We’ve all had them – those cringe-worthy moments when we want to laugh and crawl into a hole at the same time. Somehow these moments are more embarrassing when we are travelling, maybe because we don’t always know who’s watching!
We asked our team for some of their top most embarrassing moments. Put your coffee aside because you may spill it, and see if you can relate to any of these stories.
“I had a connection through Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning. Half asleep, I disembarked the plane in Abu Dhabi and sleepily followed the other passengers into the airport. It was only when I found myself being asked by taxi drivers where I was staying that I realised that something wasn’t right! I was in arrivals and not transit! The surprise gave way to panic as I only had an hour before my next flight. I started trying to find an official to ask how to get to the transfer lounge but it was 1am in the morning and the airport was empty. Finally, I ran into some flight crew and I tried to explain what had happened, they looked confused and pointed further down the hall. I raced off, heart pounding and arrived at immigration. This could not be happening. I had no visa but I was asking to leave the country! I stammered out the story to the gruff immigration officer and he called another officer ove. ‘No visa’, his colleague barked. I tried again to explain what had happened and begged them to let me through as my flight would be boarding by now. Together they started talking fast in Arabic and I wondered how bad the Arabic prison system was. Suddenly I was handed my passport and told ‘Go on. Your flight is boarding’. My legs felt shaky and I felt dizzy with relief that I had made it through. I arrived at the boarding gate just as they were finishing and collapsed into my seat, exhausted. It had been both the longest and shortest hour of my life ever!”
Another flight story on a very different aircraft and an even more nail-biting experience.
“We were travelling to a remote part of Africa from Joburg and were waiting for the plane from the lodge to collect us. The airport was full of commercial planes and a few large charter planes. We then noticed a small, unbelievably small, plane bobbing through between the bigger planes. We had a sinking feeling. Surely not? Could people even fit in that? The miniature plane came to halt and we got a phone call that our charter was ready. We went out to meet our pilot, and of course, he led us to the plane that we had been observing, which seemed even smaller close-up. Trying to suppress our nervousness, we loaded our bags and prepared for take off. The little plane seemed to take forever to lift off and sounded like the engine was taking strain. Finally we were in the air and the pilot tried to engage us in conversation but we were on the edge of our seats, unable to speak. It seemed like every breeze tossed the plane around. Throwing up probably wasn’t the best first impression to make, but it felt very likely! The two hour flight felt like a lifetime and we finally arrived at our destination, white-faced and shaking. ‘How was the flight?’, the lodge manager asked as we disembarked. We smiled weakly, ‘We’re so happy to be here’.”
Off to Europe for a train ride, a long day and some luck.
“Ten years ago, I was returning to London from a small town in Germany called Ahrensburg, and because money was tight, my travelling time was dragged out over 24 hours (2 flights, 2 trains rides, 1 hitchhiked lift and a bus ride) with lots of waiting around in-between them all. By the time I landed in London, I was extremely tired and as soon as I had jumped onto the tube out of Heathrow airport, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I realised that I had missed my stop and travelled to the opposite side of London! Thankfully I still had my luggage, but my chance for a hot shower and a proper bed would have to wait as I had to double back on the tube ride, and this time I made sure I didn’t close my eyes!”
How would you like to be without your luggage for three weeks while you travel around East Africa? This is what happened on one of our team members, and let’s just say, he now always triple checks his flight time.
“I arrived at the airport confident that I had plenty of time before departure. I was travelling to East Africa for three weeks and had quite a hefty bag to check in. I ambled over to check-in and thought I may as well check-in early and then grab a leisurely coffee to pass the time. However, that plan changed quickly as I was told that my flight was leaving in 20 minutes and it was too late to check in luggage. My cries fell on deaf ears and I tried to explain that I had read the flight time wrong. Now, not only was I having to sprint to get to boarding, but I had to leave my bag with everything I needed behind. Needless to say, the first thing I did on landing was to buy some clothes and deodorant. I learnt a stressful lesson and this drama is never to be repeated.”
Travel is exciting and always a big adventure but sometimes there are unpredictable hiccups that make these trips even more eventful. These dramas sometimes make the best stories with valuable lessons attached. What are your most memorable travel adventures?