What’s your most extreme travel story?

The Buttontapper Challenge is back! This month’s challenge is Seussily titled “Oh, the Places We’ll Go!” and will feature a new destination, daily, with inspiration from film and literature.

Today we’re not traveling to a specific destination. Since it’s Sunday, a day of rest, I’m challenging you to think about your Most Extreme Travel Story.

But first!

Let’s catch up on this week’s Quickies, which I’ve been posting on Instagram…



New York




And now, bring on the extremes!

Now, I have to admit, I don’t have a lot of extreme travel stories to share, because a) I am a cautious person who likes to remain relatively safe at all times, particularly when traveling, and b) I am not a daredevil who likes jumping out of planes or swimming with sharks, or any extremes of that nature. So my version of an “extreme” travel story is more about extreme circumstances, rather than performing stunts or visiting dangerous places.

One of the most extreme things that has ever happened to me was when I was about 10 years old, and my parents had taken my sister and me on a trip to Hawaii. We were at a beach after a thunderstorm, and were playing near the shore. My sister had a snorkel, and was swimming around looking at… well, probably just sand because there weren’t any fish near the shore. I was periodically covering up the snorkel with my hand, to see how long it’d take for her to notice, sputter, and thrash about in the water before coming up for air. My dad was swimming out pretty far into the ocean, and my mom was sitting on the beach.

I don’t recall anyone else being on this particular beach at the time, probably because of the “No Lifeguard on Duty; Swim At Your Own Risk” sign posted. Which we should’ve heeded but, being from the Midwest where there’s no such thing as an ocean current, we really had no clue what we were risking by swimming without a lifeguard around to protect us.

My dad had swum out past where the waves were breaking, and was just treading water and floating there. He was trying to get me and my sister to join him, but we were like “Dad, the waves are too big!” He kept insisting that if we ducked under them, we could get out past the breakers and float in the calmer part of the ocean.

Of course, he neglected to mention there was a SUPER STEEP DROPOFF where he was floating, and as my sister and I started wading out there, we suddenly dropped into it and had to start swimming.

Just as a HUGE wave began swelling up, headed straight towards us.


My sister and I both screamed and started paddling back towards the shore, hoping we could get back to the part where we could reach the sand again and just make a run for it. Of course, by that time it was already too late. We were both sucked up into this massive wave, shoved underwater, spun around in the tube of the wave, and then heaved roughly up onto the shore. I had a mouthful of saltwater and sand, and started hacking it all up. My sister was crying. My mom had run over with towels and was trying to comfort us, in between yelling at my dad for trying to get us to swim out so far.

He still maintains that if we’d just ducked under the wave we could’ve made it out past those breakers and everything would’ve been fine. Okay, sure, maybe so… but we were both little kids (10 and 8 at the most), so that was about the scariest thing I’d ever experienced in my life. I honestly thought I was going to be drowned.

And guess what the name of the beach was?

DISAPPEARING SANDS. I’m not even kidding. You can read more about it on Wikipedia, which notes that this very beach’s sands “disappear” several times a year due to the rough currents after storms. Just like the one we’d been swimming after.

Here’s what the beach looks like on a calm day:

Photo by W Nowicki, CC BY 3.0

What about you?

What are some of your most extreme travel memories, experiences, or locations?


  • Wiki

    Hello ,

    I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!

    I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. :)
    I have even created an Instagram account for them (https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. :)

    Keep up the good work on your blog.


  • DeeDee

    Hahah, this is such a “dad” story! Why is it that (most) “we almost died” stories involve a father who is not using any common sense?! I think we all have some version of this incident that centers around bad dad advice!

    • Laura Roberts

      The funniest thing about my dad is that he always thinks he IS using common sense, and is annoyed that no one ELSE is applying the same principals to their thinking. Like the saying goes: it must not be so common! ;D

  • Anne M Bray

    Hello comment box! (Couldn’t find on “W” A-Z).
    While reading, I was worried this was going to turn into a riptide story.
    “Disappearing Sands” Haha. Thankfully not “Disappearing Children”!