Holidays Gone Wrong: 6 Crazy Travel Horror Stories

Young brunette woman sitting on the floor at an airport next to her suitcase looking stressed and unhappy

Here at Scoopon, we love a good holiday. After all, it’s kind of what we do! However, things don’t always go to plan. In fact, sometimes they turn into the stuff of travel nightmares.

We asked our colleagues at Scoopon HQ to share some of their travel horror stories, and boy, did they deliver! Buckle up - you’re in for a bumpy ride…

1. Lost Luggage at LAX

Jake’s story: “When my partner and I arrived in NYC after transiting in LA, we went to pick up our bags from the luggage carousel. We waited for almost an hour, but neither bag came. The staff had no idea where they were, so we had no choice but to go to our hotel empty-handed. We later got a call that our bags had gone BACK to Australia after arriving in LA and it wouldn’t be with us for a few days. Our travel insurance gave us an allowance for new clothes, toiletries and other essentials, so thankfully we didn’t have to roam the streets naked, but still, it wasn’t the best start to a holiday.”

Jake’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “Make sure you pack a few essentials in your carry-on, like toiletries, a change of undies and another outfit. You never know when you might need it.”

2. Viral in Venice

Gabbie’s story: “I was halfway through a month-long bus tour of Europe when my group got struck by a tummy bug. Everyone got it, although for most of them it was pretty mild. Then it got to me. I must’ve seriously done something to upset the travel gods because it hit me hard. Had-to-go-to-hospital-in-Venice hard. Luckily (or unfortunately) another girl had it just as bad, so I didn’t have to go alone, but being stuck in an Italian hospital where no one spoke a word of English was pretty damn scary. They put us on a drip for a few hours then sent us on our way. We just made it out of hospital in time to get on the bus to the next destination - a couple of kilos lighter.”

Gabbie’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “Be prepared to get sick. Pack electrolyte tablets. And maybe learn a little Italian - just in case.”

3. Misery in Mallorca

Katrina’s story: “My two best friends and I were backpacking around Spain a couple of years ago and decided to treat ourselves to a few nights at an expensive resort in Mallorca - a nice change from the dirty hostels we’d been staying in up until then. But I guess staying in a fancy hotel made us prime targets for pickpockets, because on the second last day of our trip we went shopping and, just as I was about to buy something, I realised a couple of our passports and wallets were missing from my friend’s bag. She had one of those supposedly theft-proof bags, so she had volunteered to look after our valuables. We cancelled our credit cards and reported it to the police but there wasn’t much they could do. Ended up having to rush to Madrid to get replacement passports - not the best way to spend our last couple of days!”

Katrina’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “If your hotel has a safe, USE IT. We thought our valuables would be safer on us, but we were sooo wrong.”

On the left is a young woman wearing a backpack. As her back is turned, a male hand can be seen taking a wallet from her bag.

4. Drenched en route to Delhi

Skye’s story: “This happened just a couple of months ago when I went to India. I was sitting on the aisle seat and had settled in to watch a movie. About an hour and a half into the flight, the attendant came around with the drink trolley and the guy sitting by the window asked for a glass of water. I don’t know how it happened, but all of a sudden I was absolutely covered in water. Like, dripping. The flight attendant apologised profusely and came back with heeeaps of paper towel, but not much could be done. I stupidly didn’t bring a change of clothes, so the next 12 or so hours were very damp and cold…”

Skye’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “Don’t pick the aisle seat. Kidding! Seriously, just keep a close eye on liquid being passed over you!”

5. Cancellation Crisis

Zara’s story: “I had a big solo trip around Southeast Asia organised for a week after my high school graduation, so I could see the world a bit before starting uni a few months later. I had been looking forward to it all year and was all packed and ready to go when, driving home from the graduation ceremony, my parents and I were involved in a car accident. Mum and dad escaped with only a few bumps and bruises, but I broke my right ankle, a few ribs and had a bad concussion. Needless to say, I didn’t get to go on my big trip. Luckily my travel insurance came through and were able to recoup a lot of the cancellation fees and lost deposits, which was a huge weight off my shoulders. I ended up going on the trip a year later, bones intact.”

Zara’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “Drive safely, and make sure you get travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your flights and accommodation.”

6. No Reservations in Reykjavik

Will’s story: “My mate is probably the least organised person I know, so in hindsight it was a very, very, extremely bad idea to let him plan our Iceland trip. We were living in London at the time and decided to take a cheeky weekend break to Reykjavik. Flights, hostel and car hire were booked - we were sorted. That is, until we rocked up at our accommodation and they told us there was no booking under our name. It was peak season in Iceland and every hostel and hotel within our price range was full, so we ended up sleeping in the car. It wasn’t the most comfortable weekend, but it did the job.”

Will’s tip for avoiding travel horror: “Don’t let your mate plan your trip.”

*Responses have been edited for length and clarity

Want to prevent becoming the subject of your own travel disaster story? The best thing you can do is get travel insurance - the sooner, the better. While it won’t necessarily cover mates who suck at organising accommodation or stop you getting drenched at 35,000ft, it can give you peace of mind and potentially save you from some seriously sticky situations.

Head to Scoopon now to score 20% off Canstar Award-winning travel insurance with World2Cover!