7 years and 25 countries later we’ve had our fair share of epic travel fails. Lauren thought Barcelona was a country, Darren nearly shat himself in Disneyland, we nearly killed each other on Lake Bled and those were just the ones that didn’t make the list. Anyone else wondering how we’ve made it this far? This post has sat in drafts for a while, ashamed of our stupidity to actually publish it and share our shame with the internet. A bottle of Shiraz later, we feel it’s time to hit publish, swallow our pride and share these funny anecdotes from our travel fails with you all…
RIDING A CAMEL ACROSS THE SAHARA
Don’t you just hate it when you spend over a grand each on a holiday that you instantly regret? After watching Sex in the City 2, I had a romantic vision of glamorously gallivanting through the desert riding a camel like an Arabian princess. So, the holiday search began. Where could we travel to that offered riding a camel as part of the norm, you know, like donkeys in Greece and tractors in Scotland? We settled on Tunisia.
On day two, so horrifically hungover (the 4 star hotel had an underground nightclub – it’s our fault they lost the 5thstar) we met with a holiday rep who sold us our camel excursion for 3 times the price any sane person would pay. We set off the following day and after a morning of learning about the history of Tunisian dates we landed in the desert.
Reality soon hit when I realised, what they can’t share through the Sex & The City screen is the smell of camel. Worse than Daz after a 5 bean chilli. Then I hadn’t fully considered the whole redhead in the desert thing, factor 50 may as well have been baby oil.
Finally, a little like online dating we were matched to our camel. Daz would argue it was based on personality – his was a well behaved, well groomed, polite and a no-nonsense sorta chap. Mine was like a 3 year old after 2 kilos of blue smarties and a generous helping of Sunny Delight. F**king Mental. It bucked, it spat and I swear it hissed at one point.
Instead of my Sex & The City vision, I was on a real life Buck, buck, BUCKAROO. (yes I know he was a donkey.) Needless to say I was terrified. My Sahara desert-kaftan-goddess vision for Instagram was out the window and I was already furiously writing the Tripadvisor Camel review in my head. Darren on the other hand, was miles ahead chatting up his new Camel riding-pro lady friends discussing the latest saddle trends and what not.
I laughed in the tour guide’s face when he suggested my sweaty, stressed, sulking face pose for a photo opportunity. I’d rather attempt a selfie with a shark, mate. To my utter surprise, I survived. Even more to my surprise, I bought the tour guide’s photo.
A wee note to add, we in no way endorse unethical treatment of animals and would never partake in an activity which we felt was unfair or harmful to animals in anyway. We felt the camels were well fed, watered and looked after. Lauren on the other hand, was traumatised.
SNORKELLING IN FIJI
Fiji was number 1 on our bucket list for so many reasons. Now it ends up on this list of fails for so many reasons. It is one of our most traumatic yet funny anecdotes (so far). Firstly, we arrived during a Cyclone – cue Mr Daz “I worked in the North Sea, these waves aren’t big” going ghost white as the waves crashed over our boat. Then when our wobbly legs eventually land on dry land, we are told it’s a 40 minute walk over a hill to our resort. During said surprise walk, Darren’s toes are nibbled by piglets and I genuinely feel I’ve landed in an episode of Lost.
Eventually we arrive at our resort a tad confused. We are greeted by 3 people – a chef, a waitress and a house keeper. That’s it. No other guests, just us. Unsure whether to feel like the Kardashians or survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Turns out, due to the weather just us Scottish ones stuck it out and we are the only guests in this unplanned private resort.
Although our Scottish-ness means we can cope in all weathers, it also means we drive a hard bargain and we were a little concerned regarding our activities package we had pre-booked. Turns out, *shocker* due to the cyclone, the activities package was cancelled, meaning so was our snorkelling trip. The kind chef however offered us equipment free of charge from our resort and explained the basics.
We can deal with bad weather, we can deal with cancelled activities but turns out, we can’t deal with being told what to do and not one jot of advice the instructor chef told us, we listened to. Cue blood, sweat and tears as we attempt and fail spectacularly at our first snorkelling experience. The best part? I didn’t even click record on the Go-Pro so the handful of fish we did see, between the choking on salt water and near drowning we can’t even show you anyway.
We have written a full post of advice on backpacking Fiji so you can learn from our mistakes. Alternatively, if you’d like to see what happens when paradise doesn’t go to plan you can watch our outtakes video below because a) we have zero shame and b) it’s the only Fiji footage we have.
ROOFTOP RESTAURANT - CRETE
Picture the scene: candle lit, rooftop restaurant over looking the shore on the Greek island of Crete. Divine food partnered with traditional music, it could rival any Jane Austen nonsense. That is until I’d to excuse myself from the table. Ten minutes passed. Twenty Minutes passed. Thirty Minutes passed.
Darren questioned if I’d been kidnapped? Or had I ran off with a handsome Greek waiter? Nope, I’d endured such toilet trauma from an under-cooked seafood BBQ from the previous day, that not only did we have to abandon desert, but Darren very nearly abandoned me altogether.
Should have stuck to Pot Noodles in our room to be honest.
HAWAII MISSILE ALERT - OUR LAST SUPPER
Although one of our funny anecdotes, this is a full blown near death experience caused by a text. We were on the Big Island of Hawaii – home to pineapples, palm trees, beautiful beaches and Hula Honeys. Where were we? McDonalds. Don’t judge.
Anyway, my phone starts to vibrate like crazy, not just Sunday-morning-in-the-group-chat crazy but actual crazy. It was flashing a warning that read “Emergency Alert, Ballistic Missile Threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter, This is not a drill”
Immediately I was angry for two reasons. Firstly, if it was false, Darren had clearly been on some dodgy websites using my phone. If it was true, my last meal on earth was going to be in McDonalds.
So what did we do? Do we phone our families and say our final goodbyes? Do we tell each other how much we love each other? Do we order a second big Mac, cause well, an extra 600 calories doesn’t matter anymore? Instead, we went on Twitter. It’s funny in a life or death situation how your brain works. Thirty eight fear/McFlurry filled minutes later, there was finally an alert this was in fact a mistake. That’s 38 minutes where I sat and near sobbed into my nuggets.
And yes, we did learn from Twitter. Turns out, the Emergency Alert fellow must’ve had a big night out and had simply clicked the wrong button. As in, emergency messaged the entire population of Hawaii that a missile was en route, do not pass go, do not collect £200.
We later learned of people who had called their bosses and told them what they really thought and of the mothers who’d locked themselves in the bathroom with their babies and said their final prayers. Then there was us, gutted we’d chosen the 6 McNuggets instead of the 12.
A SMASHING TIME KAYAKING IN NEW ZEALAND
I wish I could say this was the first time I’d a romantic boating vision go wrong. It isn’t. Have you ever seen the Notebook? You may be familiar with the scene where they share a romantic row boat and the heavens open and it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Yeah well, we nailed that. Not. You can read more on that story fail in our Ljubljana guide. Or there was also the time we spent 17 hours on the ferry from Stockholm to Riga fuelled by Jaeger bombs & Abba Karaoke with Swedish pensioners. Yeah, we nailed that too.
You would think by now, we’d have learned our lesson that Daz, Loz & boats are a bad combo but for some silly reason I thought sharing a kayak in New Zealand would be far easier, more romantic and memorable than any boating adventure thus far. Oh how wrong I was. I swear, if we were married we’d be divorced by now thanks to that kayak.
The very, very first instruction from the guide, “whatever you do, do not crash into that boat in the bay,” four minutes later. . . we crash into that boat in the bay. Between Darren’s army-worthy shouting of “left, right, right, left” and my complete oblivion to instruction it was a recipe for disaster. Or murder.
The stunning Abel Tasman National Park and thus joyous other co-ordinated couples are now traumatised from the endless “this oars going to knock you out” threats and the yells of “I swear I’m getting the next flight home.” Needless to say, we’re sticking to land from now on and will only jump on board a boat when this funny anecdotes list needs a top up.
ARRESTED IN MIAMI
I feel each of our bucket list items and consequent funny anecdotes are inspired by either a) a movie b) a romantic vision c) both.
This was both.
We are both madly in love with the series, Dexter. Soon after booking our hotel in Miami we discovered that Dexter’s “condo” from the show and indeed the “Bay Harbour” was a mere few streets away, so cameras in hand, we set off.
We’ve touched upon a few ways in how our cheeky Scottish-ness get’s us in trouble abroad but one thing we’ll never get used to is that not every country has the Right To Roam Act. In Scotland, the right to roam means you can walk, camp, sleep, cart-wheel or back flip wherever you please. In Miami however, they have a thing called Trespassing laws and a thing called Policemen with guns.
In Scotland, we have neither.
Determined for a nose at Dexter’s condo and that sought after photo, we saw a car park which we walked through despite the sign saying private property. Don’t get me wrong, we did debate. Does private property but no fence or gate actually mean it’s private? Was the sign referring to a nearby garden surely not the actual car park? Regardless, a Sheriff shows up.
Yes, a legit, pissed off, all American practically from the womb of Trump, Sheriff. So angry, I could nearly smell his high blood pressure and failing marriage. He was pissed. We tried to pull the tourist card. “Soz, pal it’s a car park, we only wanted to take a photo of a building” he wasn’t buying it.
Daz gave me “the look”, the look that says shut up. The look that says, these guys are not the kinda policemen that give you a slap on the wrist and promise not to tell your Mum if you buy them an Irn Bru from the vending machine. These guys have guns. And, it seems a hatred for Scottish people.
We apologised and ran, now understanding the fear of Dexter’s victims and questioning if our travel insurance covers bail bonds.