California Physician Named "World's Unluckiest Traveler"

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When it comes to travel, everyone's got their own horror stories, but relatively few have suffered as much as Dr. Gary Feldman. The Ventura, Calif., pediatric geneticist beat out more than 800 contest entries to be named "The World's Unluckiest Traveler."

When it comes to traveling abroad, everyone’s got their own horror stories -- severe sunburn, bed bug bites, digestive distress -- but relatively few have suffered as much as Dr. Gary Feldman.

The Ventura, Calif., pediatric geneticist was recently voted “The World's Unluckiest Traveler” in a contest run by Travel Guard North America of Stevens Point, Wis. The travel-insurance provider collected stories from more than 800 unlucky travelers and tallied more than 4,000 votes before declaring Dr. Feldman the winner. His tale of woe won him a $10,000 dream vacation, in the form of a travel voucher.

Dr. Feldman’s luck went sour during a month-long medical teaching trip to Vietnam called “Project Vietnam.” While on the trip, “I went up at the edge of a cliff to take a picture and then moved a little closer and out of sight to relieve myself and the edge of the cliff gave way,” he said. “I shot straight down 30 feet and kept my legs first, which stopped me, but it shattered everything in my legs.” Dr. Feldman broke both of his legs, requiring 10 screws, two surgeries and a metal plate. He still feels lucky, however, because he might have fallen another 400 feet had his legs not stopped his slide.

Watch Dr. Feldman share his "World's Unluckiest Traveler" story in the video below.


The doctor’s contest entry was chosen from those of 11 finalists, who competed against each other throughout December 2010. A randomly-selected voter who voted for Feldman’s story will also walk away with a $10,000 dream vacation.

Dr. Feldman beat out contenders with similarly harrowing travel tales. Runner-up 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 and it 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.

Though Dr. Feldman is still recovering from his injuries, he does not plan to spend his dream vacation money relaxing on a beach somewhere, he said. In the video below, the semi-retired physician said he plans to use the $10,000 to extend his travel while on another medical mission abroad.