It has been a bit over 11 years since I took my first solo backpacking trip, that first plane ride in route to South America.
30 countries, 4 continents, and a shitload of cities later, I would love to say that I am a travel genius. That nothing a city can throw at me can surprise me anymore, and that I’ve got things figured out before they even happen. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth.
You would think that after having travelled so much, I would have this travel thing mastered. I certainly wish I didn’t get lost anymore, or get food-poisoning, or even remember to look at the weather before stepping out of the hostel, but no….
Taking the Train in the Wrong Direction and Waiting at the Wrong Bus Stop in Luxembourg (2017)
One of the books. I had planned all day to get out of Luxembourg City early in order to get to Vianden and avoid the crowds, so I got out of my hostel at 8AM.
The trip to Vianden is supposed to take only about 2 hours. 1 hour by train and another 45 minutes by bus.
I took the train in direction towards a town called Ettelbruck on gate # 5 in Luxembourg Central Station, and got out 4 stations after as mentioned by Google Maps.
When the name of the station was totally different, I asked a guard which if I was close to Ettelbruck. He first laughed at me, then he said, you must go back to Luxembourg City and then take train to Ettelbruck.
So I had just wasted 1 hour riding in the wrong direction, and had to waste another one getting back to point 1 and an extra one getting to where I wanted to go.
No biggie, I thought, that’s why I got out early. I’ll still be there at noon.
Once at Ettelbruck, I waited for the bus outside of the train station, the one which was supposed to take me to Vianden. I looked at the schedule at the station, it was to pass in 10 minutes.
So I waited.
With 5 minutes left for the next bus to pass, I ran to the nearest coffee shop and asked where the bus to Vianden passed.
They pointed me towards a bus stop 2 blocks from the train station…..
Which is why many of my shots of Vianden have random people in them.
Letting My Guard Down on Food Poisoning in India (2013)
The number one thing I was very careful with in India was food and water. I was so careful with anything I consumed that I had become borderline paranoid.
I always read the reviews of any restaurant I would eat at before going. I even inspected the bottle cap seal of any bottle of water I bought. I tried to stay away from anything remotely adventurous concerning food.
After all, who wants to get stomach sick in India right?
While in Goa, I went to a bar where I got to meet the owner, who invited me and a bunch of others for a “karaoke night” taking place the next day.
Having accepted the invitation, we went and had a fun night filled with music and alcohol. We got rowdy which got people from outside curious and who ultimately joined in.
The owner was so happy about the turnout that he gave me and the group of people I was with free chicken wings. On the house, for encouraging us, he said.
I downed those wings like they were my last meal, no longer even thinking that I was eating food at a bar in India.
The next day, I woke up with an almost 40°C fever and a huge unforgiving stomachache. I had headaches and cold sweats throughout the day, and got so scared when I began to vomit every few hours.
Luckily, I was with someone who was able to take care of my sorry being but, needless to say, not really how I expected my last day in India to be like.
Falling Pray to the Street Game Scam in Italy (2007)
While in Italy during my first trip to Europe, I happened to come across a group of people enthusiastically looking at a guy passing a ball from cup to cup.
Some were throwing money left and right, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.
Having guessed so far behind-the-scenes where the ball was each time, I took a shot at it. So I took out a 20€ and boom! lost it….
What the fuck?
Nothing to say, nowhere to go, I had no argument whatsoever to even remotely ask for my money back……. It was then that I understood, too late, how these games work.
Luckily this was just 20€.
Taking an Unofficial Taxi and Getting Mugged in Peru (2006)
This one happened during my first ever backpacking trip.
Having arrived late in the evening from a 3-day trip to the Colca Canyon in Arequipa, I was eager to get to my next destination. So eager that I decided that I wanted to leave that same night on an overnight bus to Lima.
Call it inexperience or young eagerness, but me and a friend from the tour left the hostel and waved a taxi near the center en route to the bus station, where we hoped to catch the next bus.
Five minutes into the ride, the driver stops brusquely in the middle of an alley and 3 other individuals mount the car. It didn’t take long to realize what was happening….. Unfortunately they ended up taking many of our belongings including my camera holding all the pictures from my trip thus far.
Although a definite shitty situation, it taught me a lot about travel safety for years to come, and about backing my pictures as I progress during my trip.
Bad luck happens to everyone, and these have not turned me off travelling at all! Of course these are not my only bad experiences….part II coming soon??? In the meantime, share your own shitty travel stories!