Travel disasters

“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?

Published by


Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

One thought on “Travel disasters”

  1. I love the one about a friend of mine in Singapore. It was about 10 pm. He was drunk out of his brain and left the pub due to impending explosive diarrhea. This was not a drill. He rushed back to what he thought was his room. His key didn’t work. He turned around drunkenly and frantically and saw a staff member. ‘My key doesn’t work and I’ve gotta… uhh.. oooh… gotta go to the toilet! LET ME IN!’ The staff member hastily used the master key to open the door. My friend rushed in, took the first right sat down and released. ‘Aaaaahhhh – squelch – splat – bang!’
    He looked up and noticed unfamiliar toiletries. Hmmm. He finished up and looked around at the bed to see a very frightened looking Japanese couple hiding below the bedsheets…


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s