My scariest travel moments

Travel diary

I love to travel, it’s exciting, it’s new, you’ll discover beautiful places and meet great people. However, not every moment is great when you’re traveling. In this article, I’ll share six of my scariest travel moments.

This article is also available in Dutch.

There’s a leech on my leg!

On a rainy afternoon in The Philippines, I decided to go for a walk. I heard there were several waterfalls in the area, so I wanted to check them out. Everything was soaking wet, so the roads were very slippery, and it took me forever to get to the waterfalls. At some point, I met this (tiny) woman with a huge machete, who showed me the way to the waterfalls. Se happened to be a ranger and everybody who wanted to visit the falls was supposed to register.

I had to walk the last kilometers to the falls alone, while she stayed at her office. It was kind of scary, I had to cross a river a couple of times, which was big and fast because of all the rain. I was happy to make it to the other side. Finally, I made it to a gorgeous waterfall, and I was so happy! While I did my happy dance, I felt something sticky on my leg, a leech! I panicked, pulled it off and threw it in the water. On my way back to the village, I checked my legs every minute, I didn’t feel like having another illegal hitchhiker.

Crazy taxi ride in Havana

My scariest travel moments - taxiride in Havana

It looks amazing, all the colorful oldtimers driving around in Havana. Everybody wants to go for a ride in one of these cars while they’re in Cuba right? That’s exactly what I thought on my first day in Cuba until I got into one of those cars. The driver drove like a crazy person in the busy city center of Havana. There were holes all over the car, and they were repaired with duct tape. I was scared most of the time, and so happy when I arrived at my destination.

My first encounter at US immigrations

Before I went on my first trip to the United States, I heard horror stories about US immigrations. Many horrible questions and it sounded like that you must be really lucky to get an entry stamp. We had a plan to go for a two-week road trip in Florida, and fly to Cuba (with a stopover at the Bahamas) afterward. Back in 2013, flying to Cuba from the USA was still a big thing, something you shouldn’t mention when you arrive in the US. The only papers we printed were our plane tickets to the Bahamas, so we came prepared. I was surprised to meet this friendly guy who just wanted to no about our road trip in Florida and wished us a great vacation. We had our stamp in minutes. Why were we so scared?

Staying in a beach hut during a tropical storm

My scariest travel moments - tropical storm

When I arrived at the tiny beach village Port Parton (The Philippines), I thought by myself “this tropical storm is not so bad”. Yes, it was raining a lot, but I’m used to that in The Netherlands. I slept in a small wooden hut on the beach and woke up around 4 am. The wind was smashing the walls, it sounded like the ocean came closer and closer and, it sounded like there was a waterfall on my roof. It was a really scary moment, I had nowhere else to go. After two hours it became quieter, the wind stopped and the rain went back to normal. Around noon, the sun came out like nothing ever happened and I’ve never been more relieved.

Get your travel buddy to the medical clinic asap

During my awesome road trip in Southwest USA, my travel buddy Jess became ill. She was so tired, sleep was the only option for her. She stayed at the hotel for a couple of days and took as much rest as possible. While I was hiking to the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, I got a text (luckily I always have service when I’m on top of a mountain) and she told me she wanted to see a doctor. I went back to the hotel as fast as I could and asked the reception in our hotel for our best options.

The nearest hospital was in Las Vegas, a 4-hour drive. Luckily, there was a medical clinic in Springdale, close to our hotel. We decided to go there and they were able to see Jess immediately. They checked everything, assured us we wouldn’t have to go to the hospital and we got a recipe for some prescription meds. After we got those, Jess was feeling better soon and we could continue and enjoy the rest of trip together.

A huge whale is swimming around our tiny boat

My scariest travel moments - whale Whitsundays

I went backpacking in Australia and went on the best tour ever: a multi-day sailing tour at the Whitsunday Islands. We snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef every single day and explored the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. It was just the start of the whale season, there hadn’t been any sightings yet. On our last day, our captain spotted one, really far away. He tried to get a little closer, but not too close (I believe you’re not allowed to sail in an area of 100 meters around a whale). We didn’t see the whale anymore, so we turned around and made our way back to the harbor.

Next thing I know, somebody is yelling and I see a whale coming up right next to the boat. Our captain tells us it’s just a baby. But where’s mommy? We see a huge black spot swimming underneath our boat. Our sailboat is about 15 meters long, but this whale was at least 18 meters long! Luckily, she came surfaced on the other side of the boat, she could’ve crashed the boat easily. At the moment itself it was really excited and awesome to see the whale, but afterward, the captain told me he was really scared. He thought mommy would see our boat as an enemy who wanted to harm her baby. Our amazing trip could’ve ended very differently…

What are your scariest travel moments? Share them in the comments!

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