The Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst in Travel

Hotel Ufuk in Istanbul, Turkey, wins first prize in the “Least Appealing Hotel Names” category.

The Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst in Travel

By Christa Romano

Traveling is hard work. An infinite number of disasters potentially await you the minute you book your flight and oftentimes some sort of disaster actually does happen.

But despite the inevitable bumps along the road, or turbulence in the air, so many people chose to travel again and again. It is to those people that the hilarious Titanic Awards are dedicated.

The Titanic Awards is a new book filled with hundreds of quick stories, all “celebrating the worst of travel.” Not to be read in consecutive order, this fun little book would be the perfect literature to accompany you as you try to ignore the gypsies at the train station or while you are spending time in the bathroom after drinking Mexican tap water.

The stories will make you laugh, or cringe, and will undoubtedly make you feel better about whatever unfortunate travel-situation you find yourself in.

With personal travel woes and anecdotes submitted by readers and statistics on things like “city with the lamest nightlife” (Baghdad, Iraq won) or the “country with the rudest waiters (France), this book provides entertainment and helpful information for travelers.

You’ll also learn that out of all cities in the United States, Detroit, Michigan, was voted as having the worst shopping, the most boring tourist attractions and the city that feels the most dangerous.

The startling true tales in this book also offer a different sort of insight into various cultures around the world that you would never read about in a travel guide, and brings to light the less-obvious stereotypes countries have about one another.

So, without further ado, GoNOMAD presents the ten worst moments in travel, all well deserving of their new recognition by The Titanic Awards.

1. Least reassuring airline maintenance: Nepal Airlines

worst maintenence practice
This goat was sacrificed to the Hindu god of sky protection, Akash Bhairab in order to correct technical problems.

Nepal Airlines was having technical trouble with one of its two Boeing 757’s. Eventually, the airline announced that it had corrected the problem by sacrificing two goats to appease the Hindu god of sky protection, Akash Bhairab. The goats were sacrificed in front of the aircraft, right on the tarmac of Tribhuvan International Airport in Katmandu.

“The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” said senior airline official Raju K.C., according to a Reuters report.

It’s also worth noting that after the ceremony, the plane did complete a successful flight to Hong Kong. That was a close one.

2. Worst haircut while traveling: from David Farley, travel writer and author of An Irreverent Curiosity

“I should have known better, but when i was living in Prague, I went to a tacky salon on the outskirts of town — they’re usually called Salon Barbara or something like that — just for a quick cut. In my faltering Czech I said that I wanted a little off the top and sides and more off the back. Instead, she did the opposite, and I ended up with a mullet.”

3. World’s Worst Restaurant Names: The United Kingdom

I would imagine that the owner of this London-based Vietnamese restaurant was just hilariously unaware of the crude homonym of the title of his restaurant… but Phat Phuc Noodle Bar, really?

the barf bed and breakfast
A sign in front of the unfortunatley named Barf Bed and Breakfast located in Barf, England

There is no excuse for Vagina Tandori Indian Cuisine, which blatantly has English words in the title. Would it really be so hard to pick up an Indian/English dictionary? Even worse, Fivemiletown in the UK has a restaurant called; brace yourselves, Cum-n-Eat.

4. Least Appealing Hotel Names:

I’m just curious as to what point the owners of England’s Barf Bed and Breakfast, were trying to get across when they named their business. The photo claims that there were no vacancies that day, so they must be doing something right.

Runners up for this award include: Hotel Ufuk in Istanbul, Resist Bacteria Hotel in Kashgar, China, and Ah Chew Hotel in Singapore.

5. Worst Tourist Information: from Benji Lanyado, travel writer for The Guardian

Office: “Good afternoon, sir, and welcome to Hoi An [Vietnam]. I have information for hotels, beach location, and prostitute sex. Also car for hire.”

6. World’s Worst Dressed Tourists: Americans

The worst dressed tourists
Americans smothered the competition when The Titanic Awards asked poll-takers what nationality had the worst dressed tourists.

The statistics in The Titanic Awards are calculated from a survey which was taken by over 2,000 people from over 80 different countries, so the diversity of individuals answering the questions is pretty fair, I’d say.

It was not so much shocking as it was embarrassing to see that Americans were voted as the world’s worst dressed tourists.

I guess that stereotypical traveler with the Hawaiian button-down, fanny pack and sun-screened nose is a stereotype for a reason. The results were indisputable, with Americans landing 49 percent of all votes. Runner up was German tourists, coming in at 11.4 percent.

7. Worst Beach: from Johnny Jet (aka John E. DiScala), founder/editor of

“Conado Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico. While I was there, a 13-year-old boy drowned. As the rescue team searched for his body well into the next day, another man there also drowned, right next to the searchers.”

the Rent-a-Bomb car rental in Australia
Rent-a-Bomb is not exactly the most reassuring name for a car rental service.

8. Worst Car Rental Name: Rent- a-Bomb

No, it’s not a front office for Al-Qaeda, but at a time when terrorism is still causing panic, it’s probably best not to have to mention the bomb you’re driving around. Wondering if this is just another mistranslated store-front name? Not the case. This “trusted name in used car rentals” is based out of Australia.

9. Worst Toilet: from Robert Young Pelton, filmmaker, speaker and author of several books, including The World’s Most Dangerous Places

“In Mali I asked where the toilet was… they pointed outside. There is a lot of outside in Mali. Huts and then sand as far as you could see. And they didn’t go inside the huts. So everywhere was the toilet. I was just supposed to wander out into the sand and find a spot in between everyone else’s shit and go. With everyone watching. And you know everyone wants to see how the white guy goes to the toilet.”

A very crowded train in Pakistan
This Pakistani train gets the blue ribbon for the most crowded, least comfortable, and most dangerous train ride.

10. Least comfortable train ride: Pakistan

There’s first class and there’s second class, but I don’t know what you’d call the seating on this Pakastani train, except perhaps hanging-on-for-dear-life class.

These Sunni Muslims are on their way back from the annual three-day Daawat-e-Islami religious congregation in Multan, Pakistan. The good news is that it would have been even more crowded if the railroad hadn’t organized an extra 11 trains. Where they stay during the event isn’t much more spacious- a tent village on 250 acres that holds 1 million people.

Buy this book on Amazon:

The Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst of Travelir?t=gc0a7 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0399535845

Christa RomanoChrista Romano is a senior at the University of Massachusetts and a GoNOMAD intern. She writes the TravelNewsNotes blog for

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