5 Marvellous Escapes From Peril!

This post is brought to you by Southern Cross Insurance    
Most dangerous travel stories

I loved travelling before I had the children, and especially loved wafting around the world alone. 

I do still love travelling but let’s just say it’s got a lot tamer, and there’s much less drunken hilarity.

In my backpacker days, I really did have some life threatening moments, but survived them, thank goodness. Maybe motherhood is in reality more dangerous. You could just die of boredom some days.

Did you make any marvellous escapes buring your escapades? Did you ever genuinely fear for your life?

Escapes from danger when travelling

This is a photo from that very cave


Disorientated whilst cave diving off Borneo

The cave is huge, vast, a cavernous cavern. It’s about 15 metres down an underwater cliff on the sublime island of Sipadan off the east coast of Sabah. We swim in, switch the torches on, we hang in the black water.

Looking back the entrance to the cavern is bright and blue, silhouettes of sharks and turtles pass by.

At the back is the entrance to a deeper cavern, with a turtle skeleton in it. We gaze at it, then… what, I don’t know, a wave of dizziness. There’s water in my mask, I don’t know which way is up and which down. Heart is thundering… it feels like hours, it’s seconds and my buddy has me by the arm.


5 escapes from danger

Me aged 18 in Italy – it was the 80s!

Hitch hiking drunk at night from the post of Palma on the Spanish island of Majorca

Don’t tell me that an idiot I was, I know. I was 19 and a complete maniac. Fingers crossed my kids are a lot wiseer than I was.

I’d come from Italy where I’d been living for a year. I’d gone from Genova to Rome to drop off some stuff then did the train trip Rome – Barcelona in a single trip. I probably hadn’t slept or been sober for days.

Anyway, myself and two Irish guys got rolling drunk on the ferry from Barcelona to Palma de Majorca.

We staggered off the boat at night and I had to travel 70km to get to where my family was staying at Porto Christo. So I started hitching… and was picked up by a middle-aged taxi driver.

He did drop me off safe and sound but on the way he had suffered a bout of WHT (wandering hand trouble). I had threatened to burn his hand with my cigarette and had been blethering away in Italian telling him I was as old as his daughter.

OH DEAR… that could have gone very badly wrong… I later hitched in Borneo and around Australia… but that night in Palma was when I really did take my life in my hands. Still mortified.

Sharks x 4 small

A shark heading straight for my jugular

So there we were one night scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. It was myself and a marine biologist who was helping me with a story on coral.

Our torches were strong and bright, the gullies we were swimming through were teeming with fish, vibrant pink soft corals and gently moving sea fans.

And – whoosh – a shark was coming right at me, heading straight for my jugular and it was HUGE. Its eyes gleamed in my torchlight, its teeth sparkled.

I stopped. It didn’t, it was a rocket, a missile…

It dipped and whooshed under me at the last moment. I shook for the rest of the dive.

‘What about that SHARK!” I said to my buddy in the boat.

‘What shark?’

Seana Morocco 3

Climbing frozen waterfalls in The Atlas Mountains Morocco

What I was doing there, I have no idea? I’m a water baby, a salty sea dog… but there we were 13,000ft up in the High Atlas, having walked 7 hours from the last village.

It must have been love. Yes, it was… a boyfriend called Neil. Being a mad mountaineer, he’d brought ice axes and crampons for us both. Fabulous. No pressure.

We went climbing up frozen waterfalls, tap tap, tap tap… crack, crack.. and fell and landed in a heap. The sound of that ice cracking will never leave me. And luckily for us, no bones were broken.

And where is Neil now? He’s led the life I thought I would. He’s written travel guides and books for the past 25 years and he’s been everywhere… whilst I have been doing the washing up. Surely shome mishtake?

This was scary at the time, but in fact, the pigeon pie in Marrakesh that gave me terrible violent vomiting etc etc was maybe even more life threatening.

Escapes from danger when travelling

There’s Dot with a banana with our decompression times writteon it!

Diving buddy caught up in line inside a WW1 wreck in Scapa Flow, Orkney

So my great uni diving buddy Dot and I were exploring the scuttled wrecks of the First World War German Fleet in Scapa Flow in the Orkneys in the far, far north of Scotland.

We had been inside several of the wrecks before, not for long as they lie very deep and we weren’t planning on doing decompression stops.

We used a reel and line, clipping it to the outside of the ship then letting it spin out as we swam. On the way out Dot would wind back in the reel.

Almost out of time we were in a long corridor, dim green light coming in through a row of porthole. I heard something and turned to find Dot had become tangled up in the line and couldn’t move.

In the five minutes we had left I did manage to slowly and carefully untangle her and we found out way out, after which my heart exploded. Bloody hell, that was close.

Escapes from peril when travelling

As a young backpacker at Kata Tjuta, posing as ever.

Ah, life is too tame these days. Without the ocean swimming, where would the exhileration come from?

I hate to admit that during most of my travels, I never had travel insurance… not because I really objected but because I’d rarely get around to it.

I did when in the USA though, medical bills are so expensive there. I did too when older and wiser and travelling in Ghana in West Africa and Kenya and Zanzibar. By then I knew that being able to be medivacced out in an emergency was a luxury that I wanted to afford.

When you travel overseas do you insure your trip?  This post was sponsored by Southern Cross Travel and they’re keen to know. And keen that you do.

And let’s keep safe… at least until the family is all grown up….

When we’re grey nomads, let’s have do dangerous, thrilling adventures once more.

Have you had a marvellous escape from peril?

Can you share it with us in the comments below?

Travel safely



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Posted on: November 5, 2014


  • Wonderful to read all about your crazy youthful adventures and see the pics!! Were we crazy/stupid or just over-flowing with confidence and the feeling that everything would turn out all right?!

    The shark story scares me most but I laughed about the buddy saying What shark?

    Ah, and I can so relate to being stuck home washing up. Feeling very frustrated right not about all the adventures that are passing me by while I play out a role of domestic servitude in suburbia!

    • Reply November 5, 2014

      Seana Smith

      Yes, we’re not cut out for this slavery, you and I, Annabel… but I’m sure we’ll be wild again, but hopefully not quite as wild as before. I do remember feeling infallible, so have some understanding for my Teen15 who knows everything and can do everything and has no idea of how little of life he really does grasp…. I do remember that…

  • Reply November 5, 2014


    Loved these stories and the pictures of young you. The 80’s seem so long ago and we were so fresh and baby faced. You’ve had some amazing adventures and could definitely write a book about them I reckon. I also loved the story about your buddy saying: “What shark?” sounds about right! I’ve also had my fair share of youthful exploits, adventures and seriously misguided decisions and I think that possibly we had far more reign to be generally daft and unresponsible when we were younger – there seemed less harm in the world. Maybe not, just a thought.

    • Reply November 5, 2014

      Seana Smith

      Hello Johanna, hmmm…. I think the world was as dodgy int he days of reverse calls home and writing real letters… there were many dodgy characters around… I think I was very lucky never to get into worse bother. So many good people in the world too. I can’t believe how baby-faced I was at 18… or those clothes, which I adored, of course! Here’s to a bit of nostalgia.

  • Reply November 8, 2014

    Desire Empire

    What a fabulous post Seana. I have to laugh because I cannot think of one dangerous situation I got myself in during my extensive travels, apart from the odd mozzie bite in Thailand, or a guy hassling me on a late night walk home alone in New Orleans ( now that was dumb). And I am the type who books travel insurance the minute I book the flights and I’ve never needed it, but I wouldn’t be without it.

    And you were very cute as a twenty something and I bet lots of fun.


    • Reply November 9, 2014

      Seana Smith

      Hahaha, I was too much fun in my 20s, Caro… I suspect we’d have had a jolly time together you and I… I’d love to get an annual travel insurance so I didn’t have to fanny about when I have a trip, but don’t travel enough to justify that… yet!

  • Reply November 17, 2014


    Holy heck!!!


  • Reply November 20, 2014

    Jean | Holy Smithereens

    I so enjoyed reading this and getting a glimpse of the ‘young and reckless’ Seana ! 🙂 but Gosh, the misadventures you were in! My heart was pounding reading about being disoriented whilst diving…and how about that shark?? 🙂
    It’s these moments of close-calls that help us realise how blessed we are and reminiscing about them gets us through our everyday normal lives.

  • […] Seana’s tails of some of her more dangerous adventures left my jaw dropping!  […]

  • Reply December 3, 2014


    Hey, just letting you know that this blog post has been featured on this month’s #wanderlust linkup. 🙂


    • Reply December 4, 2014

      Seana Smith

      Thank you will pop over. Waving from the Hunter Valley!!

  • Reply December 9, 2014

    Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black

    Talk about a taste for adventure! That shark experience would have scared the crap out of me. Close call!

    • Reply December 9, 2014

      Seana Smith

      It was certainly heart stopping. Thanks for popping over!

  • Reply January 7, 2015

    Rene - Together we roam

    How about that shark? This was one of the most interesting reads this week. I felt like I was getting to know a little more about you. You crazy dare devil woman!

    I loved everything; the heavy fringe you wore in Italy, the white knuckle dive stories and the most intriguing glimpse of romance of Neil. I am picturing the guy from the Dos Equis commercial “The most interesting man in the world”.



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