My Scariest Travel Experiences

We’ve all had times when travelling – whether for business or pleasure – when things have not gone to plan… flights delayed or cancelled, hotels not booked when we’ve arrived… but there are also times when things happen that are more than just an inconvenience, they are actually quite scary!  So here are my scariest travel experiences so far…

Witnessing a Highway Robbery in Mexico

I was on an overnight bus journey (alone) in the Yucatan Peninsula when I saw the bus ahead drive off the road and into a ditch with its hazard lights flashing, followed by some garbled radio message from the other bus driver… we pulled over and after a little while lots of (shaken) people got on to our bus.  An American girl sat next to me and I asked her what had happened. They had been driving along just ahead of us when a van had forced them off the road and armed men had boarded the bus and demanded all their valuables!! When our bus had pulled up behind, the men had ran off (largely empty-handed I believe)… I spent the rest of the journey looking out of the window, terrified that the same fate might befall us!

Meeting the Mexican Police!

Oxygen Supply Failure on an Internal Flight

I regularly flew from Southampton Airport up to either Glasgow or Edinburgh for work so knew the route very well. One day we were cruising along, as normal, when suddenly our little plane banked hard. At the same time, the air hostesses frantically grabbed back the breakfast trays from those who had already been served and then disappeared back to their seats… Immediately, the Captain came on and said that the back-up oxygen supply had failed (meaning the flight had to be returned to the nearest airport) and that we needed to head straight back to Southampton as it was closer to return there than carry on to our destination (it was only a 45 minute journey). Whilst I think we all knew it was unlikely that we would need the back-up oxygen, the atmosphere on the plane for the 10 minutes or so until we landed was tense to say the least! And, if you read one of my previous posts, you will know that flying is not my favourite thing to do at the best of times!

Up in the air…

A Few Hours in a Dodgy Hotel in Brazil

When you pick a hotel out of the guide book – particularly if you are on a tight budget like I was – you never really know what you’re going to get… on this occasion, the hotel in Florianopolis was clearly more or a brothel than a hotel!! As soon as I arrived I was on edge… lots of men hanging around and a girl at the desk asking how much they charged per hour! But I was already in the door and had paid for the night so thought I would risk it… it was light then and I wasn’t too fazed. So I went out for dinner and came back to the room (by now it was dark), only to find that the walls were paper thin and the door to the shared balcony had no lock. Panic set in and I hurriedly packed my stuff and fled (after checking my guidebook for another more suitable hotel nearby).  Luckily my next choice was vastly better and I felt much safer!

Like many cities, Florianopolis had its seedy side…

A White-Knuckle Bus Ride through Chiapas, Mexico

Another bus in Mexico, another overnight bus journey… but this time in the southern state of Chiapas.  I was heading from San Cristbal de las Casas to Oaxaca (a journey of approximately 11 hours) and we had pulled in at a small bus station to collect more passengers – but it turned out that that was not the only reason we had stopped there. More and more buses had arrived yet none had departed again… until, all at once, every bus started to leave at the same time.  Weird, I thought. So I asked the lady next to me who told me that most drivers were terrified of driving this route as it was considered hugely dangerous – firstly because of the precarious mountain roads and secondly because highway robbery was common along the route – so they always travelled in convey for safety. Great. The other minor inconvenience on this journey was that we were pulled over a total of three times by the Mexican Army at roadblocks – soldiers got on and nosed around a bit before waving us on our way! Not sure what or whom they were looking for… But, to be quite honest, the most frightening thing about this journey was the hair-raising speed at which our driver took those sharp bends with the terrifyingly steep drops at one side! I have never, ever been so relieved to get off a bus in my whole life!

Pretty Oaxaca was worth the journey!

So, those are my scariest travel experiences so far…  Have you ever had any scary moments whilst travelling?



*The majority of the photos above were taken on a film camera, hence the grainy appearance.

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34 thoughts on “My Scariest Travel Experiences

  1. These stories all sounds so terrifying! I hope you weren’t traveling alone for all of these! I’m so glad you’re okay! This is such a great post! I liked hearing these experiences of yours, and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this xx

    Melina |

    1. I was travelling on my own for all of them unfortunately!! Glad you enjoyed it – I guess experiences like this are what makes travel so exciting lol!!
      Kate x

  2. My scariest travel moment was a white-knuckles bus ride too. Except we were in a Jamaica as a port of call on a cruise. It was two months after my husband and I got married and we were with another couple who we were in each other’s weddings. We did an excursion to zip line and river tube. The bus ride was on steep mountain roads like you described and our driver was flying around the turns. It was only wide enough for one bus but a few places there was one coming the other way and they somehow made it work.

    1. That sounds similar to my bus trip in Mexico… it was scary at the time but it makes for an interesting story now!
      Kate x

  3. Great stories Kate, but obviously not great experiences. One of our scariest was going up an icy cliff edge road in the Alps in the dark when the engine on our snowmobile-bus burst into flames. The driver jumped out, fanned the flames, and disappeared into the darkness. Ten of us found we were locked in as the vehicle started to burn! Luckily I managed to smash a hole through the flimsy roof and we all managed to climb out before the whole vehicle went up. The driver returned 15 minutes later. Scary stuff.

    1. OMG, that must have been scary… I don’t know about you but I look back on all these things now and feel that they in some way enhanced my travel experience! They give you something to talk about when you get home at least!!
      Kate x

  4. My scariest travel moment was a white-knuckles taxi-van ride in Freeport, Bahamas. They had about 3 more people shoved in then there were seats for. We were on a cruise and my husband refused to take any form of taxi anywhere the rest of the trip!

  5. I’m going to make the assumption that you travel many, many times a year. Otherwise, this would make me think a) you are a magnet for disaster or b) I should never leave my house again.

    1. Haha! I travel as much as I can… these events happened over a period of many years, thankfully!
      Kate x

  6. I had some scary travel experiences too, but not as scary as yours! OMG, I would have freaked out if I were in any of those situations. The only worst thing I knew happened to me was that I almost missed out on my connecting flight because I could not find the boarding gate – and this was in a country where people do not speak English. 🙁

    1. It’s surprising how well you deal with difficult situations when you have to…
      I nearly missed a flight back from Brazil because I lost track of the time and didn’t hear them calling my flight – oops! There wasn’t another flight for another 3 days either!
      Kate x

  7. Wow, those do sound very scary. I never had any bad experiences from traveling just yet (keeping my fingers crossed). I glad you got to travel safely through the ordeals.

    1. They were quite scary at the time! Hope you continue to avoid any bad travel experiences…
      Kate x

    1. Let’s hope it stays that way! Most people don’t, but I guess it depends where you go and what you do…
      Kate x

  8. These are really scary travel experiences compared to mine. Last time I was in Rome I had a food poisoning caused probably from something I ate in breakfast. I remember running to get back to my room and of course, for the rest of the day I was living in the bathroom, haha.

  9. These all sound so scary! I haven’t had anything that even comes close to your experiences, fortunately for me!

  10. These are really scary travel experiences and an eye -opener too that these things truly can happen… I only ever had to sit through really bad turbulence even that is scary for me already!

    1. As I was travelling on my own I couldn’t really panic as there was no-one else there to deal with it lol! You just have to get on with it when things go wrong I guess…
      Kate x

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