Although I’m an experienced travel it doesn’t mean things don”t go wrong, or there are no longer any bad decisions or mistakes…
My backpacking life has not been smooth by a longshot. Since I first picked up my backpack in 2010, I’ve left a breadcrumb trail of backpacking mishaps and things not going to plan all over the world. Shit has hit the fan on multiple occasions and I’ve made some massive fuck ups along the way.
One of my backpacking moto’s is ‘be prepared not to be prepared’ – Most the time I’m telling myself that. But backpacking mishaps lead to the best travel stories and that’s what this post is; A collection of stories of things going wrong traveling
Living this nomadic life, I know there can be backpacking mistakes, things can go wrong. Things like delays, lost luggage, mother nature taking things into her own hands, falling ill, losing money, it could be anything. Backpacking problems or backpacking mishaps can happen to anybody, but they seem to be a regular occurrence for me. A backpacking mishap or problem could be lurking around any corner!
Sit back, put your feet up and enjoy these summaries of my backpacking mishaps! Feel free to laugh, call me an idiot, possibly be shocked but these backpacking mishaps have actually added to my adventure and journey over the years.
start of reasons
In this backpacking mishaps post, I’m gonna dive into 14 fuck ups and backpacking problems that have happened to me and occurred over the years. Some have been my fault, others out of my hands.
- In the hostel owners pocket
- This one is on me!
- If it wasn’t for Haribo sour worms
- Monkey business
- They finally got me
- The border crossing scam
- The jumped up highway cop
- New Years Eve crackheads
- Marrakech mishap
- Weirdest road trip ever
- Bali strikes again
Australia, Sydney 2011 - The first of many backpacking mishaps
BACKPACKING MISTAKE NO 1: IN THE OWNERS POCKET!
There had already been a few warning signs before this backpacking mishap but I chose to ignore them even though I was fully aware of the predicament I was getting myself into. This was my first ever backpacking trip and from the get-go, I knew I’d arrived in Sydney in without a lot of money. £600 to be exact, for a year long working working holiday visa, of course that was nowhere near enough but I was too busy having fun.
To nobody’s surprise, I ran out of money very fast, because I fell deep into backpacking culture and the hostel bubble and enjoyed partying way too much. I started to work for my accommodation, and therefore fell into the hostel owners pocket. It was not a nice place to be. There was an incident, one of the main pipes had burst and overflowed onto the street in the middle of the then notorious Kings Cross.
This pipe was a sewage pipe, shit was literally flowing onto the street. He could have called out a cleaning company, but he had somebody who could do it for free. He had somebody who wasn’t in a position to say no to him. Yup, you guessed it, this guy! In one of the most humiliating afternoons of my life, I was out in the middle of a busy street cleaning rancid sewage with nothing but a broom and a hosepipe. The stench was everywhere, it was foul, people looked at me like I caused it. The things you do for a bed!
Australia, Sydney, Bondi beach 2012 - The backpacking mishaps continue
A VERY WET SUNRISE; THIS BACKPACKING MISHAP WAS MY FAULT!
Sydney had become my base over the two years I spent in Australia. I had just returned after completing my rural work to extend my visa for a further year. In my absence, a few friends of mine had moved to a house in Bondi, and it had become tradition to go watch a sunrise after a night of partying. Once I returned, I was introduced to the new tradition.
All of us drunk and high, stood on a spot my friends were familiar with, a couple of them were fishing on the rocks. The sun exposed itself from the horizon and it was an incredible moment, one I’ll cherish forever because of the people I got to share that moment with. However things took a turn as I wasn’t made aware that once the sun took its place in the sky, the sea levels rose and covered the exposed rocks we stood on.
My friends knew how to navigate the rocks I followed my friends footsteps but here’s the thing, he is much taller than me, his strides a lot wider. You see where this is going? With my beer in hand I took a step but there was nothing solid underneath it. Before I knew it, I was submerged under the sea, between two large rocks. Much to the amusement of my friends, fully submerged under the sea, my main concern was to save my beer over my own wellbeing. With a little helping hand I was pulled from the sea, unscathed but clothes drenched, phone ruined, wallet full of seaweed.
This backpacking mishap was my own fault and not too bad but could only happen to me.
New Zealand 2013 - Queenstown
HARRIBO SOUR WORM SWEETS WERE THE SAVIOUR
Things go wrong backpacking and being out of pocket and broke as a joke is never fun but in Queenstown it was ok. I loved the place and I could get by. That was until my equally broke Canadian friend arrived from Australia (You know who you are).
We were as broke as each other and it was only a matter of time before we encountered some backpacking problems. We didn’t have to wait long; kicked out of our hostel and living in the shittest little hut which was miss-sold to us but we didn’t have any other options.
We were broke, the place had no heating and we practically slept in a box. There were days we couldn’t afford to eat a proper meal, living off our own scraps, we didn’t know whether to cry or laugh our heads off in despair at this backpacking mishap.
The one thing that got us through those extremely painful and touch times; Haribo sour worms, for many a night that was our only main meal. Backpacking, living the dream right?
The lowest point came as we returned from a snowboarding trip, we were so broke, we had to walk back from the airport back into Queenstown, hitched a ride a little of the way, realised we were homeless, had no money for food, drinks or smokes.
Fortunately, using some magic we were able to get some accommodation, in an even worse place than the shit box, we could do nothing but eat Haribo sour worms, and laugh at this backpacking mishap we had got ourselves into. But that period bonded us for life.
Thailand 2014 - Ko PHI PHI DON
I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS BACKPACKING MISHAPS COMING – MONKEY BUSINESS
Family, friends, anybody who knows me for more than a day will start referring to me as a monkey. It started when I was young, my grandad called me one for basically being so hyperactive and my love for climbing anything I could, especially trees.
So of course when I came across a monkey while traveling through Thailand, (not in a zoo, sanctuary or captured) I was obviously very excited. In turn so was the monkey, I jumped around the monkey jumped around and then onto me. As the monkey climbed over my head, I made the mistake by lifting my hand up towards it.
I thought it would take my hand but instead it reached forward and bit me. Not only did I have a war raging on with Mosquitoes but the monkey bit me too. Thankfully no harm was done, it didn’t break my skin. But lesson learned from this backpacking mishap, admire monkeys from a distance and don’t give them a hand.
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Bali, Indonesia 2015 - Seminyak
THE LITTLE SHITS FINALLY GOT ME!
When you live in a foreign country, or Island in this case, you get to know about the things that go on there. You learn and see the way things operate and see under the veil, and this was the case with the scamming little kids in Bali.
They would beg in groups, pretending to be homeless but were also master pickpockets. Their favourite area was outside the main bars and clubs, every tourist or traveler was a mark for these little fuckers.
I was fully aware of the scam, and normally was very vigilant with my belongings no matter how drunk I was. However on this night I let my guard down for just a second and that’s all it took for one of them to grab my wallet as I sat in the taxi. As soon as I sat down I knew it was gone, I saw the kid run off.
No matter what when you lose your shit at a little kid, even if they are begging and scamming people you’re the one frowned upon.
I never got my wallet back.
THE BORDER CROSSING SCAM
Border scams are well known through central and South America, I was aware of them so I decided against taking local transport for my first land crossing from Mexico through Belize into Guatemala. Big Mistake. Along with 25 other backpackers, we skipped over the border with a private company who assured us they would ‘take care of it all’. The crossing was smooth, it looked like we got stamped in and thought nothing more of it.
Just over a month later while leaving Guatemala for Nicaragua, I was held up at the border crossing, the officer couldn’t see an entry stamp. I laughed it off, I was adamant it was there. But then panic hit as I realised I’d been scammed, the stamp was just a post office stamp no official entry stamp. I explained the situation but he wasn’t having any of it, he gave me two options; to remain in Guatemala and be picked up by immigration for over staying my visa or to pay him a fine of $400US.
IT wasn’t a fine, it was a bribe. I held firm saying no way I would pay. He tried to scare me with threats of jail time but thankfully my driver who wasn’t on the take stepped in. In the end I had to pay $50US to make it go away, he backdated an entry stamp and we were on our way. But I found out the original company were in on the scam, they did this to so many unsuspecting travellers. That was the last time I took a private reputable company over the border. I learnt from this backpacking mishap!
Colombia 2015 - Overnight bus from San Gil to Medellin
STUPID JUMPED UP HIGHWAY PATROL COP!
This backpacking mishap was a continuation of the weirdest 24 hours in the San Gil jungle. Just when we thought things were calming down this backpacking mishap decided to jump in our face.
The day before so much went wrong trying to get to the waterfall in San Gil, there was the incident with the bull, being left on a side of a dirt track in the pitch black, thinking we were going to get kidnapped, missing our scheduled overnight bus once we finally got back in town.
The ride hadn’t been smooth at all, the journey just continued the fucked up day we had beforehand. About an hour outside of Medellin, in the foothills of the mountains the bus was stopped by local highway police for a routine ID check.
I was used to them, no big deal, normally they see you’re a tourist and carry on. I don’t know what it was this morning but there was one cop who saw both mine and my friends BRITISH passports – but didn’t believe us.
He hauled us off the bus, and there was a lot of back and forth for an hour. He thought we were somehow Venezuelan, even though both had English accents. Even his cop friends told him to let us go but he wouldn’t.
He actually called Bogota airport and immigration. In the end we were google translating to each other, other passengers were pissed off at us for holding them up. It was just a nightmare 24 hours. This backpacking mishap was not my fault.
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Colombia 2016 - Bogotá
NEW YEARS EVE CRACKHEADS
The La Candelaria part of Bogota at night can be a little shady, but I had been there for a while and had no issues. There are a few homeless crackheads roaming around but once they’re familiar with you they tend not to bother you and that was the case on New Years eve. Well, until a new crackhead emerged. I was on the balcony of a local bar having a smoke as usual, and a new face appeared on the streets, he saw me and asked if I wanted to buy some cocaine. I politely refused him.
Through the night he kept appearing on the street below, acting violent towards the local crackheads like he was trying to claim a new territory for him and his friends. He didn’t like that I declined his offer, and kept giving me evil looks to the point he start motioning to cut my throat. This was not how I planned my night to go. I knew the local barman and he advised me to stay until the bar closed and he’s escort me out, I was grateful, this was a backpacking mishap I did not want anything to do with.
Morocco, Marrakech 2017 - New Years Eve
I BLAME THIS BACKPACKING MISHAP ON THE FUCKING HASHISH!
There is a reason I don’t like smoking weed and especially hashish…Give me pills, Cocaine, MDMA, I’m fine but weed – It royally fucks me up! And that was exactly what just a couple of pulls did to me to lead to this backpacking mishap.
It was yet another New Years eve in another country, along with the friend of mine we were drunk and celebrating the new year. The manager of the hostel and his brother offered me some hashish which I’d refused all week. Only this time Fuelled up with Jack Daniels I took a couple of pulls and that was all she wrote. I have no recollection of what happened next; until I was told about my backpacking mishaps and indiscretions the day after.
I had apparently lost control of my body, was all over the shop, threw up in multiple bathrooms. I fell asleep on all three floors, in corridors and balconies of the hostel. Although I did somehow make it back to my dorm, I didn’t make it to my bed, I fell asleep in somebody else’s. Luckily I knew the person and she saw the funny side of it. This shit could only happen to me.
Portugal, Porto, Braga and the North 2018 - Geres National park
A BACKPACKING MISHAP TO FORGET: THE FUCKED UP ROAD TRIP!
If you ever get into a position where you’re getting drunk with a few people and somebody who encouraged you to drink but doesn’t drink themselves suggests going on a road trip, don’t accept, even if you think It’s a joke.
Here’s what happened for this backpacking mishap to unfold…Along with a French guy and a Italian girl the three of us were having a few drinks in the hostel, we got a little drunk. An Israeli guy we kinda knew who didn’t drink asked if we wanted to go to the Geres national park on a road trip, we didn’t think he was serious, and we said sure. Not giving it another thought we carried on enjoying our night.
The next day, he was waiting for us, he had already rented a car much to our shock. Alarm bells should have rung at that point but me and the French guy thought what harm could it be and decided to go. What a mistake.
This guy turned out to be the biggest creep and weirdest guy I’ve ever come across. This guy was a pervert, he wanted to prey on girls, but he didn’t have social skills to talk to them. He abusively did try and talk to one local girl n front of her boyfriend, which nearly got us into a fight. The whole plan beforehand was to stay in a campsite in the national park but turns out he only wanted to do that because he thought we could just turn up and sleep with girls without even talking to them.
What a fucking weirdo!
This is how fucked up he was, we’re in the middle of the national park and he wanted to go cruising to find nightclubs! yeah exactly where the fuck do you find a nightclub in the middle of the forest. It didn’t end there, he tried to break into a hostel, then the following day once we were in Braga, me and the French guy wanted to ditch him at the first chance. We booked into a hostel, and this fucking weird fuck, decided to go have a shower in the girls only bathroom before we had even checked in.
The owner was about to throw us all out, but once we explained the previous nights transcriptions the owner let us stay but threw him out. This is a backpacking mishap that will never happen again!
Bali, Indonesia 2019 - Legion
FUCK YOU BALI – A HOTSPOT FOR MY BACKPACKING MISHAPS
In all my backpacking years, all the backpacking mishaps or when things go wrong backpacking, I had only ever been robbed or pickpocketed once. That was in Bali the previous time I was there. Well that became a second time.
It had been 4 years since I was last in Bali, my memory though was fresh in the knowledge of petty crime, the fake taxi scams, the pickpockets and those little shits that stole my wallet the last time.
It seems though, over the years they’ve taken their skills up a few levels. I was walking down one of the main roads, late at night, hardly any cars or bikes, except for those off the meter drivers, which I politely waved off if they tried to hail me. I had my valuables in check, and was texting a friend.
One of these fuckers, turned his moped engine off, rolled up behind me like a ninja stealth assassin, sprang his arm out, snatched my phone from my grips and rode off before I could comprehend what happened. As i did, I tried to give chase, but running in flip flops doesn’t get you far. This was Bali too so nobody wanted to help
Backpacking mishaps will continue, I'm sure
I’m sure there will be plenty more in the future. As a long term budget backpacker, drifting around the world, when these mishaps and problems happened they were not fun at all but looking back, they just add to the story of this unknown journey I’m on.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, these are just a few of my backpacking mishaps and time when things go wrong backpacking.
Would you like to see this post converted into a more detailed book of my backpacking mishaps over the years? The book will include some notable absences like when the Australian tax office led me to believe my identity had been stolen. And, being so broke again I had to glue my shoes together, and the painful aftermath of a rave in Portugal, plus more….
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