Eight Great Funny Travel Stories

Lists: To mark World Hum's eighth anniversary, we've collected eight favorite travel stories from our archives that see the humor in travel

05.01.09 | 2:23 PM ET

Graphic by Joe Rivera

All too often, travel offers a near-perfect set of comic circumstances: drop a few foreigners in a strange place, add some unfamiliar customs and a language barrier, and the potential for confusion, misunderstanding and unintended consequences is high. The trick is to see the humor when events take an unexpected turn, and when travel feels more like travail. In stories like “Power Trip,” which sees writer Emily Maloney braving a class trip to a nuclear power plant, or “Armrest Seating, Anyone?” in which Sarah Schmelling imagines the plane ride of the future, our writers have done just that. Here are eight funny favorites from our archives.

10 Sizzling Hot Travel Tips from Sir Francis Bacon
Rolf Potts repackages the 17th century philosopher’s ‘Of Travel’ essay in the manner of a 21st century magazine feature

Power Trip
Grab your 3-D glasses! Pin that name tag to your jacket! Now get on the bus with American art student Emily Maloney for a class excursion to a Japanese nuclear plant.

Lust in Translation
When the phone rang in his hotel room in Xian, China, Jim Benning expected to face a frustrating language barrier. He never could have imagined a woman with a sultry voice cooing at the other end.

My Senegalese Cousin, the Rice-Loving Pig
When the woman selling peanuts at a Samba Dia market learned the Senegalese name adopted by Katie Krueger, negotiations took an insulting turn

Surely You Can’t Be Serious!
“Airplane!” celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer. Michael Yessis looks back at a comedy classic—and one of the greatest travel movies ever made.

Armrest Seating, Anyone?
Think it was bad when a Chinese airline recently asked passengers to hold it during flights because flushing the toilet burns expensive fuel? Join Sarah Schmelling aboard an airline where a full bladder is the least of your worries.

We’ll Always Have ‘Charlie’
In the spirit of global misunderstanding, Jerry V. Haines reveals the worst phonetic alphabet ever

Seven Travel Rules from a Brooding Teenager
The American Adolescent Male can learn a lot about travel during a trip to see Scotland and its piles of rocks. Doug Mack breaks it down.

2 Comments for Eight Great Funny Travel Stories

lindsay 05.04.09 | 4:05 AM ET

there is a hilarious website called shotjot.com. i don’t know who the girl is, but there are some of the funniest travel stories i have ever read on it. she just went to south america. laugh out loud funny.

Roger 05.04.09 | 2:26 PM ET

It occurs to me that Doug Mack and Matt Harding have a very similar writing style. It’s uncanny!

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