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Savvy Travel Tips

What's Your Worst Travel Mishap?

Real Simple readers share their most ghastly globe-trotting misadventures—the ones they’ll (unfortunately) never forget.

Batman costume flying in the sky with a white suitcaseAaron Dyer

I was staying in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks, and my group decided to go to Beijing to visit the Great Wall and other sites. I packed a small bag for the two-day excursion but forgot my underwear. Buying a new pair wasn’t easy, since Chinese sizes in undergarments were quite small compared with what I was used to in the United States. I still have them, and every time I wear them, I chuckle and remember that trip.
Rachelle Moore
Charleston, South Carolina

I was in Washington, D.C., with my old boyfriend when he tried to sneak us into a Capitol Hill sightseeing tour for free. The tour guide looked directly at us before the tour started and said, “Now, for those of you have paid for the tour.…” So much for that; we got caught. I was so mad at my boyfriend that I walked away. As I wandered around alone, I bumped into a man who worked for the State Department. He had been preparing for a tour that he needed to give to a group of diplomats. We (cheap boyfriend included—he came and found me because I had the car keys) ended up getting a free private tour and went to places no one else got to see.
Sue Humphrey
Marion, Illinois

My husband and I ventured to Ireland for our first overseas vacation. Excited for an adventure, we took the hostel owner’s recommendation to see the Cliffs of Moher via an offbeat path. “Follow the barbed-wire fence,” he said. After trudging through ankle-deep swamp ground, we were expecting a gorgeous view at the top, but the weather suddenly shifted. Hurricane-strength winds nearly knocked me to the ground, and rain pellets beat on us from every direction. We were soaked. We quickly hiked back to the hostel to dry off in front of the fireplace.
Beth Ann Mergens
Denver, Colorado

Our trip to Thailand and Bhutan didn’t start well. First, our flight was delayed, forcing us to miss a connection. Then our luggage, packed with precious trekking gear, vanished. When my husband asked a baggage handler where our two suitcases were, he got this irate response: “There’s only one person who knows where your bags are, and that’s God!” Our luggage magically appeared the next day. Maybe it was divine intervention?
Kristin Lenz
Royal Oak, Michigan

My fiancé and I rented a truck to move my stuff from Colorado to Texas, where he was stationed in the U.S. Air Force. Halfway through the trip, we pulled into a Sonic drive-through. As we rounded the curve to the cashier’s window, we heard a loud screech. We knew immediately that the top of the truck had barreled into the restaurant’s roof. It had made a big dent and took out a gutter and quite a few neon lights. Once we pulled up to the window, we just stared at the cashier in shock and thought, Thank goodness we have rental insurance.
Shamara DeHerrera
Abilene, Texas

My husband and I and our two young children were traveling from Minnesota to Colorado to visit friends and see the sights in between. While we were driving, our car-top carrier opened (it was as flimsy as a fast-food container), and we watched helplessly as our clothing—T-shirts, underwear, pj’s—flew across the highway. Luckily, the road was deserted so we pulled over and collected what we could find. I will never live down losing my son Brian’s favorite Batman pajamas. He still reminds me of that, even though he’s now in his 20s.
Colleen Ginter
Mahtomedi, Minnesota

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