Last Updated 13/06/2021

We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the last 12 months of non-stop travel. We’ve had a fantastic year, go check out our travel highlight post to see our best bits, but there have been some absolutely stinking times. Some we’ve written about and shared before, some we haven’t.

lowlights of travel bad travel experiences

Just to prove that we don’t live charmed lives and that travel isn’t all sunshine and stardust, here are our crappy bits from one incredible year of non-stop travel.

Travel Sickness – My husband, Chef, needing emergency surgery.

Getting sick while travelling emergency surgery

When Chef disembarked from a bumpy taxi ride on Ko Phangan feeling like he’d been “kicked in the guts.” I feared appendicitis. A quick look down his trousers ( we’re married, it’s OK) revealed a tell-tale lump. He had developed a hernia, one requiring emergency surgery. Read all about that fun week in this post.

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But every cloud has a silver lining, his invalid status forced us to spend a blissful 6 weeks on Ko Phangan, the insurance covered the op, his hospital experience was excellent and he’s good as new again now.

Accidents – Our scooter crash.

scooter crash

There were no injuries other than to our bank balance. Read all about that particular drama here and think very carefully before you rent an uninsured scooter.

Theft – Malaysia giving me a hard time.

Penang Street Art Malaysia

Malaysia seems to be my nemesis. We were there for an environmental catastrophe back in June last year, I was the victim of a pickpocket along with a petty hostel thief. We stayed in the worst guest house of our entire trip and had a nasty experience or two. I don’t know what it is about Malaysia, we are just magnets for crappy happenings whenever we go there. The good news is, Malaysia has lots of good things to offer including sensational Indian food. Find out more about our Malaysia experiences here.

Delays – 13 hours at Fort Lauderdale airport.

travel delays

Fort Lauderdale airport is possibly the least entertaining, most crowded and grubbiest airport I’ve ever been to. ( Barcelona gets our award for the best). Our flight to El Salvador was due to leave just after midnight, it eventually left around 2am. The kids slept, James and I had to battle to stay awake. Not our finest day. But Florida is awesome, we’re totally in love with the many diverse experiences the state has to offer.

More Sickness – Boo being sick in Laos and a hospital visit.

Luckily, nobody needed to use these.

We were in Laos for 6 weeks during the worst Dengue outbreak imaginable. We were convinced Boo (7) had Dengue. After a couple of days of fever, rash and then vomiting we decided to take him to the hospital in Vang Vieng for testing. The nurse and doctor we saw spoke no English, they did bloods, but not a test for Dengue fever. We came away with two words of advice “Give water” and no answers. He got better, but I’m still convinced it was Dengue and that scares me.

But, despite sickness issues, we totally love Laos and we plan on going back soon to see more. Visit our Laos archives here.

No Cash – The blog money drying up.

One of my many offices around the world.

We were making decent money from the blog for a while and that influenced our decision-making. Changes in the blogosphere have caused that money to almost dry up, it’s down to a trickle. It’s not good and has contributed to our change of plans. Read can travel blogging fund long term travel for more information.

Family Problems – A bust-up with my family making us homeless at Christmas.

Wales at Christmas is magical.

We were really looking forward to our first family Christmas in years. We left Asia early and totally changed our plans to be there. Unfortunately, our lifestyle choices put a strain on family relationships, things didn’t go to plan and we ended up with nowhere to go. Such a shame, we don’t have to do things the ‘normal’ way, nobody does. Some just can’t see that and take our choices as rejection of their life path.

A friend said to me recently that we “weren’t actually homeless”. We were. We got in the hire car and just drove, it was a few days before Christmas, we had no friends to go to, no family, no hotel booked. Of course, we could book a hotel, we did and it cost us a lot. We weren’t sleeping on the street, true. But we had nowhere to go and were in a country we didn’t want to be in. That’s one of the perils of choosing an alternative lifestyle.

New friends and strangers came to the rescue in the end and we eventually had the most wonderful Christmas in Wales. A sad and disappointing time for all of us though.

Go check out our Wales section, it’s a beautiful part of the world with many free attractions.

More Sickness – Chef being “proper poorly” in Laos.

Sickness Buffets Travel Food Poisoning

I told him eating from the all-you-can-eat 1 dollar buffet was a bad idea. Luke warm, covered in flies and probably recycled. He was sick as a dog for 3 days, high fever and everything that goes with it. Silly boy, he should know better, he has training in food hygiene. The kids and I ate a little and weren’t sick. Coincidence or something to do with 3 of us getting vaccinations in Kuala Lumpur?

More Sickness – Flu all round in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

cows on the beach Sri Lanka

We started to drop with flu in Kuala Lumpur picked up, probably, at the excellent Malaysian Legoland from the hundreds of kids coughing and spluttering around us. A few days later we flew to Sri Lanka, 3 of us horribly sick. I really felt for the others on that plane, I bet we spread the bug around the cabin. Our first week in Sri Lanka we were all wiped out, my temperature reached 103.5 F and we all struggled. But I can’t think of a nicer place to be sick than Sri Lanka, we loved it and we’re going back, maybe even to live.

We do not have flu vaccinations and I would still not chose to get them.

Bed bugs

Sri Lanka with kids

Bed bugs, horrible things! But I think the reality isn’t actually as bad as the imagined nastiness  I got over my repulsion at nits and worms years ago when my eldest briefly went to school, I’m over bed bugs now, too. A bit of itching and none of them followed us to our next accommodation. In all my years of travel this is the first and only time I’ve ever come across them. Sadly, in Sri Lanka, one of my favourite places.

That’s it, I can’t really think of anything else. I just asked the kids, they couldn’t either, they say it was all good. So there you go, if you’re thinking of doing something similar, what’s the worst that can happen? Something good often comes out of the bad anyway, plans change, often for the better.

We were in an earthquake in San Salvador and we saw hundreds of rats in Thailand but we loved both of those experiences, particularly the kids, they loved rat counting. One man’s crappy is another kid’s fun! I’m very glad there have been no terrifying spider incidents.

If you want more travel horror stories you need this post! The bad bits make the best stories.

 Do you have fears about taking on the world?  Do you worry about the what ifs?  Would you like to share them with us in the comments? Maybe we can help.