The crazy side of travel: Unfortunate happenings during our round-the-world trip!

Posted on March 26th, 2015 by BreAnn

Massive puking, motorcycle accident, torrential rain, horrible allergic reactions, and lost luggage: there are quite a few unfortunate events and happenings that we encountered on our round-the-world trip!  When you travel in foreign countries, you are constantly experiencing  strange food, different climates and insects, transportation schedules, and very different cultures… so it’s very likely that many unfortunate happenings may and WILL occur, especially in the span of an entire year!  Of course at the time these happenings occurred, the situation was usually distressing, sad, exhausting, or humiliating… but looking back, some of these stories (and photos from the happenings) sure are FUNNY!

Here is a listing of crazy, horrible, and WEIRD stuff that happened to James and I during our year traveling through 17 different countries:


Starting the trip off on the wrong foot
February 26, 2013: On the very FIRST legs of our round-the-world trip, we had issues every step of the way:  Our first Milwaukee flight was delayed because of snow, and then because of the delay we barely made our Minneapolis flight to Los Angeles!  Next, after having dinner with friends in LA during our 5-hour layover,  they dropped us off at the wrong terminal (our mistake, actually!) and we had to RUN through several terminals to get to the right place, then wait FOREVER through security, and then BARELY made it to the gate on time… just to find out the flight was DELAYED 3 hours!  Oh yea… AND I just then discovered I LEFT MY NEW RAINCOAT AT OUR FRIENDS’ APARTMENT!!   Fortunately, because of the flight delay, there was extra time and our friends so GRACIOUSLY came back to the airport to return my jacket I left at their place!!


Waiting in the pouring rain for a bus that would never come…

Tropical downpours: Not fun when you’re outdoors
March  4, 2013: While traveling by foot on the main island of Tahiti with all of our luggage in tow, we got caught in incredible POURING RAIN!!  I’m talking drenching buckets of rain here!  So then we spent almost an hour (in the rain) waiting at a bus stop for a bus that never came (see a funny video of James in the rain here)… and then when we finally found a bus to jump on, we were DRENCHED, the bus was SUPER FULL, and we had to sit in wet and humid misery for 30+ minutes until we got to our next hotel. Yikes!


Arriving in Japan with NO luggage!
March 14, 2013: On our flights from Tahiti to Los Angeles to Tokyo, the airline lost all of our luggage at LAX, and we didn’t receive our stuff until 24 hours later! SO upon arriving in Tokyo after 33 hours of traveling, we had to wear our same gross clothes to bed and around town the next day with only a few toiletries!


Ummm…. why is the top of my ear TWICE the size it should be!???

Gigantic ear!?
April 14, 2013: One night while in Guangzhou, China, my right ear randomly started to feel WARM and itchy. At the time, James and I were just watching a movie in our hostel on our laptop, and I ignored the feeling for a couple hours, assuming it was nothing. When I finally looked in the mirror, to my horror I saw that the top part of my ear was INFLATED—like twice the normal size!!  (it kind of looked like Will Smith’s ear in the movie hitch!) It was late at night at that point and we weren’t sure what to do, so I put hydrocortisone cream on my ear and took some benedryl. Fortunately, the swelling went down within a few days, but it gave us quite a scare at first! (side note: I woke up the next day with four HUGE welts on my arm… so I assume whatever bug bit my arm must have also been the culprit of my blow-up ear!)


Hiking, food poisoning, and FOG!
April 20, 2013: In Guilin, China, I got a HORRIBLE stomach sickness the day before my birthday, and to make a long, crazy story short: we spent the entire day hiking up a mountain as I was suffering with crazy stomach pain, using disgusting floor-hole-toilets along the way, just to finally reach the summit—which was SUPPOSED to be one of the most incredible views!—but instead it was FAR too foggy to see more than five feet in front of us! This story is still probably one of the most silly and ridiculous stories we tell people about our travels. Read the whole absurd story here.


Held up with sickness in Huế
June 5, 2013:  James came down with the flu—or something pretty horrible like the flu—when we were in Huế, Vietnam. He was TOTALLY knocked out and in a lot of pain, it was pretty horrible. On the first night of his sickness, I decided there was NO WAY I was going to make him suffer on a train the next morning as planned… so then I spent a few hours rebooking trains, planes, and hostels that we had scheduled for the next week and arranged for us to stay put in Huế a few extra days so James could recover and take antibiotics (which TOTALLY helped!) Fortunately, we were at a REALLY nice–and cheap–hostel, so it was a very pleasant place to be held up for some extra time.


The scariest experience during our travels…

The Vietnamese tour from hell
June 20, 2013: We booked a 3 day, 2 night tour from Vietnam through the Mekong Delta, ending in Cambodia. This was one of the only times we just randomly booked something without researching first. In short, the tour was boring and had poor tour guides, almost every detail of the trip was completely misrepresented in the tour description, we were dropped off at random villages (in the middle of nowhere) without directions, our hotel room on the last night had a RAT scurrying around under our beds, and at the border crossing our tour guide got CRAZY aggressive, told us he could throw us in jail, and almost assaulted James!!  If you want to read the whole story, including photos and videos, click here.


Puke-fest in Siem Reap
June 29, 2103: In Siem Reap, Cambodia, after a day or two of exploring gorgeous temples, James caught some kind of stomach bug and ended up puking SEVEN+ times throughout the night!  It took over a day and a half for him to recover from it all, so we didn’t end up exploring as many of the temples as we expected!… but he did eventually recover and then we were on our way to the next city.


Road rash! 🙁

Thailand Motorbike Spill!
July 8, 2013: One day while James and I were exploring our new little Thai island home, Koh Phangan, James took a turn on a sandy area of the road on the motorbike (not even going all that fast) and he took a minor spill!!  The bike basically turned out to the side and slid across the sandy asphalt. Luckily, I wasn’t on the bike with him at the time, nor was James injured all that much: he only suffered a little bit of road rash (his hands got scraped up)… but the rented motorbike got quite banged up!  Fortunately, since Thailand is SO CHEAP, it only cost an extra $100 or so for the mishap, and James’ hands healed up in a few weeks.


Our South Africa welcome gift: diarrhea & vomiting!
October 6, 2013: Pretty much upon my arrival to Cape Town, South Africa, both James and I came down with some crazy stomach bug and spent a good 24+ hours of puking, diarrhea, and overall nausea. James actually had to call in sick at work for the day because of it. Fun fun!


What do you do when you wake up to your lip looking like THIS!??

Lip injection gone wrong!?
October 27, 2013: One morning in Cape Town I woke up with a strange feeling in my lip.  When I looked into the mirror in the bathroom I saw that my upper lip on the right side was completely blown up! It seriously looked like I had gotten a lip injection or something and it had gone horribly wrong! I was SUPER freaked out so we rushed over to the urgent care at a local clinic to get it looked at.  In the end, they couldn’t quite explain the problem other than a strange allergic reaction, so the doctor gave me benadryl for a few days and said I should just wait for it to go down… which it did after a day or so. Meanwhile, James commented that he actually heard a mosquito buzzing around in his ear earlier–in the middle of the night– and sleepily thought, “I should probably get up and kill that mosquito or it may bite BreAnn!” and rolled back over in bed. Yup, James, assuming that damn little pest may have been the reason for my crazy lip, you might have done me a solid if you had just killed it! 🙂


Stolen from right under my nose
November 2013: The apartment we were living in while James worked in Cape Town had a weekly maid-cleaning service… and for a couple weeks there was a different cleaning woman coming in to clean. Well yea… at one point we discovered that she stole 10 bucks from my purse!!  Of course, it was only $10, but we were upset and astonished that she actually had the guts to steal from me while I was in the same apartment!! (she was upstairs and I was downstairs.)  Oh well… could’ve been worse!


Photo of infant James with his grandfather

Heartbreaking family emergency
November-December 2013: While we were living (and James was working) in Cape Town, we got the worst news possible: James’ grandfather, who he is very close with, had fallen ill and was given only a few months left to live! We immediately rebooked all our flights and changed all plans so that we could head back to the US for Christmas in a few weeks to spend some quality time with his grandfather and the family. Then, not too long thereafter (maybe one week or so) we THEN got word that his grandfather had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse and may not even make it another day or two at most!   We were absolutely devastated!!!  But we acted quickly and swiftly, and within a couple hours I had rebooked James’ flights again, helped him pack up, and got him on a plane THE NEXT MORNING back to Sacramento, California! (I stayed behind to wrap up the apartment and take care of everything else meantime.) It took over 24 hours of traveling, but James made it JUST IN TIME to spend valuable time with his grandfather (who kept asking about his whereabouts as James was in an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic), and he was actually there that night with his grandfather when he passed away. We were both so happy that James made it just in time and was able to communicate with and hug his grandfather before he passed, but overall it was just such a heartbreaking time for both of us. 🙁  (If you want to read the full story, click here.)


Stupid rookie travel mistake
January 8, 2014:  When we flew from California to South Korea, we made the BIGGEST “rookie” travel mistake by not remembering/realizing: When you travel WEST from the U.S. over the Pacific, you are arriving 1-2 days AFTER you departed!  We were actually only stopping in Seoul for one day (or so we thought), so we had booked a hostel and ongoing flights for what we thought was the next day. In short, the hostel and flights were, in reality, booked for the same & previous day!!! And we only realized that upon arrival at our hostel, when the owner exclaimed that we hadn’t shown up last night for our reservation! We were HIGHLY confused at first, but then got on the phone immediately to rebook everything, and were SUPER LUCKY that it all worked out in the end (after spending $300 in change fees)!!  Read about the whole ridiculous story here.


Victory! We set up our tent for the first night! Now ONLY if we had remembered to close the window flaps…

Soggy sleeping bags
January 21, 2014: On our FIRST NIGHT of our 20-day camping tour through Africa, it started to rain in the early evening. We happened to be at the campground bar at the time it started raining (yes, they actually had a bar—with cold beers!), and it didn’t occur to us that we SHOULD CLOSE THE TENT WINDOWS!!… and by the time we DID remember, our sleeping bags and some of our belongings were DRENCHED! Ugh!  Talk about a “fun” first night for sleeping in a tent!!  🙁


Sad stolen pants
February 4, 2014: During the three days we were camping out at Lake Malawi, we had hung our laundry out to dry… and somebody stole James’ zip-up cargo pants overnight RIGHT OFF THE LINE!  Sure, you may think, “But it’s only pants!?” But to James, it was one of only 3 pair that he had for the whole year!… oh yea, and this particular pair of pants also converted into his only pair of shorts. Sad!
Sad stolen pants!


Such an “ideal” situation: Setting up tents in the mud IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ANT HILL!!

Fire ant attack!!
February 6, 2014: After a painstaking 10+ hour trip sitting in THE BACK of a hot, sweaty bus (bumpy and miserable), we arrived at our campsite in Zambia, which was completely FLOODED. Yay… so we get to set up tents in the mud. Anyway, so while we were setting up our tent, we didn’t realize we were building it ON TOP OF AN ANT’S NEST/TRAIL, and I suddenly felt a bunch of sensations like pin pricks on my ankles and up my legs! I jumped around, confused, and thought I was going crazy or just being paranoid until I ran across the campsite, around the corner, and pulled my pants down, just to find I was completely covered from ankles to neck with biting fire ants!!! In case you are unfamiliar with these type of ants, when they bite you their pinchers go into your skin and when you try to remove or kill them, their pinchers and head stays in your skin and the rest of the body is ripped out! Oh my god, I was downright freaking out, completely itchy, and in total pain as I slapped my body everywhere trying to kill the hundreds of the ants that had attacked my body!!


Using a kettle lid to “protect” myself from the swooping bats!

Romantic Valentine’s dinner gone chaotic
February 14, 2014:  In Kruger Park, South Africa, we were staying overnight in a “luxury” canvas tent and had splurged for our romantic dinner by buying nice steaks and corn on the cob for a lovely meal together.  However, the electricity (that fired up the stove burners) kept tripping the circuit breakers, so we had to improvise and use a frying pan over a grill fire flame: which resulted in burnt corn on the cob and very chewy steak!  As we laughed and gulped down the food anyway in disappointment, a FROG randomly jumped into my lap at the same time that a bunch of BATS swooped down, narrowly missing my head!  Just imagine me screaming, throwing the frog, and ducking down as bats careened towards my face!!  At that point, we decided to just call it a night and escape back into our tent to hide from the crazy, swooping bats!


Scary driving conditions in Iceland!

Blasted off the icy road in Iceland
February 19, 2014:  While we were driving around Iceland in our dinky rental car (with James at the wheel), we encountered some pretty heavy winds on our second day.  At one point in our journey, in a remote area of the island and on a very icy section of the road, there was a sudden BLAST of incredible wind that completely knocked the car from one side of the road to the other… and we were suddenly on a VERY scary, swerving path of danger!!  If it wasn’t for James’ teenage experience with lots of fish-tailing in his 1969 (rear wheel drive) Mustang, we TOTALLY would have spun out, launched ourselves in the ditch, or even worse!  Fortunately, we made it safely to our hostel that night, and the rest of our time in Iceland was relatively calm!


So… there you have it. Of course there are a hundred more stories to tell from our travels, but these were the worst and/or most memorable. Which one(s) was your favorite?  Do you have a crazy traveling story to share with us as well? Please comment below and share!


MEANWHILE… here are two funny videos from our travels with us in UNFORTUNATE situations!—both which happen to actually be in French Polynesia!!

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2 responses to “The crazy side of travel: Unfortunate happenings during our round-the-world trip!”

  1. Ann says:

    Reading these stories all in one place is amazing, you guys are survivors! I don’t think I heard of the fire ants or the V-day dinner stories, the fire ants made me say OMG!! And I LOL on the V-day one imagining you trying to avoid a frog and swooping bats! xo

    • BreAnn BreAnn says:

      Haha!! Yea, I should tell you the vday story in person with hand gestures and all… it’s HILARIOUS looking back now. The damn frog came out of NOWHERE, and I think I was probably mid-bite into my corn on the cob at the time, so throwing food down, screaming, and launching the frog across the porch… all while bats were swooping above my head (James said it was getting worse and worse, too… the bats were out in FULL FORCE but he didnt say anything for awhile b/c he didnt want to freak me out!)
      Haha… It sounds like a scene from “Meet the Fockers” movie or something!! 🙂

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