Couple reveals honeymoon disaster
Newlyweds Lia and Jeremy Garcia had planned a dream holiday to celebrate the start of their lives together and their expectations were as big as their itinerary.
Their year-long backpacking odyssey was mostly in South America, with trips to Central America, Europe and back home in the United States.
But three insurance claims, illness, at least one driving mishap, family drama and two dramatic rescues later, the California honeymooners finally accepted the harsh truth: they are the "worst travellers".
Lia and Jeremy shared their epic tale of honeymoon misadventure in a podcast episode by World Nomads, their insurance company.
The self-professed clumsy couple said their intentions began earnestly enough.
"We had this idea that, going on this honeymoon, we would transform into those sorts of people that you see on Instagram, those travel couples that are really blonde and have 25 abs and are really fit and do yoga every morning. We just thought that's what it looks like when you travel for a long time," Lia told World Nomads.
The first mishap struck early, when they ambitiously booked a six-day hike through the Colombian jungle.
"The minute we arrived in Colombia we knew that was not going to happen," Lia said.
"It was like a thousands degrees and we are from Northern California and we hike a lot … but that's in the Bay Area where it's not hot and we cancelled that hike within the first two weeks of our trip."
Three weeks later the couple were in San Gil, an adventure town in Colombia, where they decided to go repelling down a waterfall.
Lia, not as adventurous as her husband, did not fare well.
"Within two minutes I was crying and panicking and had to be rescued. And that was just the first of many disasters," she said.
Undeterred, later in Peru, they decided to tackle the famously gruelling Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
"The idea, when I created our itinerary, is we would be doing these progressively more challenging hikes … and by the time we got to Peru we'd be so good at hiking, the Inca Trail would be no problem," Lia said.
The couple struggled so much through day one of the four-day Inca Trail, their guide encouraged them to give up and catch the train to Machu Picchu. They had to be escorted off the track.
But not all the couple's mishaps were in South America. Later, in France, the penny-pinching backpackers rented a car and to their delight were upgraded to a flashy BMW.
"We neglected to think about the fact that a large car in France is actually really more of a hindrance than anything else," Lia said.
In the southern city of Nice, the couple somehow cracked one of the front lights of the expensive car, before accidentally gatecrashing a medieval castle.
They had seen the castle off in the distance in Nice and decided to road-trip over.
"So we start driving towards the castle and we put it in our GPS and we're just following this British lady who's is telling us to keep driving," Lia said.
"There's a creaky gate that we drive through … it probably said 'Do not enter' but because it's in French we have no idea what that looks like, and we keep driving.
"Suddenly we look around and we're like, in the castle. In the courtyard of this French medieval castle. There's nobody around, there's no people. We have no idea how we got there."
The couple tried driving through it but realising too late the medieval city was not designed for large sedans, they got stuck on a gravel hill and Jeremy had to try and back them out.
They somehow managed to get the car out unscathed, but needed insurance to cover the initial front light crack.
Then, Lia's grandfather decided to fake being on his deathbed.
The couple heard news from home the 93-year-old was in poor health in hospital and cancelled the rest of their trip to see him, with World Nomads helping with their cancelled bookings.
"What we realised, after weeks of taking care of him, he'd almost exaggerated it for sympathy," Lia said of her grandad.
"It was this whole two-month saga where we had to keep leaving (the trip) to take care of him, and then we'd be like, 'OK, bye Grandpa Bob, you're gonna be fine' and we'd leave, we'd fly back, and then two weeks later we'd get a call (saying) 'Grandpa Bob is dying, it's for real this time, come home'.
"We'd fly back out, we put him in a hospice … but it was all exaggerated. He faked his own death, essentially, so we could come and take care of him and he could be waited on hand and foot. We just saw him recently, he just celebrated his 96th birthday."
The holiday mishaps continued right to the very last week of their honeymoon, in Costa Rica, where Jeremy decided to go white water rafting and Lia reluctantly agreed.
"I hated it so much," Lia said. "The entire time I'm having a three-hour long panic attack, I swear I'm going to die. And sure enough the next day I have an ear infection, it feels like my whole head is going to explode.
"So I had to delay out trip home, literally the last flight of our honeymoon, I have to book another hotel in San Jose, I have to go to the hospital, I had a shot in my butt, it was awful. It was the last possible week, and that was the final nail in the coffin of our honeymoon."
Despite their misadventures, when they got home, the couple realised they had the travel bug.
Now Jeremy, a teacher, and Lia, who runs their blog Practical Wanderlust, travel as often as they can - even though they admit they're not very good at it.
"Our readers really love hearing about times that I have an awful time, they love our fails, they love it when things go really bad for us," Lia said.
"But we always go with World Nomads so when the inevitable happens, and it always does, we're covered.
"With our blog and our Instagram we don't want you to look at us and think, 'Oh wow, they're living this perfect life'. We want you to look at us and kinda be glad you're not living our life a little bit. We're just the worst travellers and we have fun anyway but nothing every goes as planned."