“Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”.
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
So it is with travel.
All lovely trips feature delectable meals, beautiful sunsets, friendly guides and surprisingly well-appointed accommodation.
Trips people like to hear about might feature explosive diarrhea, incarceration by border guards, hungry bed bugs, bus drivers on mezcal, stolen luggage, muggings at syringe point, water landings, leaky canoes, brutal casino security guards, giant squid attacks, or some variation on this endlessly adaptable theme.
This is why the travel section of the paper is so BORING. The people who ‘travel courtesy of…’ find it hard to accentuate the negative when they get back. The only good travel story is a travel disaster story.
I come back from a quick tropical holiday – the only tale worth repeating is the rat that crawled into my bed.
A big trip in Russia yielded a lot of lovely churches, but people only want to hear about the inside of the jail cells.
A long skiing holiday in France is simmered down to a fifteen minute grab starring a fibia and tibula that snapped outside the resort boundary, as the sun is setting.
These stories are epic and grand, and will be told until their owners have passed on. A good travel disaster story will be enjoyed far more than the Sistine Chapel ceiling, or your boat ride to the caldera on Santorini.
Share your mis-steps below! And tell me, is it still schadenfreude if, in retrospect, you can enjoy your own misfortune?