The Travel Insider: My travel bloopers

Joe Maloney

Since we haven’t been able to travel lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it, and what traveling will look like in the future. There are still a lot of unknowns at the moment; however, one thing that will not change is the memories we bring home—good, bad, or indifferent.

I was asked recently if I’ve ever had anything happen to me that was funny, unexpected, or even weird in all my years of traveling? The answer is, yes, absolutely! In fact, I have so many examples there’s not enough room on this page to list them all! So, here are a couple of my favorites:

Yellowstone

I was directing a group trip in Yellowstone and had advised everyone about the abundant wildlife and viewing safety. However, after not seeing any wildlife in more than two days—a rare occurrence—my group began heckling me about exaggerating my stories. Finally, we spotted a herd of about 100 bison across the river a safe distance away. Everyone got out of the motorcoach to get a good look, while I stayed onboard.

Suddenly, a young man sprinted back yelling, “Joe, they’re stampeding us!” I looked out the window to see people and bison running everywhere. This was highly unusual, but it was mating season, which makes bison more irrational. I quickly ran to help everyone to safety.

Two images from this event are indelibly etched in my mind after all these years: First is a woman running as hard as she could, in high-heeled, spiked sandals alongside an enormous bull bison. I grabbed her as she ran by and hustled her into the bus. The second is of a young family who had pulled up behind our motorcoach and got out to take pictures. The wife was on the roof of the car, screaming at her husband. He had one kid under each arm as he fumbled for his car keys, while a bison was rubbing against their bumper, shaking the car to the point the woman was holding on for dear life. Miraculously, no one was hurt.

Needless to say, everyone opted to take the rest of their wildlife photos through the bus window.

Great Britain

I was leading a tour of England, Scotland, and Wales, and it was a typical day—miserable and rainy. By the time we arrived, to the English Lake District, late in the day, it had turned into a beautiful evening. I had purchased a hand-knit sweater in the town of Windermere, and after arriving at our hotel, I met our driver Terry for a pint on the deck at a local pub. The moment the server delivered our two pints, I heard a “squawk” and felt moisture. Turns out it wasn’t rain: A seagull had relieved itself all over me—in my hair, in my beer, and all over my brand-new sweater. As I sat there trying to process what had just happened, Terry sipped his beer, leaned towards me, and in his cockney accent said, “I believe that bird just s*** on you!”

Joe Maloney is vice president travel and retail operations for AAA Colorado.