As a nomad by choice who has been traveling the world since infancy, I can’t say enough about how rewarding and stimulating travel is. Yet for all its benefits, the travel bug can land you on the dark side of a nightmare faster than you’d expect. Scary experiences are the norm when you leave the comforts of home behind. Here are my top seven:
At the age of three, my parents introduced me to the joys of travel by strapping me into a car seat and driving across Ireland. When we stopped for a bite to eat, they left me behind in the restaurant. Fortunately, they came back.
Teenage Maoists stopped me in the middle of the Himalayas, demanding a “tax” of all the rupees I was carrying. After half an hour’s bargaining, they split the contents of my wallet with me and wrote me a receipt.
The hotel in Tehran seemed comfortable enough, but my partner and I returned from a city tour to find that it had been bombed. However, the owner had received prior warning and had thoughtfully moved our belongings to the next-door hotel.
A nice couple picked me up while I was hitchhiking across Alabama. After chatting and laughing together for a couple of hours, they abandoned me at a 7-11, stole my rucksack and ran up two thousand dollars on my credit card.
During a walking tour of Alsace, I was attacked by a grey poodle. As I tried to pry its jaws open, the owner accused me of provoking the dog and hit me over the head with a striped umbrella.
While exploring the Andes by mountain bike, I took a wrong turn and hurtled off the sheer cliff, landing on a patch of agave cactus and twisting my ankle. Several hours later, a farmer gave me a lift to the nearest town on the back of his tractor.
Halfway up a pyramid with a guided tour, my education about the history of the pharaohs was interrupted by a text message. I flipped open my phone to learn that the Twin Towers had been destroyed.