To say that Diane Redcay's honeymoon was short would be a massive understatement.
Thanks to multiple flight delays she and her husband Mark ended up spending less than 24 hours relaxing at South Padre Island, Texas before they had to head home. To make things worse, they only had the clothes on their backs.
"They lost our luggage. It was a mess," Redcay told ABC News. "Everything went wrong."
Now the couple is in the running for a $10,000 dream vacation, the grand prize in a year-long search for the "World's Unluckiest Traveler" by a travel insurance company. They are among 11 finalists. There is also a doctor on a medical mission to Saigon who took a 30-foot fall when trying to go to the bathroom, and two students who got stuck at sea in an overcrowded open catamaran during a storm. Oh, did we mention the food sickness?
Redcay and her husband got married on Valentine's Day. The the next morning they left their home in Coudersport, Pa. for Texas.
The problems started at the Buffalo, N.Y. airport. Their first flight was delayed because the plane had to be de-iced. Then their second flight was delayed by a malfunctioning door. They missed the last flight of the day to South Padre Island. Eventually, they arrived, but without their luggage.
The honeymoon was only supposed to be for three days. In the end, it was less than one.
If they win the $10,000 through the contest sponsored by Travel Guard, the couple will probably head somewhere warm, like Hawaii.
More than 800 travel mishaps were submitted during the course of the year, with finalists being chosen each month though online voting via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
(Clearly the message from Travel Guard is to buy insurance to, at the very least, mitigate the damage that might happen on a trip. Our advice: weigh the costs. If it's a once-in-a-lifetime trip, something with tight connections or an exotic adventure, insurance might be worth the cost. But read the fine print; not all of the mishaps here would be covered in all plans.)
Most Unlucky Travelers
Redcay and her husband have some tough competition. Here are some other finalists' stories:
Grand Canyon Helicopter Crash: Robert Woodburn and his wife were vacationing in Las Vegas when they decided to tour the Grand Canyon by helicopter. During flight, the helicopter's engine failed completely, resulting in a harrowing crash landing on a small patch of grass between the Colorado River and the wall of the canyon. Woodburn, his wife and four other passengers were stranded on the floor of the canyon waiting to be rescued ... by another helicopter. They were eventually brought back safely to Boulder City, Nev.
Cliffhanger: Gary Feldman, a geneticist on a medical mission, embarked on his journey with the treatment of others in mind. Unfortunately, he never saw a single patient aside from himself.
On day three, Feldman stopped on a mountain road to photograph the valley below. He stepped to the cliff's edge to relieve himself -- when it began to give way. He fell 30 feet, shattering his leg when he landed on a ledge that saved him from a fate much worse. It took ten men to rescue him, a 14-hour ambulance ride, two surgeries, and a life-threatening infection before he was able to return home, arriving practically on his original return date.
Trip Cancelled: Gary Lape and his group planned to meet in London, where they had rented an apartment for two weeks, then cross the English Channel to visit friends in France and spend time touring Paris.
Everyone's flights and accommodations had been paid in full by the time Lape and his wife headed to the airport. As he placed their tickets and passports on the ticket counter, a voice came booming over the loudspeaker announcing that all flights in the U.S. had been cancelled.
The date of their departure was Sept. 11, 2001. They never rescheduled the trip.
Boat from Hell: After a semester abroad in Costa Rica, Carmia Feldman and a friend decided to explore the rest of Central America. They missed the last ferry to Belize from Guatemala and decided to hitch a ride on a canoe crowded with fourteen other passengers and piled high with cargo.
The motor failed, leaving the passengers stranded at sea. Feldman noticed a storm approaching in the distance. Ultimately, the students and their fellow passengers weathered the storm and ended up safely on the shores of Belize, though wet and feeling ill.
Trip of a Lifetime -- Not
The Paparazzi and the Masai: While traveling through the Serengeti, Lisa Quinn came across a group of teenage boys dressed in traditional clothing. She stopped, hoping to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moment with a photo.
But where Quinn saw the chance for a memento, the clever and entrepreneurial boys saw an opportunity. The boys would consent to the picture, but only after a bit of bartering. After a playful exchange, Quinn walked away with her photo but lost her watch, some candy and a fistful of cash in the exchange.
Sick to Death: After his father's funeral, Jeff Michel and his family decided to plan a reunion in Mexico to spend some time together. Upon arriving in Mexico City the family waited four hours in the sweltering heat with four children under the age of five to pass customs.
Once they were allowed to pass, they rushed to their connecting flight to find the ticket agent giving away their tickets to standby passengers, resulting in another 8-hour wait. Though they knew not to drink the water, Michel and his daughter decided to eat the table salsa, and subsequently, spent the entire night suffering from food poisoning.
IV in a taxi??? While visiting her family in Porto Viejo, Adriana Aviles' 3-year-old daughter fell ill. Three days into their trip, her daughter's condition worsened, and she took her to the home of the local pediatrician. Her daughter was severely dehydrated, and the doctor quickly ordered an IV and sent them to a local clinic.
There was not enough bed space there, so the attending physician inserted the IV into her daughter's arm, gave her instructions to remove it when the dose was complete, and sent them on their way. With the IV hanging out of the taxi window, they raced to the nearest airport and jumped on the next flight back to Miami to seek additional treatment.