32 Comments
May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

When I was in Israel with a friend on a Saturday we planned to go to Palestine, we took this bus from the Damascus gate in the old town Jerusamen, at the exact moment the bus left the platform I had this moment when I realized that I didn’t have with me the passport. When I said it to my friend she answered: “Please tell me that you are joking!”. I asked the driver if it was possible to stop somewhere to let me get out and go to take the passport, I will have reached my friend in Bethlehem, and the driver answered me with a question: ” Do you have any documents with you?”, and I said that I have my Italian ID card, he answered: ”Then no problem just pretend that you are a stupid tourist that doesn’t know that it is necessary to have the passport to cross the wall!” and that’s what I did.

Going to Palestine we crossed the wall without stopping but coming back I knew that there would have been a checkpoint. The routine is that Palestinians have to get off the bus, do the documents check and get back to the bus after they cross the border, for the others the soldiers get on the bus to check the documents. I was sure that I would have had trouble but I tried to look like a stupid tourist and it worked. There were two soldiers, one checking documents and one with a rifle supporting the other, the first one asked me for the passport I gave her the ID, and she looked at me badly and asked again for the passport, then I said: “Passport!? I didn’t know that I need it! I don’t have it with me, I have only the ID, I’m sorry!” and other stupid things that I don’t remember, she said nothing, she gave me back the ID and went to the next person. My friend said she was ready to run to the host house to get my passport and come back to save me. I felt scared and at the same time very lucky, I think the fact that I am European saved me.

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This is a wild story, and your last sentence rings true--lots of border crossings apply different sets of rules for "European/European-looking" and "other." Super glad that this didn't end with you getting stuck!

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Only because we've been full-time travelers for so long, I feel like I have too many of these to choose from -- the time I nearly shat myself in the Thai consulate in Penang, Malaysia, to the horrible coliving place we stayed in Birgu, Malta, to the Soviet-era death trap elevator in Tbilisi, Georgia.

But I'll go even farther back to my twenties when I backpacked around New Zealand with my college buddy John.

John had it in his mind that sleeping in a barn on a haystack would be really cool -- for reasons I didn't quite fathom.

I went along with it and we found a farmer willing to let us spend the night in his barn. He looked at us like we were crazy, which should've been a warning sign.

John and I climbed up onto the haystacks, spread out our sleeping bags, and called it a night.

Deep in the middle of the night, I started wriggling about because something bugged me. I came awake realizing I was constantly wiping at my face for some reason. I dug out my flashlight, shone it on myself, and only then realized little white ... worms were wriggling all over me.

And I mean ALL over me.

I punched John in the arm, woke him up, and showed him that were covered in what was apparently lice.

We had to climb off of the haystack, strip naked, and spend twenty minutes wiping our bodies down as much as we could. Then we had to clean our sleeping bags, and our backpacks, and then spend the night sleeping on the ground. It really REALLY sucked.

I could've murdered him for that!

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I think this one wins! It sounds like the plot of a horror movie!!

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I'd like to thank the members of the academy for this incredible honor! When I was a young travel writer, I daydreamed of a moment like this!

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🏆🏆🏆

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

Not an international mishap, but... We were invited to a wedding in rural Washington State on the Olympic peninsula. We found this gorgeous tiny home AirBnb with truly idyllic scenery just two miles from the wedding venue. As we took a cab to the venue (no Uber or Lyft based on how rural we were), our cab driver kindly informed us that he clocked out at 9:00 pm. We proceeded to pay literally no attention to how late it was (or how much we were drinking. This was Summer 2021, and basically our first time out of the house in a year). Cab services had well since ended when it was time for us to leave. We walked the two miles back to our tiny home along a poorly lit two-lane highway with no sidewalk as my incredibly kind (then) boyfriend (now husband) tried to continually steer me away from walking into the road and also was very generous with me when I decided I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of nowhere halfway home. Somehow we survived unscathed (although my dignity may have been bruised re: aforementioned bathroom choices).

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Hahahahaha! At least you did it under the cover of darkness!

(Also, is this who I think it is?! Hi!!🥹)

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

If you think it's Mariah from college, then yes!! Long time lurker 👀, first time commenter 😊

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!!! It's so good to "see" you! I hope you've been well ❤️❤️❤️ any chance you're going to our reunion?

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

I won't be there :( I scheduled travel for the weekend before I realized when reunion was. If you're ever in St. Louis (likely a long shot), let me know!!

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Oh shoot! I do owe a visit to a friend who lives in Missouri, so maybe someday... :)

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

Breaking my foot 2 hours after arriving in Italy @ beginning of 4 week trip. Happened at the vacation home of dear Italian friend, with whom I stayed for the weekend: didn’t tell him because didn’t want to ruin his family’s weekend. Three days later: arrived in Florence, went to hospital next to Duomo, foot was x-rayed and casted. Still, had a great trip: daughter travelling w/me thrilled bc museums provided wheelchairs & put us @ front of line. But Venice was a challenge! My foot took 3 months to heel once I returned to US because I’d been walking on it for a month. Bright spots: I did lighten my load by sending all my right-foot shoes home, the orthopedic MD serenaded me w/Sweet Home Alabama, most folks were very kind. Finally told my Italian host 10 years later!

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"Bright spots: I did lighten my load by sending all my right-foot shoes home"

This is hilarious! Glad you were able to make the most of it 🤣

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Omg 😱

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

My number-one was definitely my “toepocalypse” in coastal Albania in the middle of July wherein I had a freak accident with my right foot and a washing machine while sitting peeing after dinner one night.

I wound up with a completely ruined big toenail, a husband having to find me a hospital (while I sobbed in pain and frustration) at 2am, and facing down having to reschedule months of summer plans…including festivals, trekking, and overland travel.

It’s ridiculously funny now but wow, things can go so, so, so wrong!! As Dickens said, the best of times and the worst of times 😅

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Omg nooo! That sounds as annoying as it does painful 🤣 nothing like a bum toenail to ruin a fun trek!

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May 15Liked by Samantha Childress

One travel mishap occurred during my very first backpacking adventure. We planned to cross the border from Mongolia to China, which apparently can only be done by vehicle from the Mongolian immigration office to the Chinese immigration office. I have no idea why it must be this way, but during our overnight train ride in Mongolia to the border, we interacted with an older Mongolian man and his wife, who was on the upper bunk. They chatted with each other, sharing food and snacks. He played cards with us and even called his daughter, who spoke a little English, to talk to us. I can't remember the conversation, just basic introductions, and then we all went to sleep. The next morning, as the train approached the border, he used his limited English and many gestures to ask us to join him in his vehicle to cross the border. He seemed to have already booked a jeep for that purpose. With no other plan, we agreed.

Just as the train stopped, there were tons of jeeps surrounding the train waiting (what?), and the Mongolian man hurried us onto his jeep, and off we sped across the vast plains. Then I realized the wife was nowhere to be seen. It wasn't his wife? Warning bells started ringing for us. Along the way, the Mongolian man kept gesturing towards my watch as if he wanted me to give it to him. It was a gift from my dad, a watch he used to wear, and I pretended not to understand him to avoid any confrontation. He eventually gave up in frustration. Then, we suddenly stopped and let two random people into the jeep who promptly squat down at our feet, seemingly to hide from the authorities. I had no idea why, because once we reached immigration, we all had to disembark anyway and join a very long line of people trying to get into China.

From there, we had to split from the Mongolian because he was in his own immigration line. It took forever for us to cross immigration, and among the sea of people, we lost sight of him long ago; sure enough, he did not wait for us on the other side. We were then stranded because, apparently, without a vehicle, we were not allowed to leave the immigration center. We walked all the way to the gate to try our luck anyway. At the gate, luckily, my friend knew Mandarin and explained our predicament to the guard. He nodded seriously and asked us to wait. After quite some time, a minibus arrived to cross the gate. He stopped it, asked us to hop in, and we did so without question, joining an already packed minibus. We promptly squatted at the passengers' feet (as if to hide from the authorities? Wait, was this karma?) and off the minibus sped into the land of my ancestors.

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Oof, this sounds like to sort of misadventure that could have ended very badly! Glad you made it into China safely (and with your dad's watch still on you).

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May 16Liked by Samantha Childress

That's true...it might have ended up badly, but I have hopes for humanity! Even if one Mongolian man proved otherwise :)

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May 15Liked by Samantha Childress

I’ve had plenty of these but the two that most immediately spring to mind are:

- Deciding to treat myself to a few days in a luxury resort in Malaysia after a very sad break up. I often used to travel alone so that in itself was fine; I went to Kuala Lumpur first which was amazing and I knew some people there so it was lovely to finally meet them in person and explore the city. I then travelled up to the resort where I was hoping to rest and switch off a bit, only to discover that the resort was FULL of honeymooners. I was the only person travelling alone and there weren’t even any families around, just blissfully happy couples. The resort was on an island so there was no escape and being asked every night whether I wanted a table for two when I called to book dinner was… not fun.

- Sleeping in a barn in Egypt (in a bed; it just happened to be placed in a barn/outbuilding). I was backpacking with a friend and could hear a mosquito buzzing around as I fell asleep. My friend was able to sleep with her head under the sheet but I just couldn’t manage that. We woke up covered in bed bug bites and got the first train we could down to Luxor; we were stared at a lot on the train which had been par for the course for the whole trip but felt especially intense that day. We decided to treat ourselves to a two star hotel that night and when we got to our room (the first mirror we’d encountered that day) I saw that I had been bitten many, many times all over my face. I started counting the bites but stopped when I got to thirty as it was just too depressing. My friend hadn’t mentioned it because she didn’t want to make me self-conscious and I hadn’t noticed because I suppose my face must have been numbed by the sheer volume of them? Deeply, deeply unpleasant.

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Omg! Seems the travel gods decided to play a very cruel joke on you with that resort! And weirdly, you are not the only person in this thread to have had a mishap that involved bugs and sleeping barns (see Michael's response above, lol).

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May 18Liked by Samantha Childress

Yes I think a good takeaway from this page is not to sleep in outbuildings unless you want surprise insectoid company. Would definitely choose mosquitoes/bedbugs over worms/maggots/whatever horror Michael had to deal with though!

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May 15Liked by Samantha Childress

Backpacking through South America with my best friend.

We had just completed the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and were enjoying some much-needed R&R in Arequipa.

One afternoon, while enjoying an espresso at a cafe, we said to one another, "Let's get high."

Seemed right at the time.

Not sure how we found this guy (maybe he found us?), but he said he had what we needed.

We gave him money.

He gave us what we wanted.

Transaction complete.

We returned to the hostel with a little pep in our step.

The sun was out.

And I swear there was music playing.

Great day.

We got back to the hostel, hurried upstairs, unwrapped the beige paper, and..........f#%k.

We did buy grass.

Actual grass, though.

The stuff in your front lawn.

Lesson learned.

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😆😆 that guy was laughing all the way to the bank

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100% no doubt about it

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The first time my wife and I were traveling with our daughter in a stroller was in 1988. We had a train down to the Jersey Shore. We got to Penn Station an hour early to be prepared.

The train was announced, but by the time we were able to fold the stroller and go down to the track, we missed the train. I still can see the three of us plus stroller and bags alone on the platform watching the train leave without us.

I felt forlorn, hapless, foolish and frustrated because it was all on us, our incompetence.

I was 26 and was intent on finding someone other than us to blame. So I castigated some blameless Amtrak person for not leaving enough time between announcement and train departure. It was far from my best behaved moment!

The inconvenience was not great. There was another train. But it sticks with me because we caused the mishap with our fumbling.

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Oof, I feel this so much. There have definitely been times where I’ve been rude to people who didn’t deserve it in the midst of travel stress, and those moments haunt me.

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

My very first trip to Europe was accompanying my husband on a business trip. We would be sharing a car with his colleague and his wife, whom I had never met. 4 people in a dinky car. We couldn’t pack a lot due to space. On our first day out in Amsterdam, I was hit with a pigeons poop. It felt like a rock and drenched my shirt so bad I had to throw it away. Later in the trip we were in Milan. As our husbands were working, Kathy and I were sightseeing. At the end of the day we took a bus back to the hotel. At some point the bus stopped and everyone started shouting in Italian. We had no idea what had happened. Soon people started leaving the bus. We must’ve looked completely lost as someone kindly told us the driver had just gone on strike! We got off unsure what to do next. Soon another bus came by. Very relieved, we climbed aboard and off we went. 1 block later this driver joined the strike and out we went. We walked the 30 blocks back to the hotel.

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😂 The misadventures of Cathy and Kathy--sounds like a sitcom!

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May 14Liked by Samantha Childress

I got a good chuckle reading everyone’s mishaps. Thanks for having me.

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Thanks for joining!!

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