What Not to Do on a Road Trip

Road trips are fun, and embracing the unknown is part of the adventure. You get to discover beautiful landscapes and new places. But we’ve gotten into a few awkward situations by not planning ahead.

For instance, only one real highway stretches across the Canadian province of the Yukon. Only one route between Alaska and the rest of the US, and each town is hundreds of miles away from each other. We planned our stops according to towns with motels, but when we pulled into our destination one night…we were met with an uncomfortable surprise.

No rooms were available. In the entire town.

How in the world can every hotel in the middle of the Yukon, Canada be booked, we asked ourselves? We were literally in the middle of, well, the Yukon!

So we had two options: sleep in the parking lot or continue on. We heard there was a hotel an hour away, so being the adventurers we are, we decided to to take our chances with the unknown…

We drove till midnight with no place to stop.

As one hour turned into two, we started getting desperate for rest. Every light on the side of the road we hoped was a hotel. But for 2 hours, the only lights were an odd parking lot or cabin here or there. Finally we found a hotel! No lights on in the restaurant and the gas station seemed haunted. But the hotel was lit up. Two trailers joined together with a roof. A big neon “Motel” sign perched on the roof.

A line of keys hung in the hall to check ourselves in. Two keys left: room 6 and 7. When we went into room 6, a man sat on the bed, who said he was just waiting to finish his laundry. Ok, not that room.  Room 7 shared a bathroom with room 8, and the door was locked from the other side. On one hand, a self-service  hotel in the middle of nowhere is a brilliant idea. On the other, all our spiny senses were on red alert.

So we decided to keep driving. 100 miles to the next big town and 89 miles left on our Prius….the Prius can coast on “E” mode for 10 miles, right?

A Light in the Darkness

Thankfully, we didn’t need to go that far. Like an oasis in the desert, another hotel and restaurant emerged from the darkness. Lights on and people inside and everything! We hadn’t eaten a real meal in days.

We were saved! And a great night of rest awaited us, we were sure of it.

When we walked into our soon to be “best rest of our lives hotel,” four women lounged in the dining area and one woman hovered at the counter. She asked how she could help us.

“We need a room please,” showing our overly cheesy smiles hoping to charm this room-providing goddess.

“Well, I’m not sure we have space” she responded.

Meanwhile Valerie glances over at the key rack that shows 10-15 rooms available according to the keys associated with each room number. She sees our utter disappointment.

“Well, I do have two daughters, I guess there’s space here.”

“Oh thank you so much! We are exhausted. By the way, who all stays here usually? We are in the middle of nowhere!”

“Mostly miners.”

Phew. This woman is our new best friend. She was so kind, in fact, she went to the kitchen to make us some PB&J’s. We had truly found heaven on earth. Food and rest, what an amazing combination when you’re tired and hungry!

Don’t worry you’ll be safe here.

As she escorted us to our room we started getting weird vibes. When have we ever been escorted to a room? And when have we ever been made PB&J’s in our adult life? It started to seem like a scene from Hansel and Gretel.

As we are walking down the hall, we notice pieces of different carpets thrown on the ground with bare wood showing underneath. Like, multiple colors ranging from brown carpet, to yellow carpet, the regular white shag carpet. All assorted randomly on the floor.  There were open wires in walls that had no drywall, and the wires also hung from the ceiling dangling from above. And things continued to get weirder.

Every room we passed had an open door leading to an empty room. What in the world did she mean by “they were booked up?” Then, she utters the most disturbing words a hotel owner can say at 12:30 am…

“Don’t worry girls, you’ll be safe here.”

“Oh. Ummm. Uh, Cool! Thank you?”

Meanwhile we are thinking: “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? WHO SAYS THAT?”

The room was the worst we’ve ever been in

So we get into this room, at the very end of the empty hallway and immediately go to lock our doors. We soon discover this room had no dead bolt. No chain lock. No way of locking the door outside of the barely functioning turn lock. All that’s on the door is a little white sign saying “if you need to open the door from the outside, press the little button.” From the outside?!? Are you kidding me? This is just downright weird.

The room had a single bulb dangling from the ceiling above the bed, no night stands, a TV that did not work and a bathroom with originally white but now stained red appliances. And the bed… was disgusting. So bad. We’re pretty sure the sheets had been washed at some point in their lifetime but not so sure it was within the last…week or so.

But we thought, well, at least it’s not in our car freezing to death. Things could be worse, right?

What Not to Do on a Road Trip When Planning Your Next Adventure

we ACCIDENTALLY stayed in a brothel

After a very unrestful night sleep we hit the road the moment it was light out. After all of this, we still thought it was the strangest set of events we had ever experienced. About a month later, after telling this story to a friend she simply responded: “Oh, so you stayed in a brothel!”

“OMG, you’re so right.” Prostitution is legal in Canada and hey! We’re not here to judge…but maybe next time we will make reservations in a regular ol’ hotel. So let’s just chalk this one up for the memory books and one hell of a story.

Lessons learned while crossing the Yukon: fill up your tank whenever you get the chance.  Pack food so you don’t eat gas-station snacks or PB&J’s for 3 days. And finally: plan your stops and make reservations.

Do you have any outrageous travel stories? We want to hear! Tell us about them in the comments below.



  1. This is insane!! Sounds terrifying in the moment, but seriously, what an amazing and crazy story you now get to tell.

    I actually came across your article because I’ve been DYING to see the Yukon. I want to do a legit camping/wilderness trip up there after my husband and I get some more cold-weather camping experiences under our belts.

    Do you think it would be safe to camp in some areas? Or does it seem far-fetched to you after having visited?

    Travel on & stay safe!


    • Valerie Reply

      You. Will. Love. It. It’s very very VERY remote but gorgeous. We’ve driven through 4 times now and it’s still amazing. It’s a rough road the more north you get, but just take it slow, bring a spare tire (or two…seriously) and you’ll have a great time. Also, read up on camping with bears and moose because they are everywhere! The people are also the nicest around. Simply the best.

    • Wow… what a story! Thanks for sharing. Now, I know what to expect in the Yukon! I probably couldn’t sleep at all there. yikes!!!!

  2. I stumbled upon your post on Pinterest and YIKES, what a story! Definitely had me cringing as I read it during my lunch break. Thanks for sharing and lesson learned – I’ll definitely make reservations wherever I go 🙂

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  4. Hey guys!! I really enjoy reading your blog and you are a great writers and storytellers.
    Y’all are awesome.
    However, after reading this I feel like I have to say that the girls you encountered at that brothel were probabaly trafficked and forced into prostitution. This is a process where the girls are manipulated and coerced into prostitution and it is a form of slavery. I would just really encourage that you guys report this motel to the best of your abilities to the Canadian Center to end Human Trafficking, the link is below. Human trafficking is a really bad problem and it’s rampant across Canadian borders! Let me know if you guys have any more questions. Best wishes with all your travel! You guys are loved and awesome. http://www.canadiancentretoendhumantrafficking.ca/category/national-human-trafficking-hotline/

  5. Yikes! We’ve had a few weird motel issues but nothing quite THAT bad!

    We were taking my grandma back to the airport (4.5 hours from where we live) and 2 of my aunts, mom, Grandma, and me all piled into the 2 cars for a little shopping/road trip. One aunt found a “great deal” on a hotel. Something like $70 a night. 3 miles from the airport? No way is this legit. And as we pull in we realize this probably isn’t the best place to stay. She insists it will be fine, and everyone is arguing about it. Meanwhile, my bladder, which has been mildly complaining for the last HOUR is now screaming and I need to pee. BAD. So my mom and I head inside to “check in” (after essentially losing the argument). The closer we get to the doors, the weirder the vibes get. 2 decently dressed women, among 2 separate drug deals and a few hookers hanging outside? Yeah. We are NOT going to stay here. But my mom wanted to know where a better hotel was.

    We walk in and the first thing the guy at the front desk says is “Hi. Ummm. You guys *DON’T* want to stay here.” You KNOW it’s a bad hotel when the desk clerk tells you to go elsewhere! (While he gave my mom directions to a better hotel just across the divided road, he gave my directions to the connected bar bathroom and luckily the bouncer took pity on my travel-worn face and let my very obviously underage butt in. I definitely hover-peed and scooted as quickly as I could out of there!

    On our way out the doors, less than 5 minutes later, ANOTHER set of drug deals with totally different gang-bangers was going down. We walked back out, across the parking lot and my mom just said “we are NOT staying here, it’s decided. Here’s directions to another hotel, where we WILL be staying.”

    Crazy how just going across the street and up a small hill (we could see the creep motel from the one we switched to) could make such a difference! Night and day. Sure, it was a little over $100 but I’ll take that over drug deals, gangs, and prostitutes.

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