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We all have our own travel horror stories. However, they usually revolve around endlessly delayed flights or terrible food poisoning.
For these four travel bloggers, though, that’s not the case. Ania, Kevin, Greg, and Dan all found themselves in terrifying, and even life-threatening, situations while traveling abroad.
These travel horror stories will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Read about what happened on their trips-gone-terribly-wrong and the lessons they learned below.
Kevin Visited Somalia… and Was Caught in the Cross-fire of a Terrorist Attack
It is true that my bizarre travels take me to places like Somalia. I spent five days in the notorious country.
One of the most surreal and eye-opening experiences was walking across no-man’s land from Ethiopia to Somaliland.
As you walk from border to border there are no guards that can assist you, you are all alone. Well, if it wasn’t for the 500 locals swamping you trying to assist me to the unknown. The unknown where you could get shot in the head or kidnapped quicker than you can sip your bottled water.
So, what was I doing walking across this border?
Unbeknownst to me, walking this border was the safe part of the country and I was about to leave it. I continued my trip deep in the lands of Somalia to Mogadishu, which never fails to impress, and it was here that I realized I was out of my depth.
One day I’m on the beach playing football with the local kids, watching the fisherman walk past with their large sailfish catch on their heads. Then, the next day I’m running for cover as a terrorist decided to blow up the market.
I was meters away from the scariest experience I ever wished to encounter.
I stood outside my guest house watching the locals go about their day and all of a sudden a big explosion happened before my eyes.
As I stood there in disbelief, scared and confused, my guards grabbed me back into my guest house for a swift exit to safety. I had no choice but to exit the area, and it was demanded by my guards who were there for my safety.
It was a sad moment for me as I realized that not only was I close to death but others around me have just died. This is not an easy thing to digest.
Naturally I worried for everyone’s safety and prayed the friendly residents of Mogadishu were ok, but sadly 51 people died from the suicide car bomber that struck the busy market that day. With the explosion ripping through shoppers, stalls, and vehicles, no one nearby stood a chance.
As I look back at the situation I always have mixed feelings, guilt being the first. Why guilty? I feel guilty from the relief that I’m ok, the relief that I didn’t explore that market that morning. Then I feel sad, sad knowing that so many innocent people lost their lives.
A lot of people in Mogadishu were so friendly and they didn’t deserve this. I wish I could have done more at the time to help the wounded, but for my own safety that was just not possible.
You can read more about Kevin’s trip to Somalia on his blog at Kevin’s Travel Diary
Ania Went Hitch Hiking… and Was Almost Kidnapped in a Foreign Country
After three wonderful days in a village lost deep in the Armenian forest, we decided to hitch-hike back to Yerevan. Everything was going smoothly, until this last car.
One car too much.
One car to turn our best travel experience into the biggest nightmare.
The driver, a young man, invited us for a cup of tea with his mother and that lulled us into a false sense of security. When I think about it now, he was acting weird all that time, perhaps we were just too tired or too naïve to notice it…
He was meant to give us a ride to the highway exit only but once he turned into a side road and aggressively sped up we realized that something was wrong. Alarmed and terrified, we asked him to stop the car but he refused to.
We begged him.
He started shouting at us and then he said he was taking us to his uncle’s so we can have some “fun.”
Have you ever felt a primitive, animal-like fear when your heart is thumping and your neck starts to sweat? I did.
So, Ania and her friend came up with a plan. A no-fail idea that many people have used to get out of situations they don’t want to be in: pretending they needed to go to the bathroom.
Somehow, he fell for it.
The second he stopped to let them out of the car, they quickly grabbed their bags and ran as fast as they could, screaming for help as they went. A car stopped and luckily both Ania and the driver spoke Russian. They explained their situation and quickly jumped in… but the other driver didn’t give up and began to follow them. Finally, the nearby people in the village had enough, surrounded the driver’s car, and sent him away for good.
Even though it was a real nightmare I want to make it clear – the outcome for this story is obvious to me. Hitch-hike wise, always trust your gut feeling.
Read more about Ania’s world-wide adventures on her blog at The Wildest Tales
Dan Almost Died in Australia… and the Doctors Had No Idea What Was Wrong
I’d visited all these exotic countries over the past couple of years, from South America to Fiji, to North America and Far East Asia, and I’d got sick once.
And that was just the usual lurky you get from being around so many people in hostels. But this time, this time I knew it was something worse.
Rolling around in a hostel for days on end, sleeping, and hoping it would go away just turned it from bad to worse. Looking at yourself in the mirror and trying to convince yourself it’s the lighting in the bathroom that makes you look yellow is a real tricky thing to pull off!
The scary thing was when I tried to go to the bathroom and I couldn’t walk the two minutes it took. Like, physically couldn’t. I was only 28, what gives!
Eventually I did make it back to my bed, my heart racing like I’d finished a sprint, and then I passed out. Oh, I knew something was ever so wrong.
Grabbing a taxi with my friend to the hospital at that time truly saved my life. The words from the doctor rang through my ears “It’s a good job you’ve come in because a couple of days more and…”
I was in hospital for two weeks, and the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me. It was a tricky time as it could have been ANYTHING, all these possibilities like cancer, etc. were getting talked about and it was a proper nervous time for me – especially once I told them all the countries I’d visited!
Finally, after every test possible on my blood, the only thing it showed was a small virus that normally is so harmless you don’t even get the common cold from it!
But somehow, it made my white blood cells attack my red blood cells and destroyed them – nearly all of them. However, once I had blood back in me and the doctors knew what happened, tablets were able to stop it and slowly over the next weeks and months I got my strength back.
It can happen to anyone, even if you think you’re out of the woods, so to speak, with the “dangerous” countries. It can even happen in the countries you thought would be safe and sound.
My advice is if you’re feeling unwell, go to the hospital after a couple of days if you don’t start to get better. No amount of money you save not going to the hospital is worth your health!
Read more and join Dan’s own pursuit of happiness on his blog at I Am Dan Elson
Greg Summited Mt. Kilimanjaro… and Then Fell Off
In 2012 I was part of a group that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. We reached base camp at the end of the fourth day and went to bed at 7 p.m. Then, we were woken at midnight to begin the final ascent and get to the top at sunrise.
Having reached the top, the plan was to descend back past base camp to spend the night. Up until then I’d had a good appetite and had been drinking lots of water, but I lost my appetite during the final climb and was also extremely tired.
Pretty soon into the descent I passed out mid-step and went tumbling down the gravel path.
I have no memory of this, my friends helped fill in the gaps. I cracked my head and got lots of cuts and scratches on my face and one side of my body, but luckily didn’t break anything. Three teams of six guides helped stretcher me all the way down – they call this the ‘Kilimanjaro Express’.
I woke up a couple of times on the stretcher before quickly passing back out. When we got to the bottom an ambulance took me to hospital where I had stitches. I was released the next day and was quite sore for a few days, but otherwise fine.
It’s a fun story to tell, but I always make sure to remind people that I did reach the top!
Travel isn’t always fun and games, and these four travel horror stories are proof that sometimes things can go terribly wrong.
Life is definitely an adventure, and traveling to new countries can amplify the experience. Luckily, Kevin, Ania, Dan and Greg all made it out ok and lived to tell the tale.
PS want more crazy travel stories? Read one man’s fight for survival when he got lost for three days in the Borneo Jungle or get a peek into the life of my friend Jordan, who lives full-time in his Prius while he travels the US!
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.