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oops signWe’ve all heard the old saw about lemons and lemonade, and nowhere is it more apt than travel. Maybe you’ve parlayed getting lost into an unexpectedly rewarding detour, or an hours-long flight delay into the opportunity to chat with friendly fellow travelers. But even when your trip is spiraling down into a fiasco of epic proportions, you can almost always get one thing out of it: a good story to tell later.

In this week’s Friday Free for All, we’re looking for those stories. Tell us about a travel snafu that turned funny or entertaining — if only in retrospect. I’ll kick things off with my own anecdote, as documented in The Most Awkward Moments in Travel:

“My gate was set to close in 15 minutes. In my frantic dash through the airport, I attempted to breeze past an older woman on a moving walkway, but accidentally clipped her with my backpack. ‘Sorry!’ I called over my shoulder with an apologetic wave. ‘EXCUSE YOU!’ she hollered furiously at my retreating back.

“Seconds later, I was horrified to realize that I was actually running in the opposite direction from my gate. Cringing at the thought of turning tail and facing the woman I’d just ticked off, I took the coward’s way out and ducked into the nearest ladies’ room till the coast was clear.”

Comment below with your travel fiasco story by Tuesday, January 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Our favorite will win an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug!

Editor’s Note: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Mike Crome, who has won an IndependentTraveler.com mug with the following hilarious tale. Thanks to everyone who submitted their stories.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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4 Responses to “Share Your Travel Fiasco and Win a Prize”

  1. Nancy Wrigley James says:

    While visiting/staying in San Blas (Nayarit) Mexico, I went to the local Banco to cash a couple of traveler’s checks. The very efficient clerk checked my Passport, signature, visual look at my face and proceeded to apply a stamp to numerous documents and handed me my pesos. I then signed a second traveler’s check (never left the counter or anything) and the clerk looked at my Passport and gave me the visual face check and declared “this is not you”. I replied “it was me a second ago”. He just shook his head and repeated “this is not you”. I left, with my now-signed traveler’s check…ah, Mexico.

  2. Deb C says:

    I had been in Indonesia when i got word that my father had passed away. I made it back to the US and promptly made a flight reservation to attend his funeral in San Antonio, Texas with a stop/change in Houston. I boarded my 6am flight and as we got airborne, the pilot came on the intercom and stated that Houston was fogged in and he hoped that we could land there, but if not San Antonio would be a back up until the fog cleared and then we could continue our flights and hopefully make our connections. I promptly called for the flight attendant and let her know that SA was my final destination and if we did land there, would it be possible to deplane there. As we got closer and circled Houston for 1/2 an hour, the pilot announced we were going to SA. But now the flight attendant has told me that I cannot get off since we would not be pulling up to a gate. We landed and found 21 other aircraft sitting around the tarmac all waiting for the fog to lift to continue our journey. However, because the pilot had circled for quite a while, we now needed fuel. Because we needed fuel, the cabin door would have to be opened for safety reasons. The pilot and flight attendant made a couple of calls and before I knew it, I was being whisked away in a van to the terminal. This wonderful act of kindness allowed me to arrive 10 minutes before my original flight which allowed me to join my family and attend my father’s funeral that evening. I found out later the plane was stuck in SA for quite a while and they did have to eventually pull up to a gate and deplane and reschedule. I feel so fortunate that this airlines (United) was so willing to work with me and especially under these circumstances.

  3. Mike Crome says:

    Maybe not a fiasco but certainly embarrassing…

    A few years ago wife and I were on our first backpacking trip in South East Asia. We were on an overnight bus from Vientiane in Laos to Hue in Vietnam. The bus took a secondary route – a dirt road over the mountains – in a monsoon. The road was hair-raising, and the non-stop honking of the horn, the many hazards on the road, plus the raucous behaviour, drinking and arguing of the Vietnamese passengers, generated extreme travel stress both for us and a young English couple who were the only other westerners on board.

    With her nerves finally getting the better of her wife suddenly informed me that she needed to go to the toilet, Number Two, urgently. She was desperate. “Hurry, stop the bus!” she ordered me. I staggered up the aisle of the swerving, bouncing bus and demonstrated to the driver and the other passengers that I needed him to stop by squatting, pointing at my wife and looking anxious. He understood immediately and pulled over. We struggled off and, without a moment to spare, she found relief on the side of the road in full view of the other passengers while I held her hand to stop her falling over the embankment. When I looked around most of the other men on board were lined up behind, us taking advantage of the stop as well – it was an act of traveller solidarity that only slightly eased her embarrassment. This incident has provided much amusement over the years, and I suppose it would have been a proper fiasco if the bus didn’t stop in time.

  4. Wynne says:

    We arrived Saturday morning in Rome and drove our rental car to our hotel in Orvieto and spent the day wandering throughout the hill town. Sunday it rained all day (we spent the day in Todi, about an hour away). When we returned to the hotel in Orvieto Sunday night, the power flickered, but we thought nothing of it. At the restaurant next door for dinner that night, their power flickered as well. Again, not much thought. Italy’s infrastructure isn’t as robust as ours, so it was a “non-event.” Went to bed w/o incident Sunday night.

    Woke up Monday about 8:30am. No power/water in bathroom, informed my friend and we went back to bed. About 20 mins. later, around 9am, I could hear a helicopter quite loudly, sounding very close. I stepped out onto the terrace to see what was happening and when I looked out, I started yelling, “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!” My friend came out onto the terrace as well, and started yelling the same thing.

    As far as the eye could see, was a river of water, about 6 feet deep. The town had experienced a flash flood from a nearby river, and our rental car was completely submerged, as were dozens of others. Some had floated away. We were in utter shock, our jaws on the floor for many, many moments, just sputtering in disbelief.

    We were evacuated, and taken to a sister hotel on higher ground in the heart of the cobblestoned streets of Orvieto’s hill town, and stayed there the next three nights. Perfection.

    So we ditched the car concept and took trains to the hill towns we’d planned on visiting. Easier, faster, cheaper and more fun! No gas, no parking issues/fees. Plan B was perfect and the rest of the trip went smoothly.

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