10 Worst Traveling Experiences of All Time

While scrolling a popular online travel forum, I stumbled upon an interesting thread where someone asked, “What was the worst travel experience you’ve had?” These are the top-voted catastrophes.

1. Running From Gate to Gate

One woman shared, “I had one trip across a few countries, with seven or eight airport connections total. And every single flight was late enough that I needed to sprint to the next gate.

By the end, I almost wished the plane would land two hours late so I could rebook it, but instead, they all somehow landed, so I would have ten minutes to run to the next gate before the doors closed. I made all of them, though.”

I had this experience once, and I was running so hard that I thought I would collapse. Also, the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine and Jerry are running in the airport popped into my head.

So I panicked and laughed loudly at the thought of missing my plane and how ridiculous I must look with my arms flailing about.

Related: Parenting Hacks That Make Flying With Kids Less Stressful

2. Hotel in the Mall

“I went to Al Qunfudhah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to work on the National Grid,” stated another. “It’s four hours from the closest airport. My colleagues who had been there told me that it’s a beautiful coastal city with a very excellent fishing harbor.

It was not. My hotel was within a mall. There was no room service or cleaning. The only accessible food was a Pizza Hut in the hotel parking lot, filled with empty Coca-Cola bottles from all the locals who met there in the evening to hang out.

I stayed there for a week, but next trip, I found a replacement colleague eager to go because he had also been misinformed that it was a beautiful coastal city with a very cool fishing harbor.”

 3. Last Minute Door Close

“I flew weekly to Ohio with a few direct flights (5:00 am Monday flight, home by 11:00 pm in Texas),” a third explained. “Unfortunately, there were some weather delays one week, so I told the Southwest steward I was concerned I’d miss my connection in Atlanta.

He guaranteed me I wouldn’t and told me not to worry about it. So I boarded, sat on the runway for I don’t know how long, landed, and ran to my gate with ten other strangers.

Then, I watched them close the door before us and refuse to let us on. So I ended up spending the night at the airport. Fun.”

4. Canceled Connecting Flight

One traveler shared, “I was in Germany, and Delta canceled my connecting flight to the departure airport with no options. So I looked up Delta’s German number, and they were not helpful.

But I am a Million Miler, so it was entirely out of character for them to give me no help. So I called the US number, which is only listed as the US only 800 number.

I spent a while trying to figure out how to contact them. I finally got on Twitter for the first and only time to reach out. As I had seen, they were very responsive.

I changed my flight to an airport about 100 miles away. So then I had the whole drive at night on dark mountainous German roads at 100 MPH, not keeping up with the trucks, much less the cars.”

5. Food Poisoning on an Airplane

One man confessed, “I brought this on myself. I flew from Seoul, Korea, to Detroit, Michigan, on a 14-hour flight with three bowel movements each hour, a fever, and crazy sweating.

It turned out I had severe food poisoning. It got so bad that one of my kidneys stopped functioning well. I tried one chicken skewer from a street food vendor. Never again.”

6. 2018 Winter Storm

One volunteered, “Back in 2018, flying internationally with a client to JFK on a 15-hour flight. Unfortunately, a winter storm caused water pipes to burst open, flooding JFK and routing us to Chicago O’Hare (ORD).

We were already hovering above New York City and flew back to ORD, so the total in-air flight was 19 hours, then we sat on the tarmac for five hours. And it took another two-to-three hours for hotel check-in in Chicago.”

7. A Bomb Threat

In Minnesota, someone called a bomb threat in the airplane,” replied another. “Homeland Security secluded us off. Delayed 15 hours, couldn’t leave, interviews, dogs sniffed through everything. I waited for the bomb squad to come in and went through TSA three-to-four times. It went on into the early morning.”

8. Control Tower Arsonist

“The stupidest was when some idiot lit a control tower in Chicago on fire and shut down cross-country flights for a few hours.,” shared another. “My flight had a connection in Denver, and I wanted to get home after weeks away. 

I missed my connection by four hours, and my destination stopped flights at 10 pm, so I did not make it home until the next day. People are why I hate traveling by air anymore.”

9. Lost in Tokyo

“After landing in Tokyo, I got lost in the subway (from the airport) with no maps and no idea which area my hotel was in,” one stated. “This was pre-smartphones.”

Related: International Travel Checklist for Every Country

10. Rental Car Drama

“One of the worst was flying to Madison, Wisconsin, and had a layover in Chicago O’Hare. I knew when we were still in the air to Chicago. I would miss my connecting flight, which was the last one of the night,” shared one.

“My meeting in Madison was at 8 AM the next day. Fine. My office at the time was in Chicago, so I decided to stay and work there for two days. While I was still in the air, my travel agent found an airport hotel and Hertz rental car.

Even though Hertz was open around midnight, they refused to provide me the vehicle as their record showed it was an 8:00 AM pick up. When I got to the hotel, there was no room available, so they “walked” me to a “sister” property and graciously paid for the taxi fare.

Little did I know at the time this sister property was 45 minutes away, and it was a sucky hotel. It was 4:00 AM, and I just needed to sleep. When I woke up, I treated myself to a limo back to the Hertz location at the airport, where I chewed them out for 20 minutes before driving away.”

We hope you enjoyed these Reddit horror travel stories. Do you have one of your own? This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Savoteur.