I’m Sorry, Did You Say Travel Disaster? I Heard Adventure: Why I Travel for the Disasters

Posted on / by Alex Berger

Sunken Pink Boat - Bergen, Norway

Life is comfortable. Chances are you’re not starving in a third world country or digging ditches in Sub-Sahara Africa. Most Millennials reading this are students, working desk jobs or have embraced the life of an entrepreneur. We live comfortable lives and are grateful for it. Sure, we face challenges – we all do, but those challenges are seldom balanced. Most tend towards insignificance or life altering.

To advance as a person, we all need to periodically find that middle group between “Oh no my phone fell in the toilet, my life is over” and “my friend was just killed in a car accident”.  A life enriched by moderate disasters better prepares us for the big things, and reminds us how insignificant the little things are.

Beyond that?  Travel disaster stories make for some of the best stories out there and let’s face it: I’m sure you’re interesting, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt you to be that much more fascinating, would it? To fulfill these types of needs and missing experiences some people dive into extreme sports, others advocate more benign ways of pushing our comfort zones.  At the end of the day though, I’ll take an excuse to travel the world over signing up for a public speaking class in a heartbeat. The best part is both are equally as effective.

So, what the hell am I talking about when I say travel disasters?  I’m talking about when things go implode. I’m talking about when it’s 10PM and the hostel/hotel loses your reservation, when the “waterproof” hiking shoes you bought for $10 fall apart a mile into a partially submerged subterranean cave, when your ferry gets shipwrecked, or when you lose your travel partner in a foreign city and neither of you have cell phones that work.

Don’t get me wrong, I also travel for the food, for the culture, for the history and for the scenery but at the end of the day when I sit down for coffee with someone – it’s the misadventures that were terrifying and miserable which come to mind first.  They’re the ones that forced me to sink or swim and taught me to take action. They’re the ones that develop us as individuals and which stay with us as important life lessons. I’m sure someone told you as a child that fire was hot, but you only truly understood it and related to it after you burned yourself the first time. It was in the aftermath of the burn that you came to understand the power, benefit and beauty of fire. Similarly, some experiences must be experienced before we truly understand them and better understand what we are capable of and need as individuals. It’s not always pleasant, but essential.

The next time you plan a trip and start worrying about everything that could go wrong I want you to pause, smile and get excited.  Sure, shit may hit the fan but you’re ready for it. You can handle it. That’s what you’re there for.  Granted, there’s no reason to seek out disaster but if it finds you?  Well, that’s just part of the experience and a trip well traveled.

Ready to embrace your next disaster? Consider documenting it with a Canon G12 or a Canon T3i.

*This post was originally published on


Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.


  • Jade Johnston
    July 23, 2011

    The disasters definitely make the best stories afterwards – but during they can be a huge pain in the butt. I don’t know if I would want to have the stress just to get a good story though….but thats just me

  • jade
    July 24, 2011

    Ah, those situations do make for great stories and usually excellent unplanned adventures! I also like to book travel when somewhere has just experienced some type of disaster- usually go to help or benefit from the awesome deals because no one else is traveling there.

    • Alex Berger
      July 24, 2011

      That’s awesome, definitely a wonderful thing when done right to be willing to go and lend a hand.


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