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The Most Stressful Travel Stories from Around the World

Picture of Nadia Elysse
US Editorial Team Lead
Updated: 30 November 2017
While the goal of travel is usually to relax, sometimes you can encounter so many obstacles while on holiday that you “need a vacation from your vacation.” We asked travelers from around the world (and many right here at Culture Trip) about their most stressful travel experiences. Here’s what they said.

8. Bangkok, Thailand

“I found Bangkok to be very stressful. There are many tourist scams to avoid, a lot of drunken debauchery to side step, feral dog packs to avoid, and just a general sense of chaos in the city. There are so many other places in Thailand (such as Chiang Mai) to visit, I would not recommend staying in Bangkok more than a day for the sake of your sanity!”

—Nikki Vargas, Culture Trip Travel Editor

7. Toronto to Montreal

“[I] just recently returned from Canada, where Toronto, Montreal and beautiful Nova Scotia were on our destination list. Obviously all that was not without stressful situations. So, for example, traveling by car to Montreal from Toronto – suddenly all English road signs and every other sign as well vanished and everything [was] in French. Thank God we had Google navigation and successfully reached our desired spot.”

—Tanya Litkovska, @hidemycoat

6. Milan, Italy

“My most stressful travel experience occurred in one of my favorite places—Milan, Italy, in June 2005. I was robbed on a subway by a band of gypsies. They pushed me onto the ground as the subway doors were closing and as I scrambled to stand up I noticed my wallet had been expertly removed from my handbag. I spent a few hours with the police attempting to explain what had happened in Italian and had to have money wired to me to get home. Looking back it makes a great story but was a horribly stressful experience!”

—Beth Doane, @bethdoane

@daryan | Unsplash

5. Hawaii to New York

“I arrived at the airport about an hour before my flight had been scheduled to find that it had been moved up and would depart a half hour earlier than expected. No problem right? Wrong. The tiny one-terminal airport had already closed the check-in counters and would not allow me through security. I watched my flight depart from the parking lot. The silver lining? If you have to be stuck somewhere, it might as well be paradise. The not-so-silver part? I was stuck at LAX two days later for a full 24 hours while waiting on a standby ticket home.”

—Roxy Lane, Culture Trip Newsletter Editor

4.London to France

“My most stressful trip was definitely to France taking a bus through the Chunnel from London. Would not recommend it—they turn off all the lights and power of the bus when you go through the border and this is often in the middle of the night… so French officers have to wake up everyone on board the bus. Then, make them get out the bus all groggy, check passports and stamp them then let some people get back on the bus while others get questioned further. Jarring and stressful experience!”

—Meredith Bragg, @mbraggz

3. Skiathos, Greece

“My most stressful travel experience happened this past summer when I made my way to the island of Skiathos in Greece. I arrived at a beautiful hotel overlooking the ocean and was in chill mode, ready to start my travel adventure. As I handed my cash over to the taxi driver I noticed that my suitcase was not in the car. It turns out my taxi driver didn’t load my case and it just vanished. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe, which was stressful, expensive and daunting. My travel advice to anyone going to Greece, is to always load your own suitcase into the taxi. I don’t believe my case was purposefully stolen, but I think the taxi guy was in a rush and just forgot.”

—Lauren Bissett, @thetravelingtvproducer

@goodspleen | Unsplash

2. Nicaragua

“In 1987, I went to Nicaragua to cover the filming of Walker for the Village Voice. On my last day there, I went to the Pacific Coast with the cast and crew. Joe Strummer of The Clash smeared muddy sand on my chest on the beach because if didn’t have any sun block. Myself and the woman publicist were left behind by the bus. A pickup truck came round to see if anyone has been stranded. I got in the back with three or four sandalistas [this is the correct spelling for American volunteer field workers] and left my bag with a week’s worth of interview tapes against the tailgate. The publicist got in beside the driver. The rain came crashing down. We arrived, completely sodden, around midnight. I returned to New York and stayed in bed for a week with the flu.”

—Graham Fuller, Culture Trip Film Editor

1. Colombia

“It’s not optimally set up for foreign tourists yet. Case in point: the most popular bus company takes bookings through Facebook. [My husband] and I turn up to get on our bus and not only do they not have a record of our booking, there isn’t even a bus scheduled to leave at the time I reserved. They gave me a business card for their office in a nearby town, which with a lot of difficulty we eventually located, only to find it closed. It was a stressful day, compounded by the fact that I can’t speak Spanish.”

—Esme Benjamin, Culture Trip Wellness Editor