It’s almost inevitable.
You travel, you challenge yourself, and you may acquire a battle wound.
No matter where you’re going, danger lurks. Mostly due to the fact that we are human, and not a machine or in a bubble.
It’s not necessarily that the destination is dangerous, it’s just a poor decision, a split-second choice that you had to make and chose the wrong one, a simple misstep, or being in a hurry and doing something silly.
For me, it was a misstep. I literally was just speaking to my boyfriend about how I’ve become accustomed to looking down when I walk because I’ve been living in Thailand for so long. There’s always something in the way whether it be a hole, dog poop, glass, or a bump to trip over. As we begin walking off the War Memorial bridge in Pai, Thailand, I’m looking in my purse to make sure we grabbed all of our equipment. This split second nearly cost me my freakin leg! I fell through a hole in the bridge! Luckily, it was a small hole and only one leg fit through, otherwise I might be in a full body cast. I got up, brushed myself off, and continued walking like nothing happen. It wasn’t until later I realized how jacked my leg was. I couldn’t walk without a limp and my leg was sooo sore. I literally have a permanent dent and scar on my thigh now.
So, that’s (one of my) travel scars!
It’s OK though…
The grazes, ugly wounds, and brutally malled… We take it, we don’t let it get us down, and we keep on traveling! Here are some stories from fellow blogger friends and their unfortunate blunders while on the road.
Chris Backe from One Weird Globe
It was the day before I was leaving to Kentung, Myanmar when this wound was acquired. It all happened very fast, but who doesn’t leave Chiang Mai without a ‘farang tattoo’ from a scooter crash?
There was no major issues, I drove home right away but started getting a bit concerned when eventually I couldn’t see out of one eye. Luckily my brother is a doctor so I sent him selfies every few hours. His advice: it’s a facial wound so there isn’t much you can do other than let it heal naturally.
A couple weeks later I was good as new, the scar is not even visible! It was definitely a conversation starter while in Myanmar.
Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad
When I say Vietnam, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Halong Bay, right? It was a priority on our South East Asia itinerary since I’d spent months slavering over travel photos of the limestone islands in the sea. One of the daytime activities on the trip was to kayak through the limestone tunnels, spotting cute monkeys, and ogling at the scenery. We met a couple, the girl was laughing nervously, the guy not so much. Their kayak was sinking. Craig and another Irish lad, attempted to be heroes and to save the sinking boat to rescue them from a horrible fine. What the boys thought would be a five minute job ended up being a half an hour cardio and endurance test which involved one of them straddling two boats whilst the other tried to hug and tug the kayak (which was vertical at this point) out of the water. Eventually they won the struggle but not without scars which resembled a blunt toothed shark attack. The saddest part of the story is that all of the boys were jumping off the top of the boat but Craig didn’t have the energy to do so after his gruelling work out. He looked like a sad kid in school who wasn’t allowed to play.
In 2007, my husband (then boyfriend) and I took our first trip as a couple outside of the United States for a week of R&R on St. Maarten in the Caribbean. Since Kris is somewhat of an airplane geek, we headed to the small beach at the end of the airport runway where planes take off and land directly overhead. We were bobbing in the water when we saw the first plane approach. I raced up to our towel and grabbed my camera. Trying to turn it on as I was running to a better position, I suddenly felt a piercing pain rip through my foot. Instinctively, I jumped into the air and gracelessly came back down with my entire body falling to the sand. A new wave of pain coursed through my body originating from my left leg. By now, the airplane was almost directly above me so, ignoring the pain, I awkwardly snapped the picture. Once the plane landed, I looked down to see a jagged piece of glass lodged in the side of my leg…which was the same piece of glass that slashed the bottom of my foot. My souvenir from the trip: an inch-long scar. But, at least I got the shot!
Megan from Forks and Footprints
My travel scar is actually a set of 3. Within a 3 month time span, I crashed a moto and had to go to the hospital, got bit by a stray dog which led me to the 4 course of rabies shots, and finally got mugged on Thanksgiving day which was also the day I signed a lease on my new apartment in Bangkok. My legs look pretty rough now, but they remind me that I can pretty much handle anything that the travel road throws my way!
Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels
People say that living in China is an unforgettable experience. And for me, that’s especially true since every time I look in the mirror I now see a permanent scar and dimple on my forehead. My clumsiness has gone to epic proportions this year – culminating with me actually breaking my foot in China! While that was a memorable story, at least it didn’t leave a scar.
I had just moved into an apartment in China to begin teaching at a language school. In a morning rush to get out the door, I was standing at the edge of the dining table putting items in my bag to go to work. I accidentally dropped a pen on the floor and without thinking, I very quickly bent over to pick it up…and managed to slam my own head into the sharp corner of the dining table!
I hit my head SO HARD that I nearly knocked myself out. I sliced my head open and was bleeding. After bandaging up the massively swollen area, I went to work. For the next week, everywhere I went people said “oh what happened” (or just pointed to my head if they couldn’t speak English).
It was so embarrassing to tell them I ran my own head into a table — like a two year old.
Nic from The Roaming Renegades
My story of my scars is a little different because it starts a long time ago! 13 years ago I busted my knee playing football and despite being told there was no way to fix it I just got on with my life! Sure, my knee cap would pop out of place here and there but I never let it stop me! I scaled mountains, climbed cliff faces, Kayaked down rapids, white water rafted in glacial melt waters, hung off the side of a 2000ft valley face, launched myself off 30ft high waterfalls and ran off the edge of a 4000ft peak! After years of crazy adventures across 29 countries, walking miles across cobbled old town streets, hiking trails, ancient walkways and modern boulevards my knee finally needed fixing!! I am now the proud owner of not only a brand new ligament but 3 pretty gnarly scars…I like to think of them as the result of bad ass wear and tear! Here’s to a future double hip and knee replacement (probably), but hey, nothing is going to stop me! I could have sat back and had none of these adventures because I was so scared of my knee going again (which it often did) but I would rather have these scars and those memories!
Norbert from Globotreks
Marvin from Retirees on the Go
Our ship was docked in Aruba and we decided to walk the beach. Apparently, I brushed up against a poisonous plant or a wayward tiger, because when I got back to the ship I had these deep burns/scratches on my shoulder. I’m still not sure what caused the marks but they are a couple of months old and they will always serve as my Aruban souvenir! (Too bad they don’t match my other tattoos!)
Jennifer from Made All the Difference
My eye is still blurry from tears as I examine my latest injury. I keep looking in my rental car rearview mirror. I am hoping that the image will change. In the past year, I was in a car accident in Iceland, fell down a flight of stairs in Equatorial Guinea, fell over avoiding a charging Gorilla in Rwanda, and swam a class 5 white water rapid in Uganda. I walked away from each incident with nothing more than a bruise. I am still in disbelieve that while on a weekend trip in Cape Canaveral National Seashore, Florida, I sneezed while opening the rental car door. When I sneezed, I hit my head on the edge of the car door.
So! Now it’s your turn… Have you acquired any travel wounds?
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!