A Pox Upon Your House, and Other Stories of Travel Mishaps

The Colosseum, Rome

Our Easter has not gone to plan.

Right now we are supposed to be in Rome, wandering around the Colosseum perhaps, or enjoying a pizza and a sneaky glass of wine.

Unfortunately, the Cub got chicken pox a couple of weeks ago.  While she has recovered, poor Bee is due to develop it any day now.  Looking after a poorly toddler, far away from home and being unable to fly back was not a risk worth taking.  Morally, too, flying with a potentially contagious child isn’t something that we wanted to do.

We did the only thing we could and cancelled the trip.

So instead, we’ve come down to Dorset to stay with the in-laws.  It’s a little cold but the sunshine is out and the kids are happily running around the garden.  Things could be worse.

This got me thinking about other holiday mishaps.  I’ve had a few.  Here’s how to take the shine off a trip, according to me.

Food Poisoning

Oh dear god.  This is something I dread when travelling.  No matter how careful I am, all too often I get sick.  The first twinge of cramps across my stomach will now send me scuttling to the nearest pharmacy, begging for antibiotics.

Felucca along the Nile
Felucca along the Nile

It is not something that you want when on a felucca trip along the Nile for two days.  Feluccas don’t have bathrooms.

Beach on the way to Koh Phi Phi
On the way to Koh Phi Phi

It is not something that you want when on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.  Scuttling quickly to the pharmacy didn’t help this time; the antibiotics didn’t work.  So I lay shivering in bed, occasionally getting up to do battle with the cockroaches that kept trying to get into the room, while my friends did some paradise island hopping.  I recovered in time to leave.

Oia in Santorini
Beautiful Santorini

It’s also a good way to ruin a romantic trip to Santorini.


Boat trip in Santorini
That smile was about to be wiped off my face…

Also in Santorini, earlier in the trip, the husband and I decided to take a boat trip around the island.  We paid for a small group trip, but we were the only people on board.  Private boat trip?  Score!

Until we got past the caldera in the middle of the bay.  The water wasn’t that choppy.  I’d even taken a seasickness tablet.  But nothing stopped me throwing up for the rest of the trip.

I felt particularly bad for the chef, who’d made me a vegetarian feast; I couldn’t eat a bite.

Choose your companions wisely

Atlas Mountains Morocco
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco are beautiful. Harder to enjoy if you’re not speaking to your companion

There’s no better way to ruin a dream trip than going with the wrong person.

Morocco springs to mind here.  I went with my boyfriend at the time; things weren’t going brilliantly and we thought a trip might patch things up.  But a spectacular fight on the first day put paid to that.

A miserable few days ensued before we flew home and never spoke again.

Making the wrong sort of new friends

Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An. My favourite stop in Vietnam.

Backpacking around Vietnam was fantastic.

As many backpackers do, at one point I made some new friends.  But unfortunately my new companions were only there to take advantage of me.  It’s one of the pitfalls of staying in cheaper places I suppose.

Scabies are not the kind of new friends you want to make.

Know your limits

Ha Long Bay
The beautiful Ha Long Bay. Don’t kayak it if you’re not an athlete!

Ha Long Bay is an absolutely stunning place.  My friend Dawn and I wanted to visit Cat Ba Island and didn’t want to spend the whole time we had there on a junk.  So we decided to go kayaking around the bay.

This was not a wise choice.  Neither of us are exactly athletic and I am a terrible kayaker.  I just cannot sync with my partner, and we ended up going nowhere fast.  The two days involved a lot more kayaking than we thought, including battling the tide as it swept out with our guide yelling at us to paddle faster or be carried away.

By the end of the second day we were quivering wrecks.  We were looking forward to sailing back to the mainland but,  in a cruel twist of fate, there was no wind.  A little part of me died as our guide handed out the paddles, again.

Pure torture.

Watch out for scams

Stone Town, Zanzibar
Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’ve probably been scammed many times without even realising, but one sticks in my mind.

It was the end of our honeymoon and the husband and I were leaving the exotic spice island of Zanzibar.  As we got out of the taxi, our driver said something about departure tax being included in our ticket.

We rushed into the anything-but-exotic airport and were met by many helpful baggage handlers who told us we needed to pay departure tax, and they would take care of it for us.  How kind of them.

It only occurred to us after we’d handed over some nice, crisp dollars that surely we should have handed any departure tax to to the official guy behind the glass checking passports and not some random bloke who just shoved it in his pocket and sauntered off to look for the next gullible idiot.

Check the little details before you go

This is one from the husband.

He went to Riga in Latvia for his stag do, along with 10 or so mates. A whole weekend of fun had been arranged by his best man, including snowmobiling, a tour of Riga, and I’m sure, many other unmentionable activities.

They arrived in Riga.  Nobody was there to pick them up at the airport.

After a while, when it became obvious they weren’t going to be collected, the best man rang the company to ask where they were.

But you’ve booked the tours for next weekend, they said.  They weren’t wrong.

Check your dates!


Do you have any horror stories from your travels?  Share them in the comments!

31 thoughts on “A Pox Upon Your House, and Other Stories of Travel Mishaps

  1. Megan Rose says:

    It’s the other side of travel no one blogs about!

    my partner and I did a 7 month trip through South East Asia and the Pacific Islands, with one month in each. And at least 5 days each country was a write off because of some sort of sickness. It happens!

  2. Katie @ Zen Life and Travel says:

    Travel mishaps happen, unfortunately! We had one last week. We were supposed to celebrate our anniversary in Key West. Our flights were canceled last minute because of the Delta/Atlanta weather mess so we never made it. I also had a vacation canceled because of a hurricane. Food poisoning is the worst – I had a bad bout of it on Day 2 of getting my scuba diving certification. I had to puke in the port a potty then get on a boat to go diving. Ugh.

    • Emily Cole says:

      Oh no! Luckily I’ve never had a cancelled flight, only a diverted landing. My parents once got stuck in Sweden when the Icelandic volcano saga was going on and nobody could fly anywhere in Europe.

  3. sherianne says:

    That last one cracked me up, I can totally see that happening to me somewhere along the way. Going to be extra careful now!

  4. Wanderlust Vegans says:

    We were unfortunate enough to suffer from food poisoning when on holiday before and it really puts a damper on doing any activities. All you can do it be sort of prepared for how things go wrong and hope for the best. Definitely keeping your eyes out for getting taken advantage of is important.

  5. Lara says:

    Haha loved this! Sometimes thigs just go wrong on travels ..sometimes there will be a funny anegdote to tell friends later but sometimes it can be really annoying or even dangerous. We have to be careful! Thanks for sharing

  6. Katherine says:

    Great post, but not great to have all of those things happen to you! Being sick with no bathroom on a boat must have been a total nightmare. And it sucks that you didn’t get to Rome over Easter, fingers crossed that you got a refund and are planning to go later on this year.

  7. Tom says:

    Love the title of this post. Yes, we’ve all been there, especially the bad trip with the ex that crap simply wasn’t a good idea. Such a waste. Other stuff, sickness and all, many of us, and you I bet, can get through it and keep the trip going. The show must go on.

  8. Punita Malhotra says:

    Aw! That’s quite a handful of misadventures. I’m sure they were well spaced out from each other 🙂 We all have out share of these. Fun part is…they make great stories for later..

  9. Ana Ojha says:

    I hate travel mishaps! This is one of the dark sides of the traveling that most travel blogger ignores to write about it! I think that we all have been to these kinds of unfortunate events on our trips!

  10. woody world packer says:

    Great and unique article to read! Travel misadventures make great stories most of the time. I actually writing this when waiting for our plane to hong Kong, so hopefully all goes according to plan 🙂

  11. Tamsin says:

    Hi Emily – I really enjoy your blog and reading about your travels. I was recently given a nomination for the Blogger Recognition Award, the idea of this is for bloggers to recognise each other’s efforts, improve their reach and grow – part of this is nominating other bloggers.

    So, please accept this nomination! If you choose to accept it – there’s more information here: https://www.lifebeginswithtravel.com/blogger-recognition-award/ ~ Tamsin

  12. peach says:

    I am late to the party here, I’m afraid. No idea how I stumbled across your blog- but I absolutely ADORED this post! I laughed so far there were tears in my eyes. I could see myself so clearly in every one of your terrible situations. Glad you survived all of them to tell about it! xo

    • Emily Cole says:

      I’m glad it made you laugh! Overall I think I’ve been lucky to get away with only a few little problems – I’m just glad nothing worse has happened so far

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