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Travel is all about experiences. Along the way, you are going to have the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most of us are relegated to planning future trips or reminiscing about past journeys at the current time. Since I caught up with the PWaC crew in April about where they plan to travel post-Coronavirus, I thought now would be a good time to follow up and ask about their most unique, best, worst and scariest travel experiences. Here is what they said.

What was your most unique travel experience?

Chuck Powell, Author– We were staying in Singapore but decided to take a weekend trip to Melina Beach Resort on Tioman Island, Malaysia. Spent two days living in a room directly on the beach, snorkeling over the private reef, eating fresh fruits from the island, and protecting our belongings from the curious monkeys and giant black squirrels. It felt like a budget version of the Maldives.

Cam Hadfield, Author– In 2017, I used the Companion Pass to put the family right in the line of the solar eclipse. An eclipse would have been unique no matter what but exploring Nashville while we were there for a few days definitely added to the experience. On the day of the eclipse, we escaped the city, bought some beers, and put together a picnic lunch. Then we drove just east of the city to set up camp at the J Percy Priest Reservoir. It was a surreal experience, seeing the darkness sweep across the water, hearing nothing as the birds confused the temporary darkness for the setting sun, and looking up at the dark sky while swimming (with protective lenses of course!)

Ross Loehr, Author– My wife and I rode the Trans-Mongolian Railway from Beijing to Saint Petersburg over three weeks. To ride straight through is an 8- or 9-day trip but we stopped in several cities in Russia and Mongolia along the way. We were on a budget and booked the 4 berth cabins, so we shared rooms with multiple local people along the way. The stories we heard and the conversations we had were eye-opening. We also saw amazing sites and had some crazy experiences throughout Siberia and in Mongolia.

Dan Miller, PWaC Founder– The first time it really hit me how ridiculous the miles and points game had made my life was flying in a helicopter over the Mediterranean.

Dan Kline, Editor– I spent half of my honeymoon staying at a castle in Ireland. We rented a car and spent our days hanging out in little towns, visiting pubs, restaurants, and even grocery stores.

What was your best travel experience?

Chuck P.– Renting bicycles in northern Kyoto. We explored the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, walked through beautiful Buddhist garden temples, and fed monkeys (carefully!) at the Iwatayama Monkey Park. So many rare experiences within a short distance of each other.

Cam– I think I’d have to go with biking through the Coba Ruins in the Yucatan – wicked fun for everyone! When you’re at the Coba Ruins there’s a ton of bikes to rent, and you can ride throughout the paths. It only cost us about $10 USD for three bikes. We were dripping sweat in the humidity of the interior Yucatan August but had the biggest smiles. There was something decidedly Indiana Jones about racing through the vines and structures on two wheels.

Ross– My wife and I decided to “retire from our 20’s” by doing a round the world trip where we started in the states and kept heading west until we got back home. We spent 13 months and visited 20 something countries on the journey. We built some amazing memories along the way and with each passing year are more happy that we made the decision to go for it.

Dan K.– My wife does not like to travel so my favorite experiences are when she comes with me. We’ve been to London twice and I really love that city. We’re supposed to spend a few days in Key West in July, but we’ll see.

What was your worst travel experience?

Chuck P.– We’ve been blessed with great trips and no terrible experiences. Probably the worst was fighting with my wife over directions because we were too cheap to buy global internet access. Never start your trip to unfamiliar locales with no directions and an unhappy spouse. 🙂

Ross– We booked a helicopter ride to the top of Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand. Prior to going, we stopped for lunch which happened to be meat pies. Unfortunately, we got the worst food poisoning of our lives. It hit while we were on top of the glacier and didn’t let up for a solid 36 hours. We were staying in a hostel with thin walls and everyone that was there heard us ridding ourselves of the meat pies and everything else the whole time.

Cam– This is not so bad in the grand scheme of things, but we rented a car in Costa Rica, and were running a bit late back to the airport. I found a gas station nearby to fill back up before dropping off the car, but in my rush, I didn’t notice being grossly overcharged for gas! I paid for about 30 gallons, easily triple the amount of gas my tiny Jimny had. I like to chalk it up to human error, there was a large truck filling up to, and mixing up the slips could have been an honest mistake. Since the credit card slip had my signature, Bank of America couldn’t help me.

Dan K.– We rented an Airbnb in Hollywood, FL to be right on the beach. It’s a wonderful beach and a cool boardwalk but the condo/hotel was nothing like the pictures. It was moldy and had portable AC units that sounded like planes taking off without doing much. It was July in South Florida and the condo was basically unlivable. We gave up and drove home (only about an hour) a day early.

What was your scariest travel experience?

Chuck– Traveling to Tioman Island requires taking a commuter ferry about 20 miles out into the South China Sea. We chose inside seating below decks before we realized the ferry was completely full, and maybe even overcrowded. there were 100+ people in our lower deck, and 1 exit out. We realized any problems meant there was zero chance we’d get to shore, even if we managed to get out of the cabin. Fortunately, the ride went smoothly. but we’ve never chosen below deck common seating again.

Ross– I was in Europe with some friends and we were taking a $10 Ryanair flight from Rome to Barcelona. We entered a big storm and the turbulence was unbelievable. We hit multiple air pockets where we free fell for several seconds. The flight attendants looked panicked, passengers were crying, the entire plane was rattling and several old women around me broke out rosaries and started praying. The guy next to me asked to hold my hand. It lasted about 15 minutes and it felt like hours but thankfully we made a safe landing.

Cam– I’ve been lucky to say I haven’t really been scared traveling yet! The closest we’ve gotten was our United flight BRU-BOS was canceled due to maintenance. The next flight was tomorrow…using the same plane. I wouldn’t have been worried coming home a day late, but I wasn’t exactly confident in United’s ability to repair the plane in 1 day, far away from their normal maintenance hangers. (Maybe they could have used Brussels Airlines’ maintenance teams? Not totally sure how it works.) Regardless we made it back only a few hours late, flying BRU-FRA-BOS on Lufthansa.

Dan M.– I was in Casablanca with my son and we were walking through the medina back to our hotel (after dark). A guy came up to me and asked if I spoke English. I thought I’d throw him off by saying I only spoke Spanish. But alas, he spoke Spanish too :-). He kept talking with me and trying to get me to go with him on a “shortcut”. I kept ignoring him and kept walking, but he wouldn’t go away. Finally, I spotted some policemen and started walking towards them and the guy just “melted” away. I was especially nervous because I was with my son AND I wasn’t quite sure where I was going since it was dark, the medina didn’t really have “streets” and my phone was at like 3%. It all worked out fine

Now it’s your turn. What were your best, worst, scariest and most unique travel experiences? Tell us about it in the comments!


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