travel mishaps: when things go wrong, but still work out

So I realized this morning, thanks to Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ feature, that my first blogpost for this blog was 3 years ago today. I can’t believe I have been writing this thing for 3 years. Though I clearly don’t write enough. Anyways throughout those three years I have had some amazing adventures, but to celebrate my 3 years of blogging, I want to tell you all about the travel mishaps I have had along the way.

So, just like during every day life, mishaps happen during travels. Shocking I know? My beautiful Instagram photos make me look like I am leading a life full of colourful temples and beautiful sunsets, and nothing could go wrong. If you read my captions on Instagram, or follow my page on Instagram, you already know some of these stories, because I definitely do not hold back in my captions. I tell it like it is, with pretty pictures to draw you in. But regardless, the point is, in my travels, I have had quite some mishaps, many involving cars, but not always. Here are some of the most interesting ones, with photos from the locations but not necessarily from the actual mishaps.

Solo Road Trip Across Canada

During my solo road trip across Canada, from Whitehorse (Yukon) to Toronto (Ontario), I decided to keep driving after Toronto and do the east coast of Canada as well. When I was driving in on Cape Breton Island, I stayed in a beautiful Airbnb cottage that overlooked a beautiful sunset, in Mabou. The next morning I started my drive along one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. I was jamming along to my music when I started to hear a sound that didn’t sound right. I finally pulled over when I got to a proper town. I got out of my car, looked at tire… what was left of it. It was annihilated. Not just flat, also torn apart.

Of course, I called my dad. As I was on the phone with him explaining my stupidity, a man came out of the gas station and offered to help me out. He was a mechanic of some sort, and helped me get my spare tire on. Even better he called the tire shop up the road and told them to expect me and what tire I need. He sent me on my way, with directions to the shop and less than hour later and $150CAD on my visa, and I was on the road again.

Pohnpei Waterfalls

I already wrote the whole story in a post entitled six waterfalls and one broken fibula, which you can only imagine what I am about to write now. On vacation in Pohnpei, for spring break, with my boyfriend and some friends. I managed to fall off a waterfall and break my leg, but not just anywhere, in the middle of a hike. Three hours of hiking on my fractured fibula later, I managed to get to our car. Next morning, at the hospital they told me it was broken and I was given a massive cast. Thankfully it happened on the second last day of the trip, so didn’t put too much of a damper on the holidays.

Oahu, Hawaii

We only spent a few days in Oahu, before moving onto Big Island, so we rented a car to maximize the experiences. After a morning visit to Hanauma Bay, which was disappointing to say the least, we went for a drive to find some better spots. We found a cool little road side beach, so we parked our jeep on the side of the road and went down to get in the water. As we were splashing around in the water, I asked Nick if he put the car keys with my stuff. He said yes, then second guessed himself. We got out of the water to check. Guess what? He didn’t. They were in his pockets… the pockets that did not have zippers and were now inside out, sticking out. Needless to say, our keys were in the ocean and it was unlikely we were going to find them. Though Nick did a lot of searching.

We had to call the rental car company, but my phone was locked in the car. We walked over to the closest thing we could find, some random water park place. They let us use the phone to call. They said they would look for a spare key and asked for my number, reminded us that we were driving a jeep and could unzip the back to get in. So we went back to the car to wait, called them and they said they were still looking for the key. Eventually, a few hours later (after Nick searched the beach completely) a tow truck shows up with a new jeep, and tows ours away. We were told they couldn’t find the key so they had to send a new vehicle.

We were in such a bad mood, that we almost just went home and called it a day. But decided to go get Indian food. Ended up being a delicious meal and exactly what we needed to cheer us up. Though the next day when I got the invoice for the car rental to my email, after returning it and heading to our flight, shit went bananas. They charged us for a new key $500US, a tow truck $300US and some other fees. Our rental ended up costing us an extra $1000US, which yes, sucked. But we are fortunate enough that we could afford it and it wouldn’t set us back that badly for our summer travels. Note to self: always make sure when renting cars, have extra money on hand for mishaps… though did I really listen to myself…

Dempster Highway, Yukon

On our way to Toronto, after Hawaii, I decided that I should take my boyfriend up to where I lived before I met him, in the Yukon. And since I didn’t get to do the drive up the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Circle, when I lived there, I decided we should try it out. So we rented a suitable vehicle with my old roommate Holly, who we stayed with while visiting, and set out on our adventure.

Well after our camp out night in one area, while we were driving up to our next stop, a hotel in Eagle Plains Hotel, we managed to get a flat tire. We were warned this would happen. One of the reasons I never went when I lived there is that I knew my girl Penelope (my Honda Civic) wouldn’t do me well. Thankfully the vehicle we were driving told us the pressure in each tire and let us know right away. First we kept an eye on it, as it was a slow deflate but eventually we decided to get out and switch the tire to our spare. So Nick thankfully got that tire changed and there was a mechanic shop at the hotel (they probably make a killing!). The mechanic also let us know the one tire clearly had already had a flat before us, as it was his patchwork on it, he does it special.

So after we got that patched up, we checked in, but decided to do the drive up to the Arctic Circle asap cause, well the sun wasn’t going away (love that midnight sun!). So we drove up to the Arctic Circle, and thought why not drive to the border of North West Territories. Well I will tell you why not… we managed to get another flat tire, that we changed to the spare and kept on driving… until we got another one and had no spare tire for it. So while the midnight sun shone down on us (it was midnight by the time we were almost back), I drove with my eyes glued to the PSI count on my dash, watching the number slowly drop. Thankfully we made it, went to bed and got the tires patched up in the morning. And there were no more flat tires on our way back. And no one let the flat tires ruin the trip!

Niamey, Niger

I hate Niamey. I hated living there. I hated everything about it. But the airport was probably the worst part of it all. Literally worst airport I have ever been to, and I have been to many in my life. First there was the incident, we all have these issues, where one of your suitcases doesn’t show up. I don’t know why but it felt even worse when I was on my own, coming back from a week back in Canada for a wedding, and my staircases were filled with stuff I was bringing back. The one that went missing was filled with things I bought for my house/classroom. It was 3 am, I had to stand in a line of people who;s luggage was also missing. I couldn’t find my luggage tag, it fell off my passport. I had to describe my luggage. My phone was dead. Nick was outside the airport waiting with our school driver. I was bawling my eyes out.

I get our of there, go home, shower, change and go to work. Who needs sleep? I find out stories of lost luggage taking weeks or not showing up at all, with this airline. I am devastated. The airline doesn’t speak much English so I get my office admin at my school to call constantly to ask about it. But it made it after about a week and I got it back. It wasn’t the end of the world, but in the moment, it felt like it.

Then there was the time Nick and I were headed out for our Christmas in Madagascar. We only had carry-ons, so Nick had an entire bottle of multi-vitamins in his backpack. Well that got flagged immediately when going through security to get to the gate. We were taken into the office and had everything we had on us searched. Literally everything. They barely spoke English and were so confused by my tampons. It was a bit funny actually. They asked about the bottle of vitamins but didn’t quite understand our response. They were googling them and taking photos of them. Eventually they find nothing and let us go, and mysteriously we are escorted into the VIP section, they either felt bad or the security assumed we were VIP cause we were white and that shit happens. I later realize Nick had mixed the vitamins with vitamin C so it was a huge bottle of a pills so it looked fairly sketchy to them when they opened it.

Tenerife

When we were in Tenerife, we were lucky enough to join Travel Tenerife on a night time tour to Mt. Teide to check out the stars. Because our Airbnb was on the other side of the island, we drove our rental car down to Los Gigantes, to meet the driver. We decided to leave our car under the grocery store in the parking lot, as that’s where we met our driver. I remember walking up the stairs to the grocery store wondering if it was a good place to leave it, but shrugged it off and got into the tour van.

Well since the tour was a nighttime tour, we got back to our car at about 1am. I wasn’t thrilled about driving back up the winding  mountainous roads at night, but alas I was going to do it. Except that we got back to the parking garage and it was closed. Since we were dropped off up the street, the tour van was already gone and we were stranded at almost 1am in front of this locked up garage. We couldn’t even get in to sleep in our car, let alone get it out. I had my phone and searched the closest hotels, of course there were many around us. We walked up to the first one that looked open and explained our situation. He was just about to close up, but thankfully he had a room for about $100US for the night and let us check in. We went in (frozen from the night tour outside up Mt. Teide) and bundled under the blankets and went to sleep.

In the morning we decided to take this opportunity to explore Los Gigantes, though I only had pants, a sweatshirt and my chucks on, and it was a beautiful hot day out. So I did what anyone would do, when we checked out, I bought a cheap dress and flip flips and changed in our car (which we could now get to). We wandered around the town, then hopped in our car and even took a detour to Masca on our way back to our Airbnb. Once again, thankful that we could afford such a mishap, without beating ourselves up about it too much.

Paris Airport

This is a short one. Everyone has that moment when they think their luggage didn’t make it. Well, when leaving Niamey to head home for a few weeks, out of the four suitcases we had, one didn’t show up on the conveyor belt. Of course it’s Nick’s only suitcase, the rest are mine and there. All his possessions in one suitcase and it doesn’t make it. We go talk to the people at Air France. Fill out a form to have it mailed to his parents house. Hope that it makes it there soon. We leave to go to our next flight in another terminal. We walk the whole length of the terminal, about to board the elevator and a guy that works for the airport runs up to us, out of breath, saying they found the suitcase. He chased us all the way. Thankfully we stand out in a crowd. Nick got his luggage and we were happy.

Budapest

We were leaving Budapest by train. We had our luggage, we walked to the metro station, to take the metro to the train station, to get the train out to Slovenia. Well we bought our metro tickets at the self ticket machine, went down the escalator and took the metro a few stops. As we exited the train, we followed the masses to leave. Well we got stopped by some lady asking us to see our tickets. I showed her them and she said they were valid cause we didn’t get them scanned or stamped or something between buying them and getting on the train. We both couldn’t remember seeing anything to do this at. We tried to explain but she didn’t care. Literally hundreds of people walking by and she stops the two tourists with luggage going by and asking for tickets. She asks for our passports, I should’ve have given them to her. She starts giving us a ticket for not ticketing properly, asking for cash but we had none so saying we had to pay online and it’ll be double. We should’ve walked away.

We took the tickets and went to the train. I eventually looked it up online while waiting for our train. Turns out the metro is privately owned. Tickets don’t mean shit. And I read stories of people just taking their passports, walking away. Not paying shit. Nothing they can really do about it. So we ripped our tickets up, through them out and left for Slovenia.

Slovenia

Oh Slovenia, definitely one of the most ridiculous mishaps I, or we, have gotten ourselves into. We rented a car, in order to see as much of Slovenia as we could. We spent our last couple days in Piran, and had to drop the car off at the Sixt rental car location in Koper. We did what I do for everything, and used Google Maps to find it (I always get a SIM card, with a local number and data plan to make sure I don’t get lost).

So anyways, we get to Koper and we are almost at the rental car place but we noticed the street we turned down is rather small, but we follow it anyways. The street starts getting thinner and thinner, and we end up at a corner which I try to turn but the car is just too big. I end up scratching the back of the mirror. Then Nick gets out to try to guide me… but I end up scratching them again. We realize we can push the mirrors in. Duh. So we try again, but then I scratch the sides up, without getting the car anywhere. I finally flip out, leave Nick at the car and walk around two bends to where the rental company is. Fun fact: we drove right by it on the main road, but google maps took us in a circle through old town to get to it.

So I wait for the other customer to finish and explain to the guy at the desk what happened. He follows me to the car, and thankfully agrees to back it up out of there for me, cause lords knows I couldn’t do it. So we go walk back to the office, as he does that for us. Well a man comes out of nowhere asking us something about needing help. We brush him off. Then as we were dealing with the guy, after he brought the car around, he is deciding the costs, the random man comes back and speaking Slovenian, tells the rental car guy that we scratched his house and owe him money. His house, an apartment type, we apparently scuffed up the concrete corner. He proceeds to show a picture. Clearly we weren’t the first, as there are definitely more scuffs than just ours. Nick refuses to pay the guy (he wanted 100 Euros). He says he will call the cops. We ignore him and proceed to deal with the costs of scratching up the car (get insurance people! all of it!).

Our drive to Roving, Croatia, shows up, so Nick starts to load our stuff into that car as I finish up…. then the police show up. They ask what happened. I explain. They were laughing mostly, but there was four of them so I was petrified. I think they just came for fun cause it all sounded so ludicrous. In the end, they took down my info but let me go and the car rental company insurance dealt with the man and his house. Thankfully those cops were super chill and nice, and the rental car guy was the nicest and most patient man. Our driver to Rovinj was not impressed with the hold up. But it all worked out just fine, once again just costing money that could’ve been avoided.

Enough Already

So to sum it up, shit happens. Whether you are traveling or not, things can go wrong. Just keep that positive attitude and not let it ruin your day, or your trip. Be prepared for anything to happen and you should be fine. Also through my journey, I have noticed how much easier it is to deal with the bad shit when you have a travel buddy to share in the experience with you.

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36 thoughts on “travel mishaps: when things go wrong, but still work out

  1. I loved reading this – I am a huge believer in sharing the not-so-nice part of traveling (I have soo many awkward moments when I’m traveling) and loved reading all your crazy stories. I also never realized how BAD things could get when renting a car…Your moment about loosing the car rental keys in the ocean sounded so painful!!

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  2. You’ve certainly experienced quite a few mishaps! Funny how many of them involve car rentals -it’s always such a risk to hire a car in another country! Glad to read how you’ve overcome each one and keep smiling and travelling.

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    1. And yet I still keep renting them. You’d think I would avoid them now haha but shit happens though. Sometimes you gotta rent the car to see all the things! Nothing’s going to ruin my travels! Especially not things like these 😉

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  3. I totally agree with this post haha things can go wrong at any moment when you’re traveling and you just have to make the best of them. Plus you get a story out of it at least in the end! I was once stranded on the side of the road in Denali NP one evening because the last bus that would take me back to my campsite over 4 hours away just whizzed right by me and it was getting dark and starting to rain and I had just seen grizzly a few miles back. I managed to get out of that scenario and make it safe back to my campsite but I was about to sleep in the portapotty nearby for the night! Crap happens all the time ahah

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  4. One thing I love about mishaps while travelling is that they make such good stories as you’ve proved again with this post! Really glad it all worked out for you. I’m always amaZed at the kindness of strangers in countries we visit when things go wrong!

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  5. So real and honest and I loved it. I would have called my dad about thw flat tire too. But stuff like this happens to me all the time, like the one time I accidently walked out of the airport in Barcelona, 20 minutes before my flight!! Lol. Thabks for some laughs.

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  6. Oh gosh, this post made me smile but also yikes haha. I love reading about the mishaps that happen when travelling because it’s so rare we hear them now. I’ve been with my sister when she jumped in the ocean with her phone and our rental car keys in her pocket…stranded for hours while we waited for someone to come and get us haha.

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  7. I giggled to myself reading this as I can totally relate to so many of your stories, especially those involving vehicles. I try to remember that it’s all part of the adventure and that the universe usually figures things out for me 🙂 Great post!

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  8. Travel mishaps are definitely par for the course of travel, but they’re never fun when they’re happening. I may have gone a bit omg at your hiking three hours on a broken leg, though. Yikes! That’s so scary, though I’m glad that it wasn’t worse! Wishing you all the best with your travels!!

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  9. Wow, that’s more than a mouthful of mishaps…I guess one has to be prepared mentally and financially for anything that could go wrong. That’s a hell of a reminder for me who already knew to expect the unexpected!!

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  10. Having flat tires in foreign countries seems like it could be so stressful! Glad you seemed to push through and make the most of it – always nice to hear honest not so perfect travel stories 🙂

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