Who doesn’t love a scary story? You know the kind; ones that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your heart rate quicken and your palms sweaty. While some people would like you to believe that the scariest stories are full of demons, demigods, and vengeful spirits, we know better than that.
Anyone with a passport can tell you real scary stories.
A few of my favourites? Tale of the Lost Luggage, The Thing On My Bed: an Airbnb Rental From Hell, Rosemary’s Passport…Has Been Stolen, and my personal favourite, The Silence of the Disgruntled TSA Agent.
So in celebration of all things scary during the month of October, we’ve handpicked the best travel horror stories from the Reddit community that will have you leaving your lights on night after night…
1. When Bad Directions Attack!
So my sense of direction is pretty horrific and there was a time I was in a very remote part of Austria (Grünau) and wanted to go meet up with some friends at a lake. I grabbed a bike, and set off, map in hand. All was going well until I realized I was in a really, really remote part of the town, and pretty soon realized I was also on an incline. My poor sense of direction and my infantile relationship with maps inadvertently led me up a mountain.
I was 2.5 hours into my voyage, there was no sign of any life around me, the noises got stranger, and there was definitely no lake in sight. I looked at my map wondering how it could deceive me and where our relationship took a wrong turn (pun intended). Then, I turn around and BOOM, I get a flat tire. It was getting darker, I was shitting bricks by the second, and any moment now, something was going to jump out and eat me alive, because of logic.
I eventually stop caring that my bike will collapse on me and start riding it down a very rocky trail at a pretty fast pace just hoping to get out of there as fast as possible. Safety hazard, absolutely, but again, logic.
Several minutes later, I finally see a highway, so I get back on a known trail and just a few kilometers up, I see the sign where I missed my turn for the lake. After my 2 hour detour, I had no desire to be near anything wet as I was already soaked from exhaustion, so tried to get reception to call and see if anyone could pick me up. Eventually, I was able to track down some elderly Austrian men who could see my dilemma and gave me their phone, and a large pint of Austrian beer to save the day.
Story by Gloria Atanmo, The Blog Abroad, originally appeared in Huffpost
2. Nightmare at Check-In
I was traveling to Spain with my ex-boyfriend, and we were connecting in some small Spanish airport to get to the even smaller city we were going to for a comics convention (we were guests). I ALWAYS just use my iPhone for boarding passes, but after running full throttle through this tiny Spanish airport to get to the gate for our tiny plane, they wouldn’t let me through because it wasn’t a “real” boarding pass.
So we stood there and quite literally watched our plane fly away as the gate person just stared at us. Then, we got fucked around with for about three hours trying to figure out when the next flight was. I swear they were doing it on purpose – we had to walk back and forth from kiosk to kiosk multiple times. At this point I hadn’t slept in about 20 hours and I was trying so hard not to go all bitchy American.
Finally, we managed to get new boarding passes, but our flight wasn’t for six hours. So we met an old English gentleman and got wasted at 11am.
Story by Reddit User walnutwhale
3. The Friendly Stranger
I was 18, and it was my first time traveling alone. I went to Argentina for 3 months. My first week in, and I’m wandering around Buenos Aires. At the time I knew enough Spanish to get by, and a man approaches me and asks for directions in Spanish. I tell him that I’m not from here. He then asks me if I am a tourist. I say yes, and he seems delighted, quickly telling me that he is too. He offers up the idea to explore the city together. I, alone in the big city, agree.
We start walking together, and he seems like a really nice guy. After about an hour, he says ‘tengo hambre’, I’m hungry. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it’s about 1, so we go to a nice restaurant. He tells me I have to try the steaks and red wine. I’m not much of a wine fan, but he convinces me. We are there about an hour, and the bill comes. It’s 140 pesos. He pulls out 100 pesos. I try to pay for my half, but he only lets me pay 40 pesos. He tells me I can get the beers later. We continue on our little adventure and eventually come to a bar with outdoor seating. The waitress brings out a liter of beer, and we relax. Soon enough, another liter comes out. We finish the second litre, and leave this bar. Then I wake up 8 hours later, missing my debit card, ipod, cellphone, and travel guide.
Story by Reddit User Peter176
4. An American Tourist in Paris (and only Paris)
So last summer I went on a petite Eurotrip of Western Europe with two friends of mine. Our first destination was Paris. On our last night there, we spend the night drinking at the Garden of Tuileries with our Irish hostelmates. We end up getting pretty blasted, and my friend becomes unattached from his bag for about two minutes. After these two minutes, he realizes he put his bag down and rushes back to where we were to go grab it, only to realize that it’s gone. Completely gone.
Along with the 250 Euro he just extracted from an ATM, his debit card, his passport, his Eurail pass,and pretty much everything else important in his life at that time. Again, this was the night before we had to hop on a train to Amsterdam. We end up having to stay a couple of extra days to help try to recover the damage, etc. Of course, this turns out to be July 4th weekend as well, meaning the U.S. embassy wouldn’t open until the following Tuesday (I believe it was a Friday night the event occurred). In the end, it was cheaper for him to stay in Paris and have us complete the Eurotrip than for him to come along with us. Plus it would take him another two weeks to get another passport reissued.
Story by Reddit User Fuhiapplesyum
5. Flight of the Living Dead
On Lufthansa flying to Germany, I was relaxing listening to my music and suddenly a woman stands up a few rows ahead and starts screaming and pointing. I sort of flinched and took my headphones off trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Then a couple of other people stand up and move away from the middle row of seats were I eventually figured out that a man was unconscious and his wife right next to him was completely frozen. Then the flight attendant comes and completely overreacts, slapping him and yelling scaring the cabin. A couple more flight attendants arrive and carry the (still) unconscious man to the food prep area and call for a doctor over the plane intercom.
Thankfully there was a doctor on board and he assessed the situation. An hour later the man walked out of the food prep area and sat back down in his seat. He was checked on periodically by the doctor. After we landed I saw the man that was unconscious and I asked him how he was doing. He replied “everything is ok” and walked away just fine. Amazing.
Story by Reddit User Lilodude
See Also: The 10 Most Haunted Places on Earth
6. Let the Right One…Take You to the Border
I landed in Kenya the day a coup started. Ended up stuck in the hotel for 3 days. We kept waiting for things to calm down enough to get out of town, but it never did. Eventually, the concierge let us know that the guy who did the hotel’s laundry had a brother who was running a minivan to the border at 4am.
So we put our complete faith in this person we had never met. He was incredibly nice and got us to the border without incident. It was a bit of a hassle trying to re-plan the trip on the fly in Tanzania, rather than do all the things we planned in Kenya. But it was still fun.
Story by Reddit User Hemlockecho
7. Orange Juice: Portrait of a Ruined Flight
I spilled a litre of orange juice on myself about 3 minutes into a ten hour flight from Tokyo to Vancouver. I sat in a puddle of sticky orange juice for the entire time. Then after a really rough landing (I get bad motion sickness), I puked on myself in the aisle waiting to de-plane. In hindsight, this was probably worse for (1) whoever sat beside me and (2) literally everyone trying to get off the plane.
Story by Reddit User Banterbandit
Travel to: Vancouver from Toronto
8. Dawn of the Very Drunk
I left Oktoberfest at 11pm with my friends and took the subway towards our camp site. I got off the train to go get something. I got off the wrong stop at 1am, lost my phone, didn’t know where I was, didn’t speak German, and didn’t know the address of the place I was going. I was drunk btw, but I managed to find a hotel concierge who was kind enough to find the address of the place I was staying and I taxied it back. Returned at 4am.
Story by Reddit User Kanji_sasahara
9. Tale of the Disappearing Hostel
Recently a friend and I stayed in the amazon jungle near Iquitos (Peru) on a camping trip. After five days out in the wild, I was ready for a nice warm shower and a good nights sleep in a decent bed. The hostel was a set of floating buildings right on the river. We decided to go for dinner out in the city. It started to rain incredibly hard. I have never seen rain come down harder than this. We waited it out for a couple hours and enjoyed a few beers. Once it stopped we went back to find out that our hostel had dislodged from its anchor and floated out and pretty far down the river. The only remaining building was the reception office. I guess the hostel owner didn’t see us leave for dinner.
They thought that we were in our rooms and called the police to go pick us up. When they didn’t find us in our room they started to search the river with spotlights and every boat they could spare. Needless to say, the police and hostel owner were relieved to see us walk up completely dry and alive.
Story by Reddit User Safetybreak
See Also: The 11 Most Haunted Places in America
10. The Turkish Bathroom Project
In Turkey, a lot of the public toilets have attendants outside that you have to pay some small amount of money to in order to use them. We were out one day and my dad wanted to use the toilet, so my dad handed the money to the woman outside, and went to go in.
Except, this woman wasn’t a toilet attendant. As the realization of what my dad thought she was spread over her face, she started screaming “You think I am toilet attendant? YOU THINK I AM A TOILET ATTENDANT??? RAAARRGHH!!!” in broken half German half English and started chasing him down the road waving her handbag at him.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are just about dying from laughter and a very confused German man comes out of the toilets wondering where his wife has gone to.
Story by Reddit User TheAngryGoat
Terrifying stuff right? If you’ve been left shaking with fear like me, then let’s do the online equivalent of leaving the lights on and look at some trips that won’t leave you stranded without your wallet in the City of Love or chasing after a stray hostel in Peru.
Do you have a killer travel horror story you want to share? Let us know in the comments!