The most horrific travel horror stories & how to avoid them happening to you

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We have heard our fair share of horror stories, however they become particularly more frightening when you knew that could’ve been you. We thought to compile a list of the some travel horror stories and how we think you can avoid them.


5. Bungee jump of doom

Visiting Victoria Falls in southern Africa is a dream for many, but for 22-year-old Erin Langworthy, it turned into a nightmare. The Australian was bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge while visiting Zambia in 2012 when the cord snapped and she plunged 111 meters (364 ft) into the crocodile-infested Zambesi River below. She was swept down the swollen river, her feet still bound together by 10 meters (30 ft) of rope, and spent 40 minutes in the water, until she finally managed to grab onto some rocks and an employee of the bungee company pulled her onto the river bank.

Langworthy was taken to Victoria Falls Clinic in Zimbabwe, but didn’t reach the clinic until five and a half hours after her jump. Though her lungs were partially collapsed and her body was covered in bruises, Langworthy didn’t suffer any serious injuries and returned home two weeks later. She had been the 106th person to jump off the bridge that day.

How to avoid or minimise damage: Although participating in bungee jumping has inadvertent risks from our reports Erin received first class care as she has purchased travel insurance. Her family was able to be flown to the location to ensure her safety.  


4. Bugging out

British tourist Rochelle Harris was on a flight back from a holiday in Peru in 2013 when she began experiencing a powerful headache and shooting pains in her face. She also began hearing strange scratching noises and had a discharge from her ear. On returning home, 27-year-old Harris paid a visit to a doctor. After initially blaming an ear infection, doctors soon discovered eight large maggots wriggling around inside Harris’s ear canal. She remembered walking through a swarm of flies while hiking on her vacation and one had been buzzing in her ear, but once she waved the fly away, she thought nothing more of it. The insect was a “new world screw-worm fly,” which generally lay their larvae in the wounds of warm-blooded animals. Once they hatched 24 hours later, the maggots chewed a 12-millimetre (half inch) hole in Rochelle Harris’s ear canal. The ordeal didn’t cause any permanent damage to Harris and, surprisingly, the incident made her less squeamish about bugs.

How to avoid or minimise damage: When visiting other countries, especially in tropical climates it is important to know the dangers of the local area. Always get vaccinated before going for climbs and go to to know what the dangers are. Wearing earbuds while hiking would have saved her from the troubles.


3.  Gone girl

In 2009, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel told her mother she was spending spring break no more than 32 kilometers (20 mi) from their home in Rochester, New York. Instead, she headed to the party town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with her boyfriend and friends. While there, she went to the Blue Water Hotel to visit a friend who was staying there. She stayed about 10 minutes, then walked out of the hotel lobby at 9:00 PM, never to be seen again. Surveillance cameras caught her entering and leaving the Blue Water, but offered no other clues.

The following day, her cell phone signal disappeared. The signal was later tracked to a swampy area, sparking even greater fears for Brittanee’s safety. The area was searched extensively, but nothing was ever discovered. Police interviewed the friend she had visited at the Blue Water Hotel, who had somewhat suspiciously returned home to Rochester that night at 2:00 AM, and searched the room of a person of interest at another hotel, but no concrete evidence or trace of Brittanee Drexel was ever found. Brittanee’s mother eventually moved from Rochester to Myrtle Beach to feel closer to her daughter and to stay involved in the investigation.

How to avoid or minimise damage: This is difficult. She essentially turned into a ghost so we are suggesting to keep your GPS active on your phone when away at night so it can be tracked.


2. Mistaken Identity

Adrian Richards, a project manager at a construction firm who lives in London was on a business trip when someone unknowingly skimmed his passport and duplicated it’s details. Adrian Richards faced a £34,000 court order after his passport – with a different photograph – was used to set up a communications company in the Isle of Man. He is currently liable for a £130,000 unpaid tax bill in Germany and has had to hire solicitors to fight a £34,000 court order. The nightmare stems from the skim theft of Mr Richards's passport in 2003. Fraud experts describe it as one of the worst cases they have encountered.

How to avoid or minimise damage: According to figures from Cifas, a British fraud database, 123,600 cases of identity fraud were reported in 2012, up from 77,500 in 2007. Always ensure your valuables are safe and use RFID blocking accessories when travelling.


1.  Stranded in the snow

Tech editor James Kim, his wife Kati, and their two young daughters set off from Portland, Oregon the day after Thanksgiving 2006, heading for the southern coast. After missing a turnoff, the Kims followed what looked like a shortcut on their map, but was in fact a treacherous road over the mountains. After realizing the route was impassable, the Kims attempted to back their car out, but were unable to do so. They spent the night in the car, only to wake up surrounded by deep snow: They were stranded. The Kims ran the car engine to stay warm and burned tires after the gas ran out. Katie Kim breastfed Penelope, four years old, and Sabine, seven months. After several days, James Kim decided he had to go for help. He set off, saying he would return shortly if he couldn’t find a way out. He never made it back to the car. After nine days, helicopters hired by James Kim’s parents discovered and rescued Kati Kim and her girls.

The body of James Kim was discovered in a creek two days later—he had walked several miles through a steep canyon, but sadly ended up only one mile (as the crow flies) from his family’s car. Tragically, if he’d walked a mile in the other direction, he would have found an empty lodge packed full of food and supplies.

How to avoid or minimise damage: This is a tragic story. A way to minimise the chances of this happening is to always pre plan road routes and get them in your head before travelling anywhere over 3 hours away.


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