6 of My Worst Travel Moments in 2019

As the world wraps up 2019 and we have time to reflect, it seems all my social media feeds are jam-packed with photos and stories of many people’s most memorable moments of their year. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great — BUT with social media already being a highlight reel, these extra fluffy bits got me thinking, what about the bad. Not like really bad, just like, silly funny bad.


You’re here to laugh at my fails and I am enthusiastically ready to embarrass myself for your entertainment, so let’s get to it. Here, in no particular order are my top 6 travel fails of 2019. 

* Please note that I have had a very wonderful and privileged year of travel. These stories are meant to be a hilarious account of the ridiculous moments this year. This post seeks to explain BTS (behind the scenes) moments and is not meant to be complaining or negative!* 

If only I was this glamorous all the time…

The Uncultured Meal

Kicking off this countdown with a story coming from Singapore. After an early morning flight New Years Day we hit the town, and had a full day of exploring. Getting so caught up in the sights we ended up forgetting to eat lunch. Hanger was imminent BUT figured we would head back to our guesthouse to change our clothes, get cleaned up and go out for dinner. Somehow we ended up (probably due to low blood sugar) taking a nap *facepalm* and when we woke up everywhere around us was shut! 

So, in one of the most culturally and culinarily diverse places IN THE WORLD, our first meal was… peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

Lesson learned: pack snacks and set alarms.

Dinner of champions.

The Catastrophe of Errors 

We woke up bright and early to a beautiful sunrise over the rice fields of Bali. Excited to head to the jaw-dropping viewpoint of Bukit Cinta which I had been dreaming about for ages. This amazing spot, where rice paddies meet palm trees and a stellar view of Mt. Agung Volcano was about 3 hours from where we were staying. 

With our rented motorbike, we ventured out on the open road. About 1 hour outside of town we were seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and due to faulty google maps, we had taken a few wrong turns and were a bit behind schedule. Nothing major. 

Suddenly it started to sprinkle… ‘Darn. No rain ponchos in the bike,’ I thought. After a damp drive further, we found a store selling them. Okay, crisis averted. 

Wrong. Torrential rain ensued, just as a few rumbles of my tummy rolled through. Panic. Is there a toilet nearby? No. 

We found refuge at a small road stall, where a lady was selling water bottles. We purchased some drinks and in exchange asked if I could use her toilet. She did not oblige. 

MORE RUMBLES OF THE TUMBLE. Seems the Bali belly has found the most inopportune moment to strike. 

I run down the road, fully prepared to go au natural, but there is a motorbike repair shop. Through hand signals and blatant desperation a kind Balinese mechanic kicked his wife WHO WAS MID SHOWER out of their modest roadside squatty potty. 

This man is an unsung hero. 

We continued through torrential rains while stopping at EVERY petrol station because of the stomach situation. 

Because of the rain, we were forced to seek further refuge in a nearby town. After an hour of rain, we decided to admit defeat and turn back. Hangry, annoyed, sick, and foolheartedly optimistic for the return journey.

Bumbumbum… ‘what’s that noise?’ flat tire. ;ladkjfajdfldjfdslkjfkls

We roll the bike to a shop, closed. Another shop, closed. Third shop, yay! The temperatures turned going from violent rain to unbearable heat. We trudge on. 

About 30 minutes away from home we got another flat tire. I hopped off the bike and walked home. 

Lessons learned: Perhaps just hire a taxi.

real and raw moment.


The Budget Fail

Working in SE Asia as an English teacher can be quite lucrative. However, I stopped teaching English quite a while ago, and the nomadic/creative lifestyle ain’t bringing in large paychecks. NEVERTHELESS, sometimes I like to pretend I’m rich and this brings us to South Korea. 

We arrive to Seoul groggy, just getting off the red-eye flight from Hanoi. After immigration lines and the hour train into the city, we searched for the train to take us to the neighbourhood we were staying in. After about 15 mins of searching, we couldn’t figure out the trains/buses and were just like meh… should we just get a taxi?

This set the tone for our Seoul Spending trip. 

Engulfed in the lights of Myeongdong, Seoul’s shopping district, something came over me. I never wear accessories and for some reason, I suddenly needed 15 hair clips and a new outfit, and 5 new pairs of earrings.

It continued. 

15 dollar cocktails? No problem. 

Speciality craft South Korean Ale? The only palatable beer. 

Rent a Hanbok? Of course. 

10 dollar noodles? We have to try them all! 

WHO do we think we are?!

Gleefully we set out on a ludicrous series of expensive moments over the course of only 3 days. Falling victim to comfort, convenience, and tasty food and shopping — my bank account might still be recovering. 

Lessons learned: Save more money for the next South Korea trip. 

Watching my money fly away.


The 6 Hour 3 Hour Journey

Sometimes in Vietnam things don’t make sense. I say this with the most love for my little home here in Hanoi, but sometimes the most ridiculously impractical nonsense things happen here, directions and car trips being one of them. 

Pu Luong is a magical nature reserve located, if all goes well 3 hours from Hanoi. This is a universally agreed fact that many places are close to Hanoi. I will let you in on the secret that for some reason nothing is close to Hanoi. No matter how much you believe Google. 

I woke up with my face pressed against the glass window of the little minivan which was on its way to Pu Luong. I checked my phone, been driving for an hour nice. Basically there! As my eyes come into focus I recognize exactly where we are… perhaps only 20 minutes from where we set off from. 

What kind of twilight zone is this!? No one in the van moved a muscle, no one was annoyed. I decided to just go to sleep and hope for the best. 

With an abrupt jolt, I hit my head on the top of the car. ‘Ouch!’ I thought. As I looked out the window towering mountains and stunning terraced rice paddies greeted me. ‘Ah we must be here now, no reason to worry.’

Another bump, the car rocked back and forth. My sleepy eyes registering more of the surroundings than just the views (which were gorgeous). Not an ounce of pavement in site, our modest minivan was essentially rumbling down a terracotta orange clay road. Landslides to the right and a sheer drop to the left. 

I check the map. FOUR HOURS. What in the world. 

Another, three u-turns, five reroutes, a mysterious nonstop beeping noise and countless gasps later. We did make it. It was wonderful. It did take one hundred years. 

Lessons learned: in Hanoi there is new math. Double every number. 



The Close Call 

This tale of embarrassment hails from a quaint adventure to foodie haven, Penang, Malaysia. After almost a week in Malaysia, two years in Thailand and three years in Vietnam, I sometimes have an overstated sense of confidence in my stomach. 

This was an occasion where I shouldn’t have had that confidence in myself. 

After a hearty meal of Malay-Indian biryani, I was feeling zesty. Ignoring the fact that my spicy chicken leg came from one of seven pots of red-brown liquid, which was then sloshed onto a steaming pile of fragrant turmeric rice. It was delicious. 

You see where this is going. 

All was well, and come the evening time we decided to take a walk out of town. Suddenly a rumble in the tumble started. I grabbed my stomach. The cramping was severe. On foot, there wasn’t much around, but in the distance like a shining beacon of hope (more like a depressing architectural monolith) was a mall! Ah, a mall. I started to walk faster. 

The walk turned to a fast walk. I wasn’t going to make it. 

Daniel by my side, encouraging me like a football coach would a player.

 “Come on! You can do it!”

“Just 50 more metres.”

“Deep breaths” 

If I wasn’t so desperate for the toilet, I would have been on the ground laughing at the absurdity of the situation. 

Sidenote, Daniel will be a great birthing coach. 

Anywho. ALL WAS WELL. I made it.

Lessons learned: stay close to home for the 12 hours after an extremely tasty, yet, spicy biryani.

Views at the beginning of the walk!


The Embarrassing Theft

In the taxi from the Ton Son Nhat Airport, I was excited about my solo adventure in Ho Chi Minh City. The day was bright and sunny as I checked into my hostel and got ready to meet up with a few friends and explore Cho Lon, District 8. 

Known for it’s historically large Chinese population Cho Lon is essentially HCMC’s Chinatown. Full of gorgeous temples and bustling lanes I’d been looking forward to this outing *~forever~*. 

We enter the Thien Hau Pagoda, immediately as a trenta sized bus of tourists overflows the entrance. 

Hindsight is 20/20 and this should have been a tip-off. Normal people would sense “ah, there are 1 million people here, it’s a small space. Take care of your belongings.”

Me, not a care in the world, so comfortable in my bubble of not self-awareness, felt none of these things. 

INSTEAD, I place my phone in the outside pocket of my bag like a dumbass and start taking pictures with my camera. This should have been the height of my idiocy but wait. Nope. It goes on. 

I PLACE MY BAG ON THE GROUND because I needed to be free of it to get a shot…. It was only a brief moment. 

And boom. In the flash of an eye, my beautiful brand new, rose gold iPhone 8 Plus was gone. 

I know you’re thinking you’re so dumb Kelsey, but just you wait, it gets worse. 

In the flurry of events which took place afterwards, the ENTIRE pagoda emptied. It was surreal. Not a soul in sight except the people who were working there. Who promptly told me I was a dumb butt and shouldn’t have done that then laughed at me. 

I mean, it’s true. 

SO I call my phone from my friend’s phone. 

But wait why didn’t you log into Find My iPhone? BECAUSE IM DUMB and forgot the passwords to everything. Major facepalm. This was a teachable moment for sure. 

So now the thief starts texting my friends’ phone. 

Suddenly a screen pops up, deceivingly similar to an iPhone alert, it read: FOUUND glod iPhone 8+ Enter Passcode To Find.

So what did I do?


I know you’re probably ready to unfriend me right about now but I assure you IT WAS A STRESSFUL MOMENT. 

Upon realizing the magnitude of my error and incredible mess up. I promptly went home, reflecting on what brought me to that moment. I then spent the rest of my HCMC weekend changing and memorizing new passwords. 

In the end, I was able to erase the phone. RIP. 

Lessons learned: Don’t be dumb, watch your belongings, remember your passwords.


If these pretty pink papers could speak…


Right, well I hope you all have had a good chuckle or at least cracked a smile. These are some silly moments from my 2019 travels, I hope that you enjoyed them. Have you had any similar ones? Comment your story below.

Come say hi on Instagram! You can find me over on Miles of Smiles! Click here. 


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