The Touristy Team’s Travel Disaster Stories

Travel disaster stories – we all have them - and the Touristy Team is no exception. Sometimes we can find the humor in them long afterwards and sometimes, well, we can’t. Either way they do make great stories. Here are a few of ours.

Pick Pocketed (Plus! Crime Ring Bust)

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Meredith Cook, Senior Digital Designer, 3+ years with Touristy

My travel disaster happened in Paris in 2013.

I was standing outside a bar waiting to get in. Completely unbeknownst to me someone reached into my pocket and stole my phone. I considered it gone for good until the Paris Police Department called me.

In a crazy twist, they found my phone when they busted a big ring of pickpocketers that were stealing phones to sell them for parts.

Advice for Other Travelers:  Don't keep your phone or other valuables directly in your pocket. Use a money belt or a secure bag on the front of your body, if you're in a busy area.

Tourism Marketing Advice from Meredith: Communicate the local dangers of pickpocketing in big cities to help many people avoid these situations.

Almost Stuck in a Snowbank in Iceland

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Lindsey Holliday, Senior Inbound Account Manager, 3 years at Touristy

My travel disaster happened in Iceland in 2016.

I rented a car to go drive the Golden Circle. I was alone and they gave me the tiniest little vehicle you could imagine. All was well until the GPS took me on a wrong turn. The roads had been clear up until that point, but I quickly came across huge snowbanks in the middle of the road. It was impossible to drive around them. I tried to go over them.

Bad idea!

I almost ended up being stuck out in the middle of nowhere in a bank of snow. I managed to shimmy that little car out in reverse and make it safely back on the main road. 

Advice for Other Travelers: Follow your gut and if a road looks like it shouldn't be traveled down, don't do it!

Tourism Marketing Advice from Lindsey: Rental companies should make sure GPS devices are working and updated. 

Sick, No Hotel and Stuck in the Rainforest

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Teresa Grammatke, Director, Partner Services, Almost 1 year with Touristy

My travel disaster happened in Costa Rica in 2004 on my honeymoon.

In 2004, Costa Rica was still a pretty undeveloped country, with terrible roads full of potholes. I get bad carsickness, so I had to take Dramamine to get around.

For part of our honeymoon, we booked a few days at a resort near the Arenal volcano.  It took us six hours of bumpy, windy driving to get there. When we arrived, the hotel did not have our reservation!

After some digging, we discovered that they had canceled it because the credit card my husband used to book the room had expired.  They said they had emailed him to get a new number, but never heard back, so they cancelled the reservation.

We were left with no hotel room - in the middle of the rainforest.  After some stressful calling around, we found another room.  Of course, it was not nearly as nice, and more expensive, but we ended up enjoying our time!

Advice for Other Travelers: When booking trips far in advance, proactively reach out to confirm all your reservations prior to departing!

Mugged with Chloroform

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Callie Cernauskas, Paid Media Account Manager, Less than 1 year

My travel disaster happened in Rome, Italy in 2012.

I was studying in Rome. One night my roommate and I were out. She left the bar alone and was mugged with chloroform. Everything was stolen from her - money, passport, credit cards, license.

I was at our hotel and got a call at 3am from the people who found her. They could barely speak English. She didn't know the name of the place we were staying. When she finally arrived back, the hotel front desk thought we weren't staying there and tried to kick us out. We then had to deal with the police (and our respective language barriers).

The next day we went to the US Embassy. She was issued a temporary passport and I had to fund her for the remaining 7 days of our time there.

Advice for Other Travelers: Stay with your friends! Be aware of your surroundings - don't leave the group late at night.

Denver via Phoenix, Salt Lake and an Overnight in the Mariott

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Kelly McEvitt, Strategic Account Manager, 1 year at Touristy

My travel disaster happened in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2017.

After a very eventful bachelorette weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, Spirit Airlines cancelled my flight home to Denver. After many calls, I got booked on another flight to Denver via LA on Delta Airlines.

My LA flight was then cancelled and I had to fly through Salt Lake City. When I finally arrived in Salt Lake, late because of maintenance issues, I missed my flight to Denver. I spent the night there and made it home to Denver the next day.

Advice for Other Travelers: Choose your airlines carefully.

Tourism Marketing Advice from Kelly: Through all the stress, I distinctly remember the kindness of the Delta ticket agent in Phoenix and the woman working in baggage at the Salt Lake Airport. Their excellent customer service brightened my day. There is not a ton that you can do to avoid this, but I think it's a great reminder to be kind people, especially weary travelers.

The Everything Went Wrong Trip

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Taryn Kaufman, Associate Account Manager, 1.5 years at Touristy

My travel disaster happened at the Denver Airport in 2014.  

My dog and I were flying to Ohio to surprise my sister.

I got to the airport early but the security lines were long - backed up all the way to baggage claim. After about 20 minutes, a security guard told me that I couldn't be in this line because there were security dogs. I was then told I had to go to the other side of the airport where the security line was equally as long.

When you travel with a dog, you must walk through the metal detector with her and then they wipe your hands. Something on my hands went off. They wiped my bags down and the detector went off again.

They led me into a room where they wiped me down another time and told me that if it went off again, two "handsome" TSA agents would come in to ask me questions. Luckily, this wipe didn't go off and I rushed to my gate.

When I arrived, the doors were closed. With tears were streaming down my face I begged them to let me in. They said they had one seat left. I got on the plane.  The woman next to me asked if I was travelling with a dog. I told her yes, that he was really good and never made a noise on flights. She told me she was allergic to dogs and started complaining to everyone around us.

I told her he doesn't shed and that I would keep him in his carrier. She told me she had an EpiPen and continued complaining. Finally, the stewardess moved her.

Advice for Other Travelers: If you are traveling with a dog, always make sure you are in a security line without security dogs. Also, I think it was my face cream that went off. Choose your face cream wisely. ALWAYS get to the airport early, you never know what can happen. 

Forced to Buy Three Tickets for One Flight

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Shannon Dwyer, Paid Search Manager, Less than 1 year

My travel disaster story happened in 2016.

I had a trip to Chicago planned. The weekend before my trip, I learned grandfather had passed away.

My grandfather's memorial was planned in Chicago for the afternoon of the same day I had originally planned to fly there. However, it was earlier than my flight was scheduled to land.

I called American Airlines to see what I could do, bereavement wise, about switching my flight so I could arrive earlier for the funeral. In the end, it was cheaper to buy a one-way ticket to on a different airline. I planned to fly home from Chicago Monday morning with my best friend, using the second half of the ticket I originally purchased.

After my grandfather’s service and the weekend in Chicago, when I arrived at the airport I couldn’t check in. I was told that since I missed the first flight, my entire reservation was cancelled.

Growing furious, I asked why it was cancelled and the customer service rep said, "This is a business. These types of things happen all of the time and we can't just give away flights."

I ended up flying home on United for another $212. The kicker is my best friend said the seat next to her (my original seat) was empty.

Advice for Other Travelers: Be careful the airline you choose. Also, if you buy a round trip ticket make sure you're on the first flight!

Tourism Marketing Advice from Shannon: Have your representatives warn passengers that if they're not present for the first flight, their entire reservation will be cancelled, with no refund. 

Are you a travel marketer who can ensure none of these are ever stories your customers tell? Contact Touristy your tourism marketing company.