Scariest Travel Stories: What Made You Scream?

Halloween always reminds me of scary moments in graveyards, the “Thriller” video, “Night on Bald Mountain” from “Fantasia,” slasher movies, and other things that go bump in the night. So while we’re on the subject, we’d like to share some of our scariest travel moments… and ask you to do the same by emailing us today .

• My personal scariest travel moment was running out of air while scuba diving in Belize, 30 feet below the surface at a decompression stop from a 130-foot dive into the Great Blue Hole. Fortunately, my dive buddy had air to share for a few minutes.

• Another fright night was being in a 2nd-class hotel in Acapulco. My brother and his girlfriend were in the next room. There were so many cucarachas (cockroaches) in their room that they knocked on my door in the middle of the night and slept in the other twin bed in mine!

• My wife Ellen’s biggest stare was a staring contest with a barracuda that circled her a few times in the warm, tranquil waters of Providenciales, an island in the Turks & Caicos Islands. That lower jaw with the protruding teeth is very scary, indeed.

• Our daughter Sara’s most frightening travel memory happened last December in London when a “crazy drunk man” from Pakistan kept telling us the same story, over and over and over, in a West End restaurant that he owned. It scared her to see how nuts this guy really was.

• Contributor Alex Russell says, “My scariest moment really scared me at the time. I was 15 and in Costa Rica. I’d rode with my friend Diego, who was a trucker, to Punta Arenas to deliver a load. We were stainding in a little rural shanty town talking with six or seven guys he had hired to help him unload the truck. Then a jeep and a pickup pulled up next to us and about ten guys jumped out with Uzis, shotguns, pistols, rifles, you name it. They started rounding up two of the guys and held guns to them while locking on handcuffs. I had no idea what was going on, but it didn’t look good. Then a guy with a sidearm on his ribs dressed all in white looked at me and started speaking to me in English. He wanted to know what my name was. I was surprised because I’d only been speaking Spanish the previous couple months, so I didn’t say anything. Right away Diego told him I was just a kid coming to visit his family, and after a little talking the guy left me alone. They put two men in the back of the pickup and soon they were gone. I never found out what it was all about, and Diego never said anything about it. I guess mid-day pickups were a normal thing. I was just relieved I didn’t get caught up in it.”

• Contributor Maureen Littlejohn sends me this story: “My scariest moment was in Acapulco Mexico,
April, 2002. I had been out at a cultural fair that was jammed packed with people. We had been sampling cuisine and watching dancers from different parts of Mexico. It was sweltering hot and I was buffeted around like a styrofoam cup in the ocean. It was almost unbearable, but the real scary part came the next morning when I checked my purse and found my wallet had been stolen — including my passport! I had to the spend the next three days (the remainder of my trip) at the consulate, arranging for a temporary passport so that I would be able to return home. Since this was less than seven months after 9/11 it was extremely stressful. A nightmare, indeed.”

• And Ava, Vagablond co-founder, emailed me this creepy crawly story: “The creepiest of encounters was being very jet lagged in London, crashing at what I thought was a clean hotel room bed and waking up 4-5 hours later with about 15-20 beetles crawling all over my arms. I jumped up from the bed only to find my white pillow almost red as it was covered in little spiders.

Makes my skin crawl just thinking of these frightful incidents. Again, please share your worst travel moments with us.

Posted by Gil Zeimer on October 31, 2005 in Travel

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