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My Five Worst Moments Travelling

4 July 2012 One Comment

Most people who are fortunate enough to be able to have travelled in their lifetime will probably tell you of the joys and experiences picked up along the way. At the very least most people will have gained some positive experiences. On the odd occasion though, things do go wrong, and sometimes they can impact heavily on your overall enjoyment. I have been struggling to find many moments of stress, let alone a list of them, but here are five of those moments from a personal experience.

Unfortunately, as much as you would prefer to travel without incident, this isn’t always possible, and I thought it might be of benefit to somebody to detail my worst moments here.

5. First Day in New Zealand

Oddly enough, my very first day travelling – as exciting and nerve-racking as it was – makes it into my top five worst moments. It was an entirely new experience for me, and the thought that I would be away from my family for many months, and being on the other side of the world, not really knowing what to do or where to go – was very hard to deal with. I had a room to myself and spent a long while picking myself up and plucking up the courage to step out into the unknown.

This was a very low moment for me, as it probably is for a lot of people embarking on their first adventure all alone, but it wasn’t long before I was having the time of my life. The beginning of each new trip is now among the most exciting times for me.

4. Car Problems in New Zealand

One of the hardest decisions I have had to make while travelling was deciding to cut a trip short for the sake of paying a lot of money. Car problems had meant a hefty ‘Warrant of Fitness’ price tag on my car, with no real way of paying for it. I opted to go with a piece of advice given to me, but I wish now that I hadn’t. Somebody had said to go to a big car garage to sort the WOF and repairs on the car, but instead I should have gone to a smaller garage. The bill was incredible, and more than the car was worth.

I had the option of paying the money and spending the next few months working and travelling around New Zealand, or cutting my losses, driving the car back to Auckland and seeing out the remainder of the month before coming home. I had only a little left of the South Island to see, and I didn’t have the money at any rate, so I opted to make my way back to Auckland. It was a big decision, and a tough one at that, and maybe now I would have chosen differently, but you never know how any trip is going to turn out. You just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

3. Robbed at a Cash Machine in Montpellier, France

OK, so I wasn’t actually robbed, but near enough. The intent was certainly there. I had entered a quiet street, parked my car and walked the short distance to the cash machine. The street looked deserted, and there was nobody else to be seen. I went through the steps to withdraw money, and as I came to the screen to select how much to withdraw, out of nowhere an arm pushed me aside and began to manipulate the buttons on the machine. In a flash I could see what was happening, and needed to act fast or risk losing all my money.

My first instinct was to hit the cancel button to try and undo what was being done. As I frantically repeated this movement, so the guy kept trying to type in some numbers. Eventually a second French guy appeared just as the machine swallowed my card. There was a brief exchange of words (in French) between the two guys, and in a second they disappeared over a nearby wall and out of sight. I was left to reflect on what had just happened and to stare blankly at a machine that had devoured my card.

I guess I was lucky the machine had swallowed my card, and that I didn’t lose any money, but I was left with the realisation that I couldn’t get to my money, and that the bank wouldn’t be open for another 3 days. This prompted an early exit from France and a lengthy drive back home, but it was soon followed by another trip around Europe, this time on public transport.

2. Having Car broken into in Sintra, Portugal

I had just had what was to be one of my favourite days in all my travels before returning to my car to find it had been broken into. The lock had been broken and the door opened, and the contents of the car were strewn over the seats and floor. I felt gutted, especially being my own car from home. In checking the contents of the car I was led to believe they had taken documentation relating to my bank card details, and as such cancelled my card to avoid losing my money.

I acted a little too hastily as it turned out, and the documents that I thought had been taken were in fact still there. I had hidden them so well that I couldn’t find them myself. Unfortunately the card had been cancelled and I was again without money. The following 2 weeks were hard, and I had to survive on little food and water in the blistering heat of a small campsite, but it was an experience, and one I shall not forget in a hurry.

1. Nearly Drowning in Cape Tribulation, Australia

This has to be my worst moment without a doubt, as I very nearly lost my life. During a tour of Cape Tribulation, whilst swimming in a deep river with a strong under current, I noticed a guy who wasn’t part of our group, looking as though he was in difficulty in the water. His head went under and I could see he was desperate for someone to help him. I jumped in and swam to him, hoping to rescue the guy, but it very quickly turned on its head.

This guy was bigger than I was, stronger than I was. In his desperation he clawed at me, frantically trying to climb onto me to get himself out of danger. I felt myself being dragged under the water, and had to fight to get myself some air. After spending a while trying to grab him to pull him to safety, then having to scramble to pull myself out of the water, I began to lose energy.

I remember getting my head out the water just long enough to try and call for help, yet no sound came out. I could see our guide not too far away looking out past us, a puzzled look on her face, and I wondered why nobody was helping us. I also experienced a surreal moment in which I was under the water looking up at the flailing legs and arms above me, seeing feet in my face, yet everything was in slow motion. I had no energy to get myself out, yet I knew I had to. I don’t know how I managed to pull myself out of the water, but I did, and I could see the guy being pulled away by two other guys and our guide. I just swam to the nearest rock and collapsed onto it.

The guide later explained that she had heard the calls for help but didn’t know where it was coming from. She went on to say that she had thought we were just two guys messing about in the water, and hadn’t realised that anything was wrong. Surely anybody would have put two and two together, but not in this case. It is no exaggeration to say I could very possibly have drowned that day, and it has opened my eyes to just how dangerous these places can be, no matter how fun it is at the time.

I bore the scars across my neck from the guy’s fingernails for a while after the incident, but I look back and think how lucky I was. It didn’t ruin my day though, or the trip in any way. It was just another experience, and another story to tell to those who will listen.

I have always said that when it comes to travelling, if it wasn’t for the bad, the good wouldn’t seem so good. And when it all appears bleak one day, the next day could be your best ever. This is why I love travel, and why I will always strive to see as many places as is humanly possible, and why I will never be put off by anything negative.


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Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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One Comment »

  • UK Tourist Visa said:

    i had the same near drowning experience when I tried to rescue someone. I am not a very good swimmer but the instinct of helping someone drowning kick in and had to jump in to the water and do what i can. The boy wouldn’t calm and keeps kicking and climbing in to me. I screamed onto him so he would listen, he slightly calm down and was able to pull him into safety.

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