15 Backpackers Tell Their Wildest Travel Stories So You Don't Make The Same Mistakes

Voting Rules
Travel experts: vote up the stories that taught you a valuable lesson.

What was your worst travel experience? How about your wildest? No matter if you are a pro or a beginner there are always some inconveniences that can unexpectedly ruin your trip. Luckily, these backpacker stories are full to the brim with experiences you can try to avoid.

  • 1
    15 VOTES

    Stopped By Soldiers In The Jungle

    From Redditor u/big_d_toys:

    On a chicken bus in the jungle of Brazil. Traveling with two Aussies I met in the last hostel I had stayed at in the last country I was in and decided to go their way (real 'smash a bottle of red' type Aussies, heavy partyers, etc.)

    So the road curves and the bus makes an abrupt stop. We're in the middle of frickin' nowhere, side of a mountain, haven't seen another vehicle in at least an hour, heavy vegetation surrounding us... The engine is still running so I know we haven't broken down... I hear Portuguese being spoken, not loudly, but sternly to the bus driver and turn to see a kid, maybe 19 or 20, in full fatigues with an automatic single-barrel. My heart drops. I know he's not a guerrilla or something because the camo he is wearing and the piece he is brandishing are too modern.

    The driver gets up and instructs everyone to get off the bus and take everything with them. We are lined up, a few of the toy soldiers are pulling out everyone's luggage from under the bus and lining it up on the road; we are ordered to stand in front of our things but not to touch anything. My hands are sweating. I barely speak Portuguese and I have no idea how to yank I am looking at the moment, I'm tanned with a beard at this point so I just keep telling myself to relax, that I have done absolutely no wrong.

    A dog and handler come out of the back of the blockade we hit. One by one they move down the line. Two soldiers point their pieces at the person in the line, while the dog sniffs your bag. Methodically they do this, person by person, pack by pack. Then they get to me.

    The dog immediately lunges at my pack, burying his nose into it. The eyes widen on the two kids holding the pieces and one takes a step towards me, the barrel a foot or two from my face, but honestly felt like an inch. I'm sweating. I'm desperately trying to keep my composure. Thoughts of the Aussie's drunken rants about trying to find illicet substances are racing through my mind. "What if they hid it in my pack, what am I going to do? WHAT THE F*CK AM I GOING TO DO!?!?!"

    The dog barks and the closer soldier pushes me hard into the side of our bus. He presses into me hard, the other soldier nervously looking back and forth between my eyes and the dog's handler who is going into my pack. No one is making a sound. I can't breathe. I'm not saying a word. I'm a f*cking Yankee statue as my brain overflows with fear. The handler finds what the dog was alerting to. I see him smile and clearly remember thinking to myself, "This is it. For real. Game over."

    He looks up at me with that dumb smile and pulls out a half-eaten Chivito (an Uruguayan sandwich, almost the best sandwich in the world.) I totally forgot I put it in my pack. The soldiers all erupt into laughter. The one pinning me against the bus laughs with a really high pitch and slaps me on the back. I pooped a little (I had giardia too, so I blame it on that).

    15 votes
  • 2
    40 VOTES

    Camping Alone Turned Into A Horror Movie

    From Redditor u/silent_eunoia:

    I spent the summer before starting college backpacking in the intermountain west of the United States. I went alone because I wanted to have some sort of Walden experience. Anyways, I was hiking along in Colorado and everything was going fine. I was about four days of hiking away from my car and hadn't seen a soul. On the fifth morning, I decided to take a picture of the sunrise coming up over the mountains. When I attempted to take the picture, I was informed by my camera that I had a full memory card. I remembered checking my camera the night before to see how much memory space I had left. Approximately 60 photos. Baffled, I hit the replay button on my camera. As I flipped through photograph after photograph I felt my stomach sinking. Allow me to describe to you the theme of the images. Vantage Point: tent door. Lighting: dim. ISO: high. Subject: myself snuggled up in my sleeping bag. Someone had taken photographs of me sleeping from my tent door. To reach my camera they would have had to step inside my tent, reach over me, open the right pocket of my pack, and retrieve the camera. All without waking me up. I don't camp alone anymore.

    40 votes
  • 3
    10 VOTES

    Swarmed By Dingoes

    From Redditor u/draw4kicks:

    I was camping in the outback in Australia with my buddy last summer (their winter), he took the tent and I slept in a swag bag because I'd never seen so many shooting stars in my life and it really was quite beautiful.

    So it's about three in the morning and I start hearing a howling from the hills around the campsite, like wolves howling at the moon kind of howling. So I shout to my buddy and ask him what's making the noise, he informs me that there are dingoes around here. Well, what would the odds be that they'd actually come into the campsite right? Around half an hour later I feel something weird sniffing around my feet, I slowly reach for the flashlight I had in my pocket and shine it on my feet. There's a f*cking dingo sniffing around my swag so I tell it to p*ss off and leave me alone.

    The f*cker kept coming back with its dingo buddies and apparently all through the night my friend could hear me muttering swear words at them, telling the "tw*ts" to p*ss off. I asked a ranger the next morning if I was ever in any danger and he said no, they've just got a bit used to humans over the past couple of years and don't have too much fear anymore.

    But I'm pretty sure one of the b*stards stole a sock that was drying on the car's hood so I was a bit peeved about that. I wonder if the Australian high commission would reimburse me the cost of a nice pair of hiking socks?

    10 votes
  • 4
    28 VOTES

    Ate Too Many Cakes And Missed Their Stop

    From a former Redditor:

    Was leaving (escaping) Amsterdam after a 4-day smoke binge. My train to Berlin was leaving in an hour, so I thought I'd have one final smoke before leaving. The coffee shop had a 'special' - 7 guilders for a coffee and 'space cake'. I had one, felt a slight buzz and decided to have another. The waitress asked if I was sure, but I insisted. I walked back to the train station and was walking to my train when the space cake kicked in. It was like getting hit in the back of the head with a mallet. I was SO STONED. Successfully managed to get on my train and then passed out. I have vague recollections of showing my Eurail pass and passport. I woke up about 12 hrs later with a conductor violently shaking me... still completely stoned out of my head. I stumbled out of the Berlin train station and went directly to the first hotel I saw, threw down my CC and passed out in my room for another 12 hrs. I woke up and checked everything... all my stuff was safe and I was fine. I decided to check out Berlin but noticed all these Swiss flags everywhere. I asked the man at the front desk "excuse me sir, but am I in Berlin'... blank stare ' no, you are in Basil Switzerland'. Never did make it to Berlin, but Switzerland was nice.

    28 votes
  • 5
    26 VOTES

    Accidentally Got Engaged

    From Redditor u/quailgirl:

    I accidentally became engaged to a local in Vietnam. I was exploring this little village and stopped at a restaurant for a beer. A guy comes up and starts talking to me in very broken English. Within 5 minutes he asks, "You married?" I say no, so he then says, "You marry me?" with a big goofy grin on his face. I assumed he was joking because we'd known each other for 5 minutes, so I said yes. He was not joking. He immediately began yelling something in Vietnamese, then grabbed my hand and starts waving it around in the air. Within minutes we were surrounded by dozens of people who are all cheering and smiling and shaking my hand. He then took me to his house to introduce me to my future in-laws. I broke that poor boy's heart when I left for another city the next day.

    26 votes
  • 6
    7 VOTES

    Forgot A Map And Missed A Town

    From Redditor u/Rock_You_HardPlace:

    Probably not my best but funny nonetheless: I was 3 days into a 5-day loop in the North Cacades along part of the Pacific Crest Trail. There had been a lot of flooding that Spring and a bridge had washed out on the trail we meant to take. There was a signpost on the trail fork about a half-mile beforehand saying to detour to the left in order to reach the nearest town. Somebody had posted a note saying something along the line of "we hiked for an hour along this route and never got to the town. There need to be better directions posted here." Below that was a response: "It's 50 miles. You need a MAP.".

    7 votes