real life

The worst travel story you've ever read.


I am a jinxed traveller.

For whatever reason the Bad Travel Fairy (as my friends and I have come to call her) waved her wand over me at birth and sentenced me to a life of ridiculous travel drama, destined to go down in folklore. Not quite the legacy I was hoping to leave.

I’ve boarded a plane and the window has cracked. I’ve boarded a plane and the pilot has been taken ill. I’ve boarded a plane AND A BIRD FLEW INTO THE ENGINE.

During my days as a rural news editor I was driving through Toowoomba frantically trying to locate the bus station all the time thinking, “I’m nearly there. Nothing can stop me now!”, when I slammed on the breaks to avoid a slew of clowns and a marching band. It seems something could stop me and it was a surprise street parade. Needless to say I missed the bus, the plane and a little piece of my will to live.

I’ve been stuck in my non-air-conditioned car for five hours during a mammoth traffic jam. My tires blew out on the motorway while I was moving to the Gold Coast for a new job, just before I was bitten by a spider.

Once, after my bags were lost at an airport I finally boarded a train only to have the line shut down due to a dead body on the tracks. It was in the pouring rain that my fellow passengers and I boarded a bus that dutifully rolled up to the first set of traffic lights and promptly broke-down.

I wish I was making this up.

At first I thought the curse had been placed just on me as it only struck when I was travelling alone. ‘I’m only a danger to myself,’ I thought happily. But all that changed two years ago when my sisters and I went to Thailand.


It started when I fell out of a para-glider.

After some nice men strapped me into a harness I took off into the air with a little Thai boy perched on my shoulders. I was just starting to admire the view when I felt myself slipping down. Sure enough, the buckles were coming undone and I was minutes away from meeting a watery death.

Now, I don’t speak the Thai language but my screams of, ‘The harness is breaking! We’re going to fall! We’re both going to die!’ must have gotten his attention because we made a sharp turn and were coming in for an emergency landing when I slipped out of the harness and landed face first on the beach. Bumps, bruises and blood covered my body along with a wicked cool leg injury that saw my knee swell up like a water balloon.

After that little adventure I passed the curse onto my two sisters with Lucy suffering a severe bout of food poising and Kate being stung by a temperamental jellyfish. ‘So much for my theory of the solo curse,’ I thought.

Just last week the bad luck struck again.

I was on my way to Sydney to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia for the first time. In preparation for the bad luck I’d arrived two days early and opted to stay with one of my closest friends for extra curse support, rather than in a hotel.

On the first day of Fashion Week I was standing in the bathroom, starting the arduous task of curling my hair, when I heard a rattling in the pipes. Before I had time to duck for cover the sink and toilet began to overflow, spewing who- knows-what across the bathroom.

A flurry of pipe twisting, towel barricading and moping followed but nothing could halt the plumbing tsunami.

Brandishing the mop like a weapon my friend yelled for me to just go and she would deal with it. Running down the road in water stained shoes and trying in vain to apply make-up without elbowing the already volatile Sydney commuters on the train was not the way I imagined attending Fashion Week. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when a motorbike hit my taxi later on the way to a show.

I’m now back on home soil and a light case of agoraphobia seems to be in order. How can I ever leave the house, state or country again with this curse hanging over my head?

It took a little bit of soul searching but I’ve decided all I can do is laugh (once the hysterical crying has stopped). After all, I’m not going to stop travelling and as of yet I’ve never been (seriously) hurt. So what if my friends now describe their own travel terrors as ‘a Lauraesque drama?’

I’ve decided bad experiences like this build character and the only way to get through it is to share the travel horror stories.

Laura Brodnik is a features writer who has worked as a news journalist, fashion editor and entertainment columnist. You can follow her on Twitter here

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