flowing from having to deal with the situation is being balanced by the Tylenol PM which, unfortunately, turned out to be a bad idea. Problem #5 — the mob of angry passengers is swamping the one gate agent, and things are getting testy! Eventually, after a couple more hours, Air Tran sets me on a flight to Indianapolis, WITHOUT ANY GUARANTEE OF A CONNECTING FLIGHT TO BDL. They’re just trying to shovel people out of Chicago. Problem #6 — get to Indianapolis and have to wait through several hours of guessing and hoping to get on a plane to BDL. Eventually do. Arrive in Connecticut late Saturday — my weekend has been cut in half, down to less than 1 day. Ugh. Thanks, Air Tran! All I had to show for it was a coupon voucher for a free flight in the next year. Yeah, right, like I would fly them again…

  • John

    Mikes- Agree with your comments. But,.. Caribbean cruises are some the cheapest vacation values out there. Even in the winter you can get some great deals, and I think this was a summer cruise which is even cheaper. I’ve had friends go on Carnival cruises and come back with neg. comments. The Wall Street Journal called Carnival Cruises “the Kmart of the Caribbean”. Next time, try Royal Caribbean (good buys with newer ships) or Celebrity (more upscale). There are lot of good cruise lines, though, Carnival is not one of them.

  • bruce

    We were traveling to Africa as a family many years ago…our children were young. We told them we would be eating new and different food along the way. To make a long story short…we were staying at some friends house who were long term missionaries near Arusha,Tanzania. At dinner we ate all sorts of weird food and we kept encouraging our kids to be polite and try everything. I was finishing my salad when i noticed something at the bottom of my bowl…i thought it was a raisin…when i stuck my fork in it…IT MOVED!!!!!It was the tip of a very large nightcrawler type worm…ok…that’s the tip…now where is the rest of it???? Oh No…Yup!!!! I must have eaten it. All 3 kids…ran to the bathroom and threw up…dinner over. Our friends felt terrible. One of their children had put “fish bait” in the fridge and it got loose and made it’s way into the lettuce bag. Needless to say…the kids were “on alert” for the rest of our adventure.

  • Paul

    So this experienced happened when I was a senior in high school and I was traveling from California to Philadelphia. I was attending a “diversity”camp that was offered from a small private college I was applying to; they invited all the minorities that had applied to their school to come check out the facilities (interesting, I know). In any case, I had a great time there since this was the first time I was traveling on an airplane on my own. I met some great people there who I still keep in touch with and was able to experience the college atmosphere (alcohol free of course!) while still in high school. On the last night of the camp, I decided with a group of friends that we should all stay up all night and have some fun. Lucky for this southern California boy, Philadelphia was hit with a huge snowstorm that night, which closed the airports.. The snow was so bad that my flight ended up getting delayed for two days past my original departure date. Problem was, I decided to pull an all-nighter for each of those nights, thinking that the next day, my flight would be ready. Irregardless, I was pretty dead-tired when the airport finally opened and my flight was confirmed. Check-in was a breeze (pre-9/11 days) and I got comfortable in front of my gate. Too comfortable. I ended up passing out in front of my gate and miss my flight. I woke up two hours after my flight had already left and in a daze, I made my way to the agent’s desk. Lucky for me, there were plenty of flights going back to California and I was able to be delayed only for a few hours. No more falling asleep in front of the gate for me!

  • Carl

    I travel every week for work, so I’ve had plenty of good and bad experiences. By far the absolute worst travel experience of my life happened on spring break when I am some long-time buddies of mine took a Spirit Airlines (cringe) flight from Nassau, Bahamas to Detroit. Obviously, Spirit is not known for their high-quality service but this experience was way worse than expected. After an eventful vacation in the Bahamas, we got to the airport to take our flight and were delayed about 5 hours. Once on the plane, the real fun began. Both lavatories clogged and overflowed, the smell of the blue toilet water plus the an abundance of human waste saturated the cabin to the point of absolute nausea. Passengers obviously got irritable and the flight attendants refused to use their natural problem solving skills to calm everyone, including themselves. They also refused to continue any sort of service. My friend and I became flight attendants for a day and walked down the aisle handing out the snacks and any refreshments the flight attendants were willing to give us. We landed in North Carolina for a a connection and the flight attendants refused to allow passengers off the plane who needed to use the restroom. Eventually, the passengers became so annoyed that they simply bolted off the plane, ran to the restroom, and returned to the plane without tickets. Apparently upon landing in Detroit, the pilot had requested that the police board the plane and arrest any disruptive passengers. Since this was before 9/11, people were allowed to wait at the gate for arriving passengers. The police had told them that the first people off the plane would be people who had been arrested by the police. My friend and I were the first off the plane, and I had never seen my parents (who were there to pick me up) so petrified. I’ll never forget that flight from hell.

  • Anne

    Seriously, have you ever forgiven your dad?

  • Anne

    I’m confused. Why would security take away your snacks if they weren’t liquids?

  • Kirby A

    I’ve had the sick-as-a-dog experience on an overseas trip to Europe, but since those seem to be well-covered I’ll share my biggest airline nightmare story courtesy of Delta Airlines!

    This was back in college when I flew back and forth between LAX (home) and CMH (closest airport to my school). I would try to use BUR whenever possible since it’s closer to my parents’ house, and in this particular instance I had booked BUR-CVG-CMH on Delta. I had received an email notification from Delta about a schedule change that made my arrival time somewhat less convenient than it had been before, but I understood that these happen and wasn’t too bothered by it. Mind you this was ONLY a notification of a schedule change (an important detail).

    The morning of my flight arrived and my parents dropped me off at BUR. I went up to the *completely empty* Delta check-in desk and tried to find someone to check my bag, to no avail. I ended up waiting almost half-an-hour for someone to show up, and I am not a patient person (a flaw, I know :D), so I was not in the best mood by the time the (admittedly helpful) agent showed up. Needless to say I was ready to get the show on the road and was shocked when she told me that Delta no longer flew my booked itinerary from BUR! So I asked her what the hell I was supposed to do, having not been notified that not only was my flight itself canceled (by default), but so was that route! After about 25 minutes of her making calls and me wondering WTF was going on, she told me they were going to put me in a cab to LAX (not exactly close, for those who know Los Angeles) and get me to CMH via CVG on an ex-LAX flight later that morning (IIRC it was still only around 7am by then). It was better than nothing, but I was still extremely irked at Delta’s ineptitude and my inconvenience despite profuse apologies by the agent. So they put me in a cab, I went to LAX and checked in (thankfully there were no issues with that), cleared security, and waited (im)patiently at the gate for my new flight. What a fiasco, right?

    Well, it only gets better! About 45 minutes before departure they announced a delay due to an unspecified mechanical issue. I was still in a foul mood, and this only added to it. In any case, the 45 minute delay turned into a 90 minute delay, which turned into an outright cancellation of the flight –so I was completely livid at this point. I went up to the desk and explained the outrageous situation I’d been put in and asked them what the hell they expected me to do. They told me they rebooked me on a flight departing nearly TWELVE hours later and gave me a whopping $15 food voucher to use in the terminal. I was this close to making a scene, but decided I’d try my luck and ask for a first-class upgrade–which the “manger” granted to me only after making me feel like a free-loader. I did not feel like spending half a day in DL’s crappy terminal, so I called my parents on a pay phone (I didn’t have a cell phone back then), and they picked me up and drove me back later that day for my flight. I was really looking forward to first class since it was my first time sitting up front even if it was only domestic F, but the footrest for my seat was broken, which made for an uncomfortable flight for 6’2″ tall me. I suppose it was better than coach, though :).

    In any case I made it alive, but that was easily the biggest fiasco I’ve ever dealt with in many years of air travel!

  • Anne

    Totally agree, took one Carnival cruise, will never go near their ships again.

  • Andrew S

    My worst vacation occurred last summer (Jded to Israel. I was having such a great time visiting friends and family that I decided to change my flight to extend my stay by about 3 days ($150 bucks, but seemingly completely worth it). The Delta agent on the phone was nice, but informed me that she would not be able to assign me a seat since the flight was only a few days away (TLV – JFK). I thought this sounded weird, but the agent assured me I would be able to get a window/aisle seat at check-in. I had an evening flight, so I spent the day at the beach and got to the airport 3 hours before my flight. The check-in line was already substantial by the time I got to the airport, so I started to worry about the possibility of not getting a window/aisle seat. The line moved incredibly slow, I moved about 30 feet in an hour. Delta agents started picking people out from the back of the line to skip ahead and check-in in order to expedite the process? By the time I reached the counter I was the last person in line and another hour passed. By now, I was quite worried that I wouly 2011). I had just taken a great trip across the Atlantic with two of my best friends. I left them in Berlin and heauld miss my flight. Finally, I check-in and and try to get a window/aisle seat, but the gate agent was completely flustered and tried to check-me-in as quickly and rudely as possible. The agent handed me a ticket without an assigned seat and told me to run to security! I asked her what she meant by run, and she exclaimed that I would miss my flight if I didn’t run as fast as I could. I grabbed my carry on and started running to security and customs. I made it through relatively quickly and continued running to the gate. I reached the gate at the exact time my flight was supposed to take off, but luckily there were still some people waiting in line to get their tickets printed out. I boarded the plane and took my seat in the back-middle-middle seat of an old Boeing 747.

    The flight took off delayed, but smoothly enough. I tried watching the Adjustment Bureau on the big screen (no individual screens) while eating my dinner, but my headphone jack was broken and would only play sounds out of one ear and on super high volume. I asked the flight attendant about this and asked what could be done, she said nothing and apologized. I finished watching the movie and put my headphones on to sleep for a while). I was startled to wake by an announcement that we would need to make an emergency landing in Amsterdam because a bird flew into the engine. I was frustrated, but I understood that it was out of the airlines control. We landed in Amsterdam at about 2am (Amsterdam time). We got off the plane and were told to stay in the area until they had more information. Everyone sat around and waited for an hour before they finally made an announcement that the plane should be ready in three hours. They handed each of us a voucher for food and a calling card (this process took 45 minutes to complete). I grabbed some food and found a technology store that was open. I sent out a few emails and checked facebook. I went back to the gate at 6am and waited for another announcement. This time they announced that it would take another 9 hours to clean the engine (departure time of 4pm). They told us to board buses to a hotel where they handed us a travel care package. I went to the hotel, checked-in to my room, and took a nap. I woke up, grabbed some lunch, and went to the lobby with my stuff to head back to the airport. I saw people crowding around an easel and did the same. The note said that the flight had been delayed until 8pm, but to stay in the hotel in case there are any further updates. Around 5pm I went downstairs and checked the easel, this time the note stated that the flight was no departing at 8am the next day. I met some other people from the flight and went out in Amsterdam (benefit, even though my trip began there).

    The next morning I wake up and board the bus to AMS. I checked in and tried to switch seats, however, the agent said that everyone has to stay in their original seats. I explained my situation with the headphone jack and that some people had boarded direct flights from AMS to their final destination instead of going through JFK, so I knew that seats were available. Still, no new seat. The security at AMS was set up at the gate specifically, not prior to entering the terminal. I went up to security and saw a lot of people standing in the gate area. I asked the representative why people were standing and he responded that they were told to line up since they were about to board. I went through security and found myself in an over-crowded gate area. There was seating for about half of the people on the flight (the gate was not intended for a full 747); the other half had to stand in aisles between the rows of seats. They were not boarding the plane. The flight was then delayed another hour. I asked if I could go back into the terminal to grab some food or at least go somewhere to sit down and I was told absolutely not. They told me to stand. They did not start boarding the flight until the hour delay had passed, so it was another hour before the whole flight was on board and ready to take off. Of course the headphone jack was not fixed (I had mentioned it to the KLM personnel when I originally got off the plane) and they had to show the adjustment bureau again. I was able to survive the crying babies and terrible in flight entertainment to make it to my final destination (JFK).

    Customs and security were a disaster as well, but eventually I made it home. At that point all I was thinking about was getting home, showering, and putting on fresh clothing. A few weeks later I called Delta to see how/if they were going to compensate me (every passenger). They gave everyone $250 in Delta dollars or X amount of points (I forget how many points). I have images on my old blackberry of the gate and US customs that I can upload tomorrow.

  • Jill Osborne

    My worst was a 14-day solo work trip to Bangalore, India, to provide training. I was walking down the long hallway to my hotel room when my stomach started to feel terrible. I started running to my room, and luckily I made it inside. However, I couldn’t find the slot in the wall for my key that turns on the lights to my room. So I blew chunks all over my dark hotel room, and it looked like a crime scene once the episode was over and I managed to get the lights on. A couple days I had to pantomime eating a banana to the hotel staff whom did not speak english, so that I could have something “safe” to eat. It’s tough to be that sick so far from home, plus the guilt of being sick after your employer has paid thousands of dollars to get you there.

  • travelbug

    The vacation from hell… I had booked a 12 day vacation to Italy with my boyfriend during Christmas/New Year 2004. Two days before we left, I developed a severe ingrown toe nail infection and caught the flu. Because I had planned the trip for a while, I was determined to do everything I could to go despite the warning signs that I should cancel the trip. So I had surgery on my toe 6 hours before my flight and had gone to the doctor to stock on up antibiotics. After the 10 hour flight (which was delayed), my foot swelled and my cough worsened. But I tried to put the pain out of my mind and convinced myself that the antibiotics would cure everything.

    The next morning, we went to the Coliseum. After 40 minutes, I nearly collapsed because I could not breathe. I hobbled back to the hotel to rest for the remainder of the day. That night, my condition worsened to the point where my chest felt like it was on fire and I could not move without immense pain. We looked in the phone book and found a hospital with the word “American” in it, thinking that they took “American” insurance and catered to “American” travelers. I checked in, was poked and prodded with needles all night long and was diagnosed with pleurisy, a severe lung infection. The next morning, I was ordered to pay 2000 Euros because this was a “private” hospital and my insurance was unacceptable. They then discharged me and sent me to a “free” hospital near the Vatican. I was told that I needed to stay a minimum of 4 days before I could continue with my trip. My boyfriend stayed with me at the hospital where he caught my bug and was admitted too. On the morning of our 6th day in Rome, when we were well enough to walk and pack, we immediately booked a new flight back to NY.

    We never made it to Florence and Venice and hardly saw Rome. Our Italian vacation consisted of the Coliseum and 2 hospitals. When we returned to NY, we had never been so happy to be home. It was truly the vacation from hell!

  • Marilynn

    I traveled with 3 kids so I am used to visiting a variety of ERs and pediatricians offices on holidays (ear infections were quite a problem) but the worst experience was on Paradise Island when we were walking to the beach and my 7 year old daughter proceeded to throw up in one of the hotel corridors by the banquet hall just as a bride and groom were about to enter for their ceremony.

  • Nofeeit

    on our honeymoon to Dominican Replublic, which was great, we splurged on a day trip to a “private/secluded island” which the hotel or agency in the hotel sold us. We read reviews and it sounded great, but it was horrible and we lost two days of our short time away.
    We had to be up for the shuttle by 7:00 am, and then drove in a non-air conditioned “bus” to the port through small village streets which was very interesting to see but took 3 hours (including a few smoke breaks for the driver) We got to the boat SO hot and already a little dehydrated. the boat we took to the island was FULL of people. the ticket included food/drinks but they had no water and only cold beer, so we drank it so we wouldnt pass out and had some fruit to try and stay hydrated.
    After we finally got to the island, we arrived to the image of about 15 other boats taking passengers to this “private/secluded island”.
    -There were tons of people. More people than at the beach at the resort.
    -The all expense lunch was 100% in-edible
    -they only offered us cool beer so we had to spend about $25 USD on cold water
    -even the quality of the sand was gross
    -quality of the island was in bad state, with bathrooms i was afraid to send me wife in alone
    -the island was flooded with bugs, which my wife is allergic to, so we spend $30 on bug spray, which worked as a tanning lotion so my wife got very very badly burnt
    -we took a speed boat to go “snorkeling” for 10 minutes and then the sloooow boat ride back
    –followed by another 3 hour bus ride back to the hotel.
    -we got back at 7pm, went straight to the room to get lotion for my wife and down tons of water because we were so dehydrated.
    -were in bed for the next 2 dyas recovering form a horrible experience when we could have been told that the beach and activities at the resort we were at were a million times better than the trip

  • Brandon G

    In December of 2012 my girlfriend and I decided to take our first cruise to Cozumel. It wasn’t too bad getting there, I felt the rocking of the seas a bit. We had a blast in Cozumel.

    However, getting back was a different story. Originally we thought December would be a great time – no hurricanes or anything. Well, we never thought about cold fronts.

    70mph winds and 15 foot waves. It was bad. We were playing roulette and the boat tilted to one side and I wound up at the blackjack table. They even taped barf bags to all the columns and the hallways became ghost towns.

    This, compounded with a lot of alcohol made for a not so pleasant night as the toilet got a workout.

    The boat was rocking so bad that when we were in bed we would actually slide a few inches every time the boat tilted to one side or the other. The closet doors in the cabin would fly open when the boat tilted one way and then slam shut when the boat rocked the other way. ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

    So we wake up in the morning ready to get off the ship, only to realize we are still out to sea. The seas were so rocky even still that they would not allow us to go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for fear that we could clip the top.

    We waited…for hours and hours just waiting for an update. They told us at one point that we wouldn’t be able to get off until the NEXT MORNING. Finally, the seas calmed enough that we were able to go under the bridge and dock around 8pm and they somehow got Customs to come in especially for US citizens that had passports. Luckily we both had ours.

    It could have been worse…a lot of people we talked to had flown in for the cruise and had now missed their flights.

    Anyway, that was my first and last cruise.


  • Wany May

    My worst experience happened this March.
    I took a long United fly (sitting in the very last seat in the plane) from PVG to EWR and suppose to have a transfer from EWR to CMH.
    However, the CBP in EWR is so slow and I failed to catch the EWR-CMH flight, the last one of the day.
    I was quire panic at that moment and that was where my first mistake came in.
    The United person was very helpful and get me another flight the other morning, but I have to pay my own room that nigh as it was not United’s fault. Fair enough.
    However, as I was trying to get home ASAP, I mindlessly asked for the first flight the other morning which will take off around 6 am and got me in CMH around 8 am.
    As a result my night in EWR was not very good. Fighting jet lag was quite painful while I have to keep a clear mind that I am flying the other early morning.
    The other trouble is that the bus I can take to get home leaves CMH at 3 pm. I stupidly waited in CMH for almost 7 hours!
    If I asked for a new ticket that leaves later the other day, I could had a good sleep in Newark and did not have to wait super long in CMH.
    Lesson learned here, don’t be panic when you miss the flight. The plane is gone and there is nothing one can do. Cool down and fix your schedule carefully.
    After all, I picked up some cold from the travel and was sick the next day at home.
    Another day later, I was on another trip CMH-DFW-SAN for a week long conference in San Diego. My sickness developed quickly over the conference sessions as I was exhausted by constant travelling and jet leg. Actually, I was so sick that I did not attend most events for last two days of the conference.
    When I got back to CMH again, I had a fever and stayed at home for almost a week until I am good for work again.
    Another lesson learned, make sure you are in good status before travelling. Even the most common cold could kick you down if you are in a heavy trip.

    Best wishes to everyone else when travelling.

  • Marc W, JFK

    I have had the worst luck of flying of anyone I know. I’ve had it all happen to me, but then again, maybe I have not as something new and different always seems to get me. I have purchased tickets on BA through a travel agent only to be accused of purchasing fake tickets and ushered away into an interrogation room by police. I have sat near an older lady that decided the right time to have a 10 hour conversation and do her plane exercises was from a middle seat on a 10 hour overnight flight. I have even had the privilege of sitting next to a gay person who tried flirting with me the whole flight despite me telling him numerous times I am straight. In short, I’ve dealt with a lot in my flying career. However, one story takes the cake in my opinion.

    In 2004, I decided to take a few months off and tour Jerusalem and its surrounding parts. I found a cheap fare on Alitalia to fly from JFK-MXP-TLV. Because I was to be away for a few months I packed up 2 big suitcases for my trip. I arrived at the airport on time and was told it was a full flight but that the flight would be on time. I arrived at the gate and was told by the gate agent that my carry on bag was too big and that I’d have to check it. Reluctantly, I took out all the things I felt I needed and left what I deemed to be unnecessary. I took my wallet, a book, iPod, and some food I had purchased. I left my camera and international cell phone in the bag since it had no value to me until I reached TLV.

    I boarded the plane and thought I was off to Milan. First we were delayed due to some light snow in the area, this bothered me since I only had a 2 hour window to make the connection. I was assured we’d be leaving before then. The plane pulled back and we were on our way. As we taxied on the runway the plane just completely shut down, as if the pilot had turned off a car. The plane was dark and the engines went silent. The plane started up again and the pilot told us not to worry he was just checking something out. Again we seemed ready for take off and again the same thing occurred. The pilot informed us that there was a warning sign that one of the doors was open even though they were all closed and that a mechanic would have to come on board to check out and we were heading back to the gate.

    We arrived back at the gate and watched a few mechanics get on the plane to fix it. We were assured by the pilot that the issue was resolved and that we had priority clearance for takeoff. We again headed for the runway only to again have the plane shut down on us. At this point people were scared to fly on the plane but we were told it was completely safe. The pilot told us he would park the plane near the runway this time and that the mechanics would come out to us. Long story short, since the plane was off and it was really hot we sat near the runway with all doors open while the mechanics tried to fix the issue. A man’s wife passed out which resulted in him losing his cool and pushing a flight attendant, which resulted in him getting arrested and escorted off the plane by police and the pilot.

    Four hours later and no doubt a missed connection in Milan to TLV we were on our way. I arrived at the airport in Milan and was booked on a flight to TLV 6 hours from when I landed. At this point I was exhausted from all the traveling and waiting but was hopeful this would be the end of a hellish ordeal. I was so wrong.

    I pulled into TLV at around 1 PM after about 20 hours of travel. Customs was surprisingly not busy and so I decided to make some phone calls to some loved ones from a payphone in the airport before I go through customs to let them know I arrived. During the 15 minutes I spent on the phone every single plane in the Middle East must have landed at TLV at that moment. I spent 2 hours waiting on line at customs before I finally got through. Once through, I was certain my bags would have been taken off the carousel already. I was told that they’d still be on there so I should wait for them to come out. I found my first bag right away…1 down and 2 to go. I looked for mt other two bags but did not find them. I was beyond exhausted and my mind was no longer working properly. Finally, it hit me after about half an hour that there are a pair of boxers that look very similar to mine on the carousel. And then it hit me…they were mine! I approached the carousel and picked them up rather embarrassingly from the carousel and spotted my bag buried under a couple of other bags. I lifted it up and all my clothing came right out. For reasons unbeknownst to me, the bag had what looked like a knife slash diagonally across the bag. My stuff was all over the carousel and there was nothing left to do but to hop on and collect my clothing. Round and round I went collecting all my stuff while people stared, laughed, and pointed at me. Easily the most embarrassed I have ever been.

    2 down and 1 to go. I spent another half hour waiting for my carry on which never came out. I knew I had to go to customer service for my bag which was gutted like a fish so i figured I’ll let them know I’m missing one as well. I showed the agent my bag and she was floored as to what happened to my suitcase. She issued me a voucher for a new suitcase, at least that went smoothly. I then told her about my missing bag and she told me she apologizes but that it was accidentally sent to Switzerland on the wrong flight and that I’d have it delivered to my apartment in 5 days. I was so exhausted from everything and my string of bad luck that I simply said ok and demanded nothing more from her. I hopped aboard a 12 person shuttle to save some money and of course as luck would have it I was the very last stop. I finally arrived at 9 PM, 27 hours later at my apartment. Exhausted, I finally just went to bed.

    Five days later, as I was told, I received a call from Alitalia that my bag would be delivered that afternoon. As promised, the bag arrived…minus my cell phone and camera. They were stolen and now it was time to make another claim. After much hassle and grief they granted me a $100 check for the items. This wasn’t nearly the value lost and I pushed more. I received another $100 check and decided I was done. I simply did not care anymore and vowed never to fly Alitalia again.

    I have kept that promise thus far…but I am still tired from that trip.

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  • jordan

    I was in St Louis for my sons baseball tournament/ family vacation. The weather was horrible and it rained on and off the entire weekend pushing back the start time of every game. We played our games all throughout the night. We lost in the semi finals of the game which started at 3:15 Am Sunday morning. While at the hotel there was a fire alarm pulled twice Friday night, which is expected when in a hotel full of a bunch of kids, but either way annoying. Saturday night after long days of rain and baseball we had yet another fire alarm pulled, this time we figured it was a joke and stayed in bed. We were woken up by fire fighters as they broke down our door, becuase the fire was on the other side of our bedroom wall. Very crazy weekend.

  • Zhongchao Liao

    My last cruise experience was not so good neither. My wife and I went on a 5-day Carnival cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas in February this year. The weather during our vacation was just a little bit better than a nightmare. It was too rocky to hold a cup of water without splitting it out. It was too windy to do any exercises on the deck. I couldn’t fall asleep for a single minute during the first night because of the trembling bed. When I decided to take my camera out and shoot the sunrise instead of laying on the bed, it was raining outside and no sunrise. It was even colder and windier in the port of Cabo San Lucas. My wife thought it was so wise that we finally decided not to go snorkeling. The temperature was around 65º but it felt like 55º because of the wind. After this trip, I thought about flying back to Los Cabos and staying in the Westin since the buildings there were so unique and would just cost 10K Starwood points(or 4K points & $60) per night. But my wife just simply said ‘Hell no! I will never go to Cabo again!’ Well, I guess this cruise experience will keep me from Cabo for a while.

  • mangoMan

    Went to Germany/Switzerland/Austria for 28 days in summer 2007: yay! Had 24 days of rain: boo!

  • Goosh

    Getting sick on vacation is the worst. My family and I were in Hawaii. My wife who was pregnant at the time came down with food poisoning and a bladder infection as a result. She was bed ridden for 2 days and we had to go search for a doctor (luckily the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani has a drop in clinic). After some anti-biotics and cranberry juice, she got better and no harm was done to the baby. It was just me and our son swimming down at the pool for those 2 days, so yes, things could have been worse, but still no fun.

  • Loweeel

    I’m not

  • Loweeel

    (Sorry, got cut off!)

    I’m a pretty broad-shouldered guy, but I was on a wrestling team trip in college, and since my ticket said that I had the aisle seat, I sat down. My coach, a 6’5″, 300lb+ multi-time all-american in both wrestling and football, takes one look at me, shakes his head, and says “Think again.”

    The flight is full, so I am stuck in the middle seat, which is where our Coach’s ticket said that he was supposed to sit. Who’s in the window? Our heavyweight, another football player/wrestler, who’s about 265 and not a small guy either.

    His shoulder and my coach’s shoulders are LITERALLY flush across the back of my seat, and so I’m stuck leaning forward with my head against the back of the seat in front of me the entire 3-hour flight, which was one of the most unpleasant 3-hour stretches of my entire life (and that includes cutting weight for wrestling).

    When it was time to exit the plane, I was so cramped and sore that I could barely hobble up the jetway.

  • Julie

    At check in, the hotel we booked in Santorini had to move us to another room because of “problems.” In the dingy room we were given, the shower was broken and flooded the whole room every time we used it. One night we were followed by a guy in a vespa and were up all night having dreams of “Taken.” Upon check out we were told that the new room was about 100 euro more than the room we thought we were getting because it was a honeymoon suite. One- they didn’t tell us about the price increase Two- no way that room was the honeymoon suite.

  • David Hotz

    When I was a wee 7 years old and my sister barely above 1, my mother flew with us from Knoxville to visit her father in New Orleans. Going down was no problem, but the return wasn’t so lucky. We were flying New Orleans-Atlanta-Knoxville on the way back. Our flight was incredibly late arriving from New Orleans, but our connection was luckily delayed. We ran as fast as we could to make the connection and arrived at the gate in time to see the plane pulling away. We waited in line and finally were told there were seats on the next flight. We ran over there and barely missed it. Then they put us on a flight through Memphis and had someone from the airline drive us across the tarmac (that doesn’t happen any more) in time to see that plane pulling away. This was before cell phones, and my father was waiting for us in the Knoxville airport. The airline pulled up our record and had no clue where we were at this point. We were finally got us booked on a what my mom recalls was a puddle jumper. We finally arrived in Knoxville 6 hours later than originally scheduled – 2 tired kids and an exhausted mom. But her exhaustion didn’t stop her from giving the pilot a kiss on the way off the plane.

  • Julie

    forgot to mention- the ATV we rode the night we were followed by a vespa was running out of gas about 3 miles away from the hotel. Can’t believe we made it safe and sound

  • Doug

    Go to Mauritania with the Peace Corps. Get diabetes. Lose 100 pounds. Fall into a diabetic coma eight hours from a hospital, have the taxi transporting you to the hospital run out of gas so you have to siphon more from a police motorcycle. Wake up 3 days later in a massively overcrowded room filled with screaming people and intermittent electricity. Bright side: free trip home in a Swiss hospital jet.

  • Henry

    Missed a CX biz flight in NYC due to thunderstorms cancelling the separately booked flight there. BA did not refund the miles or rebook!

  • Alexis Lavko

    On my 18th birthday, I got stranded in an airport on a small Greek island because of a temporary crew strike. I was traveling with my whole family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, sisters & parents), and they ALL forgot it was my birthday.

  • Ahmed Abdullah

    Couple of years ago I go to the check-in counter of a local airline for a flight from houston to orlando – a surprise visit to my niece and nephew. The agent calls me up to the counter while continuing to help another person. Of course I am unable to check-in myself thanks to our wonderful DHS no-fly list system created by a 5 yr old. I had her my Driver’s License and wait while she finishes up with the other passenger. She then turns to me and says “Can I help you?”
    Me: Yes, I just handed you my Driver’s License a couple of minutes ago”
    Her:You did?
    [she proceeds to look around her computer for it...]
    Her: I can’t seem to find it, hang on…
    [asks the other passenger if she handed it to him maybe - he checks and says no]

    She continues looking everywhere for the next 15 minutes with no luck and once again pages the other passenger she was helping at the gate to re-confirm he doesn’t have my DL.

    Another 15 minutes later they give up looking and ask if I have another photo ID – as if people just carry their passports around everywhere or have another GOVERNMENT ISSUED PHOTO ID with them! Of course I didn’t have anything else and I ended up leaving the airport that night with a 200$ voucher as an apology. Got bumped to a flight @ 10 AM the next morning.

    This is the day before Christmas, and I’m standing in line at 6 AM in sub 40 deg temps at the DMV trying to get my driver’s license replaced b/c my passport is in a safety deposit box and the bank is not yet open. They finally open @ 7:30 and being among the first 10 people in line I manage to get a paper DL with my photo on it by 8:15 or so and book it to the airport to make my flight.

    Of course when I land at my destination I encounter an incompetent employee from National car rental who claims that my temporary DL is not valid for renting the car. He claims that it is illegal for him to rent me the car based on the very document I just used to fly across the country. Of course 2 days later I check their policies online when I have internet access and their policy explicitly states that a temporary DL is perfectly valid. I had booked the rental through priceline and ended up paying a penalty to cancel the reservation.

  • tvjo

    Warning: kind of gross!

    On a packed Continental flight from PBI to LGA, I sat in a middle seat and gave my 7-year-old daughter the window. Into the aisle seat drops an obviously drunk passenger, smelling, with stains all over his shirt. When the drink cart came around, even the flight attendants knew he was smashed, and wouldn’t serve him, which got him angry. A little ways into the trip, he rolled up the sleeves of that stained shirt, to reveal massive areas of scabbing and bleeding all over his arms! He kept leaning over me to make sick small talk to my daughter, and I almost threw up from the smell, not to mention being terrified of catching a blood-borne disease from all of the open wounds. He bothered the flight attendants for drinks the entire flight, and when I complained, they told me that the plane was full, and there was nothing they could do.

    After we landed, I waited to talk to the flight attendants and get their names, etc., so that they could verify the story I would tell to customer service, or possibly even accompany me to the counter. It was close to midnight when we disembarked, and unfortunately, another flight had been cancelled, and the line at the customer service counter had about a hundred people in it. So I went home and immediately called Continental. I was incensed that they had allowed this guy onto the plane in the first place, and put us into such a disgusting, and potentially dangerous situation. They only offered a $100 voucher, which I refused, and instead wrote to some higher up at the company. That’s all they would offer in the long run, so I took it, but have not flown Continental since.

  • nachama

    It was a simple flight from Chicago to New York City. Spent 5 hours circling due to lack of landing space, and then had to be rerouted to Syracuse to refuel. Not fun.

  • Manik2012

    The not so happy part was redeeming 23k UR for a flight to San Diego?!?! but that was just a last minute plan however still haunting me esp when I must have preserved them for First class awards..

  • Jeff Reynolds

    My worst travel experience came when I arrived in LAX to connect to Santa Maria, a city a few hours north where I would attend my uncle’s funeral. My plane arrived on time in LAX, but then the gate agent began announcing a series of delays. I noted that there was another flight scheduled to Santa Maria about six hours after the one I was scheduled to depart on. As two delays went was extend to three, then four, I became suspicious that United Airlines’ plan to combine the two flights. I went to the gate agent and asked if that was their plan. No, she assured me. It was a mechanical issue (she didn’t know what) and my flight would be leaving in an hour. 45 minutes later, the flight was delayed again. I asked pointedly if the flight was going to be cancel and combine with the other — because if it was, I was going to rent a car and drive so I could still make it to the funeral on time. No, she said, they expected to be boarding within a half hour.

    Well, the punchline is obvious: the flight was cancelled and I missed my uncle’s funeral. Once I boarded the second plane the flight attendant explained that the airline had decided several hours before to combine the flights because the loads were so light. I was fuming! Even worse, I FedExed the United CEO a book on customer service and didn’t get as much of a form letter back.

    And when I called to get a refund United would only offer a refund on the LAX to Santa Maria leg. When I explained that I bought a ticket from Boise to Santa Maria, they refused to help. I’ve actually had worse experiences, but the fact that this instance awoke me to the inhumanity of large corporations, lifts this one to the top of my mind.

    I have not paid for a flight on United Airlines since.

  • Manik2012

    I flew from SFO and it was a southwest flight just to make things clear.

  • Kyle

    My worst travel experience is occurring as we speak. Bachelor Party is planned for Lake of the Ozarks, MO. Twelve people involved flying from everywhere around the country. I’ve placed a $1,500 deposit on a sweet house on the lake. Everyone has their plane tickets booked. Flash forward to reality. My fiance has a serious heart condition and is going to need to have surgery next week. As a result, we will all have to change our tickets and I’ll lose my $1,500 deposit. No bachelor party. I’m not complaining as I’d much rather be by my fiances side during surgery, but the loss of money before a wedding really kills!!!! Those Chase UR points could surely come in handy for the honeymoon!!!

  • Blake J. Nolan

    While living in Shepherd’s Bush, London, I was heading to Cameroon, West Africa to visit and support a friend that was there on his 2 year Peace Corps assignment. I was going to be staying in the jungle with him for more than 2 months. I left London on a flight to Brussels, where I would stay one night, and then get on a flight to Yaounde.

    The next morning, I woke up, packed up, brushed up, and got on the train bound for the airport. Bam. The train breaks down. Fantastic. Stuck, no way out, and waited for gosh knows how long. When I finally got to the airport, I was told I had missed the flight. “When’s the next one?” Well. “10 days from today.” Damn.

    When I finally made it to Africa, I got off the plane, and within 12 hours was sick from head to toe, if you catch my drift. Needless to say, and without regrets, I had a fantastic time briefly joining the Peace Corps, building wells, and hopefully making a minuscule difference in the world. Not without a bit of tick business.

    - Blake

  • akace

    my worst experience would have to be coming back from LGA to ORD after a weekend trip to my brothers. My friend and I partied too hard the night before our AM flight, walked into the house like 30 mins (@5AM) before we had to leave for the airport. of course the plan was to stay up and wait it out, but like clockwork we both fell asleep on the couch. I woke up just as my plane was scheduled to take off. needless to say we didnt make it. Since it was booked with avios points and I couldnt wait until monday to get home bc of work. We had to book 2 one way tickets to ORD, which were not direct like our original flights. Of course there were weather delays in our layover city which made our original few hour trip into an 8 hr epic torture fest given our lack of sleep and hangover.

  • loves cruising

    My husband and I recently completed our 50th cruise (19 on Carnival). We’ve experienced just about everything good and bad: norovirus (not us but many others on the cruise), rocky seas from various storms, missed ports of call, fire (small) aboard ship, a bad fuel purchase by a certain ship which put us “dead in the water for 1.5 days”, etc. etc. We still LOVE cruising and have 2 more booked before the end of the year. No, we are not retired. Our worst cruise is one we have fondly named the “bleach” cruise. 15 nights on board a ship (not Carnival) on a cruise immediately following a cruise with a very large norovirus outbreak. All passengers were followed by crew sporting huge tanks on their backs and wearing what looked like gas masks. As soon as we would vacate an area, crew would swoop in and spray a large stream of a bleach like product on EVERYTHING. Seats, barstools, tables, mirrors, elevator walls, staircase handles, everything was covered for 15 days. The buffet was closed. One had to point to what one wanted and it would be put on a plate. Everyone had to wait in line for beverages. No condiments on the tables (another line). Every time one would return to one’s stateroom, the smell of bleach was overwhelming. I learned not to lean against anything (too late). What a lousy experience. But, it makes the really fabulous cruises we’ve been on full of WONDERFUL memories.

  • Ben Stephens

    Delta jet in Moscow went mechanical and I was strung along for 1.5 days at the airport whilst being refused food vouchers. It was January. Lesson: don’t go to Russia in January.

  • DanR JFK – NYC

    On a 27 family member (including 14 small children ) visit to Southern Italy in June 2007 (via JFK, LGA, and Newark Liberty on AA, Delta and Alitalia) our family endured some of the hottest days Europe has experienced in over 100 years. All members were in coach, minus mom and dad, aka Nonno and Nonna, who would fly First Class for the first time in their lives. After all, they were hosting their sons, daughter in laws, and grandchildren in their place of birth.

    Our 6 families met in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport’s bus depot, and found local family members who hired a bus for part 3 of the trek. The bus, equipped with little to no AC, and a locked bathroom would now be our next means of transportation to our promised land.

    Upon arriving to the little mountainous village of 2,500 people (mostly relatives), we saw a mirage ! Could it be ?! The villagers had built a swimming pool ? This place, where both my parents were born, and I have been visiting
    since I was 5 y/o, had finally did it ! How perfect, a pool during the continents’ worst heat wave in a century !

    One problem, the ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for the following week ! It was a mirage after all !

    We endured the heatwave , and managed to load the family into small, fuel efficient mini sedans, and stayed at the beach (one hour away). Our haven was the ocean. We remained there until moon light illuminated the sky.

    P.S. Our hotel (not a name you would know) was very, very clean, and just as hot ! Fans and cold showers had to do it for us !

    We actually never complained, keeping our thoughts to ourselves. After all, how could we ? Two immigrants parents / grandparents just took 25 people to their birthplace (many for the first time) !

    DanR NYC

  • MZT

    A few years ago, I booked a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Carnival. We had a flight down to Miami, but unfortunately our alarms didn’t go off and we missed the flight. The flight was already cutting it close in terms of making the cruise, but now we were sure to miss it. The first stop on the cruise was Cozumel, Mexico so we changed our flight destination from Miami to Cozumel to catch up with the the cruise in Mexico. We arrived in Cozumel the next day. We stayed in a hotel in Cozumel that night as our cruise was not arriving until the next day. We made it onto our the cruise with no issues.

    After two days on the cruise we were finally relaxing and enjoying our vacation. We were having a great time…..until we stopped in Grand Cayman. We had booked a tour with local guide to go scuba diving. Our guide was a very nice young man. He said that he had been hired only the week before. After a great day of diving, we headed back to the ship. On the drive back, we were met with a ton of traffic. It didn’t seem to be much of an issue as our ship wasn’t leaving until 4 pm and it was only 3 pm. However, we’d completely forgotten that the ship’s time was different than land time. It was 4:35 ship time by the time we got to the port. We got their just in time to see the ship sailing off in the distance.

    The cruise only had two more nights, and at this point we figured it was probably time to just give up and go home. We booked flights leaving at 7:35 am the following morning and stayed in a hotel in Grand Cayman that night. I woke up feeling rather refreshed the following morning. I got out of bed and looked at my phone and noticed it was 10 am. I thought for a minute…..that can’t be right. I was still kind of in a daze. In fact, we had forgotten to set our alarms and had missed our flight yet again. You think we would have learned by now!

    We ended up changing our flight to later that day and we finally made it home. Originally, the cruise and the flights to Miami cost a total of $1,450 for the two of us. By the end of the trip, we had spent an additional $3,000 on new flights, change fees, and hotels. Suffice it to say, we won’t be taking another cruise any time soon.

  • Scabman

    That was me. I remember you two! I’ll let you pick my scabs if you buy me some booze.

  • Michael

    My worst vacation was when we took a flight from FLL to Cancun and that day a hurricaine was called in Cancun. I mean what were the odds. We never travel and the day we do there is a hurricaine????We arrived to a beachfront hotel boarded up with wood. All the restaurants were closed. Everything was closed for 2 days. The third day there was just a rain an a few taco stands opened. The forth day everything opened up but there was a “dry law” meaning no liquor could be sold due to the hurricaine. The huricaine never came and the rain passed but the mexican government never lifted the dry law yet so nobody sold any booze. Oh yeah and i got a hotel special rate package that included a romantic candle light dinner on the beach and we had to have it in the restaurant instead. We were so sad. If I were to win the points I would use them towards a trip to hawaii, hey every little bit helps.

    Hear is to better vacation in the future.

  • Kfloveinme

    My worse trip was also my favorite! I went on first cruise about 2 thanksgiving ago with my boyfriend and his parents and it was on Carnival Destiny! ( I have a soft spot for Carnival Destiny because I got engaged on miniature golf course! It was the best night EVER! The next day we ported at Cozumel where we was going to do Snuba diving for the first time. We got all geared up but when I jumped into the water on the floating device I panicked and the instructor brought me back to the wall with the ladder. My fiancee decided to go off on his own and the instructor nor I noticed. While the instuctor was calming me down and telling me not to be afraid all of the sudden we heard this loud splash and gasping! It was my less then 10 hour fiancee gasping for air! The instructor swam towards him to help him out. Apparently he went 25 feet deep into the ocean and the mouth piece fell out and he swallowed water. He tried to pull on the hose from the floating device but couldnt grasp it well. Somehow he managed to swim back up and that’s when we saw him. I cried so much and once he felt better he apologized for drifting away on his own. Once we both calm down we continued with the snuba diving. It was AMAZING being 25 feet deep but till this day all I can think of was how I almost lost the love of my life.

  • BunMama

    Flying back home on a 4 hour flight with my kids (ages 5 and 2) by myself was stressful enough. The kids were behaving well, so much so that the couple across the aisle comment on how wonderful they were acting despite all the turbulance. More turbulance, seatbelt signs come on. Then my 2yo starts passing loud, foul gas. Can’t get up because of the turbulance, but no worries since he’s wearing an Overnight (extra-thick diaper). A few minutes later he has a major diaper blow-out, coating himself with liquid brimstone from the back of his neck to his socks. He’s understandably upset, but we can’t get up for 20 more minutes due to turbulance. Everyone around us was gagging on the smell.

    Finally carried a dripping child to the lav, getting soiled myself in the process. I used all my wipes and the clean parts of his outfit to help clean him up, then threw the whole outfit away. Fortunately had packed a full change of clothes for him, but unfortunately none for myself. Cleaned up the seat as well as possible, then put down 2 American Way magazines across the seat cushion for him to sit on for the remaining 2 hours of the flight.

    When we landed I informed the flight crew of the location of the toxic waste seat, apologized, and offered to pay for the seat cushion (which I’m sure they had to burn). They were amazingly kind, thanked me for letting them know, said they would take care of it and that they hoped my son felt better soon.

    I actually waited about 20 minutes before going to claim my bags, so I could avoid running into all those unfortunate people who had been forced to endure us on the flight.

  • Scott

    I went on a camping trip one time with two friends. It had been storming in the area, and it had been several years since I had camped on this particular river. We went in at night and I assured them that the noise of the falls would reveal when we had arrived. We hiked well past the falls in the dark, later to learn that the river was so swollen from rains that the roar of the river and the roar of the falls was indistiguishable from each other. The falls were around 60 feet high to give you and idea of just how much water there was. We did not know that at the time and picked up and went looking downstream for the falls. We crossed back and forth over the river about a dozen times before abandoning the search, and they thought i was crazy and dreaming that there where waterfalls. When crossing the river we would use human chains to do so. This is when everything started to slide downhill.

    Hiking back one friend went ahead. I came around the corner of the path to see him in the middle of the river clinging to a rock trying to keep his head above water. We got him out, and made it back to camp feeling lucky.

    Storms started to roll in and it poured all evening and night. The next morning the weather got very spooky. Green skies, crazy wind, and I said “lets go home”. we backed up in a break in the rain and started hiking out. We found the falls (that we hiked past on the way in at night) in the light of day and were astounded by the volume of water pouring over them. We didn’t linger long as the weather was deteriorating fast. On the way out we passed two campers who said they were going to sit the storm out in their tent. We wished them luck and moved on.

    Hiking up the trail we were becoming more and more alarmed as branches were falling, and trees where swaying so hard we were concerned about one landing on us. The sky was this erie green color most of the way back. We came around a corner and came face to face with a rotweiler standing in the trail growling at us. I just stood there dumbfounded thinking where did this dog come from, I am 40 miles from the nearest house, how much worse can this get? The dog was owned by another hiker who quickly came around the corner appologizing because his dog got away from him. He told us the the weather report he heard in his car at the trailhead had the area under a tornado warning. He was going to get his stuff to leave, and dropped another bombshell. Several of the cars at the trailhead had been vandalized and broken into.

    We hurridly hiked up to the trailhead parking lot, hoping my friends car was spared but no suck luck on this trip. His back windshield was smashed in, radio stolen, car ransacked, back seat soaked, and they tried to pry the trunk open with a crowbar but only succeeded in messing up the lock so we could not even unlock and get into the trunk. We piled in the car, pissed, wet, and exhausted and headed down the forest service road to go home. We made it about 1/4 mile down the road, and were stopped by a huge tree fallen across the road. I remembered that I had left my maps in the trunk that showed all the forest service roads in the area. we could not get into the trunk because of the damage the theives did. I eventually jimmed it open with a tine of a camp fork after working on it for about 20 mins. I got my book and we found the other direction could get us out so, we headed that way. About a mile in we were stopped by a huge Oak tree blown down. This was getting us all really mad, so we headed back to the trailhead to take stock and try to get the DNR rangers on the phone.

    When we got back the two campers we passed earlier were coming up the trail really shaken. They explained that some time after we passed one was in the tent and the other outside doing something. The one in the tent got out to use the bathroom, and while he was out a pinetree was uprooted and landed on the tent where he was. Had he not gotten out he would have been killed. We explained the road situation. I tried to get DNR but could get no cell reception. One of the other guys finally got through and the DNR explained that it may be days before they could clear the roads, as they did not know the extent of fallen trees, and that tornados and damaging winds have hit all through he area.

    We all sat down cooled off and took stock. We had plenty of dehydrated food, however we had no water, and the nearest water source was down the trail about 4-5 miles. I did have a water filter but the only water to work with was a muddy puddle in he trailhead parking lot. I also had a hatchet that was dull as crap. We had a whole bottle of rum though! :) After cooking up a meal with some filtered parking lot water, I convinced everyone that there was no reason to sit and wait, that if we could chop through the tree then we could pivot it off the road and get on our way. We agreed, and started chopping in shifts. The tree was probably 30″ in diameter so it took quite a while and i made a few trips back to the puddle to get water. We got through the tree only to find we could not pivot it and had to make another cut to remove a section to drive through aaarrrggghh!!!! This first cut took over an hours to do. Buy the time we finished that we had exhausted our water puddle so no more water. we got through the tree moved the section with some considerable effort and cheered and got in the cars to drive. 1 mile later 2 more trees across the road in parallel. We started swigging wiskey and chopping them in shifts. This when on for hours. Clear a tree, drive, find a new one….. In all we had to clear about 12 trees with that tiny hatchet and a bottle of wiskey. We were exhausted and so dehydrated . Near the last tree and svereal miles down the road we heard a stream and all ran there and stuck the filter in the watter and just pumped it into our mouths one by one. We finially got out of the woods and on to blacktop and headed home, we were finially home free…….

    We pulled in my driveway and unloaded. The guy driving just said I am out of here and drove off. My other friend got in his car to go home and as I turned to haul my pack inside I heard a pfffsssst. I truned around and his tire went flat right in my driveway. Great! We had to get back down in the dirt and wet again and change his tire.

    In all it took us over 12 hours from the trailhead to my house which is normally less than 2hours. That was probably my worst travel experience.

  • tvjo

    Ha! Scabman! Love it!!

  • crazypalooza

    missed flight for vacation and no other flights out that day as flying out of small airport…

  • jcmitchell21

    I’ll be short as possible.

    Married on a saturday. Drive from Nashville to Atlanta early tuesday morning for ATL-MIA-CUR (trip was $600 cheaper than from BNA). Scheduled departure was 11am with AA, weather delayed till 3. Boarded, but went mechanical (windshield wiper?) and sat on tarmac till 6. Deboarded, waited till 7 for repairs. Repairs made by 8, but crew’s time limit reached and no replacement crew available. Waited in line (cattle-like) till 9 to get rebooked. Booked into first (yay!) for the next morning at 6am (boo!). First night of honeymoon spent in ATL airport hotel. Fly ATL-MIA without problems. Because of early flight and one daily flight to CUR (6pm), Miami layover for 10hrs. Fly MIA-CUR. Previously contacted car service and hotel about arriving 1 day later. At CUR airport, look for car service … no car service. Hire sketchy cab that drives us through the ghetto to hotel. Check in late, crash. Wake up next morning, not sunny … raining.

    After fifteen minutes, rained cleared and sun for the next 7 days.

    Regardless of this, had fantastic time in curacao. Lot of good hotel chains, great beaches, wife’s first time international and flying in a plane. Say’s it was the best time she ever had, even with the problems.

  • Scott


  • Davisje6

    We booked a flight from San Diego to Houston to Belize on Continental and then from Belize to Costa Rica on TACA. We arrived at the airport in San Diego at 5am to check in for our flight and learned that Houston had a “flash” snow storm, which are flight was delayed and possibly going to be cancelled. They provided us another option, but it would have caused us to miss all of our booked activities in Costa Rica the first two days of our trip. We took a chance a flew from San Diego to Houston. We arrived in Houston and found out that they cancelled our flight to Belize. We waited and watched other flights to Belize get cancelled through out the day. At the time, the Continental help desk told us that we likely would have to be routed and arrive two days later in Belize. We were sitting in the airport and identified a direct flight from Houston and Costa Rica. We asked about getting on that flight and they offered us a seat at $700 per person. We pleaded with them, begged with them, and then spoke to a manager. They finally agreed to let us on the plane at no cost. We were so happy and very appreciative to Continental (told them profusely)!

    Then, we proceeded to board the plane in the early evening. The plane got in line to fly out. We sat on the tarmac for a total of 8 hours (prior to the new law)! We were de-iced not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times over this time period. After the 4th de-icing, we were back in line and worked up to the front as the next plane to take off. A few minutes later the captain came over the intercom and told us that there was a security issue on the plane. The plane turned around and went back to the terminal. The authorities came on and then went back off 45 minutes later. We then got back in line again, de-iced for the 5th time, and then flew out.

    We arrived in San Juan Costa Rica and walked out to look for our hotel shuttle. We specifically booked a hotel with a 24 hour shuttle to avoid any issues getting to the hotel, prior to picking up our rental car. We waited for a while by the hotel shuttle area. After a 1/2 hour, we called the hotel to have them come pick us up. The hotel replied back that the 24 hour shuttle was not currently running. She proceeded to tell us that the 24 hour shuttle only runs from 6AM to 2AM. It does not run between 3AM to 6AM. We were not happy to say the least. We had to get in a long taxi cab line and finally arrived at the hotel at 6AM. We had to cancel the first day of activities due to not getting any sleep for over 24 hours, those 24 hours being pure travel time.

    I ended up getting a stomach virus during the trip and being out of commission for three days of the trip. This was definitely our worst travel experience.

  • Jason Stauffer

    I was visiting a friend in Mexico. On the bus ride from Acapulco to Mexico City we were stopped at a check point. I was not carrying my visa on me at the time, and was promptly detained by Immigration officials until my friends father could fax over the visa.

    Always read the fine print, because it said right on the visa that it must be carried with you at all times.

  • Andrew

    Coach class on a transatlantic Delta flight, and my wife becomes violently ill from food poisoning! I felt badly for her, of course, but also realize that it must not have been pleasant for all of our (many) neighbors there on the plane.

    And then we had to connect in Atlanta. Long lines, security, the crowds — basically everything you don’t want to deal with when you’re sick.

  • Juliedavissmith

    For our 15th anniversary, I planned a romantic trip to Santorini, Greece. The long journey was made up of four flight legs, with the last flight booked separately on Olympic Air. Everything went smoothly until during our 3rd leg we sat on the runway 1 1/2 hours for a flat tire. We just barely missed the Olympic flight in Athens, and Olympic refused to give us a aeat on the next flight since we had booked a non refundable fare! We were forced to purchase a new full priced ticket for another flight and wait an extra 5 hours in the airport. When we finally made it to Santorini 24 hours later, all I wanted to do was unwind in the hot tub on our balcony. But what do you know, the “hot tub” was the temp of cold bath water, made worse by the high winds and 30 degree F temp outside! We thought we would wash away our sorrows in the bottle of champagne waiting in our room, and we proceeded to tip over the bucket of melted ice directly into our open suitcase. We spent the rest of the night and the next couple days trying to dry out all our belongings! I decided the Good Lord was trying to teach me that vacations aren’t always the utopia I envision :)

  • Jason

    I was on one of my routine business trips, and had some cheesecake with my dinner at the airport before my flight (I think it was the cheesecake that did me in). The 2.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Portland, Maine went ok for the first couple of hours until my stomach started turning. Somehow I managed to make it to the hotel, checkin, and burst into the room just as my body was ready to erupt from both ends. I was insanely sick all night and had to miss work the next day. And the worst part? I was staying at a random budget hotel to capitalize on one of their stay twice get a gift card promotions (I think they saved their money by supplying sand paper instead of toilet paper). I came out $50 richer and 5 pounds lighter! The things we do for promos…

  • Rich Faber

    I went to Riviera Maya and made it through 4 days out of the week stay without getting sick and them boom, somewhere I took in some water and was knocked out for two days.

  • stormy

    Our Paris trip almost 3 years ago. We missed the connecting flight from Houston to Paris because of a mechanical issue then a freak weather delay in Phoenix. Had to stay a night in Houston. The additional stress of missed flight and coordinating with the condo office in Paris might have reduced our level of alertness. My husband got pickpocketed during our first day in Paris. His green card is still inside the wallet so he has to go to US embassy a few times to get a certified letter so he can reenter the US without issue. Cost more than 400+ to replace the card and a 3 month wait.
    Other than that, trip was still awesome but we were very tired as we have to pack a lot of sightseeing as our vacation days were shortened.

  • cure

    A taxi driver parked in a forest outside of Berlin, in the middle of the night, took it upon himself to try to run me down as punishment for crossing the road in violation of a red crosswalk sign. Better, the driver of the second parked taxi then began to berate me for my disrespect for German traffic law. Happily, I was with a southern European who was fluent in German and put that driver in his place.

  • Tahsir Ahsan

    I tell this story over and over to my friends…why? I dont know.
    I was making my way back from Bangladesh to LAX. DAC-SIN-LAX

    the day of the trip, I didn’t sleep at all, yet I went all the way to a village to bask in the “beauty”
    While doing that, I must’ve eaten something weird.

    While on the way to singapore, I also didn’t sleep because there were too many good movies out. After landing in singapore, I headed to the lounge.

    I took it upon myself to shower and while showering, I collapsed. I awoke about 3 minutes later on the floor of the shower with the water still splashing on my face. Completely clueless, I got out of the shower and headed for the 7up. On the way, I saw some pasta so I ate that too. BAD IDEA.

    by this time, I was dead tired, but too scared to fall asleep in the lounge because my flight was in 2 hours. I kept myself awake with a few slaps and made it to the gate.

    I sat at the seat, but when they called to board..I couldn’t get up without immediately throwing up. As I proceeded to puke all over the airport floor, the CCTV caught me and send a group of raffles hospital nurses my way. I was given some sort of aleve looking pill and I sat for a bit. They were contemplating whether or not I should be given te approval to board. In the end, they let me board, but I was hitting that bathroom like none other. I spent more time on that toilet than in my actual seat. I even remember falling asleep on it for a good 30 minutes.

    Flashforward to landing at LAX.
    I get home and i’m looking at myself in the mirror. I felt something rushing down my stomach, but didn’t think it was a big deal. IT WAS A BIG DEAL.

    I then proceeded to just stand there and poop my pants. After realizing what just happened, I rushed to the toilet and stayed there for the next few hours.

    The following week went by the same way where my toilet became my best friend. went to the doctors and was told I had Bacterial Diarrhea. Given some antibiotics and finally it went away. :)

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  • Jamesrkunz

    Well he took me back to Africa twice, and once I even got an op-up on JFK-AMS, so I guess I’ve partially forgiven him :)

  • Gpapadop

    Son getting sick the night before our first cruise. Fever at 104, looking like crap, vomiting…We gave it a bit more time and the next morning he felt a little better and by the time we go to the cruise he was fine. Must have been a virus…We gave it serious thought on cancelling our cruise (paid for by Capital One points). The thought of that was just…nightmarish:-)

  • John

    My worst travel experience came early in 2009 as I returned to France from a visit home for Christmas. I was spending the year teaching English there and was able to book a cheap roundtrip from BWI to Paris connecting through LHR, but upon landing at 9am in London found that they were in the midst of the worst UK snowstorm in a decade. Heathrow was the only airport open in the entire country and flights were being cancelled left and right. My connecting flight to CDG was cancelled, but after waiting in line for 2 hours to reschedule I was put on a flight later that afternoon.

    Fast forward to an entire afternoon of waiting around the International Terminal, checking in for the flight, boarding the plane, sitting on the runway for 2 hours watching them frantically attempt to deice all the planes, then being told the airport had officially been closed and we needed to deplane. We all filed off the plane and back into the terminal, only to realize that all 2000+ travelers were now being forced to exit through 4 lanes of customs (the EU passport lines were left completely open and unmanned while the Other passports line stretched the length of the terminal). After a 2.5 hour wait to receive a hotel voucher for the evening and another 2.5 hour wait to go through customs, I finally made it into the baggage claim area only to find what looked like a warzone. Due to the volume of bags they were dealing with, airport officials stopped allowing passengers to retrieve their checked bags. Instead, there were mountains of luggage piled in triage areas around the room, each with a handwritten sign showing the final destination the bags would be forwarded to.

    I boarded the transportation taking stranded passengers to our designated hotel, only to find out upon arrival that they were completely full. After about another hour of sitting in the lobby, I was provided a taxi to the center city location of the hotel where I was finally able to check in to a room nearly 18 hours after touching down at Heathrow.

    Any hope I had for a smoother return the following day was squashed when, after being told not to return to Heathrow unless I had a confirmed flight, I decided to give the Eurostar a whirl. Arriving at St. Pancras train station I learned that trains were failing mid-tunnel due to ice as they attempted to cross to France and were being brought back to the station. I popped open my computer and one downed British Airways site and a few Skype calls to their booking agents later, I was on a flight to Paris later that evening. Luckily this flight went off without too much delay, but by the time I arrived in Paris all trains to the South of France had departed for the evening. I rung up a friend and was able to spend the night at their apartment before attempting once again the next day to tackle the final leg of my journey.

    Thinking all was well now that I was on the other side of the Channel, that assumption went out the window when I learned that, of all places, there was snow in the South of France that was causing delays to the trains nationwide. My stop being the last stop on the line, I ended up boarding a 9pm train that should have arrived around midnight in Montpellier, but ended up pulling in just past 6am. As the snow deepened in cities we passed through, the passengers on the train thinned out until I was the only one in my car and maybe one of the only ones on the train at the terminus.

    I finally made it back after my 1 day journey turned into a saga spanning 3 days and with quite a story to share with friends and family!

  • Sarah O.

    We were returning from the Bahamas to New Jersey via Miami. We checked the weather before departure and noticed a storm that we expected would delay our connection. My dad asked the airline rep. to call ahead to Miami and be sure that we could make our connection, and she laughed at him. Fast forward to asthmatic child (me) and arthritic Nana running through the terminal to make the last flight home; next thing I know, I’m receiving CPR from my dad, and my mom is (distractedly, obviously) trying to get a hotel room and some food from the airline agent to tide us over until the airport reopened the next day (if it would, given the storm). I’ve learned a lot of travel tricks since then that would help to avoid or to mitigate a similar situation should it ever occur, but this is one of my earliest and worst travel memories!

  • David

    Getting bumped through CDG and having to spend a night in a hotel in Paris. Unfortunately, I only had a night so I only got to see one friend. Regarding comp, they only gave me 800 euro and an upgrade on the CDG-JFK leg. Ugh. Pretty horrible, eh? :)

    (this was in 2005…goodluck now!)

  • Jason A

    This HAS to win. I’ve been saving this story for just such a post! It’s horrible and hilarious at the same time. When is the last time you have flown to two cities twice in the same day (with one being your origin city!), halfway to another, and had a plane disabled by a poopy diaper? Read on, fearless reader.

    EVERY WORD YOU READ IS TRUE. INCLUDING THE DIAPER. LOL. Here is my letter to Northwest Airlines about my INSANE flight before a cruise to the Carribean:


    To Whom It May Concern:

    I’m writing to you regarding my very unfortunate experience traveling with Northwest Airlines. First and foremost, I realize that the person reading this letter has nothing to do with my experience, and for that, I am sorry. You have to read very negative letters every day and I wish there was a way for those who are responsible to receive the brunt of the complaint. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

    PROBLEM 1: I arrive at the Detroit Metro airport with my friend, Jaclyn, at around 10:00am on Friday, June 22, 2007. Things appear to be going well. Our flight is on time and we are ready to go on our flight. About ten minutes before we are to board the plane, a crewmember comes out of the jet bridge waving his arms and acting quite angry and upset while talking to the gate agents by the door. Moments later, a gate agent gets on the speaker and announces that our flight will be delayed because someone forgot to turn on the AC unit and the cabin was 110 degrees. They said the delay would not be long and that we would be boarding soon.

    About an hour and a half later, we boarded the plane.

    PROBLEM 2: We arrive in Memphis quite late. Obviously we have missed our connection to Tampa. The gate agent in Tampa gave us two undesirable options to choose from at this point:

    1. Take two additional layovers – one in Texas and another one somewhere else and get to Tampa very late.

    2. Still get to Tampa very late, but only have one layover with an extremely long wait in Cleveland while switching airlines to Continental upon landing in Cleveland.

    Obviously both these options were frustrating and we wanted to be in Tampa by 4:40pm. This was not going to happen. We ended up choosing Cleveland – option number two. Sadly, we made the wrong choice.

    PROBLEM 3: We were halfway to Cleveland on our Northwest flight when we suddenly had to turn around and go back to Memphis. There was some nondescript problem with the cabin air pressure. There was no danger, but the flight captain informed us that the equipment to repair this non-emergency problem was found in Memphis and could not be completed in Cleveland. Because of the lack of repair equipment in Cleveland, we were forced to return to Memphis. The flight attendant recommended that we write to customer service regarding the incident.

    PROBLEM 4: Once we arrived back in Memphis again, we asked the gate agent if he knew where our bags were at this point because our Northwest flight only made it halfway to Cleveland and our bags were supposed to be switched over to Continental. The gate agent said that there was absolutely no way to track bags in the system and that we would have to wait until we arrived at our final destination. Apparently the gate agent lied, because the gate agent at our next stop tracked our bags right away: they were already in Tampa. We wished we were with our bags at this point, but unfortunately this brings us to our next stop…

    PROBLEM 5: Detroit. We had to fly back to Detroit – our original departure city. Are you laughing yet? If I was reading this letter, I would at least have a chuckle. Before boarding the plane in Memphis for Detroit, the gate agent tried to check us in and we got an awkward buzz from his check in reader as a greeting. The gate agent says, “Aren’t you supposed to be in Cleveland?”

    He tried to understand our story, but he got so confused that he just printed out some entirely new boarding passes so that we could finally get back onto our next plane. The new printed boarding passes didn’t work either when he tried to check us in, so the gate agent just said, “Welcome aboard.” Upon arriving in Detroit, we discover that our next flight had a minimum two-hour delay. Keep in mind that we started this journey at this very airport at 10:00am.

    PROBLEM 6: We finally got out of Detroit and arrived in Tampa at 2am. At this point we could have already landed in Frankfurt, Germany and been sightseeing for eight hours in Europe. Upon landing, we walked to the baggage claim office to get our bags. We found our bags outside of the office and wanted to make sure that we could just take them. I entered the office and said, “Hello, miss. Do we need to check in with you to take our bags? They are right outside the door.”

    The lady in the office actually said this to us:

    “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! This office is NEVER open this late and I’ve been waiting here!”

    I rarely become upset while traveling, but this was unacceptable. I said, “Miss, we have been on planes all day long. We were delayed in Detroit, flew halfway to Cleveland from Memphis and then back to Memphis and then back to Detroit where we were delayed again. We just got here. What are you talking about?”

    The lady in the office actually said this to us:

    “Oh, thought you were someone else.” This was her only response.


    PROBLEM 7: Not to end my letter on a “crappy” note, but our next problem truly is our crowning achievement. After arriving completely exhausted in Tampa for a seven-day stay, we were both hoping that our return flight to Detroit on Monday, July 2 would be stress-free. It was a direct flight and it was listed as being on time. Hooray!

    We arrived at the airport three hours before our 7pm flight. We try to be good, prepared travelers. Our flight was on time all the way up to 7pm when we got stranded again. The culprit?

    A poopy diaper.

    Gate agent: “Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that the lavatory on board is not functioning due to a diaper clogging the y-tube connecting both of the rear lavatories. Our flight will be delayed for a short time while we resolve the situation.”

    Two hours later we discover that we will actually have to wait two more hours due to the fact that we have to board an alternate plane because they could not remove the diaper from the toilet tube. The gate agent actually said, “This hasn’t been a very good few weeks.” No kidding. The gate agents gave my friend Jaclyn and I so many five dollar food coupons that we pretty much had enough airport food to hibernate for the winter with. The coupons alone from all the difficulties resulted in a bonus 10,000 miles.

    After arriving back in Detroit (once again, well after midnight), our exhaustion truly is hard to describe.

    To help you visualize our trip, I’ve created this very helpful map. It’s attached to this post. :)

  • MissMiles

    I was flying to costa rica from NY and had a connection in Atlanta. during the flight the turbulence was bad and the tomato juice I ordered, spilled on my pink sweatpants. To make things worse, there was congestion in Atlanta so the plane had to circle in the air and did not land on time. As a result, we missed our connection and didn’t make our flight. We had to wait about 3 hours for the next flight and I had to sit in these wet gross sweatpants till we got to our hotel – about 12 hrs later. Probably goes down as one of thr worse travel experiences for its pure annoyance, bad luck and lack preparation (I.e. change of clothes in carryon)

  • Audreyu8

    My husband whisked me away for 3 nights in Hong Kong for my birthday 2 years ago. Everything was wonderful until one of our friends brought us to a local seafood restaurant the night before my birthday. I woke up on my birthday at 4am in the morning and had really severe food poisoning. Needless to say, that was an unforgettable birthday and a good reminder to never eat cold seafood in a local restaurant.

  • Stuart Falk

    I booked a cruise on the infamous Achille Lauro (prior to the hijack incident) and on the last day discovered the the potable water pitcher in my cabin, from which I had been drinking for the prior 14 days, contained a large amount of pubic hair. Before leaving the vessel, I took the pitcher down to the purser’s office and poured the remainder of its contents onto the purser’s desk, telling him just what he could do with it. About 15 minutes later when I returned to my cabin to pick up my hand luggage and leave the ship I found my cabin attendant sprawled on the floor of the passageway, clearly having been beat up.

  • Rebecca D.

    36 hours stuck in Newark airport over Thanksgiving weekend. My luggage flew many hours before I ended up flying and when I got to my destination my luggage was nowhere to be found. Even 20+ years later it’s nowhere to be found. Someone plucked it off the baggage carousel and there went all of my college text books and notes (I was supposed to be studying for exams during Thanksgiving; yeah right).

  • Libin Z

    I arrived in JFK from Asia but I missed my connecting Continental flight to Boston. After waiting a long time in the customer service line, all the other Continental JFK flights had departed, but the agent was able to book me (and two others) on a USAir flight leaving from Newark to Boston. We took a cab to Newark, but when we got there USAir said that it did not show any tickets for two of us (one person was able to get on the flight). The USAir flight left and the two of us, now helpless, had to go back to JFK and find a Continental agent (this was around midnight), who said (accusing us of incompetence) that the USAir ticket did show up on the Continental computer system. We stayed overnight at a NYC hotel and finally left for Boston the next morning. So basically thanks to Continental, I had a cab-driven tour back and forth across NY/NJ at night.

  • Thomas

    When I was in grad school, I did a study abroad program in Austria. A group of 7 kids and our 70+ year old professor headed over there. Since the prof was a “pro” at travelling, we let him do the booking. Well, on the way out there we went through CDG. Turns out the day we landed was one of the planned strikes by the unions, and we were literally stuck at the airport. All non French speaking, we were able to eventually make it to Austria.

    On the way back, we were going through Amsterdam. Well, the little local euro plane we took was delayed, and we missed out flight. We were rebooked on a flight that left 4 hours later (this was around 8 am). too short to go have fun outside. Then that flight was delayed. then cancelled. rebooked. delayed, delayed, delayed. Finally just after 12 hours we got on a plane to NYC (not our final destination). In all, I spent nearly 30 hours in various airports.

    The kicker? We could of gotten direct flights for just $200 more roundtrip. Son of a ….

  • Raj

    Medical residency programs have you fly around the country to interview with them at the most inopportune time of the year – winter. So, when I was on the “interview trail” last year, one such trip entailed me flying from home->city 1->city 2-> city 3-> city 4-> city 5-> home on multiple one-way tickets between a couple of the major US carriers. The total cost of flights and hotels was ~$6000, but I was okay with it because I was able to schedule them in such a way that I actually had the time to fly between cities and sleep a little the night before interviewing all day the next day.

    While arriving at a layover airport on the East coast on my way to City 3, I noticed that it was snowing outside. Thinking nothing of it (hey, what’s a little snow?), I headed to the next gate to wait for my flight that would take off in 3 hours. Over the next three hours, I hear announcements about many different flights being cancelled. But, come boarding time for my flight, there has been not been any announcement. Surprisingly, there was also no agent in sight. 15 minutes after the flight was to have left, an agent appears and announces that the flight has been postponed for 3 hours. 3 hours later, a different agent comes and announces that the postponed/replacement flight has been cancelled, but that we would probably be able to fly out at 6:30am.

    I look for a hotels within a 20-25mi radius for <$300 and can't. After calling the 11th or 12th place, it becomes clear that all the surrounding hotels have been booked up by the travellers who were told earlier on that their flights had been cancelled. So, I spend the night at the airport. The next day, it keeps snowing and the same story happens again – my flight is postponed 4 or 5 times, then they announce that it has been cancelled. I start looking online and calling hotels again, but after calling the 5th hotel and finding it booked solid, I give up and spend yet another night in the airport.

    In the interim, I have contacted the program to let them know the situation and was assured that it was not a problem and that they would accommodate me. Eventually, I make it to city 3 and call the program. I'm told to come to the hospital as I am and someone would take me to my hotel. So, I go to the hospital…and am told to wait a couple hours…until the program director can interview me!

    Unshaven, unshowered, and oh-so-fresh after spending two nights at the airport, I am interviewed.

    The icing on the cake? Because my flights had been booked as multiple one-way tickets, I lost the money I had paid for most of my other hotels (booked through priceline name your own price) and flights. The only carrier that accommodated me was Delta, who gave me a $500 credit with no use fee after I created a Twitter account and tweeted their customer support. To be fair, JetBlue gave me a $100 credit, but they also tagged on a $75 use charge to go with it. I have since used the Delta credit and let the JetBlue credit expire. I have not flown with them since.


    A few months after that, there was also a family trip when I had to respond to a medical emergency because there was no one else on the flight willing to do so. I spent the last 3 hours of my flight to Hawaii taking care of a very pleasant lady who kept seizing every couple minutes. I suspect that the retired police officer sitting next to her loudly announcing "I think we lost her" every 30 minutes at the front of a packed plane didn't do much to calm people down. But, that's a story for another time!

  • stillice213

    I guess mine is more just the beginning of my trip, and not actually the trip itself. But my new wife and I were about to go on our honeymoon to Costa Rica the day after we got married. I had everything planned out perfectly for a nice romantic 7 day trip, but it certainly did turn out the way I had hoped. The second we got to the airport I kept feeling these sharp pains in my lower stomach that just got worse and worse as we were nearing our flight. My wife and I actually boarded the plane when I immediately realized that I couldn’t go anywhere due to the excruciating pain that just got a whole lot worse. I insisted we had to get off the plane and rush to a hospital. I had kinda known what was happening to me, but later found out for sure by the doctor that my appendix had burst and I would have to get it removed. The most unfortunate part was that I was in between jobs at the time and didn’t have any health insurance later. So $21,000 in hospital bills, $250 in fees to change the plans to our Costa Rica trip, and 3 weeks later, we finally got to go on our honeymoon. My new wife wasn’t to thrilled with what went down, but was very loving all the way through it.

    PS. And on the trip, my wife Annette wasn’t too thrilled that all the wonderful Costa Rica food we ate went RIGHT through me…..I’m still trying to make it all up to her 2 years later!!

  • TTN

    We are a family with 4 kids and got delayed over 10 hours at Chicago ORD on a Christmas travel. Our flight had mechanical problems and we had to wait all day for a replacement plane at the end of the night for our trip to LA.

    Our kids entertained themselves by exploring the airport shops and stores. Also, we had enough electronic gadgets to keep them occupied in between. Overall, they were happier than most adults who were frustrated and agitated with the airlines for the delay. Some of those behaviors were embarrassing to witness.

    When we landed in LA, we had to relocate our lodging because my in-laws had a death that day and we didn’t want the kids to be around that.

  • Brian

    Worst travel experience wasn’t all that bad…but it was on our honeymoon. After being given completely wrong directions from the Grand Hyatt Kauai concierge to a scuba dive (booked through them), the concierge then booked us a fabulous dinner at the Tidepools restaurant for the following night. We show up at the reserved time, and the restaurant is closed for a private party!!! We had made our daily plans around being at the hotel all day to relax and have a great dinner (and not go hike the Na Pali Coast that day) and were furious. Luckily Hyatt stepped up to the plate and booked us for the following night at Tidepools, and went out of their way to get us a reservation at a local restaurant and even gave us some credit at the hotel. Not all that bad, but certainly frustrating!

  • corinneL

    Our trip to Bermuda last month was a nightmare! The trip started by getting to Newark Airport (after an hour of traffic due to rain) and my husband realizes he left his laptop bag on the couch at home…with his passport in it. He had to drive another 1 1/2 hours roundtrip. I checked in all the bags while he checked in via mobile app. He then got a TSA patdown upon security check-in because he had an Advil in his back pocket that he forgot about. We were the last ones on the plane to board.

    We land in Bermuda and it is pouring rain. It continued to rain in “always sunny” Bermuda every day of our stay except for one. The locals all swore that the weather hadn’t been like this for at least 3-4 years.

    On the third day of rain it cleared (but still storm clouds overhead) in the morning so we decided to make the most of the little window we had. Not so, because when we got outside we walked down the path to the beach (even though it was too cloudy to go on and nobody was there) and it started to rain again. We went to the hotel trolley bus stop to wait for the next one back up to the hotel. When it finally got there I stepped off of the trolley stop and cracked my ankle. After my husband helped me get upstairs the hotel manager had to come up and wrap my ankle and fill out a report stating we wouldn’t sue the hotel.

    Then once the pain meds kicked in the following day we asked where we should go to eat. They said the Naval Dockyard was historic and always crowded. We decided to take the ferry to the dockyard. When we got there it was only me, my husband and about 6 other people on the entire strip. Turns out it is a ghost town when the cruise ships aren’t docked there…like that night. Since it was deserted we also couldn’t catch a taxi because there were none in site. A restaurant worker finally sold us bus tokens and told us that the bus comes on the 20th minute of every hour. EXCEPT for that night where the last bus on the 20′s was at 8:20 and the next bus didn’t arrive until 10:50. We passed the time in a pub. When we finally got onto the bus it was my husband and myself and another couple. That lasted for about 5 minutes because there was a Bermudian Youth Association dance that night and the next two bus stops crammed in about 80 teenagers. The bus ride was full to capacity for the 45 minute ride to our hotel.

    Lastly, we decided to take the local ferry on the last night we were there and while waiting we met a local who seemed very friendly and talked to us about Bermuda and their culture, etc. He sat next to us after we got onto the ferry as well. About halfway throught the ferry ride (and normal conversation) he starts telling us how he is a mentor for the boys youth on the island and he tells them about how fame is bad, celebrities are looking for the next level of things and they are also trying to tell us about alien life coming back to earth and how a zombie apocolypse is coming. He said that we should look for pins and colors that celebrities wear because they know more than we do and they are trying to warn us. The conversation went on like this for the remainder of the ferry ride until we docked and my husband reminded the guy that he forgot his jacket. When he went back to get it we hobbled out of there as fast as my sprained ankle could carry me.

    So yeah…we will never go back there again, but it is one hell of a story to tell.

    Oh, and my husband was also the winner of another security screening when we tried to leave Bermuda which included extra patdowns, baggage checks and carry-on checks. When the boarding pass prints out and you have an “SSSS” printed on the top you are the random winner of the pat-down lotto.

  • Hans

    Just got back from a trip to Prague, Vienna and Salzburg with my wife and parents. We got there without a hitch, but my parents got stuck behind in IAD for 24 hrs and then my Mom’s luggage got lost by AirFrance and on top of that she left her smartphone on the plane. Amazingly, she got her luggage back and AF found her phone and sent back to the states.

    Gotta love international travel ;-)

  • Amanda

    My first time traveling alone (I’m a 24 year old girl and petite), someone in Malaysia drove past me on a motorcycle and tried to snatch my bag. I held onto it and was dragged down the street until he gave up. It was like belly-flopping on waterskis… except on concrete. People were so kind; they helped me clean up my wounds, gather my bags, and put me in a cab to the airport (my flight to Mumbai was leaving in 2hrs!).

  • Jacob Whitney1

    Simple worst travel experience…. Celebrating an anniversary with my wife. So I bought two tickets to a concert for a band that we both loved. Booked a nice hotel room (with no points!), made dinner reservations, I secretly packed an overnighter bag for her and picked her up for work. We roadtripped for 3 hours to the city the band was playing at. Enjoyed a nice dinner, and a great hotel. The concert was the following day.Work up the next morning with a call from Ticket Master, stating that our concert had been cancelled! Lame. Had to tell my wife, “well I had an awesome surprise planned for you, but the band cancelled”. So we had to drive home. Lame Travel Experience.

  • Kristi

    Got back from college and went on a 7 day cruise with my family out of Galveston, TX. Got sick the first day and pretty much was sick the rest of the trip off and on. Cruises are no fun when you’re sick. I was better when we’d hit the ports each day.

  • noel

    My worst travel experience was pretty recent and luckily pretty brief. I was on a flight from Kansas City to Denver and there was something terribly wrong with the temperature controls and the plane was incredibly hot.

    Everyone was sweating, people smelled horrible, people were complaining and kids were crying. Luckily the flight was less than two hours, but I have never been as happy to get off a flight (and that includes a coach ticket from LAX to SYD).

  • Jason

    I had a business trip to Romania, and decided to take an extended layover in NYC to visit friends. So I booked a roundtrip flight DEN->NYC, with the business trip booked from NYC->Romania. First part of the trip went great, business travel went well, and I was back in NYC visiting and when it came time to check in for my flight a few hours before heading to the airport, they said there was no record of my reservation. Apparently, one night in Romania, I mistyped my PIN when trying to withdraw some cash, and since the ticket was booked on that card, they assumed it was stolen and froze my flight. Of course, they called and left me a message, AT HOME. While I was between the departure and return of the roundtrip ticket I had purchased with them. Luckily, I managed to call them and confirm that no, my card wasn’t stolen, and I would very much like to be on the flight I had paid for that I was leaving to get to the airport to depart.

  • AnnieLovesFrance

    I totally think you should win! No fun!!!!

  • Erik

    Bucharest, Romania – March 2007. Center of the city, there was a Pizza Hut nearby where my then girlfriend and I were staying that had free WiFi. My cell phone being broken, I wanted to use that WiFi signal and my Dell PDA to make a Skype call back to the US so I to the restaurant I went. I stood near the front door to “borrow” the WiFi and I made my call.

    During that call, a young Roma kid (say aged 10 or so?) came up to me begging for money. He was pushy, right in front of me, physically touching me, basically grabbing me as he was begging. I had to physically push him away and I did so a bit roughly. He left quickly enough after that.

    I finish my phone call and slip the PDA in my pocket. At this point I should mention I am hearing impaired and I wear behind the ear style hearing aids. Connected to the PDA was a headphone cable with a special connector that plugs directly into a hearing aid and that’s how I made the phone call. When I put he PDA in my pocket, I left the cable connected between it and my hearing aid.

    I begin walking back to where we were staying. I had walked perhaps 30 meters from a busy intersection when the original kid plus 4 others all younger than him approached me in a hurry and began grabbing all over me. I’m certainly bigger than 5 kids and I had no misgivings about defending myself against a child but there was only so much I could do against 10 grabby hands. They weren’t trying to hurt me, they were trying to score things to steal. The entire event took about 15 seconds but in that time they struck gold by grabbing the PDA out of my pocket. As soon as they had that, they ran off.

    Problem: In addition to the PDA, one of the kids grabbed at the cable still connected. It pulled my hearing aid off and out of my left ear. While I had one in the right ear, that’s my bad ear anyway and I don’t understand speech well even with a device. So that left me in a world of hurt, unable to hear well in a foreign country.

    I did have a backup hearing aid – an older in-the-ear model that really wasn’t sufficient for my needs anymore but I was able to make do. The stolen hearing aid was still less than a year old and in general hearing aids are covered by a loss/damage warranty. However, I did not know if I’d need to file a police report, so that’s what I did.

    Went to the main station only to be told we needed to go to the local precinct in the neighborhood where the crime occurred. So they had two beat cops drive us there – riding in the back of a Romanian squad car in Bucharest was a trip and they were clearly biased against Roma people and their kids. Now, going into a Romanian police station was like walking into a scene from Life on Mars – the show where a cop wakes up in 1972 and has to go to work in such an archaic office. It was ridiculous. No computers on desks, everyone was smoking, and my report was initially written by hand. Plus it was a challenge because their English wasn’t so good. Fortunately my girlfriend is fluent in French – and there was at least one guy who also spoke French. So I tell my story in English, she translates to French, the cop translates to Romanian for the guy taking the report. Then back the other direction when they had questions for me.

    Finished taking my report, the guy goes to another room for a few minutes and comes back with a report he’d clearly typed twice – once on the top half, another on the bottom half. He rips it in two, he and I sign my copy, and tells me I can go to the US embassy for an official translation. Tried that but the local police wouldn’t let me in the embassy for some reason, but their English sucked so I have no clue why.

    Turns out when I got home that I didn’t need the police report – replacement hearing aid was ordered as soon as I got into my audiologist’s office. But the whole thing makes for one hell of a story!

  • Cory

    Back in 2009 I went with a few friends to Belize. The plan for this trip was that we would fly down to Belize City and from there take a small puddle jumper kind of plane to a small town called Placencia. From Placencia we had a plan to take a boat north to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Placencia is fairly southern in Belize while San Pedro is almost all the way north. One of my friends thought boating the length of Belize up to San Pedro through the Caribbean Sea would be a great way to travel. It might actually have been true, if not for a series of unfortunate events.

    We got a good start early enough in the morning that we’d get to San Pedro probably early afternoon. The sun was out, the sea was calm, we were having a great time and the ride was going well. We got to a point just south of a town called Dangriga and stopped to switch gas tanks and go for a swim. The swim felt incredible. But, when we all got back in and set to get underway something had gone horribly wrong with the motors. Still not entirely sure what it was, but we were not going anywhere. The captain of our little-ish boat, who kind of ran and maintained the house we’d be staying at in San Pedro, managed to get cell phone signal in the middle of the ocean and was able to call for a tow. I don’t entirely know how to describe this boat that came to tow us, but it ended up playing a couple of roles throughout the day. It was this blue fiberglass boat that had one of those motors that you steer by hand as you stand next to it. There were 2 places to sit, both of them unpadded benches that went across the width of the boat. So this thing towed us to Dangriga. Probably took it 2 hours to find us, and another hour at least to get us to Dangriga. While in Dangriga we were told that the boat wasn’t fixable and that the Captain’s cousin was driving a replacement boat down for us. We had lunch in a café and pretty much sat around for 5 or 6 hours waiting because the cousin took some time in finding the boat, then had to drive it the 4 or so hours to Dangriga to get us. And if you thought the story was interesting so far, buckle up. Because it is at this point where it gets really “fun”.

    I saw a commercial advertising a resort in Dangriga recently. I was shocked, because this was a town that I would have been shocked to discover any tourist had ever set foot in before. Wasn’t really a place where you’d want to be when the sun went down, I thought. Speaking of the sun going down, that’s exactly the time we pulled out of Dangriga. After hours and hours of waiting in Dangriga the captain’s cousin finally made it with a boat. We were all so happy and jumped on board and started getting settled when it became horribly apparent really quickly that there wasn’t going to be enough room on this new boat for all of us. Big problem. So what happens? Well, the captain hires that fiberglass boat that had towed us to Dangriga.

    Five of us were in the fiberglass boat, me included. We filled the bow up with luggage and me and a woman in the group sat at the seat nearest the bow. There were three others who sat nearer the stern. We pull out of Dangriga at sunset. We were on a little river that empties into the Caribbean. Once we were clear of the mouth of the river and into the actual sea I looked back at the driver and said I think we need to turn around, go back, stay the night in Dangriga and figure out how to get up to San Pedro another way tomorrow. It was immediate dread setting in. What we were about to do was foolish, dangerous, and if in the US would have probably been criminal on someone’s part. To further set the mood, we were 2 boats filled with people, heading off into open water as the sun was going down, one of the boats (mine) without any lights of any kind and no way to communicate with each other. If that wasn’t enough, the sea had gotten much rougher as we sat in Dangriga.

    I think for the first time in my life I was truly afraid for my life. I was certain for the first hour that we would eventually capsize. I made a point every so often of looking at the positioning of the stars and the moon so that when we did hit the water I would know which way to swim to find land. But that actually didn’t even become my biggest concern. My biggest immediate concern was that in sitting near the bow I took the bulk of the abuse that the rough seas were dishing out. I felt every wave. We’d hit them hard, I’d bounce around on the seat. Up and down I went for the entirety of the ride. I tried to sit on an extra life jacket for padding, but that didn’t help. I tried to sit on the luggage, and that was better but it was still awful. I think I know what it would feel like to be a boxer. One of the things that ran through my mind during this ordeal was the story of that guy who was a pitchman for all of those infomercials. The guy with the really black beard whose name escapes me. The story about his death was that he had some carryon luggage fall on top of his head that caused some kind of hemorrhage or something so that when he went to bed he never woke up. Either that or it was a cocaine overdose. One or the other  Whatever happened to him, I was convinced I was going to have a concussion by the time it was over. Plus, I have had chronic back problems since I had a weight lifting accident back when I lived in Austin. That was also a massive concern.

    4-5 hours of hell on the seas and we finally pull into our place in San Pedro. I jumped out, kneeled down and kissed the pier. I was light headed, pretty sure I had a mild concussion and had a spot on my butt that had been worn raw by all of the bouncing around and a pretty noticeable bruise. The luggage I was landing on the entire ride wasn’t so lucky. Somehow my laptop survived. There were other things that weren’t so lucky. Casualties of the trip included an expensive SLR camera, 2 laptops, and who knows what else.

    I live to tell the tale. Not sure I look back at it fondly yet.

  • Emily Lai

    For the most part, I’m always happy to be traveling even when it’s a business trip. I love new experiences and being uncomfortable sometimes. However, certain things can definitely leave a bad taste to a trip. A group of my friends and I took a trip to Barcelona in ’08. It was my first European trip. Everything went great during our 8day trip, but that last 24 hours was a nightmare. We took the 2 trains to the airport. We took the wrong train going the opposite direction of the airport. We had no idea till we saw the ocean and realized we’re going the wrong way. It was an express train, so it took 45mins till the next stop. We got to the airport 5 minutes before takeoff, but the airline agent would not let us in. The next stand by flight was not till the next morning and we each had to pay an extra $175. Then there was a mystery of who’s actually on the flight or not. We slept and wandered the airport all night. They were issuing tickets one by one and I was the last one to receive one, so there was a panic of all my friends going home and I’m left there alone. Finally, we all went home at the same time. But even now, anytime I see a Lufthansa airline, it brings me back to that awful experience.

  • AnnieLovesFrance

    It’s the worst trip that never took off. The story goes like this:

    It’s October, 2001, we’ve got tix for a James Taylor concert at Red Rocks, flights to Denver from Maine, a hotel and a car rental. All lined up, ready to go, and we’re psyched. We’re also buying a new home so we have a Fed Ex package to drop off, icy rain is falling, and we’re in a rush for that flight.

    My husband runs up to the Fed Ex box and does a skate and trip across the slippery cement, onto an outstretched hand. Ow! But nothing a little ice and some ibuprofen won’t fix, I say, once we get on board.

    Please note: I’m a health care provider so I know a thing or too. I remind him of this, perhaps a tad smugly.

    As we’re driving to the airport, he starts to complain more and more about his wrist. Elevate it, I say.

    We check in at the airport and are walking down the gangway to the plane. My husband’s pain is rated a 100 out of a possible 10.

    He hasn’t tried ice, ibuprofen or elevation. I suggest with some minor impatience and–in retrospect–a clear lack of empathy, that there is a ER in Denver, I’m sure, and we’ll get it looked at there. If we ever get on the plane.

    Which we did not. A three hour flight in pain was not my husband’s idea of a good time. After the x-rays did reveal a fracture, I agree that it might have been an uncomfortable ride. (Really, I’m very nice to my actual patients, I want you to know that).

    So we gave the JT tix to the ER nurse who had a brother in Denver–I think Fed Ex got some more business out of the deal–and canceled hotel and car. Airline credits never did get used (oops!!!). And my poor husband now has his own very trusted physician whom he consults in the event of any injury or illness.

  • Nick

    I was part of that as well. 10 hours of my life I’ll never get back. The best was sitting on tarmac for three hours. My mental breakdown occurred when I was watching the 10 0′colok news on the Jetblue tv’s and seeing the plane I was currently sitting on being pointed at by the reporter.

  • Chase

    I was pickpocketed while visiting Barcelona – not once, but twice. Fortunately both times I was able to get my wallet back. The first was by a pack of ten or so little kids who started running around me and my friend, putting their arms around us and stuff. We thought they were just messing around, till they all left suddenly and I instinctively checked for my wallet. Gone. I ran after them and got it back. :) The second time was by some prostitute walking around on Las Ramblas. She grabbed my crotch and her friend snatched my wallet at the same time. Again, I ran after them and they gave it back.

    Be careful in Barcelona, especially in touristy areas. Only take out with you what you need, and carry it in your front pockets!

  • Lauren

    I was about to board a flight from China back to the US when I noticed that there was a woman with a baby in the boarding area. I know this is wrong to admit in a comment to a family travel post, but I was a bit annoyed and expecting the worst on the upcoming flight. Then I noticed another baby. And then another.

    To my horror, I discovered that there was a group of families that had just adopted babies in China and they were all going to be in coach with me. I wish I could say that I was totally wrong and the flight was actually quiet and peaceful, but I can’t.

  • Saydny

    Not as bad as others but once I had to endure waiting to clear immigration close to 2.5 hours and by then, my luggage was taken off the belt and finding that was another long saga.

  • Ethan

    I studied abroad in Germany in 2010, and other students and I had been on a trip to Romania-Bulgaria-Greece with our program. The program-sponsored trip ended on a Thursday, and we were allowed to take care of our return trip home. So we decided to spend the last weekend in Athens and fly home Sunday. Thursday, however, was the first day of European flight closures due to everyone’s least-favorite impossible to pronounce Icelandic volcano. Our friends that were travelling back Thursday were booked in first class hotels, but by the time we arrived to the airport on Sunday, the airlines had decided this was an act of God, and they would not do that anymore.

    We spent 3 hours in line at the airport Sunday, to be rebooked on a new flight- on Wednesday. We went back to our hostel and worked out arrangements to stay, but after quick research (the decision was made in about 20 minutes) we decided to try to make it by land travel, as there was no certain end date for the ash cloud dissipating over the continent.

    We hurried to the train station by subway, to get on a train that we barely made to take us across the country (only a 3.5 hour trip in Greece). This involved a replacement bus as well. Once on the coast, we and close to 50 other people with the same objective in mind sprinted to the ferry terminal to purchase a ticket to Venice. This was a 31- hour (2 nights, 1 day) ferry (more like a mini-cruise ship), on which there were no remaining cabins. So we made camp in one of the common areas (think a fort with chairs and suitcases), and tried to sleep on the hard floor.

    After surviving the ferry trip, we took a shuttle to the train station in Venice, to try and make our way north to Germany. After a 3 hour wait, we were informed that there were no available trains north for several more days. So we explored the buses. Same story. Luckily, we made contact with another group in our program (who were in Rome), coming north, and they said they would be able to pick us up in Bologna. We took the train (southbound wasn’t a problem) to Bologna, and stayed the night there before being picked up for the 8 hour bus ride back to Freiburg. We finally arrived on Wednesday, having left on Sunday.

    The worst part of the whole thing? That flight, the one we were rebooked on for Wednesday? It flew. We could have relaxed in Greece for 4 days and gotten home at the same time.

  • Courtney

    My worst travel experience occurred when I was seven years old and flying by myself for the first time. It started off great! I had on a shiny new pair of wings and was ready to take a flight from Los Angeles to Pensacola, Florida, to visit my grandmother. My mom checked me in with the flight attendant and stayed with me until they got ready to close the doors.

    We got to Dallas without incident and the attendant walked me on to my connecting flight. It was raining in Dallas, but I didn’t think much of it (I was, after all, only seven). We took off from Dallas, as scheduled, but I quickly noticed that folks were quite tense on the flight. It was about that time that I started hearing the word ” hurricane” being spoken under people’s breath. Apparently hurricane Allen was a brewing and although it was in southern Florida, the northern part of the Gulf was experiencing incredibly heavy rain.

    The plane was forced to land in New Orleans. I was starting to worry – my grandma was expecting me. Rather than fly us in to Pensacola, they arranged for buses to transport us there. We got into the bus and headed east. The bus pulled in to the Pensacola airport twelve hours after our scheduled landing. My grandmother was waiting for me there :)

  • Joe Goldberg

    My wife and I went to Israel for our honeymoon, and we decided to make a quick side-trip to Jordan to see Petra. We got to our hostel in Aqaba (south tip of Jordan) and asked the guy at the desk what time we should leave if we want to tour Petra. He said 7am. We set our alarm for 6am and got to the desk the next morning around 6:30. I looked at the clock behind the desk and it said 7:30! “That’s weird,” I thought, their clock is wrong. Only after a minute did I realize my error: Israel started daylight-savings time, but Jordan was still on standard time!

    “No big deal,” I thought. We’d just lose an hour of touring the archeological site. We rushed through breakfast and called for a cab to take us to the central bus station. When we got to the bus station, something looked wrong. It was almost completely empty. Nobody there spoke English, but after some pantomiming and gesturing with a few patient drivers, we found out that busses leave when they fill up, not on any time schedule.

    We got on the next bus headed to Petra, but since all the tourists got the early buses, this bus was sloooooly filling up with locals. My wife and I were enjoying the local radio station, which was entirely in Arabic but played American songs, though it wasn’t enough to distract us from the sweltering heat (the bus was turned off, waiting to fill up).

    About 90 minutes (and a humorous seat switching…turns out an unmarried woman can’t sit next to a man on a public bus in Jordan) later, we were on our way. The countryside was bare, though beautiful in it’s minimalism. It’s the land that Laurence of Arabia was filmed on.

    At about 2:00pm, we got to Wadi Musa, the closest top to Petra. You can’t drive into Petra since it’s a protected site. From Wadi Musa, you can take a horse or a donkey into Petra. By this point we were the only tourists as far as the eye can see.

    A man at the Wadi Musa bus stop, who I assumed was a Petra tour guide, asked us (in broken English) what we were doing there. It seemed like a strange question, but I told him we we came from Aqaba and are here to see Petra. He laughed and said “but the last bus back to Petra leaves in an hour!” We could have stayed in town but all our overnight stuff was back in Petra.

    My wife and I were so bummed out that we couldn’t see Petra, yet we’d need to wait an hour to even begin the multi-hour bus ride home, we decided to take a cab. It was about 80 dinars ($115), but in our rage we decided it was worth it.

    Only problem is that we didn’t have 80 dinars. So we walked into the main area of Wadi Musa looking for an ATM. I got to use my Arabic phrase book when I approached some teenagers and asked them (in what must have been the worst Arabic accent they’ve ever heard) “Wein fi ATM?” It was exactly like that old commercial where the couple is stranded in the middle of nowhere and the entire village gathers around the ATM to watch them use it, since they never see tourists. Only nobody gathered around while we withdrew our 80 dinars of shame.

    We walked back to the bus stop where a flashy guy got us into his flashy sports car. Oh, did I mention this wasn’t a real taxi? It was just a guy willing to drive us 2 hours back to Petra for 80 dinar.

    The drive was wild, he was passing cars in very imaginative ways, like through parking lots. We finally got to Petra, paid him, and then took a real cab back to our hostel. We were very disappointed, but now I look back on it and laugh. I’m not sure if my wife is ready to laugh at it yet. We’ll get back there one day.

  • Ricky

    Worst travel experience was a 10-hour road trip through the southwest to see family during spring break (in elementary school). All of the kids caught the stomach flu from one of our cousins about 2 days in, so we had to leave early. I recall aunts and uncles hugging my parents goodbye as us kids were doubled over in the front yard vomiting next to a tree.

    About 2 hours on the road on the return trip we felt a thud, saw sparks, and the van went into a wild out-of-control skid. We saw a tire go bounding off across the highway and into the desert as the van careened onto the shoulder and came to a stop. To my parents it was just about the scariest thing ever, but I was in too much of a malaise to fully grasp it. And then, in the middle of nowhere in the days before cell phones, my dad had to run two miles to an INS checkpoint to get help.

    A tow truck came and we piled in the front seat, barf bags in hand. Away we barfed, I mean rode. The nearest town was 30 minutes away or so. It was such a tiny auto shot that they couldn’t handle the repair due to lack of parts, so we had to get towed back to my Grandma’s an hour and a half away. Barf barf barf down the highway we went again.

    I don’t remember much after that except being ill for another day or two. Eventually the van came back fixed and we drove the 10 hours back to wrap up a not-so-relaxing week. In the end it turned out ok I guess. The van kept going for another year before being traded in, and I’m pretty sure my Grandma was able to clean the projectile vomit from the carpet, rugs, and pillows.

  • Sun Kim

    I had a job interview in San Francisco at 3pm. I booked a flight through Expedia with AA from LAX > SFO. Got to the airport and went to the ticket counter to get my boarding pass and they told me that there was no record of me ever purchasing a flight and that I had to contact Expedia. I called Expedia and they told me that it was AA’s problem and not theirs. It was a mess. After going back and forth with Expedia and AA, the ticket issue was finally resolved but by then I had missed my flight and my interview.

  • Nancy

    I was flying out of the Heathrow Airport on the first day the new terminal opened- as a consequence our bags were a few of the million that were backed up and stored since they couldn’t get their act together. We didn’t get our bags back from the terminal till 3 1/2 weeks later. It was a horrific experience, no car keys, no keys to the house etc.

  • Thomas Faulkner

    My one experience that still stands out to me to this day had to be a Royal Carribean cruise. Overall the cruise was a great time and Royal Carribean delivered on board as they usually seem to do. The part where it got a little dicey was out stop at port in Cozumel. It was just me and a buddy on this cruise so we took off to look for a good time. Hit some restaurants, imbibed a few drinks (ok maybe a couple more than a few), did some sight seeing some shopping. All this we accomplished by renting mopeds from a company not to far from where our boat was. I knew we were doomed right from the start as as soon as we got on the mopeds for the first time and took off my buddy dumped his right in front of the rental place. Bad start. Over the course of the day and drinks he seemed to get a little better with the driving. This was only after dumping the bike about five times in the streets on Mexico. We were running late on time so headed back towars the boat. I was in the lead by a few yards and he trailed behind as we zoomed through traffic. Anyone whos rode those bikes knows they actually have quite a bit of power behind them. As we get within seeing distance of the boat I turn to see the Policia pulling my buddy over! Now at this point we have about ten minutes to get to the dang boat. They are harrassing him on the side of the road for “speeding and swerving”. I’m half down a ways a bit snapping pictures because I thought it was quite comical at that point. The longer it takes I begin getting worried. We are now down to about five minutes to get back to the boat. I check on whats going on and the policia are none to kind. They end up holding my buddy there with the threat of either missing out boat or handing over all money we have on us! They got us for about 500, US dollars not pesos! We made it back to the boat just in time and learned a hard lesson that day, don’t mess around with mopeds or the police in Mexico. To top it off the rental company ended up trying to charge me for “damages” to one of the mopends. I assume from him falling so much, or seeing him fall and trying to take advantage. Both bikes were already very badly scrapped up when we rented them. I mean cmon they are rentals in Cozumel to tourists and looked like they had been in use for many many years. Got the charge settled thankfully. Overall super trip but what a bad end to a otherwise great day!

  • abarmot

    I nearly died from sudden paralysis, on my worst trip ever :)

    We were on Roatan island, Honduras. It is a great place for diving and snorkeling, even close to the shore. We went to a dive shop next to the hotel, and in 30 minutes were in the water looking at the amazing underwater colors.

    After some time in the water, I suddenly started feeling very mild burning sensation around my body. I thought that perhaps I simply overheated, and so climbed back into the boat and lied down. This most likely saved my life.

    When we got back to shore, as I walked off the boat, I suddenly felt that I could not move my hands! I sat down, and realized that getting up is no longer an option, I could not move my feet. Scared, I told my wife what was happening, and realized that I had great difficulty speaking, my tongue was like a piece of steel and I could not move it!

    The shop owner came over, and declared this to be an allergic shock. At this point I am completely paralyzed, cannot move or speak, yet I am fully aware of everything. Two guys picked me up, carried me to a van, and drove us to a small private medical office (“clinic”!). There I was given a shot of Benadryl, and in 15 minutes I more or less returned to normal, except for the emotional scar.

    But this wasn’t the end of it. The doctor looked at my wife (who couldn’t feel much because her adrenaline was pumping, as she was trying to figure out how to deliver the news of my untimely demise to my parents), then gave her a tube of cortisone saying simply “you will need this”. As she calmed down, she realized that she had a terrible rash all over, the worst of which was under the swimsuit.

    Turned out that we came into contact with jellyfish larvae. Apparently, they swim under the swimsuit, get scared and release their poison. It is interesting how different our reactions were. I had no long-term effects, but my wife suffered for weeks. She bought all the cortisone in the local pharmacy. Back in the US several days later, she went to a dermatologist, who was very excited to see such a “nice reaction”.

    Be aware of jellyfish season, and wear a tight wetsuit!

  • PR

    I was on an overnight bus trip from Tamale, Ghana to Accra, Ghana. Already in some of the least comfortable confines in which to spend a night, we were about 5 hours in and I had hardly slept a wink. To complicate matters I had eaten a rather heavy meal in Tamale before leaving, and my bowels had been letting me know for the last hour or so.

    At about 5:15 AM (I will never forget the time), I woke my traveling buddy up to let him know that I was in desperate need of a bathroom, but unsure of how to proceed. My friend, who had been sleeping peacefully the entire trip, nodded with little concern and told me to go let the driver know. So I trudged up to the front of the bus and alerted the driver to my impending situation.

    Kindly, he pulled over next to a small village and unabashedly told me to go behind “that building over there” and relieve myself. So in desperate, but blissful, reluctance I trotted out into the darkness and squatted down behind the building against a wall. As my eyes adjusted to the surroundings I could see the crescent moon fading quickly above my head while the first hints of sunlight vaguely began to paint the sky off to my left.

    That’s when it happened.

    A door about 15 yards in front me opened and a Ghanian man in pants and a short sleeve button down stepped out. My heart raced and, in what seemed like an eternity, the man’s face went from early-morning fatigue to utter bewilderment. It was dawn and there I was, a white American squatting down against a building in this Ghanian man’s yard succumbing to the properties of digestion. I just remember he kept yelling, “What are you doing!? What are you doing!?” and I kept saying “My bad. My bad,” as I hurriedly tried to finish what can only be finished when your body says your finished. I did so as quickly as a I could and made a shameful b-line for the bus, the man still yelling in astonishment.

    It was terrible and hilarious all at the same time. I got back on the bus and we continued our trip. I wouldn’t tell me friend the whole story until later that day after we had disembarked and checked in to our hotel.

    To this day I don’t know who has the better story – the one I’m telling here or the one told in the village later that day: “So I go outside this morning, and there’s this obroni (white man) squatting behind my shed saying, ‘my bad’…” He’s probably still getting mileage from the tale.

    Maybe I can get some here :). Thanks Points Guy!

  • Bryan Mobley

    I wish I was making this up, here goes.

    Me and a buddy of mine (co-worker actually, be careful with this) had gone to Thailand for the 2011 New Year. I was looking forward to good times on the beach, eating great food and generally doing what I like best. Not working.

    So we’re on the plane from Seoul, Korea to Phuket, Thailand and he begins to act quite strange. It appeared to me to be some sort of panic attack, but he began to think that the plane was falling apart in flight, and he was starting to get rather loud about it. By this point, I had been flying for somewhere around 15 hours (left from Los Angeles) and I was not ready to handle a grown man who was trying to flag down every stewardess as well as telling the people in front of us that the plane was going to crash. Like I said, I thought it was a panic attack. I figured we’d get off the plane shortly (hours is not short when you’re dealing with this) and once he got to the hotel he could sleep it off. Not so.

    We get to the hotel and he’s still acting quite strangely. He gets a little bit to eat and goes upstairs to catch some z’s. I think to myself that I’m on vacation and sucks for him, but he should be OK soon enough, I’m going to go out for the night. I come back at maybe 3 or so in the morning, and the hotel receptionist tells me that my friend has been walking up and down the halls of the 4 story hotel knocking on people’s doors apparently looking for someone. Now I know something is up.

    We get him back to his room, and I figure we’re going to have to take him to the hospital, but I thought it could wait til morning. After all, I’d never had to deal with something like this. I hear this banging on my door about 4 hours later, the receptionist is back in a panic. I run down stairs and find that another hotel guest is having to restrain my friend because at this point he is seeing and hearing things that are not there. Can you guess what comes next? If you guessed the police, you are correct. The one thing I never really want to be involved with in a foreign country is the police, and here I am. I climb into this van with the police and they take us to the hospital. Credit to the staff, they were wonderful, but it’s hard to tell Thai nurses what’s going on when you don’t know quite yourself what’s happening. I told them what I could and they gave us medicine and we went back to the hotel.

    That lasted about a day, then we had to take him to another hospital. I’ve never felt more out of place in my life, we were the only foreigners in the entire block where he was staying. I had to push him around in a wheelchair attempting to figure out where we were supposed to go, the whole time he’s talking to people who aren’t there. I know it seems like I’m harping, but never having had to deal with a situation where someone had some sort of mental break, it was really tough to deal with.

    Long story short, we ended up having to restrain him to the bed because he kept trying to get out. I spent a lot more time at that hospital than I planned. Finally, I had to call his family and explain to them that the doctors in Thailand were telling me it was alcohol withdrawal. Holy crap, that was easily the most painful phone conversation I’ve ever had. Long story short, he finally got home and I was able to enjoy what was left of my vacation. I still had a blast after that all got sorted, but I can’t imagine much worse than that.

  • 3pugmama

    I never do these things, but it’s our 15th anniversary today, and I’m awash with memories…. Picture –We’re poor and starving. We get married. We go on our honeymoon to Key West, and check into our room at the Days Inn. I go to powder my nose, and find a used condom in the toilet. (Foreshadowing?) We check out immediately, and find a cute B&B instead. It’s 15 years later, and we haven’t yet checked out of our marriage!

  • Ed Chandler

    Easy …

    The wife and I arrived at our accommodations in a small Italian village only to learn that the place was a sort of cross between a hotel and a hostel run by the convent next door. We arrived late and no one was at the property to let us in. Figuring that my wife would have better luck getting sympathy from the nuns, I sent her over to the convent while I waited to see if anyone returned to the property.

    The nuns spoke no English and my wife spoke no Italian, so that got us nowhere. She was able to convey the gist, I think, and the nuns handed her a phone number to call. Great … but we didn’t have a phone.

    So we waited and eventually another couple staying there came back and let us borrow their phone to make the call. The guy who answered also spoke no English, but I guess the “latecomer to the hotel” call was the only kind he ever got because he showed up about 5 minutes later.

    This is where hilarity ensued because he still spoke no English and we spoke no Italian. However, both of us started rattling through our small lists of “Do you speak …?” questions until we both landed on French. I took two years of French in high school 20 years ago. I think he was in the same boat.

    So there we were, an Italian hotelier and an American tourist, in the heart of Italy, communicating (poorly) in the broken French that we’d both learned half a lifetime ago.

    Ugh, it worked … but not something I care to repeat.

  • tpat

    My worst travel experience: I had to re-schedule my flight to attend a meeting in NC because my eyes got infected. My eyes were in so much pain that I could not even open them. I had to go to the eye center at my local hospital, where I got treated with steroid eye drops.

    After recovering a few days later and re-scheduling the meeting, I was able to take my flight. I was to present a speech the following day in front of 60-80 attendees, so I worked hard and spent many hours preparing my speech. I had also spent several hours preparing prior to my eye infection.

    Despite having prepared thoroughly and knowing my material, when it came time to present my speech the next day I blanked out. I literally forgot half of my talking points and struggled to get through my presentation. It was frustrating, because I did all I could to prepare. I felt helpless and so embarrassed.

    On a positive note, I did get approved for two Citi AA cards and earned 150K miles a week later. :)

  • madlen

    having check in late at a radisson hotel, to find out the a/c was broken, waited 30mins for someone to come up to take a look, then to say we can switch our rooms (this was around 1am) then only to find out 10mins later the open room we can switch is on the same floor with their a/c broken!!!! (this all happened in the summer)

  • Krystle

    When I was about 10 I had my first plane right by myself from Charlotte to Atlanta. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. While on the flight the captain comes on the speaker to say we will have to make a quick landing in Columbia, SC to get more fuel or something. Once we landed in Columbia, I had no idea of what to do or where to go. We didn’t have cell phones back then and I didn’t want to find a pay phone to call my parents. I just saw at the gate and stared at the plane in hopes that I wouldn’t get left. A few hours later we bored and head to Atlanta. Once I arrived in Atlanta hours had passed and I had no clue of where I was going. Thinking about it now, I’m glad I didn’t end up on the train heading to the city. I just ended up walking through each Concourse to the baggage claim. Finally I saw my dads head appear above the whole crowd. That was my first flying experience and I will never forget it.

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  • Kenny

    missed my connecting flight to in slc to ord and had to arrive a day later in chicago and missed the cubs game. my only chance to have bleacher seats at wrigley and the tickets went to waste.. thats what i get for last minute flights ;(

  • NewToMiles

    Had a connection in JFK, but the kicker was that I was on a different airline coming into JFK than the one leaving JFK (rookie mistake). Of course, my flight into JFK was heavily delayed, and I missed the connection even though the layover was supposed to be 2 1/2 hours. When I arrived, I spoke with the airline to have them reschedule my connection, but as luck would have it they said it wasn’t their problem since the connection wasn’t on their airline. On top of that they had horrible customer service and wouldn’t even put me up for the night to get on the next flight on the other airline the next day (earliest possible time that I could stand by).

    I decided to just cut my losses, go get a good nights sleep at a hotel and regroup in the morning. I usually like Hiltons, so I stayed a doubletree. This was probably a dumb idea considering it was already 11:15 and I would have to leave the hotel around 6am to make my next flight. Yet, I went ahead and made the booking with When I got to the Jamaica terminal pickup, I called the Hilton and told them to come get me. It was raining heavily outside and I was freezing (not prepared for New York weather), so I told the concierge to just give me a call when the shuttle got there, and described my appearance if anybody had to come looking for me. After 30 minutes, I went outside to check, nothing. I went back inside and called and the concierge said that there was an issue with the shuttle and it would be coming soon. Again I waited inside for 30 minutes and called again, and the dispatch said that the shuttle had come and left. I got very upset saying that this was ludicrous because I was literally waiting inside for a call (had been there for more than an hour at that point). She said that they would send it back and to go outside and wait (it should only take 5 minutes). 30 minutes later (yes, they had no decency), I finally got on the shuttle. I finally got into the shuttle, and got to the hotel by 1:45 or so.

    When I arrived at the hotel, Hilton let me know that they had no record of the reservation. I obviously was pretty furious at this point and angrily called They said there was a mishap and they never faxed the Hilton my confirmation. Stupidly, Hilton wouldnt accept a phone confirmation and I had to wait through 3 failed fax attempts until it was successful. Finally after dealing with incredibly unhelpful concierge people, I got to my room at about 3:30. I TOLD THE CONCIERGE TO PLEASE WAKE ME UP AT 5:45 AND HOLD THE SHUTTLE IF IT ARRIVED EARLY. Of course, I got the wake up call scrambled to get downstairs and made it by 6:01, but as luck would have it the shuttle had left already. I got really mad at the concierge to no avail and asked to get a cab, but they said the cab wouldn’t get there in time. I waited for te shuttle at 6:30, got to the airport and ran faster than I have ever run with the amount of baggage I had and was so absolutely out of breath at both the ticket counter and security, and probably looked so miserable that they had pitty on me and helped me make my flight (last person on it :/ )


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