Top 5 Travel Bummers Of 2015

15 December 2015

It wasn’t all clear skies and calm seas in the world of travel this year. We take a look back at the weather phenomena, bad luck and questionable tourist etiquette that conspired against our travel plans in 2015.

 Not quite the white Christmas everyone was dreaming of. (Image: Getty)

1. Polar vortex 2015

Things didn’t get off to a flying start in North America in 2015. At all. In fact, the Arctic polar vortex and icy blasts from Siberia (dubbed the ‘Siberian Express’) brought some of the coldest temps on record to the US in January and February, with ice storms and frigid winds grounding planes. The big freeze was particularly felt in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, although there was snow in 48 states, all except Florida and Hawaii. But it wasn’t tantrums and thermals for all travellers. Flight Centre writer Jessica Holmes was holidaying in New York during the big freeze and says despite the whole city being in lockdown, it was the most magical experience she’d ever had.

“The city felt like it was just open for us. It was snowing, so it was pretty magical,” she says.

 The ash clouds of Bali - ruining the travel plans of thousands of Aussies. (Image: Getty)

2. Bali ash clouds

Not once but twice this year, Aussie travellers bound for Bali and Bintangs saw their flights delayed or cancelled due to the eruption of two separate volcanoes in the region of Denpasar Airport.  On July 2, Mount Raung erupted in East Java, and the ensuing ash cloud disrupted flights to and from Bali over five weeks. Later in November 2015, Mount Barunjari in Lombok also erupted and the continued eruption and ash cloud debris also grounded planes and closed airports amid safety concerns. It was an anxious wait for thousands of Aussie travellers to see if their flights to Bali would get the go-ahead. Thankfully, the coast is clear now.

 Blue sky. Aqua water. White sands. Brown seaweed. Not quite picture-perfect Guadalupe in the Caribbean. (Image: Getty)

3. Sargassum seaweed

A plague worse than Spring Breakers ruining idyllic Caribbean dreams? Strangling the coast from Belize to Mexico, this smelly seaweed really fouled up the holiday plans of Caribbean-bound vacationers this year. The brown sargassum seaweed has washed up on Caribbean coastlines for years, but recently the algal bloom has exploded in quantity due to warming ocean temps, harming coastal environments in its wake. The rotting seaweed that washed up on beaches in Mexico, Barbados and the Dominican Republic didn’t put too much of a dampener on most traveller’s plans with authorities cleaning up the mats of sargassum obscuring the famous Caribbean beaches.


How to give good selfie. Selfie Etiquette - How Not To Be 'That' Tourist

Stop the manspreading. How Not To Be 'That' Person on Public Transport While Travelling


 Selfie sticks, consider yo'selfie on notice! (Image: Getty)

4. Selfie sticks

In 2014, they were an anomaly. But in 2015, the selfie stick became as ubiquitous as selfies, allowing smartphone fans to snap themselves in all their wide-angled glory. Perfect for group shots at landmarks and capturing canoodling tourists against a panoramic backdrop, the extendable rods drew the wrath of more than just other pedestrians when Disney imposed a park-wide ban on selfie sticks. Stadiums, historic landmarks and galleries followed suit to protect their famous attributes and other patrons from oblivious selfie-stick snappers. Even music festivals turned selfie-stick haters with Coachella famously decreeing ‘Selfie sticks/Narcissists’ on their banned list. And when you can buy a selfie stick at the dollar store, you know this is a trend that's peaked.

 Keep it classy, world travellers! (Image: Getty)

5. Cultural vandals

Nude photos on a sacred mountain in Malaysia. Drones damaging historic monuments in Scotland. Tourists carving their initials in ancient landmarks. Yep, 2015 was the year social media got in the way of common sense and reverence for history and religious beliefs. While tourists gone wild is no means a new phenomenon (graffiti tagging was a thing in ancient Greece), and we’re all for capturing a moment in a bucket-list location, take a photo instead of scrawling your name on a priceless artefact.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.