The 15 Best Worst Travel Experiences of 2018
We’re feeling a bit nostalgic over here at the Lost Travel office. 2018 was a good one. A lot of adventure went down, including our first.
By now, the major publications have started announcing their 2019 picks for the best cruise lines, hotels, and fancy countries to visit. For all we know, the 2020 recommendations are just around the corner. While there are occasions for fine dining and highly coordinated agendas, we think the best aspects of travel are the those that don’t go quite according to plan. Let’s not let bygones be bygones.
We asked our Board Members and friends to indulge in our nostalgia. They’ve recounted the unexpected, messy, and down right shitty aspects of travel from the year gone by. Which is a good thing, because some of the best moments of a trip are the ones that start out as the worst.
These are their 2018 best worst travel experiences.
1) Worst Dining Experience
On my second full day in Fez, Morocco I was exploring the old Medina with a group of friends and looking for a bite to eat before we left for a long bus ride to Merzouga to start a cross-country mini-bike excursion. At an unidentified restaurant I ordered some tajine (of course). As I started chowing down I noticed the couscous was bit… hard. At first I thought the couscous was maybe undercooked or some sand was on my fork... but upon further examination I realized I was actually chewing on shards of glass. There was glass… in the couscous. Not wanting to go hungry on our 8 hour bus ride, I picked out as much glass as I could and finished the meal. The tajine was divine though. - Walker
2) Worst Attempted Murdered in a Hostel
It was 5:00am when I felt someone start to crawl on top of me at Kabul Hostel in Barcelona. In my stupor I thought it was Sarah, one of the girls we were out partying with. I was wrong... It was actually a large man and he was strangling me to death. Survival mode took over, I catapulted my attacker and I off the side of the bed and a scuffle ensued. The next thing I knew I was standing over my attacker with my foot pressing down across his throat. The cameras later showed that the attacker had been stalking a group of women staying at the hostel, he just happened to pick the wrong bed. - Keegan
3) The Best Worst Way to Unwind
There's nothing quite like reminiscing about your day while resting your hard-worked laurels in a hammock. This is exactly what I was doing - reflecting on the crazy set of circumstances that found me in Woodman, Wisconsin (Population 132). From the early morning, to the 30+ miles paddled, to the disheartening discovery that all of the islands we could camp on were, in fact, totally flooded. To the lack of cell service and the quick decision to put in (at dusk) to the last county park on the river and winging it, and finally to the chance discovery that Woodman had a campground and the proprietor would come pick us up. It was a crazy day where absolutely nothing went according to plan, but somehow that made it better. That was the moment my brand new hammock split from one side to the other, right under my ass, and promptly deposited me on my tailbone. At one thirty in the morning. - Andrew
4) Best Traffic Jams in The Western Hemisphere
I rode a motorcycle from Montana to the bottom of South America. I came across a lot of bad traffic. The worst two cities by far though were Mexico City and Bogota, Colombia. In Bogota you can pretty much jog faster than the flow of traffic. A motorcycle or bike helps to expedite the journey but be prepared for some seriously close calls as you weave in and out of traffic (and you thought LA Traffic was bad). - Keegan
5) Lessons Learned about Poop Bags
On my first alpine climb on Mt. Baker / Mt. Rainier, I learned two important lessons. First, poop bags are meant for multiple uses. You also need to pack it in your backpack with your gear to haul it up and down the mountain. Even though it’s bagged and there is this kitty litter substance to dry and reduce the smell, it’s just always slightly there. (Imagine 6 days worth of poop in your backpack). Secondly, we were told to hide them from the birds because they love punching a bunch of holes in the bags. Hiding them from the birds means you have to slip them under your tent and sleep on them. Sleeping on top of your own bags of poop is a transformative experience. Warm at first. - Adam
6) Try Not to Drown in the Beauty of the Chequamegon
We took a trip to the Chequamegon National Forest during the Persied meteor shower in late August. We took the off-road trails for miles into the woods until we found a secluded 40+ acre lake all to ourselves. It was a perfect place to enjoy each other's company, eat delicious food and tell stories of travels around the campfire. At some point I snuck a bottle of scotch in a kayak; we’d need that later.
Once the sun went down, the bourbon (and the beers (and the vodka)) got passed around the campfire. We killed some time until the Persieds started peaking - around 1 am - at which point we launched our kayaks and paddled out to the middle of the lake, in the pitch black. As the Persieds lit up the sky and reflected off the mirror of a lake, we sipped on a bottle of scotch and soaked in the astronomical light show. Smart? Maybe. Magical? Most definitely. - Andrew
7) Wettest Motorcycle ride
In Late June we planned a 2 day motorcycle trip from Chicago down through the old covered bridges of Indiana. Six people, five motorcycles, 400 miles of open road and summer sun. Except, the weather changed quickly. We ended up driving 8 hours in cold rain, without rain gear, through roads that were under construction. At one point, my front tire got stuck in a rut, the bike swung sideways and I almost laid it down, but was able to keep it moving forward. Aside from being able to keep 500lbs of steel upright on wet pavement, I can now name every diner on the western half of Indiana. - Larissa
8) The Most Wisconsin Thing I Ever Heard
It was Day 1 of biking leg of the Drifty. I saw a guy mowing his huge lawn with a push mower as we biked passed. I yelled out to him that he needs to get a riding mower (to make it easier on himself). He responded with “I have one, but the Packers play the Sunday nighter so I have time to kill.” - Brent
9) The Worst Night of Sleep
The first 12 hours of the race started with 6-10 foot waves. The difference between Lake Michigan waves and Ocean waves is that the waves are shorter in length and the bottom falls out; so it’s impossible to ride them. We had 3 shifts, with the third going below for 3 hours. But with how slamming the ride was, there was no chance of sleeping. Besides being awake for the entire 67 hour race, I was wet head to toe. Initially we had waves coming over the deck as we sat on the rail for the first 12 hours and just never dried out. The worst part was the wind dying a couple miles from the finish. Having the adrenaline of almost finishing so you couldn’t sleep but sitting there bobbing waiting for the wind. - Adam
10) Most Wildly Underestimated Detour
Upon another breakdown of our monkey bikes in Amskroud, Morocco (pronounced “Am Screwed”... you can’t make this shit up) we were unable to locate lodging for the night in the city. As the sun began to set, and after weighing our options, we decided to head up into the high Atlas Mountains in search of a remote hotel. Digital navigation was prohibited, leaving us with small, low resolution map of the area. One member of the group (not naming names) approximated the trip at 12km. In reality the distance was 48km. That may not sound like a big difference but on a monkey bike averaging 10mph it transforms a leisurely 1 hour jaunt through the mountains into a 4 hour subzero hellish nightmare through a blizzard in the dark. - Walker
11) Biggest Let Down
We finished the canoeing portion of the Drifty and had to climb a monster 800ft vertical to get to the campsite we were staying at. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were fresh, but we had already had about 6 hours of paddling behind us. Brent and I hopped on to the Tandem which weighed about 1 Ton and powered through until we got to camp. We then scouted the local area for a bar and found a spot that was just a mile away so… so we hopped back on the bikes for the short ride over. We got there only to find a drunk on the stairs letting us know that the spot was closed for the day. Fuck...That was the worst. Not the biking, not the 6 hours of paddling, but getting to your destination only to realize there was no beer. Luckily we had some amazing friends who rode with us and let us borrow a few. - Farshid
12) Worst Cruise of 2018
The Sail Boat trip from Panama to Cartagena is supposed to a four day cruise through paradise. Unfortunately for us we hit the worst weather the captain had seen in his 10 years of sailing the Caribbean. The four day trip turned into an eight day arduous journey through extremely rough seas and stifling humidity. It didn't help that we had fifteen people on a boat that should of held eleven. On the bright side, there some incredibly beautiful islands and we got to hang with the indigenous Kuna People. - Keegan
13) Worst Place to Wake Up on Your 30th birthday
To cap off the 2nd decade of my life, we rolled in late at night to a town called Aoulouz. We were on a monkey bike trip across Morocco and the only accommodations in the town were at Hotel Sahara. If the pile of burning trash on the street wasn’t enough to keep us away, the man trying to sell “full chickens for dinner” in the hallways should have been a leading indicator of the hospitality we were in for. There was no heat, no food, no running water, no toilets, the floors/blankets/walls/beds were filthy, the mattresses were half-width twins, the squat toilets were covered in feces, and there was not a drop of alcohol in the entire town. The only positive was that we were able to securely store our motorcycles overnight, in an abandoned deli. - Larissa
14) The Dumbest Fight I Had In 2018
My boyfriend and I were on the first big trip of our relationship, in the south islands of Thailand. We decided to spend the day leisurely kayaking around, but the sea had other ideas. The water was rough and the sun was beating down on us. My boyfriend complained throughout it that his legs were sore in the uncomfortable rental kayaks. I reflexively said, “Well, I’m glad we didn’t get a two-person kayak, with all your whining over there.” I knew immediately I had fucked up. Suddenly he was paddling twice as fast as he had been, just to get away from me. I chased him through the waves and beached my kayak next to his, mentally preparing to have a fight. But we had pulled up on a beach teeming with awful monkeys, naturally. As we argued about my insensitive use of sarcasm and cruelty, we were also fending off a family of monkeys who kept trying to steal stuff off our kayaks, baring their teeth at us if we got too close. It was the hardest I’ve ever struggled not to laugh, because I knew laughing at the situation would seem like I didn’t take our disagreement seriously, which would only make it worse. Eventually, we called a truce so we could get off the beach and away from the horrible creatures, but it was several months before he could even half-heartedly laugh at how absurd an argument it was. - Danny
15) Worst Resort
Honestly, you know what the worst travel experience I had of 2018? It was spending 4 days in a 5 star resort on the beach knowing that everyday would be the same. That fucking sucks. - Farshid
Fortunately for all of us, adventure is not the antidote to wanderlust, it is the seed of it. We can’t wait to get out there in 2019. Join us and we’ll see what sort of nonsense we can get into.