Travelers Share The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Them Abroad

Travelers Share The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Them Abroad

Traveling is an opportunity for adventure, but it's not without risk. When you travel abroad, particularly in foreign countries with languages you may not speak and customs you may not understand, those risks can increase exponentially.

The travelers who shared the stories below had some good times abroad, but that isn't what stuck with them the most. The bad, sometimes terrible experiences made a much deeper impression.


45. Wild Dogs, Wild Woman

I had a pack of wild dogs chase me from my bus stop to my hotel at 3 AM in Kosovo. I also had an old woman yell at me in Russian about not making my bed right on the train and then watch over my shoulder until it was to her satisfaction when I was on my way back to Bucharest from Moldova.

23838-1552879096757.jpgArthur Chapman/Flickr

44. Taxi Drivers Versus Giant

I was in the Seychelles and was warned prior about the taxi drivers quoting one price then demanding another. Of course, I had a few drinks the first night there and had to take a taxi even though I had rented a car. Taxi driver and I agree on a price to go to my hotel. When we pull up he says I owe him $150 dollars, not rupees.

I tell him no, and he says he is calling his boss to make me pay. What do you know? -- his boss just happened to be right there and came up to the car as we were arguing. I threw what I owed him in the front seat, turned my body, and booted the locked door open.

I'm over 6 foot, about 215 lbs. and when I get out the two 5' 5'' men try to grab my arm. I gently push them out of the way and walk to my hotel while they threaten to call the police. Cops never came of course and the doorman to the hotel was laughing and talking crap to the taxi drivers. Good times.

23839-1552879264225.jpgKristina D.C. Koeppner/Flickr

43. Leaf On The Wind

My girlfriend and I were flying into Calgary from Kelowna. It's a short flight so we were in a smallish plane. When we got to Calgary there was a lightning storm which was preventing us from landing. On our approach, we hit some severe wind and turbulence. We were being tossed around in the sky like a leaf.

Couple of times we'd hit dead air and just plummet. Or we'd hit a gust of wind that would throw us to one side. People were screaming. I have flown many, many times and experienced my fair share of turbulence, but this was something else. I had to brace myself to keep from exiting the seat when we inevitably hit dead air.

Our first attempt at landing was called off because of how violent the wind was. The pilots eventually approached from a different direction and we landed successfully. Everyone applauded.

23840-1552879349834.jpgTony Kennick/Flickr

42. Naples Buddy System

A friend and I were waiting for a night train in Naples and after someone tried to steal our bags we decided to go everywhere together. It was a good thing because a man who had been whistling at us for an hour tried to follow us into the bathroom.



41. Monitored

We were in Tulum in one of those fancy palapas right on the beach. Unfortunately it rained the entire time we were there, but I figured I would hang out on our little private patio which included a hammock. I laid down in the hammock and look up at the palapa roof only to see that a 4-foot monitor lizard has decided to hide from the rain under the patio roof.

I totally froze and we locked eyes. His face was only about 6 inches away from my face and all I could focus on was the huge claws on its feet. He probably could have just eaten me and I would have just been paralyzed with fear. After our initial stare-down he decided he should leave and slowly made his way down from the roof and casually strolled away down the beach.

23880-1552883886209.jpgBill Rosgen/Flickr

40. Just Broke

A good friend of mine in Zimbabwe was grabbed at gunpoint and forced into a van. Thankfully they only took her to an ATM and made her drain her account, then they left her somewhere outside of town. Could've been so much worse.


39. A Joke Here, Not There

Growing up in the USA, if me or my sister were being obnoxious in public my dad would say "anyone wanna buy a kid, cheap?" and get sympathetic looks from adults.

My uncle would do the same thing until one time he was in India with my cousin (around 7 at the time). I guess it got really quiet around them and a man came up to my uncle to explain how not a joke that was.

23881-1552884112065.jpgEric Spiegel/Flickr

38. Marketing By Force

I was in Jerusalem in 2014, walking through the old city (fairly narrow streets) and this guy pops out and grabs my arm. He holds on to me, staring me in the eyes for a few seconds of silence, before inviting me to check out his store. That was about the most intense 10 seconds and a confusing marketing technique.

23882-1552884210887.jpgRojs Rozentals/Flickr

37. Chicken Bus Trap

I was in Guatemala and traveling from Antigua to Guatemala City. Apparently there is a shortcut called "The Trap," which we took.

It was absolutely insane. We plowed over rivers at about 45 mph because bridges were out and were flung to the side of sandstone cliffs, going about 80. My buddy passed out due to the trauma. I asked after all of that why the heck we were going so fast and the driver replied that "it's a trap after the sun goes down."

I didn't fully understand... was it vampires or something? He later stated while driving near sundown at 100 mph, "No, no monsters in the trap... Only chicken bus. No lights. We would need to pull over and camp until daylight."

Apparently on this stretch of road chicken buses run people off the roads at night without care. I was hesitant to believe it but saw the carcasses of several SUVs like ours along the river the road followed.


36. Friendly Neighborhood Dealer

I ws almost jumped by an illegal substances dealer in the middle of the night in Peru for refusing to buy illegal substances from him. Luckily his other friend recognized me from earlier in the day; the dealers in that area run a front of jewelry making and I had bought a necklace from the amigo jewelry maker/dealer during the day (by the way, the necklace was hand-made by him as well and is a work of art). I was preparing for a real fight for my life, but the amigo dealer put the other one in a serious head lock and yelled at him to back off.

23847-1552880034786.jpgDave Austria/Flickr


35. Cabbies To The Rescue

I had a story in Athens. I arrived on a train from the north and got into a taxi. The taxi pulled over at the end of the railway station driveway and 4 guys jumped out of the bushes and into the car. The thing that saved me was a bunch of other angry cab drivers descending on my cabbie because they thought he was trying to get the jump on free rides without waiting in line. Hands down the scariest travel moment of my life.


34. Not For Sale!

A handful of men in Thailand were vehemently trying to haggle with my friends to purchase me. They kept pulling my arms to try and separate us and asking "how much?" while offering different amounts of money.


33. Scared It Out Of Me

I was on a volunteer trip to Guatemala and we took a day trip to see some Mayan ruins on a small island. My friend and I were looking for a bathroom and several locals pointed us in the direction of one at the top of the mountain.

We found a small building with no door and one toilet. My friend said I could go first and she’d stand watch. I started going about my business when I heard my friend saying that I should hurry up. Then I heard a man's voice shouting something in Spanish about “permiso.” Out of nowhere, he barges in while I’m mid-stream, pointing a very large gun at me. He had some sort of uniform on so he may have been police but I’m not sure. I

pulled up my pants, completely paranoid, grabbed my friend, told the man "lo siento" over and over. We ran as fast as we could down the hill. He was shouting after us but didn’t follow.

23850-1552880319050.jpgJospeh Novak/Flickr

32. Visitor In The Night

I spent my first night in Canada in a cheap hotel in Montreal. Pretty standard "cheap hotel" gig: the place smelled of smoke and I could hear people making noise in the other rooms. Whatever, the place had an ensuite, free wifi and a TV and I had been travelling all day.

While I was sleeping, the bathroom door opened and the light switched on. I was too scared to get up and confront the person (besides I was sleeping in the buff; I didn't want to unpack my PJs since I was continuing onto Quebec City the next day). Through half-closed eyes I could see a person stood in the door of the ensuite facing towards me. They stood there for about 25 seconds then the light switched off and they disappeared. I checked my phone and it was about 2 AM, and somehow I fell back asleep.

The next morning I checked out and got out of there, never mentioning it to anyone.

23851-1552880375248.jpgJonathan Cohen/Flickr

31. Want To Buy One? It's Fresh...

Some people in Romania tried to sell me a baby. The woman, who looked like she was partying since the day she first saw light, kept up a one-sided haggling conversation in her own language, all the while shoving the tiny child at me. The swarm of children aged between 2-12 kept touching me and seemingly "appraising" my clothes... This didn't really end until I had to raise my voice and get serious.

23853-1552880573198.jpgAlessandro Galantucci/Flickr

30. The Bloody Train

Back in 2000, my wife, sister, and daughter were on a train from Paris to Portugal. The overnight portion was in Spain and we ended up sharing a sleeper car with a nice couple from New Zealand.

When we went to sleep, the other guy and I slept in the top bunks. As we awoke in the morning, my sister said to my wife, "Did you hear someone try entering our car last night?"

I remember locking eyes with the Kiwi guy as we both processed what she said, both of us reacting like, "Wait... what?" It turns out he and I were the only ones who hadn't heard someone frantically trying to open the door during the night.

I jumped down and checked the door, which was locked. I then went out into the passageway and found blood on the walls. Not horror movie amounts of blood but a significant enough amount that I yelped.

23854-1552880642771.jpgJavel Aheram/Flickr


29. Played It Safe

My sister and I were in Marrakesh, Morocco, staying at a riad. Our taxi driver dropped us off as close as he could but this area was a giant maze of narrow walkways with shops, restaurants, and riads, so we had to walk the rest of the way without knowing the direction.

The taxi driver was trying to point us the right way as best he could when some guys came up to us and offered to take us there. Our taxi driver kept telling us not to go with them so we ignored them and just continued on with them trying to point us in “the right direction.” We eventually found our riad which was nowhere near where they wanted to take us.


28. Army At The Border

I got to Preah Vihear in Cambodia, which is disputed border territory with Thailand and saw my driver talking to the armed guards and pointing toward the hill. I asked him what’s up. He handed me a pair of binoculars. Looking through those tiny glass windows, I saw the Thai army on the border, not too far away, aiming their guns at us. We high-tailed it out of there.


27. Tuck And Roll Away

When I was in Hungary, I was briefly kidnapped by a group of people. I managed to fall out of their car at a red light, bashing up my arm but escaping. I left the city limits of Budapest, ran until I found some guys (it was 4 AM but Pokemon Go was at its peak so there were people wandering around) who called me a cab and I had to pay the cab driver with $20 Canadian to get back to my hostel.

23857-1552880991045.jpgKevin Chang/Flickr

26. Crazy Old Friend

I was in Madrid with my family and we went to a cafe to eat. Everything was fine. I finished my sandwich and was sitting on the counter waiting for them to finish when a woman comes up to me and tells me I remind her of a friend. I smile and nod, as I didn't have anything to say. She asks my name and I tell her, then my family starts leaving and I say goodbye to her. At this point she was just staring at me.

We went outside to catch a cab and she followed us. I got inside the cab and while we waited for the traffic lights I saw her standing outside, watching me with this crazy look on her face. She was also reading the taxi's license plate, seeming to try to memorize it. It freaked me out a bit; to be honest I spent the whole ride expecting her to follow the car and show up at my hotel to murder me.

23858-1552881074453.jpgDavid Ramos/Flickr

25. One Right Choice

I was backpacking in Denali and got lost. Like, really lost, and all around us we saw fresh bear droppings. At one point we had to make a decision between going left or right. Left took us back to the road; had we gone right, I don't think I'd be writing this.

23859-1552881144711.jpgDany Sternfeld/Flickr

24. Be My Baby

This is a story about when I was about 6 or 8 years old. My family traveled a lot when I was younger. We were in Thailand for a few weeks, and I had the same recurring experience almost every day. We would go out into the city to like shopping malls and stuff and the local men would say “come be my baby” while coaxing me towards them. This happened on so many different occasions. A few men even asked my parents how much they’d be willing to sell me for.

23860-1552881329607.jpgRonn aka


23. Accidental Attendance

My first few weeks in Seoul, I was invited by a group of Korean friends/acquaintances to go to a “world peace festival.” They said tens of thousands of people came each year and that it was always held at an Olympic venue. They made it sound really legit. I thought it was an official/government thing.

After five hours driving to Suwon (about an hour outside Seoul) and sitting in the hot sun, the festival starts. About 30 minutes in, a guy gets up and starts talking about how Jesus told him the solution for world peace.

And that’s how I went to my first ever cult gathering.


22. 'Playing' In The Dark

In Florence, when it's dark, it's pretty much a ghost town in the areas with no bars. I was drawing the sculptures in the museum outdoor area while my friend went to run an errand. All of a sudden, some dude sat next to me and started talking to me in Italian. I understood most of it: he was asking me to come with him. I said "no thanks" and hurriedly gathered all my stuff.

Then I saw his friend and the two of them started taunting me from behind the sculptures. It was really dark and there was a lot of shadows making it all the more creepy. They had me cornered and I was scared. I couldn't even see anyone else walking nearby. I found an out, but they kept following behind me. All of a sudden, I saw my friend walking toward me with another person. I was so relieved.

23862-1552881529181.jpgoh dear, how sad, oh well/Flickr

21. Shouldn't Have Been Open

A friend and I were traveling in Taiwan, staying at a place in Ximending. It was a nice, neat place. What was weird though was that the bathroom had a door that led straight to a narrow balcony outside. The door had only one lock, a latch lock that could only be opened from the inside, so I figured it wasn't too big of a deal. I locked the door after checking out the balcony.

The next morning when I used the bathroom, I saw that the door was open. I asked my friend, who woke up before me, if she had opened the door and she replied that she hadn't even gone to the bathroom yet. We were so creeped out because there was no way to open the door from the outside.

23863-1552881736532.jpgcheer Lee/Flickr

20. Gassed With The Bugs

A friend of mine went on a trip to Thailand, staying at a relatively inexpensive hostel. In the middle of the night, my friend was violently woken up by hotel staff and moved to a different floor.

Turns out the hotel was gassing the rooms on that floor to deal with a bed bug issue. The hotel accidentally gave guests rooms on the floor they were gassing, and didn't notice until they killed a couple.

23864-1552881882589.jpgScout Pest Control/Flickr

19. Pathetic Threats

I was 16 traveling in Europe alone. Yes, my parents are very trusting. I had a great experience overall. But one night in Amsterdam, I was walking around with someone that I had met at the hostel. The scrawny dude kind of bumps into me and says, “You made me drop my stuff. You owe me.” He followed me for about 6 blocks asking for money. At first, I was freaked out, but as kept walking farther and farther and he kept lowering the amount that I “owed” him, I realized that he was pretty pathetic. We just headed to a busy street and he disappeared.


18. Three Strikes And Got Out

I was traveling by myself in Paris at night (I'm female) and in the same night, I had two different strangers grab my wrist as I walked by them, demanding my attention. Then I had another guy follow me on the underground train for three transfers and try and talk to me. Thankfully he just walked away when I told him to screw off.

Any of these three interactions I felt like I could have been hurt or killed out of anger of rejection.

23866-1552882177559.jpgJirka Matousek/Flickr

17. New Sight, Scary Experience

I was on an aid trip to Haiti. There are a few places where the UN have soldiers stationed and tanks set up; I thought it was really cool. I took a photo and kept on my way with my group. The group went into a store but I decided to stay outside as there was nothing I was interested in.

All of a sudden, three soldiers surrounded me with heavy assault rifles. One came face to face with me and began speaking in Creole. I did not understand anything he was saying. Luckily our interpreter came out and began to explain to me. They demanded to know why I took the photo and for me to hand over my camera.

I explained that in Canada we do not have tanks in the streets and I thought it was very interesting. The moment the man heard Canada he quickly changed his tune! He smiled broadly and shook my hand. He explained how Canadians helped to train them with the UN. They then all posed for a photo with me and waved goodbye.


16. A Dangerous Beginning

I was in Nicaragua this past April for vacation. My buddy and I rented a car and were driving from city to city.

We are trying to find the downtown market in Masaya when we heard gunshots. Crowds of people started running straight past our car, hiding in shops. Through the crowd, we saw about 100 men, faces covered in black bandanas, with rifles, marching towards us.

This was the first day of the ongoing protests against the President of Nicaragua, Ortega.


15. Buy One Or I'll Never Stop

I was in Arusha, Tanzania and a street vendor selling cheap, clearly, mass-produced bracelets would not stop following me around until I bought one. I repeatedly told him I wasn’t interested and he continued to follow me until I was forced to run away as he was starting to get angry at my unwillingness to give in. He continued following me, so I swallowed my pride and handed him the equivalent of $2 and demanded he leave me alone. I was 16 at the time and although the man probably posed no threat, being alone and followed by a stranger in a country you are unfamiliar with was a pretty scary feeling.


14. Creepy Stare, Scary Feeling

I was by myself on the subway in a Europan city, late at night. My flight had been delayed several hours and I didn’t land until about 1 AM. I was going from the airport to the city, and this one guy that was sitting about 4 or 5 rows further down, but facing me, kept looking at me.

I got this horrible gut feeling. He kinda leaned to the side and gave me a smile that was just completely sinister. I freaked out and got on the phone. I ran out at my stop and made sure no one was following.

23870-1552882624068.jpgAlexander Rentsch/Flickr

13. Almost Swallowed Whole

I was in New Zealand, trekking Fox Glacier with my boyfriend. Getting towards the end, but still at least a kilometer to go. All of a sudden there’s a loud CRACK. The stairs collapse beneath my boyfriend and he plummets. I grab his hand and scream out to him to hold on but the glacier has made us wet, numb, slippery. His fingers slip through mine, and I watch him fall down the crevice, about 10 meters, rolling, hitting clumps of ice, until his body stops just before a cliff edge, held up by a wedge of ice. My now-husband still gets shoulder and knee pain from the accident, but he is whole.

23871-1552882710584.jpgBernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr

12. Not Quite Kidnapped

I got lost in Laos with another backpacker and was confronted by a pair of men armed with AK-47s screaming at us in a language we didn't understand -- who then proceeded to put a bag over each of our heads and walk us off. Next thing we know, we're left alone by the road into town that we were looking for.

23872-1552883049470.jpgEric Brochu/Flickr

11. Should Not Have Stopped

My church mission group and I were pulled over by the Federales shortly after crossing the border into Mexico. They took all our cash and went through all of our suitcases and stuff one by one. They kept us there for a while trying to figure out how they could get more from us then just let us go like it was a normal traffic stop. The guy running the trip had told the driver of the van to not stop for them no matter what but I guess nerves got the better and she pulled over.

23873-1552883162429.jpgHernan Garcia Crespo/Flickr

10. Almost As Scary As Zombies

I went to Japan with my family when I was a kid. We were at one of the Tokyo Metro Stations and there was a sudden evacuation. People were all panicking and running. Now when I think back, it's kinda like those zombie apocalypse movies. We got out alright and later we found out it was the Sarin Gas attack orchestrated by the Aum Shinrikyo.


9. Pay One Way Or Another

I was in Paris with a couple of friends in 2005. We were heading up to a big cathedral on a hill. Can't remember the name right now. We got caught in the middle of a bunch of guys "selling" custom bracelets. We kept trying to tell them no. I noticed that they were slowly closing in on us. I had a sudden realization that we were paying for those bracelets one way or another. So I grabbed my friend's arm and we all shelled out 20 Euros for a cheap yarn bracelet and got out as fast as possible.

23875-1552883388123.jpgFulvio Spada/Flickr

8. Same Experience, Different Circumstances

I live in San Francisco, so I am ready for earthquakes. The building I live in is up to code, brand new and should be able to handle one fine. About two years ago I was in Prague and a quake hit ( maybe 3-4.0 ) that scared the absolute crap out of me, because the first thought that went into my head was that the building I am in is easily 500 years old.

23876-1552883502882.jpgEU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations/Flickr

7. Eyeing The Foreign Beauty

I rolled into the Athens Central Bus Station at midnight with my young, very attractive Serbian girlfriend. All the taxi drivers were eyeing her like their next victim. I had a light verbal altercation with the cab driver before we took off to our place for the night. He got on the phone as soon as we were moving, speaking Greek and eyeing us in the rearview mirror. I thought for sure we were going somewhere to be met by "someone."

In the guy's defense, he took us to our destination for the agreed-upon price but that’s the most uneasy she and I have both been in a foreign country and we’ve been a lot of sketchy places.


6. Objective Realization

I went to India for a 2-week trip in 2013 (I was a blond female, 25 years old, living in Europe).

The locals wanted to take pictures with me. One of them went to talk to a friend (could have been my father due to his age) and started to negotiate that if I married him he could marry his sister. And there would be nothing to pay as he chose me.

My friend found that funny and tried to discuss more in depth. But I was there physically with them but they did not include me in the discussion.

That was unrealistic as I felt like an object, then felt very sad as this probably happens in reality to other women. For them it's not a funny holiday anecdote.

23878-1552883689704.jpgLuisen Rodrigo/Flickr

5. Taking A Different Option

My wife's coworker went to Venezuela (this is pre-Chavez) for a petroleum industry related business trip. He arrived at the airport and 4 men were holding up signs with his name to "drive him to his location." He quizzed all of them to see who was legitimate. He eventually figured out it would be better to get a cab.

23879-1552883823092.jpgMusui Puti/Flickr

4. Bonding Over America

I was walking around in a town in Algeria. I accidentally strayed into this unknown neighborhood and noticed there were hardly any people out. A little further on, there were literally no people out. And then I saw an extremely tall man walking toward me, straight toward me with obvious intent. He got closer, and I saw he was an older gentleman with a long grey beard, wearing a grey tunic.

I froze. He came right up to me and said, in pretty good English, “You’re not safe here. We need to get you off the street.” I said, “Okay,” and he said, “Follow me.”

We walked a few blocks and came to a door. "Wait here a minute,” he said, and he went inside. When I got inside, there were maybe a dozen men. They were all dressed in black, and they were staring absolute daggers at me. Grey-beard lays in to them, shaking his fists at them, getting really worked up. Then one of the younger guys went in to the kitchen and brought out some tea and cookies, offering them to me.

So, I was drinking tea and trying to smile, and one of the young guys asked where I’m from. I say, “The States,” and he starts talking about the CIA and stuff... And then I say, “You think the CIA is bad here? Let me tell you about Central America.” Pretty soon everybody is warming up to me and we’re laughing and talking crap about American foreign policy and drinking tea.

23842-1552879542289.jpgStefan Krasowski/Flickr

3. Thorough Inspection

When I was a kid, my dad used to lead groups of college kids to Central and South America to build houses. One year he decided that we should ride the chicken bus from Guatemala City to Mexico City.

We got to the border and a soldier with a heck of a big machine gun got on the bus and looked around. He saw that we had about 15 college girls on the bus, and then went and talked to someone on the phone. About two minutes later, a bunch of guys with machine guns got on the bus and informed us that all the males had to get off the bus and line up in front of it.

Soldiers crammed into the bus. We waited.

Finally, they got off the bus and we got back on and away we went. It was a whole lot of nothing, really, but I remember my dad, the leader of the group, looking very pale and sweating bullets.

23844-1552879694971.jpgAdam Cohn/Flickr

2. Surprisingly Wholesome

I was in Barbados walking on a main road back to where I was staying. Not far from a major beach, on the south side of the island. It was late and dark.

I came across this man carrying a white bucket. "Hi, I'm Bush," he said. Bush had plants in his bucket. He also had a machete. "Do you have any food for me? Some rice?"

I told him I did not have any food, but that I did have substances that I could share. I had bought some from a bunch of kids at the beach the night before. "Follow me," said Bush.

So I followed this man with a machete off the road, into a empty lot. At the back of the lot was an alley heading off to one side. We took this alley. A man was on the ground, sleeping against a wall. It was a dead end.

I was wondering earlier whether all this was a good idea, and my mind was beginning to form an opinion along the lines of... "no."

So we got to the end of the alley. He entered a door, and brought out two chairs.

Turns out it was his mom's place. I begin to notice a small garden all around made from the plants that Bush picks up and brings back in his bucket.

23845-1552879807557.jpgGeoff Livingston/Flickr

1. Staff Or Not Staff

My family stayed at a resort in the Dominican Republic a few years ago and I took a walk at night on the beach. I normally have zero fear about going out on the beach by myself back in the States, so it didn't even occur to me that I shouldn't be doing it there.

It was very dark out there and I put my shoes under one of the recliners to grab when I came back from my walk. I was walking back and one of the staff guys walked up to me and wanted me to follow him. At that place, they don't let you be in the pool after dark. I thought he was giving me a hard time about being on the beach at night too, so I thought he was making me leave. I started to follow, but I got such a freaked out feeling about it and made an excuse about needing to get my shoes and left.