Spooky locations to celebrate Halloween (and how to stay safe)

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Haunted houses, evil islands & nuclear power plants

It’s that time of year again – when a surplus of ripe orange pumpkins arrive in our supermarkets and suburban homes become covered in cobwebs and ghoulish props. Whether you’re a lover or a hater, Australia has taken to Halloween with all the gusto of an 80s slasher flick.

But when it comes to celebrating ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, there are better places to get the heebie-jeebies than sitting on the couch watching Wes Craven films. Forget the lollies and the politically-incorrect costumes. Take your fest-evil to Hitchcock heights by celebrating the living dead at one of these six spooky destinations. (Just don’t forget to arm yourself with a travel insurance policy from TID beforehand. Holy water won’t help where we’re going…)

Isla de las Munecas, Mexico

Isla de Las Munecas is located south of Mexico City between the canals of Xochimico and is more commonly known as the Island of the Dolls.  Like its name suggests, the island is home to hundreds of whole and decapitated dolls, whose severed limbs and empty eyes adorn the trees. Legend goes that after finding the body of a drowned girl, the island’s caretaker, Julian Santana Barrera began to hang the dolls in order to appease her spirit. Now considered a haunted location, visitors to the island claim the dolls move, whisper and even lure in visitors.

Should you find yourself unexpectedly trapped on the island with only the devil dolls for company, the Spanish guide in TID’s travel app Tripwise, will help you negotiate a boat ride back to the mainland. However, you may never look at Barbie the same away again.

Catacombs of Paris, France

Photo credit Getty/Dirk94025

Things were getting pretty crowded in the Parisian graveyards back in the 18th century. So the bones of 6 million Parisians were dug up and arranged in tunnels beneath the city like some sort of eerie interior decorating. There are miles upon miles of tunnels covered in dem’ dry bones, some of which are open to the public, along with a number of secret entrances throughout Paris. However, this underground city of skeletons is no place to test the limits of Google Maps. Go with an experienced guide as unlawful entry is not only frowned upon by the French police, but people have died as a result of getting lost in the underground tunnels.

In the event that you take up a, let’s say, more ‘permanent residence’ in this giant underground crypt, be reassured that TID pays a benefit to your family or estate in the event of your death. Their policy doesn’t mention being UN-dead however…

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine

Photo credit Getty/Francisco Goncalves

The Chernobyl accident occurred in April 1986, when Reactor Number 4 of the Chernobyl plant exploded and the resulting fire released large quantities of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. The disaster led to 31 initial deaths and the evacuation of 350,000 residents, leaving an uninhabited ghost town in its wake. With radiation levels still high in certain areas of the grounds, a 30km exclusion zone known as the ‘zone of alienation’ was enforced around the plant.

However, in 2011 Ukraine opened the sealed zone for tourists. Chernobyl Tours take their safety very seriously, with detailed guidance about the dos and don’ts of their guided tours. TID will happily cover you for cancellation, injury sustained on your tour, or a loss of belongings. Develop an unhealthy green glow or begin morphing into an incredible Hulk – sorry, but nuclear contamination or radiation exposure isn’t on the list.

Leap Castle, Ireland

If you’re in the mood for a more classically creepy Halloween experience, Ireland’s Leap Castle has plenty of paranormal activity to keep you on edge. Built in 1250 AD by the O’Bannon clan, the castle has fallen on some pretty hard times – from family slaughters through to the Irish Civil War. So much bloodshed has seen some pretty peeved poltergeists stick around with unfinished business. The castle’s current owner, Sean Ryan, experienced bizarre paranormal activity during his restorations of the building, from tools being moved around the room to a ladder being pushed out from beneath him.

However, the spookiest resident of this haunted home is the elusive ‘Elemental’ – a hooded, human-shaped thing that is as disgusting in appearance as it is terrifying to behold. Should an encounter with the Elemental render you ‘scared stiff’ and unable to travel, get yourself a doctor’s certificate and leave the rest up to TID (and their friends at Ghostbusters…)

Nullarbor Plain, Australia

There’s nothing like getting out there and seeing more of what the country has to offer. So how much could possibly go wrong on a family sojourn across 200,000 square kilometres of Australian desert? Just ask the Knowles family, who in 1988, believed they were involved in close encounter of the third kind while driving across the Nullarbor Plain in the early hours of the morning. According to the family’s accounts, a large illuminated object in the shape of a fried egg chased down their car and attempted to disorient and potentially abduct them from inside their vehicle. The object was also seen by a truck driver, who witnessed the physically shaken Knowles family when they pulled into the same town.

If you’re a little nervous about extra-terrestrial life joining you on your vacation, be comforted that any nasty burns inflicted from the flying saucer’s rocket engine are covered by your travel insurance. Get abducted and whisked off to Mars? Feel free to submit a claim for trip resumption costs when you get back.

Bran Castle, Romania

Photo credit Getty/Walter Bibikow

After a bloody good time this Halloween? There’s only one place for it and that’s Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania – the fictional home of Bram Stoker’s charismatic and blood-thirsty villain, Count Dracula. With a history stretching as far back as 1212, its little wonder Stoker loosely based Dracula’s residence on the impressive architecture and formidable presence of Bran Castle.


TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.


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