My Worst Travel Experiences Of 2020
October 1, 2020
I’ve seen this post going around on the Internet and I absolutely love the idea behind it. In recent years, we have been flooded by drool-worthy travel shots, ranging from Instagram models posing in front of luxury hotels to #travelcouples going on their 8490th epic adventure. When you’re scrolling through these moments of perfection, it may seem like you’re seriously missing out. Who doesn’t want their everyday life to be filled with infinity pools, epic sunsets, delicious food and cute puppies?
It’s easy to think that these people have found some magic formula to a life of glorious fun (while looking flawless 24/7)… Well, I’m here to give you some peace of mind: it’s a VERY one-sided image. Anyone who actually embarks on one of those travel adventures, will come face to face with reality very quickly. Believe me, travelling can be just as hard as it can be awesome. That’s why I love that people are starting to get more real about the not so glamourous side of travelling. It gives some much needed perspective. Anyway, got into a bit of a rant here, let’s get into my worst travel experiences of 2020!
Please note that these experiences took place in the first few months of 2020, when I was based in Costa Rica and still blissfully unaware of what the world would become once the pandemic hit in full force.
1. GETTING THREATENED BY A GUY WITH A MACHETE
This moment definitely takes the cake when it comes to less enjoyable travel experiences… I’d been in Costa Rica for a little over a week, when I decided to catch an early sunrise at 5:30am. Excited about the photos I would take and completely oblivious to any possible dangers, I headed to the beach the next morning.
My friend decided to go jogging, so I started walking along the beach while filming and taking pictures. There wasn’t another soul in sight, so at first I was relieved when I saw another person appearing from the jungle.
When he started to approach me while mumbling something I couldn’t hear, I still wasn’t as alarmed as I should have been. A few seconds later, I detected the words ‘give me your f*cking money’ and I realised I was trapped and in some serious trouble.
The guy, no more than 25 years old, was carrying something long and pointy wrapped in a shirt. I remember wondering if he was hiding an actual weapon under there or if he just wanted to make it appear that way. My doubts quickly vanished when he revealed a shiny machete of about a meter long. Guess they don’t mess around in the Caribbean…
He kept repeating to give him my money and I would have happily done so if I had any with me. This realisation was probably the most terrifying one: I knew I wouldn’t be able to give him anything. At the same time the situation was so surreal that it was almost comical. Was I really some damsel in distress about to be killed by an angry-looking guy acting like a pirate on a Caribbean beach?
My brain couldn’t quite process what was happening and I didn’t grasp the urgency of it until way after. Anyway, I told him I didn’t have any money, he didn’t believe me, searched my backpack, realised I wasn’t lying, gave everything back and left! It was then that I went into freak-out mode and ran away crying and yelling stuff that must’ve sounded like gibberish to my friend who was on his way back.
So yes, I got really lucky and never again will you find me alone on an abandoned beach in the tropics!
2. THE COCKROACH IN MY BED
This is another story I’ll be telling for years to come, simply because it was SO horrifying. I was staying in a small, humid Airbnb, completely built out of wood (honestly, wood + humidity = asking for trouble). Within my first hour, I’d already spotted a gigantic centipede, so I figured I was gonna be smart and wrap my mosquito net around my entire mattress so that absolutely nothing would be able to get in.
To this day, I don’t know how the bastard got in, but one night I woke up because I felt something crawling through my sheets. I grabbed my flashlight and immediately saw this huge, jet-black cockroach running across the bed. Now, if you know me, you know that insects make me shudder, so having this monstrosity trapped in my bed, was like waking up in the ultimate nightmare.
Needless to say, I jumped up screaming, fought with the mosquito net (useless thing!) and ran to the hallway. My friend managed to get rid of it and I never slept again. No, I’m joking, but man, was I glad to move on to the next place!!!
3. BEING NAUSEOUS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
I feel like 1/3th of any trip is spent stuck in traffic. Being bored on planes, waiting for busses, missing busses, walking for MILES in all kinds of weather, getting lost, asking for directions, being angry at google maps, car trouble, and so on! Add to this my tendency to get nauseous on the road and you’ve got yourself a party.
Ah, the times I have spent intently staring out of a plane or bus window trying very hard NOT to throw up… It’s a joy, truly. But hey, nothing amazing comes without a little suffering, right?
4. NO WIFI FOR WEEKS
I think slow wifi is a common theme of frustration among travelling content creators, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable. What’s worse is when there’s no wifi at all, like the time I was staying in a remote cabin in the Costa Rican wilderness and some guy ran into an electricity pole and killed the wifi of the entire “town”. This was around Christmas, which meant it took weeks before it got repaired and I was pretty much cut off from civilization the whole time.
Ah well, at least I got to live in the woods, sit by the ocean and read some spiritual books.
5. THE GAS LEAK SCARE
Another terrifying moment was when I smelled something weird throughout the night and it turned out to be a gas leak. When I realised I’d been breathing in gas for hours, I jumped in the shower, then – getting angrier by the minute – went outside in my towel to file a complaint (too dramatic?).
Luckily, I was fine, but I did get into a dispute about it with my Airbnb host. He was rude and disrespectful and didn’t take the matter seriously at all. In fact, he laughed in my face and told me not to freak out (I prefer calling it being reasonably upset).
Fortunately, Airbnb did take it seriously. They urged me to get out of there immediately and refunded the entire rest of my stay. They even treated me to a $200 stay at a luxury hotel for the night! WHO’S LAUGHING NOW??
6. THE OUTBREAK OF A PANDEMIC
Saved the best for last, ha. I suppose no traveller in the world escaped the consequences of the pandemic. I felt pretty safe for a while, since back then there were hardly any cases in Central-America. Although I did have a flight booked to Munich and the situation in Europe was escalating quickly, so that definitely worried me.
I was in my 5th month of travelling when my flight home got cancelled. After a concerning call from my dad, I ended up taking the earliest flight back. It wasn’t a minute too late, since the borders closed everywhere in Europe a few days after I got back. Looking back now, being in lockdown after travelling for so long may have been the biggest challenge of all.
When I think about it, I did get into some sticky situations this year, but I would still do it all again. As soon as you leave your house, there are risks (sometimes even inside your house), so you might as well live life to the fullest! On the other hand, it’s good to be aware that travelling isn’t always all fun and games. The pictures may look perfect, but the story behind them might shock you.
I’m curious: what have been some of your worst travel experiences so far? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
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