Creepy Stories From World Travelers That Will Haunt You
In the gap of time between high school and college, many young adults fancy the idea of traveling the country or even the world with not much more than a backpack. Throughout our lives, the option to backpack our way through a countryside is always present and thousands of people every year set time aside to go on an adventure, ideally traveling with as few possessions and baggage as conceivably possible.
But not every scenic vacation of meeting people all over is full of magic and mystery, in fact, we've had horror stories on the silver screen captivate our imaginations by capitalizing on our fascination with adventure and the unknown.
The reality is art imitates life, so the idea that horrifying things can happen while people backpack through their ideal destination clearly came from somewhere.
Before you consider your next traveling, backpacking adventure read through these eerie, creepy, hair-raising stories from real people about what happened to them that haunts them to this day.
1. The Wild Side of Alabamavia:Pixabay
Reddit user cmvr2256 recounted his creepy tale that began backpacking in the Alabama wilderness as a 12 year-old boy with his 26 year-old brother. Everything was going just swell until their third night in the wild when two strangers randomly wandered into their campsite to ask if they had recently seen any wild hogs. Wild hogs happen to be common in the Alabama wilderness so it turns out the two brothers had seen them not too long before the interaction. They told the strangers where they had seen the animals and after lingering a little while the men left. They had given off a weird vibe but the brothers had not put much thought into it at the time.
They retired to their tent for the night and all was well. That is until around midnight when the young boy was woken by the sound of dogs barking and people shouting very close by, perhaps 100 yard only. His older brother calmed his concerns by saying that using hound dogs for hunting was normal, (even if midnight was not a normal seeming time to hunt) and that it was probably the men from earlier who had been looking for the hogs.
cmrv2256 then says:
Fast forward what was probably another three hours, around 2 am. I had managed to sleep pretty well after first hearing the hog hunters when I woke up to my brother squeezing my shoulder firmly, saying, "Wake up, put your shoes on quick and follow me, be as quiet as you can."
He followed his brother as they climbed up a hill overlooking their campsite and hid in some bushes, watching. He described:
The group of hunters had been steadily approaching our camp and by this time (30 or so minutes) had reached it. There were five of them and like three or four dogs. They all looked relatively young, but two had either rifles or shotguns, and the dogs were going crazy, obviously having smelled our scent.
We laid there for awhile longer when out of nowhere they started screaming "WHERE Y'ALL AT?!?!" and firing into the woods at random. My brother dragged me back behind the crest of the hill and threw himself on top of me. Thankfully in our position on top of the hill we were protected from any gunfire.
They shot maybe five or six more times and then started walking back the direction they had come. They got maybe 100 yards away when I heard a blaring siren and saw emergency lights flashing through the woods. Turns out my brother had called the Forest Service Office on a satellite phone my family has for emergencies while I was asleep and they had sent out Forest Service officers and game wardens to our area of the wilderness.
The boys never found out if the hunters were caught but we're pretty sure they don't look fondly back on their time as prey.
2. The Wrong Stopvia:Pixabay
Reddit user LadyEmry's story comes from her time backpacking through Asia. Preparing for the next step in her adventure, she was supposed to catch a flight from Malaysia to Singapore but unfortunately missed her plane. Rationally, she decided to take the bus instead. The bus was filthy, to the point it was covered in cockroaches, but she figured it was only a few hours and a better solution than staying in Malaysia and getting further behind in her adventures so a few hours on the dirty bus was not a huge deal.
She described what happened next:
The man next to me was Asian, around late thirties to early forties. He was very interested in me, asking me many questions about where I was going (I told him Singapore), was I alone, where I would be staying, how old I was, did I have a boyfriend... I made awkward but polite small talk with him, making up a fictional boyfriend. Eventually it got late and we both tried to get some sleep. Fear of the cockroaches kept me awake though, so I spent an hour or so just lying there with my eyes closed attempting sleep when I felt a hand brush against my left thigh. I ignored it, since maybe it was an accident. Maybe his hand had just slipped from the armrest? I felt it again, squeezing my leg, then the hand moved to my right thigh. Ah. Not an accident.
Rationally, she told him to stop touching her and thankfully he did. What happened next has never left her mind:
I managed to get a tiny bit of sleep, then awoke at 6.30 am when the bus stopped. The man shook my shoulder and told me "C'mon! Get out! It's Singapore!" The time seemed right so, groggy, I hopped off the bus and went up to the bus conductor to get my luggage. Luckily for me, he remembered I was traveling to Singapore, as he told me to get back on the bus - this was still Malaysia, we hadn't crossed the border yet. Singapore was the next stop.
I turned around to see the man staring at me from a large group of men clustering around the bus and very quickly boarded the bus again. As we drove away I wondered if he'd done that deliberately- then I remembered that I had told him Singapore was my destination the night before, and he knew this wasn't Singapore.
We don't even want to think about what would have happened if she had not gotten back on the bus.
3. Lock Your Doorsvia:Pixabay
Having a network of friends and family sounds like such a great thing but at the end of the day, a friend of a friend is still a stranger to you. Reddit user belovelife learned this lesson the hard way after she, along with her boyfriend arranged to spend a night with a relative of one of her friends while backpacking through Germany. She described her experience:
So we arrive at his house and knock on the door and a scary old lady opens up looking puzzled. We explain that we spoke with her husband and we are friends with his relative. She leads us in. The whole situation is strange and scary. After a couple of minutes, her husband arrives and we sit with him and talk a bit over tea.
When nighttime arrives, he leads us to the basement, we go down the stairs and he explains where everything is, then he goes up the stairs and locks the door behind him. That was my scariest night EVER. We didn’t sleep at all that night thinking horrible thoughts of what might be, but when morning came and we heard the door unlock we jumped up and ran out of the house never looking back.
I can't help but wonder if they were more scared of their guests than belovelife and her boyfriend were scared of their hosts.
4. Down in Africavia:Wildography
Reddit user SeaSickSquid recounted their tale of being literally kidnapped in Africa:
I was stranded in Zimbabwe with no money, working my way across the country. I made some friends and we went out one night to a bar... I was the only white person, and one of very few females there. Had a blast though. My friends were watching out for me while I was in the bathroom, but as I was coming out, some other guys grabbed me and threw me into the trunk of a car and knock me out.
I woke up later to find myself locked in a dark room...voices outside, not in English. A couple hours pass, who knows how long... a guy comes in with a gun screaming at me in Shona. Mind you, I have NO clue what the hell is going on... he grabs me, still waving that freaking gun in my face, and throws me outside. My friends are there, apparently negotiating my release.
I get butted by the gun, and wake up at my friend's house. No clue WTF happened. Still to this day. My friends won't tell me, to this day, what exactly was going on.
Perhaps it's better he doesn't know any more details than that.
5. Lakeside Lunaticvia:Flickr
Reddit user WaffleHump recounts his tale of his Lakeside Lunatic and it will give you chills. While backpacking through the Adirondacks with a friend he encountered a person, a creep, he'll never forget. In his own words:
We hiked about five miles into a small lake and set up camp on a small beach. This was not a heavily trafficked area, and we did not expect to run into anyone. Our first night there, as we were sitting around the fire, we saw a flashlight moving on the other side of the lake around 10:30. This was fairly unusual, however, we did not think too much of it.
But, as time went on, this flashlight kept moving around the lake, getting closer to our campsite… Once it was clear that the person (or people) were heading for our campsite, we moved off into the woods nearby to see who wandered up.
Now, the moment of truth: the flashlight comes near the light of our fire and it is one man. He has a beard and is probably in his mid-40s. The scary part was, he was carrying what turned out to be a pump-action shotgun. He walked around the campsite a few times, and then proceeded to enter our tent. After rummaging around for a minute or so, he came out and started yelling "I know you're out there, why don't you come and say hello?"
My friend and I remained motionless under a hemlock tree about 50 yards away. That is when the man proceeded to fire his shotgun into the woods (not too far from where we were). He also swung his flashlight around several times. After what felt like hours, he grabbed my friend's backpack and a few articles of clothing we had drying off near the fire and threw them in to burn.
Thankfully the man moved off from where he had come after a little while. We waited until his flashlight was on the other side of the lake, ran out, grabbed everything we could fit in my pack and took off (it was now around 2 or 3 am) … We immediately went to the police department and reported it, where we also spoke with some forest rangers. That was it, I haven't heard anything back from the police.
It's too bad they didn't get a single follow up. Wouldn't you like to know if that man is still out there?
6. Not So Alonevia:Pintrest
Reddit user Noahcarr tells his tale of a solo backpacking trip just a few years ago that turned out to not be quite as lonely as he originally thought it was. The real kicked, though, was how he found out:
I had brought a Kodak Disposable Camera with me on the trip, and I wanted to get my pictures developed as soon as I could, because I was eager to show my friends and family the wildlife and gorgeous views I had seen. After a couple of days, I got a call from Costco, where my pictures were being developed, that I could come and pick them up.
I didn't have the patience to wait to see all of the pictures, so I opened the package up as soon as I got into my car. They had come out wonderfully, and then I got to the last set of pictures.
There were 10 pictures I didn't remember taking.
The pictures were of me. Sleeping. In my tent.
Somebody was in my tent.
7. From Nebraska to Peruvia:Imgur
arrojafuera tells a story on Reddit full of mystery and terror. His story comes from a time he went backpacking through Peru and stumbled upon a notebook. The notebook seemed innocent enough at first as it was filled with a collection of traveler's stories. The cool thing were the instructions. The first entry asked each person who wrote in the notebook to hold onto it for no more than two weeks, then pass it along to another traveler. That's a pretty cool concept and the first five stories seemed like normal backpacking tales. The sixth story, however, is where the nightmare begins.
Apparently written on Valentine's Day in 2016, the sixth entry was a tale of a man from Nebraska. He wrote that he had grown up on a farm in Nebraska, dropped out of high school, and gotten a job at a slaughterhouse to pass the time. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother had taken off a few years before. Then a new family moved in next door.
arrojafuera says of what he read in the notebook:
So, this family moves into the next farm over, maybe a half-dozen acres away. There was Daddy Gendlin - Tom, I think - his fat wife Leslie, and the two daughters, Marilyn and Martha… The whole clan moved in with a half-dozen dogs. Two of 'em were enormous animals; black-lab-mastiff crosses with heads the size of propane tanks. Scary, loud animals. But like I told you, I was working a lot and didn't get a chance to meet them, really.
Reading on the narrator described further that the girls were about six and ten years old and the dogs were loud. In fact it was only the first night that they discovered how loud the dogs were. They simply would not stop barking so "Daddy Gendlin" came over to speak with his new neighbors. Gendlin tells the narrator's father that the dogs only bark when they’re threatened and he doesn’t know what was up with them last night, but it won’t happen again.
The next night, the dogs are barking again. Papa Gendlin comes over the next morning, says he found blood on his property line. His dogs were fine, but he couldn’t figure out what they tore into. There was no carcass, no trace of what had left the blood. He asked if there were any local dogs that might have wandered onto his farm.
The narrator's father answers Gendlin and tells him no, there are no other dogs around so Gendlin moves on. Next the narrator writes that he went to work, came home, and slept peacefully through the night with no obnoxious sounds of dogs barking. Then... the next day, all of his coworkers are talking about the Gendlins. Apparently, someone had broken into their house overnight and slaughtered them all. The youngest girl wasn’t even found until months later, her body mostly disintegrated in a corn field.
The cops came and talked to me and Dad about it a few times. They made a big deal about Daddy Gendlin's visits. They stopped coming around after a while, though. They didn´t arrest anyone on account of the killings - the cops, I mean. They kept asking the dumbest question, too. They thought it was so strange that the dogs would make all that noise for the first two days and just sit quiet the night of the killings. They were all fine, by the way - the dogs, I mean, not a scratch on 'em.
Personally I don't trust dogs much in matters of personal security. Anyone can make friends with 'em. All you need is a little meat.
Process that just a few moments. Then enjoy your nightmares.
8. The Skull and The Filmvia:Pixabay
Reddit user orilykid described his adventure backpacking through Yellowstone National Park:
I was backpacking in Yellowstone above the tree line at about 10,500 feet. We were hiking on a ridge above a lake when all of a sudden we came across a horse skull. No body, just the skull, pretty cool-looking. We get to our campsite not too far away from the lake near where we found the horse skull. When we climb down to the lake, we find the body of the horse rotting on the edge of the lake with negative film strips floating in the water and laying around the shore near the body.
An eerie mystery.
9. Cave of Nightmaresvia:Pixaby
Reddit user NocturneLark was backpacking through eastern Washington when he came across a cave of nightmares.
A few years ago I was backpacking in eastern Washington with some friends of mine. I don't know how well you guys know eastern Washington, but its pretty much dust, sagebrush, and dirt. We decided to hike up onto the top of this canyon, and from up there you could see miles and miles of straight nothing. After a few hours of traversing the top of the cliff, we eventually found a little crevasse that kind of took us a little ways underground, into a pretty decent-sized cave.
The cave was filled with little bones, like mice and bats. In one of the corners of the cave, there was a rock fixture that jutted up from the ground and almost made a separate "room," so to speak. In the room, we found lots of scratches on the walls, photographs, and three bottles with notes in them.
While this was kind of off-putting on its own, we figured it was just some sort of joke and we'd find silly S.O.S. notes in the bottles. The scariest part about it all was the photographs were super ordinary, of families and normal people, and two of the notes in the bottles made no sense at all. While it was English, it was pretty much straight gibberish, none of the words made sense in context with the other words. The third bottle had a super ordinary letter talking about what they've been up to - something you'd send to a fairly distant relative after not talking with them for a while.
I don't really know what to think of it all, I feel like it could easily have been someone just joking around but it was almost too strange for that.
Ordinary or not, we will never really know, will we?
10. The Teddy Bear Terrorvia:Pixaby
Reddit User SquidwardsFriend tells a tale of why Teddy Bears are not always a toy of comfort:
It was just me and a buddy backpacking. After hiking all day, we found a good spot next to the creek to set up the tent before it got dark. We got everything set up, made a fire, cooked some food, then sat around and talked before going to sleep (my point here is that we'd spent a good amount of time in the area and should've seen anything weird laying around). I was first to wake up and leave the tent in the morning (we set it up with the door facing the creek). First thing I saw when I unzipped the door was a blue, dirty stuffed bear (it looked like an old Care Bear) sitting on a rock next to the creek.
It was positioned sitting up and facing our tent. Obviously, at that point I was freaked the fuck out. I woke my buddy up, who was equally as freaked out when he saw it. No way my friend did it either since I was last asleep and first awake, and he was just as creeped out as I was. We never heard anything weird that night, no one bothered us, and none of our stuff was messed with. We cut the trip two days short and headed back to the car (another reason I'm sure he didn't do it). Best explanation I have is that a creeper was watching us from back in the treeline and we had absolutely no clue, which is a pretty sobering thought.
11. In the Woodsvia:Urban Ghosts
Reddit user TheNumberX told of the time he high tailed it far away from a questionable situation while backpacking across The United States:
I backpacked from California to New York. I saw enough weird stuff to fill a bucket.
On my second day out, I was hiking through some bushes, looking for a place to camp, and I found a compound. Two trailers - both beat up and worn down to the point of questionable livability, numerous junked vehicles, and a shed. On the shed it said, in huge spray painted letters:
STEAL FROM ME AND (crudely drawn skull and crossbones)
I...found somewhere else to camp.
I dont blame him.
Terrifying things can happen to people when they travel abroad. But don't think that that makes you safe in your very own neighborhood. You're at the same risk of running into something deadly, if not more!