When it comes to family vacations Murphee’s law always applies: there will be a poop-related incident. Oh, sorry, that’s my niece, “Murphee’s” law. I meant to say Murphy’s Law, which states: anything that can go wrong, WILL.
Travel enough and you’ll encounter some hiccups – like leaving little Lucy’s favorite stuffed tiger at home, or realizing your husband’s passport is expired the day before an international flight, or forgetting to bring your sunscreen to a clothing-optional beach. Usually, it’s these kinds of mishaps that make for the best stories once you get home. They’re mostly harmless.
Then again, some travel-related incidents leave scars that last much longer than an embarrassing sunburn. Sometimes, you’re just happy to make it back alive. These are 7 travel horror stories that demonstrate just how quickly a dream vacation can turn into a nightmare.
They might shock you. They might make you laugh. They might make you rethink that upcoming getaway. Regardless, they will definitely make you long for the relatively safe days of errant poopy cleanup:
Previous Guest: N. Bates
Hotel amenities are one of the many joys of travel. Lush cotton bathrobes, extensive hotel gyms, and a heated pool are normally enough to erase any flight delay aggravations. However, some hotels also provide some surprises that are a little less relaxing.
Road Warrior Traveling Mom, Nasreen Stump, recently learned this the hard way when, mere steps into her hotel room, was suddenly confronted by a blood-spattered and stained carpet. After recovering from her initial shock and repulse, she quickly cased the room for murderous crooks or decomposing bodies. The final straw came as she poured hydrogen peroxide on top of the stain to confirm that it was indeed a bodily fluid.
Not keen on playing her part in a Hitchcock reenactment, Nasreen requested another room – only to be informed that the hotel was booked up. Fortunately, this was a two-room suite, which offered ample space to escape the blood…and contemplate the many unsettling scenarios regarding how it got there in the first place.
The load of free loyalty points almost made it worth it, though. Almost.
Caught in the Crossfire
Triathlon Traveling Mom Dana Zucker and her Ironman Triathlete husband have been to their share of athletic events across the world. However, none were quite like her recent trip to Puerto Rico. The morning of the triathlon started like many of the others. Dana’s husband David was in the midst of the cycling portion of the race, and she was casually hanging on the sidelines with some of the locals. Suddenly, her phone started going crazy.
Messages were flooding in asking about her and her family’s well-being. Frantic texts demanded to know what was happening, and whether she and David were safe. Panic began to set in as Dana searched for her daughter and friend, who had just walked over to the nearby beach, all while desperately piecing together what was going on.
Reports were circulating among the locals. Two of the triathletes had been shot.
All Dana could do was wait helplessly as the remaining competitors filtered past the finish line. It was finally confirmed that David was not one of those involved in the incident. The whole story finally became apparent: the two unfortunate participants unexpectedly found themselves caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shootout.
Fortunately, neither was killed.
Say Cheese…And Gag!
The best part of visiting any foreign country is all the goodies you can stuff into your suitcase and take back with you. However, carless bag-handlers, unplanned flight delays, and unpredictable weather can make transporting those goodies home a bit of a challenge.
So, you can imagine what happened when one traveler experienced a flight delay in the middle of the summer while attempting to bring home one of the world’s favorite dairy products.
“When we were finally reunited the hard cheeses were soft and the soft cheeses were liquid. And the stench accomplished the almost impossible task of completely overwhelming my week’s collection of used socks.”
Read the full story here.
More Class in Economy
Flying with young children is tough enough without rude passengers making the experience worse for everyone involved. Parents are busy preventing meltdowns with juice boxes and cookies, scouring their iPads for child-friendly entertainment and comforting scared little ones – they don’t have time to fulfill the needs of other passengers as well!
After her whole family and their nanny were upgraded to first class on a flight from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta International, Traveling Mom Kaamna Bhojwani Dhawan was excited to reap the benefits of an airline loyalty program that actually worked. Unfortunately, things quickly turned sour the moment they got onto their plane.
One woman in particular must not have had her morning coffee, and spent the first half of the flight handing out dirty scowls to Kaamna and her family. She then decided to complain that Kaamna’s son’s iPad was too loud. This passenger’s problem with her family was obvious to Kaamna, but before she could attempt to deescalate the situation, the offender hit the equivalent of the Red Button: she launched into a rant accusing Kaamna and her husband of being poor parents.
The showdown was finally interrupted by an apologetic flight attendant who managed to calm everyone down. Unfortunately, there were no seat reassignments made, meaning the rest of the flight was spent in very awkward tension.
Come Sail Away. Or Not.
Not much sounds better than a week-long biking and sailing trip to Croatia. That is of course, until you discover the sailing part of the equation is, well…sunk. RV Traveling Mom Silvana Clark thought she and her husband would be leisurely cruising from island to island – due in part to the company they booked with online including “sailing” all throughout their website.
And in their actual name.
Mr. and Mrs. Clark arrived fully prepared for the fun to be had participating in such a relaxing and scenic water activity. However, upon arrival the ship’s captain promptly let the winds out of their sails by announcing:
“This boat has never had sails, and it never will.”
While they did manage to make it from beautiful island to beautiful island, it certainly wasn’t with the help of any wind. The trip DID include mold and tiny blood spats all over the interior walls from people swatting mosquitos though. Naturally when asked, the captain quickly claimed:
“We don’t get mosquitos on this ship.”
Safety Is A-Door-Able
Despite our childrens’ most vehement objections, vacations can include a lot of…education. Whether it be learning about local culture, discovering a new delicacy, or discovering in the most terrifying way possible that child safety locks in rental cars don’t always hold up their end of the bargain.
Dia Adams, our Travel Hack Traveling Mom, experienced one of her scariest moments while on vacation in Spain in 2005. After strapping her two-year-old into his car seat, Dia headed out onto the foreign highway. About 20 minutes into the trip, and at 70 MPH, her son’s car door suddenly flew wide open.
He found it absolutely hysterical. Dia however, disagreed.
She slowed down as quickly as possible, struggling to keep the car from slamming into the guardrail – all while her son provided the background laugh track. Thank goodness for strong seatbelts!
Trips to Costa Rica usually involve taking in the gorgeous views and relaxing on a beach or visiting the rainforest. They don’t normally include an experience that includes your life flashing before your eyes. On one of my parent’s trips to this country, they found themselves in that very situation.
They had planned on visiting and snapping some photos of one of Costa Rica’s beautiful mountain waterfalls. Originally they meant to set out on horseback, but were running late. Fortunately, they were informed that their front-wheel-drive rental car was more than capable of making the journey. Although the tour guides would not accompany them – as they only rode with guests on their horses – they did offer very detailed directions.
One of these instructions involved crossing an “underwater bridge.” What exactly is an underwater bridge, you might ask? Well, you are obviously NOT my father, because he didn’t bother inquiring before setting off into the jungle.
The trip up the mountain was relatively uneventful, however. The mysterious river crossing proved only to be a typical bridge submerged under a few inches of calm water. Yet just as they arrived at their majestic destination, thunder crackled through the sky, and the pitter-patter of raindrops began to fall on their windshield. My dad left mom in the car, determined to see this waterfall. Little did he know, he was about to experience all the falling water he could handle.
By the time he made it back to the car, it was a full on deluge. Trying desperately to get back to safety, they made their way back to the underwater bridge. Unfortunately, it was now living up to its name; the once shallow and serene river was suddenly 30 feet wide, 8 feet deep, and casually sweeping up massive trees and foliage in its raging rapids. All they could do was wait – and hope the mountainside wouldn’t turn into a deadly waterslide.
At some point after dark the guides must have realized they hadn’t yet returned, and showed up on the far side of the river – insisting that my dad attempt to forge it. The following conversation went something like:
Guides: “Cross the river!”
Dad: “No way! YOU cross the river!”
Guides: “No way!”
Hours later, the river finally subsided. Using safety ropes, the guides helped them successfully reach the other side of the river, where they were then given a ride back to their hotel room. The next day, mom and dad were up before sunrise, headed back to pick up the rental car, and then off to the airport to return it and catch their early morning flight.
I imagine after their ordeal some stale peanuts and a scratchy blanket were a welcome sight.
Have an travel horror stories to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!