Travelers Recall Their Scariest Moments While on Vacation

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What happens when vacations, designed to be joyful breaks from the mundane, turn into nerve-racking nightmares? That’s exactly what happened to these unexpecting travelers. When asked about their scariest moments while on vacation, a popular online community overcame their fear and spoke up about these harrowing moments. From physical fear to emotional damage, here’s what some of them shared about their scary memories.

A Reunion Riddled With Sickness

Margaret Jacobsen’s attendance at a reunion tied to her husband’s ancestral history turned into a nightmare. After the event, she was severely sick, leading to two ambulance rides and hospital stays. “Very scary!” she exclaims. “Of the 90 in attendance, 40 of us got sick, but I was the only one who had to be admitted to a hospital.”

The Camera Incident

Alexandra Laughlin’s trip to China became a horror show when her father was suspected of taking unauthorized photos in a temple. “I was sure my dad had tried to take a photo and been caught and I was terrified! It turned out that my dad had fiddled with a switch to cover the camera lens,” she reveals. After being questioned for what seemed like hours (but was probably only a short time), they finally let the family go on their way.

A Flight to Remember

Jeff Kirk’s return flight from Amsterdam to London became a terrifying ordeal when their airplane collided with a flock of birds, taking out one engine. “Decades later that’s still the scariest thing that’s ever occurred to me on holiday!” Jeff exclaims.

Into the Wild

While on a family trip to a waterpark, Thomas Duncan and his wife decided to give their young daughters a bit of freedom. As he recalls, “We agreed to let them go off together and ride rides.” But when one of the rides abruptly shut down, and emergency crews rushed towards it, panic began to set in. The parents had lost sight of their girls and didn’t know if they were on the now-defunct ride. As Thomas puts it, “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to endure.”

As it turned out, the girls were unharmed and queuing for a different ride, but Thomas confesses, “The panic that sets in is excruciating.”

A Close Call in Paris

Emi Nakashima was just 14 when she participated in a French exchange trip to Paris. While there, Emi and her friend had a hair-raising encounter with a souvenir vendor near the Eiffel Tower. After following him behind his counter, the vendor grabbed Emi and started playing with her hair, and started to caress her arm. They managed to escape after pretending that their host family was calling. Emi recalls, “It honestly took us a while to fully understand we could have been kidnapped.” Thoughts of what might have happened still haunt me.

Lost in Translation

During a summer in Japan in 1974, Heart Wings and her friend found themselves lost in the vast metropolis of Tokyo. Unable to speak Japanese fluently, the two teenagers were unable to ask for help effectively, creating a night of wandering and worry. In retrospect, Heart Wings said, “It was really scary being teenage girls lost in a huge city where you do not speak the language and can not read the signs.” We eventually found our way, but learned our lesson to never do that again!

Tide Turned Terror

In the Maritimes, one traveler decided to explore some islands at low tide. Unfamiliar with the ocean’s patterns, the traveler was suddenly caught off guard by the rapid return of the tide. Rushing back to the beach with expensive camera gear overhead, the traveler was ultimately successful but not before being caught in a dangerous situation. “The locals all told me another 30 seconds and I’ve have been screwed.” He said it took him a while to get the nerve up to try anything even remotely close to that.


During their elopement trip to Colorado, Donna McDowell and her husband found themselves on a treacherous mountain road near Estes Park. With tight switchbacks and the setting sun blurring the line between road and ditch, the drive became a nerve-wracking ordeal. Donna recalls, “I was terrified that we were going to slide off the mountain.” Fortunately, they made it to their destination safe and sound, but the memory of that dicey drive still haunts Donna. “Even now, thinking about that drive makes me feel sick to my stomach.”

Jungle Surprise

While volunteering at a remote research station in the Amazon Rainforest, Richard Tims had a close encounter with a jaguar. “I was in my hammock, ready to sleep, when I heard a rustling outside,” Richard recalls. Thinking it was a fellow researcher, Richard looked out only to see a large jaguar a few feet away. “My heart was pounding in my chest, but I stayed still. After a few minutes that felt like hours, it walked off.”

Unseen Depths

While on a snorkeling excursion off the coast of Thailand, Mira Patel had a near miss with a deadly box jellyfish. “I was swimming around when I felt something brush against my leg,” she says. While initially thinking it was seaweed, a nearby guide recognized the danger and swiftly pulled Mira out of the water. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was until he explained just how dangerous a box jellyfish sting can be.”

Harsh Winter

Alex Freeman and his friends decided to embark on a winter hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains. However, they underestimated the harshness of the weather and got stuck in a blizzard. “It was absolutely terrifying. Visibility was nearly zero and we couldn’t find our trail,” Alex recalls. Eventually, they managed to find their way back to a shelter using GPS. “We were lucky to make it back. It was a sobering reminder of how quickly Mother Nature can turn on you.”

Lost in Venice

During a trip to Venice, Clara Jacobs decided to explore the labyrinthine city without a map. She soon found herself lost among the twisting alleys and waterways. “It was growing dark and I started panicking,” Clara recalls. She wandered around for hours, unable to find her way back to her hotel. “It wasn’t until a kind local saw my distress and led me back to familiar ground that I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Border Crossing Blunder

While traveling through Eastern Europe, Jackson Lee accidentally crossed into a non-EU country without realizing it. “I had no idea until a group of border patrol officers pulled me aside,” he says. After a tense few hours, the officers allowed him to return to the EU, but not without a stern warning. “It was a real wake-up call. I’m much more careful about checking my routes now.”

The Dreaded Palm Frond

Susan Stephans had a close call while vacationing in Hawaii. She was out and about in a tourist spot when a young ice cream vendor’s horrified look made her halt. As she stopped, a colossal palm frond crashed right beside her, narrowly missing her head. “The wooden stalk was so big and heavy it would have caused serious harm had it hit me. His terrified look probably saved my life,” Susan recalls. “It might sound funny to think a palm frond could have caused damage, but have you seen one up close? Trust me, it can!”

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This article was produced and syndicated by Our Woven Journey. Source Featured Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.