Ah, summer vacation travel. I am looking forward to a trip at the end of the month, and I really hope it all goes off without a hitch. But you know, some of the best vacation memories come from disasters. Maybe it's the euphoria you get from just surviving. Maybe it's the way some disasters have of making everything else from your trip seem that much better.
So here are eight epic vacation disaster stories for you to enjoy. Let's hope it's never this bad for you and your family.
Me to Geneva: We took my then-3-year-old son on an overnight flight to Switzerland. Just as everyone was falling asleep, he broke out in hives -- for the first time in his life! He was screaming and crying and I was panicked. But the flight attendants whipped out this amazing ointment that made it all go away. Saved by Swiss pharmaceuticals. I never did find out what caused the hives.
E in the Bahamas: On college spring break, my friends and I almost got held in the Bahamas by the police because we had a discrepancy over the bill with the hotel we were staying at. We had signed papers for a specific rate back in the U.S., and the hotel had no record of that. The police came and had to facilitate a conversation between the smallest little blonde I’ve ever seen, whose mother worked with the hotel to secure the rate, and the management staff. She was hysterical, and we were all convinced we would be spending a night in jail. Woulda been a great story.
C in St. Lucia: We went on a family trip in the Caribbean and were snorkeling when we dropped our hotel room key in the water and it sank to the bottom! Luckily I think it was my dad who dove down and got it back. On the same vacation, our rental car totally died on the terrible St. Lucia “roads” and the rental place had to come and replace it ... but instead of giving us a new car, they gave our scary car a new engine from the car they came in! And don’t get me started on the horrible dinner we had at a supposedly great restaurant on the island ... the service was so slow and the food so bad that whole tables were getting up and leaving in droves.
M in St. Lucia: When I was in eighth grade, I went to St. Lucia with my parents and grandfather, and when we arrived at the resort, they informed us that there was no electricity or running water due to a fire they'd recently had. We promptly checked out, but this was before St. Lucia was a big tourist destination, so the only other place we could get rooms was at a couples' resort. It was nice and all, but the entire time, people kept looking at the four of us and wondering which dude I was with. They kept staring us down since they assumed either my dad or grandfather was literally robbing the cradle. So humiliating. None of us have been back to the island since.
D in Russia: Was in Russia in the early '90s and the apartment we were staying in was broken into, all cash and passports stolen. Had to borrow money from fellow travelers, plus face massive bureaucracy from Russians and Americans to get replacement passports via consulate. On the upside, we got invited to a party at the consulate too, LOL.
J in Russia: Also from Russia with love, 1989 (so before the Berlin Wall fell people -- full on communist country), still drunk from a night of downing our last bottle of black market vodka and packing, the student group I was traveling with made our way to the airport at 5:30 a.m. We went through customs (after which you really can't leave the airport, not in Soviet Russia, because customs is a many-hour ordeal that you won't want to endure again); our flight was delayed. Repeatedly. For 13 hours. In the Moscow airport. Where there is no food save Toblerone and Cokes in the duty-free shop. As it turned out, there was a broken gauge and they had to fly the part in from Frankfurt. Moscow to Michigan would have been a long trek anyway, but we ended up taking four flights in a full 48 hours, accounting for the time change. The last leg was a 20-minute hopper from Detroit to Grand Rapids. They were just sticking kids on planes wherever they had a seat, and I got thrown in first class. But by that time I was so tired, I slept the moment I hit that cushy seat. It's the only first class flight I've had and I didn't get to experience it at all.
L in Norway: I was six months pregnant and traveled to Norway for over three weeks with my husband and my immediate family. It was in August 2004. There was a baggage handlers strike in the UK. Our luggage was lost. I traveled in flip-flops because my legs were swollen and I was wearing a thin house dress (of sorts) because it was comfortable. I ended up having to wear that for almost two weeks until we finally tracked down an H&M with a maternity section. My bags finally arrived in Oslo the day before we had to leave. We had nothing -- not even underwear. It was a total nightmare, but we still had a good time. And luckily that was one if the hottest summers they'd had in Norway for awhile. Haha.
A's dad in La Paz: My father has this hideous story from the '60s when he was on his honeymoon on a bus with Mom in La Paz. The driver didn't speak a word of English and my father had a terrible case of diarrhea from eating god knows what. My Dad always ate too much meat. Anyway, the bus was rumbling along some lone mountain road. He was trying to keep it together, squeezing my mother's hand until she bled, and periodically getting up to try and explain via charades to the driver what was going on with his body. There was nowhere to stop. He held on for hours. Finally they got to some place in the middle of nowhere where there was a toilet and he ran in and just exploded.
Got any great vacation disaster stories to share?
Image via Holly Lay/Flickr