Travel is glamorous only in retrospect. – Paul Theroux
As world travelers, we are often treated as though our lives are ultra glamorous and that it must be a party every time we are on the go. After all, if you have the “luxury” to travel, then even your bad day isn’t really that bad, right?
Eh. Kind of.
The truth is, even in our worst moments, we would rather be traveling than not. However, that does not mean that our worst moments are not “that bad” nor are they free of consequences just because we are on travel.
As we close in on 2016, here are our worst travel moments of the year.
Hong Kong & China
At the beginning of this year, Saadia went to Hong Kong and China for 16 days, she was severely sick for 15 of them. She had an uncontrollable cough around the clock, which would get worse if she was in heat (imagine that given the trip was in the middle of winter) or any enclosed space (cars, planes, stores, essentially any living space). Her cough led to constant vomiting (we’re talking, walking and puking). To say it was exhausting would be an understatement. Still, in the midst of all that anguish, she managed to visit Disneyland Hong Kong, Victoria’s Peak, Hong Kong markets, hike two separate sections of the Great Wall, survive 4 flights. The minute she came home, she was perfectly fine. We are pretty certain it was the pollution, because no matter how many different types of medicine she took there, nothing would suppress the cough. It was the single longest trip in which she was sick the entire time.
Kapil went to Iceland on a solo trip. It has been on his list for a long time and he was thrilled to finally arrive in this beautiful country. Sadly, immediatley upon arrival, he got the news of his Grandfather passing away. It was the single worst travel moment of the year. He had to return back to the states on the next available flight, which happened to be the following morning. With a few hours to spare, and a very heavy heart, he walked around Reykjavik to help him gather his composure before the deeply saddening trip back home.
Missing you, Grandpapa.
Over the summer, Saadia went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise to Bermuda. It was a 5 day cruise with 2 days on the island. On island day 1, Saadia decided to rent a moped and explore the islands (she had a list of beaches she wanted to see and this was the most adventurous way to do it). Well, needless to say it was indeed adventurous. Before reaching her first destination, she got into an accident on her moped (luckily not hitting the incoming car by mere centimeters). In an effort to avoid colliding into the car, she tried to stop her moped but lost control of the giant and heavy vehicle and fell over, resulting in the moped to fall on her. She could tell right away that her foot was hurt, BUT she had no idea that she had just fractured her foot and broken her toes. With the help of some very kind Bermuda government workers nearby, her foot was cleaned up, bandaged and she was even given a lift on their vehicle to her first beach destination (priorities). Refusing to go back to the ship and losing out on a day of fun, she continued to her walk on her foot (albeit incredibly slowly) and by the time she had returned back to the states, her foot was triple the size and completely black and blue. At this point, it was pretty difficult to deny the severity of the injury. She spent the next 3 months in a foot cast, under house arrest with her foot constantly elevated (per doctor’s orders). It was the longest she had gone in her life without stepping out of the house.
We spent one night at the Hilton Phoenix Airport hotel so we could get some rest and start our road trip to Page, Arizona fresh the next morning. As a result, neither one of us had unpacked much of her things. When we gathered our belongings to leave the next day, Saadia ensured she had everything with her – something she is quite meticulous about. About 40 minutes into our drive, she realized she didn’t have her watch on her. It was a purple Michael Kors watch that her brother had gifted her for her birthday; it was of sentimental value.
Realizing exactly where she had left it, she immediately called the hotel and requested to have the room checked. The hotel staff mentioned that the room had not yet been cleaned so they would check and get back to us shortly. A few minutes later, they called back, sadly to say nothing had been found in the room, not in the place Saadia mentioned leaving the watch nor anywhere else.
Considering there was nothing we could say/do about it now, we politely thanked them for searching and hung up. To this day Saadia is 110% sure that the watch was exactly where she had left it and there was no way to miss something so bright! We complained about the incident on a hotel survey, to which we received a response, and it was the same: the room was searched, no watch was found.
Losing the watch is something she is still upset about, especially since replacing it has proven to be quite difficult. The watch was a seasonal design and has not been available for purchase since.
We went on a road trip through Arizona and Utah, and if you’ve never been there, be warned, the roads are not your typical city highway roads. On the drive up to Zion National Park, Kapil, who has a severe fear of heights had us in a pretty rough situation driving up and down the mountains to, from and within Zion. With no rails to put a stop between you and the hundreds of feet drop off the side of the cliffs/mountains, it was incredibly difficult for him to drive and not to mention dangerous all around. There were times he would literally drive on the other side of the road (we were thanking our lucky stars for every incoming car we avoided) and completely losing his cool.
Even though he has jumped off the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland prior to this trip, he still hasn’t conquered his fear of heights as we would have hoped.
Will he be road tripping through the Southwest any time soon?
While visiting the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery, we were walking down the steps to the river to get a closer look at the Oberbaum Bridge, when two young women approached us to sign a petition with regards to providing transportation for children. Normally, we won’t stop to sign anything and even here, we hesitated when initially approached, but once the girls mentioned children, we figured, what’s the harm? While signing the petition, Saadia had my phone on one hand, and the pen to sign with in the other. Our friend, Ana, had a phone and an umbrella in her hands so she put her phone in her pocket to free up her hand. While we were both signing, a third person (guy) approached us too and we wondered why he was approaching us when we were already signing. No sooner had the thought passed, and we had finished signing did Ana put her hand in her pocket to grab her phone, and realized it was gone. We knew immediately, he took it! That’s why he approached us in the huddle even though we were already signing. He swiped the phone from her pocket! No more than 15 seconds had passed when we turned around to look for them and they were long gone. Not a sign of them as far as the eyes could see. We were stunned. How had we been so stupid? This was the classic scam! Sign a petition, get distracted, get phone (or something else) stolen.
Of course, that phone was never to be found. We called to report the phone stole and long story short, Ana had to purchase a new phone from the Apple store in Berlin. Considering we still had half the trip remaining, this was more than just an inconvenience.
Prior to departing for this Photography concept trio to Germany, Kapil began to feel sick. He had no idea how bad it was going to get until he arrived in Munich. For the next few days, he was practically bed ridden. His body ached, throat hurt, voice gone; it was a really crappy start to the trip. He had plans to go to various places in both Germany and nearby Austria, and while he was not able to make it to all of them, he did pull himself together to be able to photograph a couple of locations.
When we would try to speak over the phone, it was clear that even that was painful. But every cloud has a silver lining because the locations he was able to make it to, he captured some of his best photography. Just look at this beautiful shot of the Neuschwanstein Castle.
On Eva Airlines to Taiwan
Kapil was traveling from New York to Taiwan on EVA Airlines, and as usual, he had his chosen aisle seat. His seat mate, most likely Taiwanese, began speaking to him in presumably Mandarin, which Kapil does not understand. The man continued to speak to him for hours and Kapil simply nodded.
About half way to Taiwan, Kapil thought he would attempt to fall asleep, which is a real struggle for him on flights. Unfortunately, his sleeping seat mate took the liberty of spreading himself out (including his head) into Kapil’s seat area. Kapil did not say anything and let the man sleep. Figured, one of them might as well get some rest. Needless to say, it was quite an uncomfortable experience for him, especially considering it was a long haul flight. Not necessarily the most awful thing to happen, but if you were stuck with someone all over your seat for some 12+ hours, you’d be annoyed too.
Kapil was in Manila, Philippines to attend Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) Asia Pacific. One of his pre conference tours was a food tour through Chinatown. He absolutely loved it; the experience with Old Manila Walks was amazing. At one of the food vendor stops, they were all handed an unknown (to him) dish and when the guide was explaining the details of the the dish, Kapil was not able to hear him clearly. Assuming it was candy (because that’s what it looked like to him), he ate it and expected it to taste as such. When it didn’t taste anything like a sugary substance, he asked one of the fellow bloggers on the tour what the food item was. Turns out, it was pork floss. So why would that be a worst moment? Well, it wouldn’t be for everyone, but Kapil does not eat pork so you can see why it wound up on this list.
Where do we begin? We found an amazing deal to Milan on Emirates, one of our most awaited airlines to fly on this year. As a result, we booked it…months ago! When it came down to planning the trip, we were debating on where to go since we had been to Milan a few times previously.
Saadia wanted to go to Rome, Kapil was very excited about Rome, it’s a city he’s been trying to go to for over a decade but warned Saadia not to visit Rome at this time, given the complexity of the itinerary built. Saadia was very adamant about visiting Rome and put her foot down that she wants to make Rome happen this year. To please her, Kapil reluctantly obliged but continued to press that this was not the best idea.
So what puts this on the worst travel moment list? The whopping 19-21 hours transit in each direction! And not because we were traveling great distance. In fact, we were just traveling from the east coast of the USA to Italy! Want to know how that happened? Just check out our itinerary below:
New Jersey → New York JFK | mode of transportation: car | transit time: 80 minutes
wait time: 2 hours
New York JFK → Milan Malpensa MXP | mode of transportation: airplane | transit time: 7.5 hours
wait time: 60 minutes
Milan Malpensa MXP → Milano Centrale | mode of transportation: bus | transit time: 60 minutes
wait time: 90 minutes
Milano Centrale → Roma Termini| mode of transportation: train | transit time: 3.5 hours
wait time: 20 minutes
Roma Termini → Hotel | mode of transportation: metro + walking | transit time: 20 minutes
Total time: 19 hours
As you can see, this is ridiculous. But wait, there’s more. We did the exact same thing back, with an additional stop and mode of transportation.
Hotel → Roma Termini | mode of transportation: taxi | transit time: 20 minutes
wait time: 60 minutes
Roma Termini → Milano Centrale | mode of transportation: train | transit time: 3.5 hours
wait time: 30 minutes
Milano Centrale → Milan Malpensa MXP | mode of transportation: bus | transit time: 60 minutes
wait time: 4 hours
Milan Malpensa MXP → New York JFK| mode of transportation: airplane | transit time: 8.5 hours
wait time: 2 hours
New York JFK → Newark International EWR | mode of transportation: shuttle | transit time: 60 minutes
wait time: 20 minutes
Newark International EWR → Home | mode of transportation: car | transit time: 30 minutes
Total time: 21 hours
Not to mention that while in Rome, we changed hotel a total of 3 times within the city, THREE TIMES.
This was an exhausting commute and nothing short of a mess, the mess Kapil had warned Saadia against. Albeit a bit too late, Saadia agrees, it was not a great idea to travel to Rome via all those transit points in between.
And that concludes our worst travel moments of the year.
Did you have any travel moments that were absolutely terrible this year? What were they? Share below!
Until next time, Happy and Safe Travels!