Have you ever made a fool of yourself while travelling? Don’t worry, you’re in with your own kind here. This is the place of professionals.

Welcome; you’ve arrived at an assortment of some of the most embarrassing travel stories on the internet.

From some of the worst travel days to the most HUMILIATING moments of our lives, embarrassing moments sure do make great stories. Like always, your buddies at The Broke Backpacker are out here making fools of ourselves for your entertainment.

Before I took my first-ever backpacking trip 9 years ago, I remember vividly my friend who had just come back from Thailand saying “Everyone shits their pants at some point.” And dare I say, not a word of a lie.

The truth is, shit happens. Physically or metaphorically, something, at some problematic point on your travel journey, will create a hilarious story.

Are we mad, sharing this on the internet?

Probably.

But we’re all friends here… Right?

a girl looking at a cutout of a cowboy while sitting on a bench in Utah, USA United States of America.
“Excuse me. Have you seen our dignity?”
Photo: @amandaadraper

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Our Most Embarrassing Travel Stories

Strap in, folks. Get ready to cringe, laugh and snigger at The Broke Backpacker team‘s most embarrassing moments on the road.

We will start this post with the founder of The Broke Backpacker and a travel story that memorable for all the wrong reasons… Brace yourself for “The Dick Tick“.

The Dick Tick

The wind howled outside, cold and loud, battering at the wooden hatches of the cheap Nepalese guesthouse in the mountains. Yesterday, I had crossed Throng La pass, the highest navigable pass in the world, and last night I had crashed exhausted beneath a pile of blankets of dubious cleanliness. 

I was awake, and I shouldn’t be… it was early, perhaps 5 am, and my whole body ached from over a week of hiking at altitude. Why was I awake? I noticed it again, a sharp sensation in my nether regions and I sprung out from underneath the blankets. I pulled back my boxers and stared in horror at a tick firmly attached to the end of my penis. 

Will smiling in front of snowy mountains wearing his sunglasses
Wait, where?
Photo: Will Hatton

Fuuuuuuuuuuuck. I shook my friend awake, he stared at me groggily… “Ben, dude, you need to look at my dick.”

Ben was just as horrified as I was but agreed to help me burn the fucker off with a match. One singed bollock later and we gave up on that idea. I hobbled, legs splayed like a fucking cowboy, and made my way down the cobblestone streets to a small doctor’s clinic, the only gig in town.

Prayer flags flapped noisily in the wind and pockets of clouds danced around the snow-capped peaks surrounding the small village. It was a beautiful offbeat adventure, but I didn’t have time to notice. Endless horrible scenarios of having to amputate my penis kept swirling in my mind. Luckily, it wouldn’t come to that… 

photo of Will Hatton on a motorbike, founder of The Broke Backpacker site

Will: Founder & Chief Adventurer

The doctor thought my predicament was hilarious and after snapping a photo for, I assumed, his ‘album of distressed foreigners’, he poured saline onto my junk and boom, the little fucker was gone…  I remain scarred to this day (mentally).

The Walk of Shame

Did your High School counsellor/PSE teacher ever warn you about the dangers of drugs? Did you roll your eyes as they droned on about heroin deaths and warned you that smoking a joint would one day turn you into a boring, conspiracy theorist and a crusty, tedious reggae enthusiast? Yeah me too, but maybe we should have.

It was Christmas in Guatape – Colombia’s pretty lakeside town that is famed for an enormous rock. Me and some guys I had just met, decided to celebrate in the traditional manner by ingesting mild altering, psychedelic substances that we had bought from some other guy we just met in the street.

This is drug tourism done badly. The acid (which was clearly not actually acid) came on fast and hard, and long story short, I entered a horrible, horrible alternate dimension and lost all contact with reality for a good 12 hours.

I came round with a sudden sharp, start, sat in the middle of the jungle, caked in mud and totally utterly stark bollock naked save for one white Converse all-star trainer. 

“Oh shit” 

I thought to myself.

“It appears that I shall now have to walk home naked…and where is home actually?”

I waited for nightfall and navigated the way home using the huge, enormous rock as a reference point. Every time I heard a motor-chiva’s rusty engine I hid behind a bush or a gate to hide my shame.

Travel clothes

Each time I passed a lonesome farmhouse, I enviously eyed the contents of its washing line in search of stray modesty-cloths to steal. (Eventually, I found some tiny, wet blue trousers that felt to be made from some awful sandpaper-denim hybrid).

photo of Aiden Freeborn, member of The Broke Backpacker team

Aiden: Gear Manager & Senior Editor

Eventually I got home and had to sheepishly knock on the hostel door to be let in. Most embarrassing indeed.

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Aether Backpack

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I Don’t Like Bikes

I’m always the clumsy one.

If someone in the group is gonna slip over the invisible banana peel, or drop their full cup of freshly brewed coffee in front of everyone, it’s gonna be me.

Both of those things had already happened, so my friends were just waiting for my next move.

Tomas sat on a rock on a hill smiling awkwardly making a cowabunga hand symbol
I’m also not sure what’s happening there.
Photo: @monteiro.online

Everyone backpacking in Vietnam needs to drive a bike at least once as a rite of passage, so we decided to cross the beautiful Hai Van Pass.

Driving through the countryside, pit-stopping in random little towns for snacks… life was good.

View over the coastline with vietnamese boats
And the sights are even better.
Photo: @monteiro.online

The very last stretch was a busy road connecting Da Nang and Hoi An, our final stop, and an accurate depiction of the country’s signature two-wheeled madness.

My friends entered the car-only lane and started overtaking. “Fun!”, I thought, so I followed suit…

A busy street full of motorbikes/ scooters in Vietnam
I didn’t get the flow.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

But the fun ended quickly, as I hit the first car I tried to overtake, the impact projecting me onto said mad road in slow motion.

This was more of a mortifying moment than an embarrassing one at this point. I thought that was it.

photo of Tomás Monteiro, member of The Broke Backpacker team

Tomas: Brand Manager and Part-time Dirtbag

Luckily though, two Vietnamese angels were sitting roadside in plastic chairs as if waiting for my stupid move.

They picked me and my bike up in seconds, sitting me down, and pulling out their first aid kit. Quite literally a story of kindness on the road.

The Pakistan Poo

For most backpackers, food poisoning usually comes from street food escapades involving uncooked meat, dirty ice, or something of the like. But for me… it was an American chain I’d known for decades that led to one of the most embarrassing travel stories of my life.

After arriving in Pakistan’s frontier city of Peshawar after traveling through Afghanistan. I was utterly exhausted and absolutely STARVING by the time we finally got into our room. Unfortunately… it was also 1 AM, which meant all known restaurants were closed and delivery choices non-existent… except Domino’s, as luck would have it. Relieved as one could be, I excitedly placed the order and even recall raving about how good it tasted as I chewed my way through half a pepperoni pie.

Samantha in Pakistan Peshawar with her thumb up
How I usually feel after pizza.
Photo: Samantha Shea

The next morning, instead of my alarm waking me up, I was jolted out of bed by one seriously angry stomach…to make sure this doesn’t give out TMI, let’s just say … something… about that meal did not quite sit right.

Ordinarily, this would have been fine – nothing wrong with a day or two out of commission, right? But this morning was nothing but ordinary. In just 24 hours, we had plans to venture across the border into Afghanistan on an overland odyssey through Central Asia. While I somehow made it through the next few hours (which involved a visit with the Taliban to purchase my visa), things progressed…shittly. Armed with a whole lot of immodium, bananas, and other stomach aids, I writhed in pain and was all but sure we wouldn’t be able to travel on as planned.

Well… we did manage to cross the border. And for the entire day, I truly thought the horrors of the worst pizza in my life were behind me. I munched on Kabuli pulao, sipped on smoothies, and crossed nearly half of Afghanistan in a combination of taxis and buses virtually symptom-free…

That is until our bus found itself stuck in an Old Soviet tunnel on the 13,000 ft Solang Pass – no man’s land of Afghanistan road travel, if you will. Barricaded by construction work and with no toilets for miles (in one of the most conservative countries in the world, I may add) I had no choice but to rush off the coach, and make do behind an abandoned dump truck, all whilst stumbling amongst more layers of shawls and fabric than I had ever worn in my life.

Samantha: Travel Writer & Adventure Expert 

Moral of the story: NEVER eat Domino’s Pizza in Pakistan… Or if you’re me, never, ever eat it again.

The Show Off

On a sunny Sunday in the stunning tropical Isla Colon, Bocas Del Toro, Panama, I cycled around in the blazing sun. With the wind behind me, a stomach full of rice and peas, my AirPods blasting the finest Afrobeats known to man and my newly acquired travel friends (three blonde girls) in tow, my confidence was at an all-time high.

We stopped for a photo and coconut break next to a pier that stretched out into the Caribbean Sea. As I took off my molten hot, jet-black helmet, drops of sweat slid down the side of my face. “A dip,” I thought to myself, “Why not?” What’s the worst that could happen, right?

As the show off I am, I wanted to impress one of the lovely ladies in particular and thought it would be a cool idea to jump off the edge of the pier. Without a second thought, I went full send and bombed it into the deep blue. Only, it wasn’t the deep blue. 

My neck and head didn’t even break the surface. 

There I was, still curled up in the bomb position, sitting on the ocean floor. At the point of contact, my ankle popped so loud that one of the girls screamed louder than I did. It was f*cked.

Ankle covered in purple bruises and cuts
My feet are so nasty…
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Long story short, I ruined the girls’ day. They had to drag me out of the water, call me a taxi, and take me to the hospital while I called my amazing backpacker insurance. I found out my injury was so severe I would have to fly home and wear an ankle boot for at least the next six months.

Joe smiling sitting with his foot in an ankle boot resting on a table
Homeward bound.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Joe: Editor & Serial Side Quester

Time for the morals of the story folks… Don’t jump into the sea at low tide. Don’t do stupid sh*t to impress girls and don’t wear a helmet (pls do).

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Squat Toilet Horror

If anyone isn’t familiar with using a squat toilet, they take a bit of getting used to at first. But after a while, you realise it can’t be all that bad. It just means you aren’t quite as relaxed as you might usually be. 

Anyway, I just arrived in a guesthouse which had two toilet options: a western toilet upstairs and a squat toilet downstairs. The second option opened to the common area. And that common area was always filled with enthusiastic, loud travellers that I was hoping to make some friends with as I just arrived in this new town alone. 

Happy Frogs on toilet paper
What the downstairs option feels like.

Well, although I had a preference for the western toilet upstairs – undisturbed and relaxed – it had been occupied for some time now. And I was getting desperate. Reluctantly, I went to the squat toilet downstairs.

A few minutes into the job, what I didn’t realise was that the tiny sliding bolt lock on the door wasn’t in place properly. And there I was Hershey’s Kiss at my feet, as someone opened the door and screamed even louder than I did. 

photo of Laura Hall, member of The Broke Backpacker team

Laura: Senior Editor & Chill Goddess 

Yes, everyone in the guesthouse must have heard it. Everyone in town probably heard it. It remains to this day, the most embarrassing moment in all my travels – and probably my whole life too.

The Oat Milk Bath

After a 36-hour journey from New Zealand, I landed in London, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready for my first-ever solo backpacking trip. With my big ol’ backpack in tow and battling some severe jet lag, I ventured toward the city. Despite needing a serious shower, I saw that Covent Garden was on the way – that sounded famous, so off I went!

In a bid to relieve the jet lag, I splurged on an over-priced oat milk latte, questioning my decision not to head back and crash at the hostel. As I roamed, the enticing aroma of Aesop, a lush soap store, lured me over. As The Broke Backpacker I am, I went to snag some of the free hand cream out front. 

Dani smiling wearing a big backpacking walking in front of colourful shops
All smiles in London, unaware of what was about to unfold
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

I was carrying a lot of stuff but this soap is seriously good so I started to juggle my things around. I cleverly bit my coffee cup lid so it balanced between my teeth… until it didn’t… 

BAM. There it went, a coffee explosion. Time slowed and I flooded with regret.  

It made a way louder noise than a coffee cup should and went absolutely EVERYWHERE. Stares from all angles came my way. There was no one to laugh it off with. Just me, my big backpack and a shit load of coffee all over my (no longer) LIGHT-coloured clothes in the middle of the bustling heart of Covent Garden!

The silver lining is that this happened outside a soap shop. The kind lady from the shop welcomed me in, cleaned me up as well as she could, and sent me on my merry way. 

bio pic for Danielle Wyatt

Dani: Junior Editor & Oceanic Explorer

I was covered in coffee, but at least now I was slightly caffeinated and smelt a lot better. What a way to start my journey!

The Humble Puddle

It was a pretty shitty day; it was raining more than ever and I was dying to leave the coworking space to see my friends for dinner. I am convinced the people around me could hear my thoughts as they were so loud.

I finally made a move for my scooter, regardless of the massive muddy puddles surrounding the parking zone. One of the coworking space workers was barefoot in the puddle helping people get across the tiny stepping stones to the other side of the lot. 

I was impatient and he was busy, so I impulsively made a hop to the stepping stones. Not only did I miss, The stone fell over and so did I. I ended up full of mud, ripped pants, and I cracked my phone in the process.

Left knee and leg covered in large red and purple bruises
The fall of shame.
Photo: @amandaadraper

Amanda: Junior Editor & Senior Dreamer 

The WORST part was the crowd of people watching through the glass of the coworking space. Never showing my face there again, that’s for sure.

DON'T DIE OUT THERE! …Please 🙂
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Caffeine Deprivation

Ho Chi Minh City Cafe
Always iced coffee first.
Photo: Sasha Savinov

One fine sunny morning in 2013 (I already forgot the month as I wanted to erase this in my memory), I strolled into the soft, powdery sand of Boracay. I was looking for a place to eat breakfast and sip my very first iced coffee of the day. I spotted someone familiar walking with his friends happily chatting with each other.

Overflowing with excitement, I ran towards him, with a delighted jump and a tight hug upon reaching him, and said without looking “Uy! Nandito ka din pala. Na-miss kita ah!” (Hey! You’re here too. I miss you so much!).

He looked at me with a flustered expression replying “Miss sino ka?” (Miss who are you?). I glanced back at him, then my face flushed red, and it felt as though cold water had been poured over me. After a few seconds, reality hit me and I realized that he was not the person that I thought he was.

I nervously responded “Oh my gosh! I’m sorry… I thought you were someone I know!!!” His group of friends burst out laughing and one of them said “Akala ko kilala mo tol!” (I thought you knew her bro) to which he quickly responded with an annoyed face “Of course not!” He slightly pushed his friend and started to walk away. I kept on apologizing for mistakenly thinking he was someone I knew of until his friend chased and teased him.

Feeling embarrassed, I returned to our hotel and didn’t leave the entire day after that incident.

photo of Rhenzy Caguioa, member of The Broke Backpacker team

Rhenzy: Empress of the Virtual Assistants 

Lesson learned: don’t forget to drink your coffee first and do not… I repeat! DO NOT hug someone until you confirm that they are indeed someone you know.

Why You Need Travel Insurance

If there’s one thing we at The Broke Backpacker would never travel without, it’s good travel insurance. As you can see, the unexpected and unpredictable can happen to anyone on the road. Staying well insured is essential.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Regrets

Now that that’s on the internet for everyone to see, we all feel great. But hey, can’t be all that bad now, can it?

Life on the road is full of massive ups and massive downs. But that’s what travel is all about.

Travel is about experiences, good, bad, and, remorseful. All of our experiences mould who we become and negative or regretful occurrences often become blessings in disguise for your future self.

Without these moments of despair, it is more difficult to appreciate all the good times in life. By withstanding the shit stuff (literally), laughing about it, learning from it, and embracing a positive attitude, you will come out of it a better person. That’s a guarantee.

If you have any embarrassing travel stories of your own, please do share… Drop it in the comments below and air your shameful moments with us. Perhaps, that way, there really is no shame in the end.

Will enjoying the golden sand beaches in New Zealand
I hope you enjoyed this one! Until next time…
Photo: @willhatton__
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