It's not just the Griswolds: everyone's family vacation has the potential to become a disaster so complete, it almost becomes worth it for the story. We asked Someecards readers to share tales of woe from their ruined family vacations, and we were honored that so many of you shared these terrible memories with us. These fall into three categories: children problems, adult problems, and digestive problems. While children and intestines are going to have issues sometimes no matter what you do, it's amazing how many adults wait until they're on the road to reveal their problems.
1. Let's start off with a family that not only rallied to pay for their vacation, but stuck together through what was objectively a terrible, no-good camping trip to make it back in one piece. Thanks to reader Christy for emailing this to us.
Months in advance, I booked and paid for a family camping trip on the coast of California for myself, my husband, and our four children, ages 7-14. A month before we were to leave our SUV broke down, needing more than $1,000 in repairs.
I broke the news to the kids that we couldn't afford the trip after paying for the repairs and couldn't get us all there in our smaller car, so we wouldn't be going. They refused to accept the situation and shocked us by rallying together to come up with a plan. I had some stuff stored in the garage for yard sale so they went through the whole house cleaning all our closets, etc., and had a huge yard sale.
They raised over $500 for our trip. I was so proud on them! It was cutting it close with the budget, but we had to take them at this point. So we loaded up and went!
On the way there, my son's stupid 14 year old girlfriend was threatening to break up with him because she was mad that he was leaving town. So he sat pouting the entire ride. Then the brakes on our "newly fixed" car overheated. We pulled off the road and there was nothing around, so we could do nothing but wait for them to cool off.
Well, I had to go to the bathroom. Bad. We had no other cover around, so my husband opened both of the passenger side doors and I squatted down between them. Of course a car came by right as I was doing my business. It wasn't until they yelled and whistled that I realized I was squatting too low, and they could see EVERYTHING. Lovely.
We finally get there and open our tent to find mice had chewed holes all over it, so my husband patched it with the only thing he had, neon green zebra striped duct tape. All our neighbors had beautiful, high end looking tents. Our site looked like the ghetto! Then we decided to walk to the beach. That was when we found out that the beach was a several mile hike in high winds over sand dunes. The kids were all whining and one was crying from getting sand in her eye. It was not the relaxing beach vacation we were looking for, to say the least. I was pissed!
We finally went to bed. About midnight, someone pulled into the site next to us. The husband got out and started screaming at his wife and kicking dents into their car in front of their crying kids. I walked to bathroom and quickly alerted security. Well, they got the campsite number wrong and the security crew drove up our campsite and started yelling at MY husband, who was all confused. He finally pointed to the next camp site and they went over there. They spoke to them and everything quieted down and we went to sleep....only to be woken up by the (late to arrive) police about 2 am. Their drama basically kept us up all night!
It was miserable the rest of the weekend as well. We packed up and headed home finally. We took one of my husband's famous "shortcuts' and I got carsick from the winding roads. At one point the kids spotted a lost dog which they guilted us into chasing through the woods to try to save. We never did catch him, but I got several cuts trying to.
Then we almost ran out of gas and were sweating it for MILES. When we finally arrived at the gas station ON FUMES, my husband checked our bank account. Turns out we had an unexpected expense hit our checking account early and we didn't have enough money to get gas to get home! We said a prayer and my husband swiped. Thank God it let him fill the tank! So we arrived home filthy, exhausted, stressed out, and with an overdrawn bank account. Haven't been camping since!
2. Katie responded to us on Facebook with a story that wins for "most unexpected problem"—a terrorist false alarm.
We just had our vacation to Padre Island ruined because the Department of Homeland Security busted down our doors, dumped out all our food and trashed our house.
We own a 2 story duplex [back at home]. They were interested in a renter who lived upstairs. There is no connection to our part of the house.
The only thing they found on him was a small amount of heroin. They kept the rest of the tenants in handcuffs while they searched the entire property, and supposedly found a "pipe bomb" which turned out to be an empty pipe! So we rush home and our tenant is out of jail before we even make it home.
3. This email came from Kayla, who took a depressing trip to stay with her dad and paternal grandmother. This trip puts the "ruined family" in "ruined family vacation." Fortunately, it sounds like it brought her closer to her sister and mom.
This was back in 2003. My sister and I (ages 11 and 10) were sent on a highly anticipated and extremely rare vacation to visit our distant father and grandparents in Florida while our parents moved our household from WI to VT. We were supposed to have six beautiful, uninterrupted weeks with our Daddy. Stoked.
This trip lasted a week. During that week, my grandmother felt it necessary to bully my sister and I for choices ranging from not wearing our hair in braids to our desire to get the fifth Harry Potter book on the release date. She even criticized our desire to talk to our mother EVERY DAY, despite our father being four days late showing up.
Once he did show up, all hell managed to break loose. We could not understand why they needed to be so nasty to us and talk shit about our beloved mother to us, expecting us to join in. We didn't. The trip ended with him threatening to leave us with CPS unless my mother picked us up THAT DAY. She ended up having to take a bus there to fetch us and we had to bus all the way back to VT.
We didn't end up speaking to our father again for over five years, and we both consider ourselves estranged from the family now.
It's all good though; Mama showed up with the fifth Harry Potter book for us to read on the way home!
4. Reader Tonia wrote to us on Facebook with a vacation that wasn't so much ruined as "soiled" by the motel they stayed at—although it also ends with a tale of Dad Cheapness that will impress any father who resented paying for beach parking.
When I was a child, my parents were fans of spontaneous weekend road trips. Friday after school, my parents packed the coolers, loaded the car and we were off. This was a time before cell phones, and no reservations had been made at any hotel. They had done this with us many times before and had no problem finding a place to stay during our trip.
11pm we arrive at our first stop, we are roughly 2 hours from home. No vacancies at any hotels. My mom asks the lady running the front deak of the 5th hotel we inquired into if there are any motels. THERE IS!! 10 minutes down the road and always have vacancies. My mom recalled a wink... My dad denied any winking. It is to be assumed she thought my dad was looking for a spot to hook up with my mother, my brother and I were waiting in the car.
This motel was connected to a strip club and had "hourly rates available"... I remember my mom screaming at us not to touch the walls or pull down the blankets! We did not stay for our complimentary breakfast. Thankfully, the rest of our mini weekend vacation ran smoothly staying at hotels with pools and clean bed sheets. I enjoy bringing up our motel stay just to watch my mom roll her eyes.
My dad had wanted to take us to the beach a weekend my mom had gone to work, my dad is a cheap man. He pulled up to a gas station, told us to get out and follow him around the gas station to where there was a steep hill that ran into the lake. Across the lake was the beach. My dad wanted my brother and I to swim across the lake to the beach so he wouldn't have to pay for us to get into the beach and he would meet us there. My brother and I were excellent swimmers and it wasn't a large lake, but I am petrified of frogs, turtles, fish. It wasn't an enjoyable swim and I secretly have plotted revenge on my father.
5. Laura wrote us an email recounting a trip where all the family got along well enough, but the family dinner decided to pick a fight, first with grandma and then with everyone else.
Every year, we would make a trip from the Midwest to Miami to visit family. The last year we drove down, we did not know would be the [last].
The trip went about as well as it always did. The night before we left we went to a family members house for dinner. She told us she had bought food by the pound! Ate dinner went home and left at 4:00 am.
About an hour or 2 in, my granma starts saying she does not feel good. She then proceeds to throw up in the car. There were 4 of us is a Taurus. We pull over and she goes to a bathroom.
While my sister, mom, and I are cleaning up my granma comes running out yelling"run!" We all ran, not sure from what and got into the car. When we got in she told us she had diarrhea and she got it everywhere "On the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling." We are still not sure how it got on the ceiling.
The rest of the trip was food poisoning slowly taking ahold of all of us and a lot of vomiting and shitting in the car. We flew from then on and luckily the car was a rental because that smell lingered.
6. Greta is limiting her interactions with her families to death-related occasions after a trip to Florida got so bad she almost partied with grandma to forget about it.
Went to Florida with mom, step dad, my son , my grandmother and my 14 year old cousin.
My step dad picked on me all the way from Tennessee to Florida. I can't stand being picked at and he did it just for spite. I was making hamburgers and couldn't take any more so I threw a wad of raw beef at him and told him to cook his own damn dinner.
Grandmother kept trying to get me to go bar hopping with her. I have never been so desperate that I had to party with my grandmother.
Went on a dolphin cruise and my mom gets sea sick and pukes off the top deck where the wind catches it and blows it back onto the passengers on the lower deck. People are screaming and sliding in the puke and I'm on the phone with my brother who's back at home and were laughing our asses off.
That was ten years ago and the only place I have been with all these people since then is a funeral.
7. Mariah's story of a free trip with complimentary marital woes has a happy ending: divorce.
So my ex was a very angry and bitter guy. We never had a honeymoon, and right after our 7th anniversary I won an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego and was obligated to take him. I honestly hoped that this trip would breathe some fresh life into our sad marriage, not so much.
He insisted we drive to Los Angeles where traffic is worse than horrid, and I live in Atlanta where it is pure misery. After many beers on his part he insisted we go to Pinks hotdog place. We don't have GPS and the person on the phone just says yeah La Brea and that's it.
We finally pull over at some Burger King and they say that we are about 15 miles away. He loses his mind calling me every name in the book so l unleashed on him with no mercy about how he ruins EVERYTHING even a free vacation that should be the happiest time we ever had.
The customers were trying to get me to come inside and calm down it was that bad even strangers stepped in. I drove back to San Diego with him passed out drunk and eat at the pizza place that I loved and was happy as hell. I don't even like hot dogs.
Months later l saw that he had opened an Ashley Madison account the day we started our vacation. What a loser! That was the beginning of the end. Now I am happy and free so yippee!
8. Kelly's family cruise story came to us via email, and it goes above and beyond the usual cruise drama of bad food and travel delays to include the collapse of an entire company.
I was about 11 years old when my family decided we were going to go on a family cruise. This was the first time we were going as a large extended family. There were upwards of 20 of us traveling together, along with a few randoms (my sister included) who flying from different locations and meeting us in Puerto Rico (where the cruise was leaving from).
The day of the trip we got multiple messages about our flight being delayed. Finally, we were expecting to leave at noon. After arriving at the airport, our flight continued to get delayed. Finally after 12 hours in the airport waiting (with only a hacky sack to keep us occupied) our flight takes off at midnight. We arrive in PR at 3 AM. Many other people on our flight were getting on the same cruise, because it was a bundled package. We were told over and over again that since so many people were held up on this flight, the cruise couldn't leave without all of us. Upon arriving in PR, we and all others trying to get on the cruise are taken into a room and told that the cruise has left without us. The airline assures us that they will be putting us up and arranging flights for us to meet the cruise at its next destination.
The airline gives us vouchers for a hotel, which is about 2 hrs away. We finally arrive there about 5:30 AM. The women and children go back to the rooms and the guys are smoking cigars by the pool. My mom is calling the cruise line desperately asking if my sister is on the cruise. She just turned 18 years old, so they would not release that information to her and we had no way of getting in touch with her.
Around 7 AM - we are woken by loud banging on our hotel doors. It's the police, who are screaming at us in Spanish. We put together that we are basically not welcome and need to leave. After my mom discusses the situation at the front desk, we are informed that the airline went bankrupt, and our vouchers are worth nothing.
We make our way back to the airport, realizing we might not get set up with a flight to meet our cruise after all. No one has tons of cash on us (cruise was all inclusive), so we end up staying at the airport hotel in the meantime. A high school student with us, who thinks she can speak Spanish, says there is a pool in the hotel. We go out in search for it, ends up being the airport holding cells. That evening, we decide to give our vouchers for the airport food court a try. To our surprise, they work. So everyone splits up between the few places to choose from. A little less than half of our group ended up with food poisoning.
Finally, the next day we get on a flight (that we paid for) and head to Aruba. We get on the ship and find out my sister (along with other cousins & etc who were meeting us in PR) have been on the whole time and are having a great time. We missed about half of the trip.
Got another free cruise out of it though.
9. Reader Llita and her family had a series of health problems on her trip to Hawaii that, frankly, stressed us out just by reading this.
Visited family in Hawaii. I was 4 months pregnant and we had a 13 month old son. Two days into the week, I came down with blisters on my butt cheek, went to a clinic because I thought I had gotten bit by something in the sand, but was told to go directly to the ER.
After being seen, was told by a nurse that I had HERPES and that I needed to talk to my husband since I had not had any new sexual partners!
Doctor came running into room and told me (and the nurse) that I did NOT have HERPES, I had HERPES ZOSTER (otherwise known as SHINGLES). What a relief! But then he tells me that the shingles virus has most likely killed my unborn child.
So, I was alone in a hospital with them doing an ultrasound to see if my baby was still alive. Talk about heart wrenching! Thankfully everything was fine with the pregnancy and I got medicine and pain pills to deal with the shingles. I make it through the rest of the week in lots of pain...but ok.
Then, on the last day of our trip, our 13 month old comes down with a TERRIBLE fever. We couldn't get it down with medicine, so we eventually decide to take him to the ER. By the time we get into an examination room (they took FOREVER in registration waiting to make sure our insurance would pay) his temperature was 106.4!! The doctor asks us, has he started having seizures yet?
Spent the night with him on my chest and both of us being covered in cold, wet towels. We were not allowed to fly the next day and the next flight we could get wasn't for another week.
10. Here we list some of the very short vacation disasters that weren't epic enough for their own numbered slot, but amused us nonetheless. First, this one from Gayle on Facebook:
Let's just say our trip to Great Wolf Lodge started with a visit from the cops because my nephew wouldn't stop calling 911.
No one got hurt in Divya's story, but if you have any photo-obsessed family members, you know this one is the biggest nightmare for them:
On the last night of a 10 day family vacation in Egypt, I was playing around with the only digital camera we had (this was in the days before smartphones), and "reformatted" the memory card. The only pictures we have from that trip are from the very last day!!
Sunny reminds readers that the best laid plans of mice and men are sometimes puked on by small children.
Drove about 400 miles with 3 kids. 15 minutes from the hotel, the 2 year old vomited chocolate milk all over the minivan. Good times.
And finally, Kristin has another story to remind us of the Louis C.K. joke about how divorce should always be greeted as good news.
Husband pouted all the way to the New York State thruway on the way to Lake George, I told him that I should hold the directions, but in his insane way he insisted on putting them in the visor. He opened the window at top speed and Guess what? The directions go right out the window! The kids and I laughed so hard, we couldn't help it! He didn't find it funny. That was the beginning of the end, we were separated 2 months after that vacation.
BONUS: OK, so this isn't a family vacation, but this person (who shall remain anonymous) really wanted a chance to tell this story of a group trip to Vegas gone wrong, and lo and behold, it was totally worth it:
So no family vacations that were so terrible as this (unless you count my brother getting sick to his stomach every other trip like clock work), but I have one truly cringe-worthy vacation to Vegas with some friends.
Back when we were just-barely legal kids who could drink and recover without regretting life's decisions, my friend wanted to go to Vegas for his birthday. Because we all didn't have the same work schedules, which is often the case when you're young, two groups went in phases - my friend, myself and a mutual friend who was a former roommate, followed by other friends (one of which was my new roommate) the following day. We all chipped in to sleep in one room, because also, too young to afford our own separately. This is what proved to be a fatal flaw.
Act I: So the first, and most fateful, night when it's just the first three of us, we decide to get smashed back at our hotel (name omitted, obviously) after a long walk and exploration of the strip as is the tradition when visiting Vegas. We kept the bar tender very happily engaged and entertained for a few hours when I decide to call it a night and crash so I could drive to work the following evening, all the way back to Los Angeles (which is about four hours, if traffic is kind). I'm so blitzed I have no idea in what direction our room is, but thankfully the bar tender does his best to guide me, and miraculously, I find it, and happily pass out... until a few HOURS later....
Act II: The dawn approaches when the door bursts open and my former roommate is half-carrying the birthday boy, who is several inches taller than he, and so beyond drunk it's hilarious. Or "was" hilarious. I'm still fairly blitzed myself, and having been startled awake, my friend is loudly apologizing for everything:talking loudly, bumping into everything, knocking anything over and giving us a run down on trying to get his shoes off. You would think that all of this would, should, be a hazy recollection, but then again, I would be shocked into full sobriety....
After depositing our friend into bed, my former roommate face plants next to me, several sheets beyond plastered himself and reeking of cigarette smoke so badly it's nauseating. This guy will not STFU, even though snoring in the next bed has commenced, I'm trying to sleep my booze off before my drive, and he keeps trying to get me to watch the sunrise with him. I basically kick him off the bed I'm sleeping on rather harshly, telling him to go watch by himself or shower because he smells, but to just SHUT UP so I can go back to sleep. I wish to god he had chosen to watch the sun rise and deal with security on his own....
There's an annoying, insistent ringing in my dreams. It won't stop. I'm trying to sleep, thank you! Yes, it stops..... shit, there it goes again....
I realize it's the room phone next to my head that keeps ringing. My friend in the next bed is still snoring loudly, and I'm alone in mine. I answer it with as much lucid, verbal disdain as one can, still woozy. It's the front desk.
Act III: "Ma'am, can you please tell me if there is water coming down from your ceiling, or if it's your room that's flooded?" (the fuck question is that...)
After trying to convince her she's got the wrong room, I acquiesce to the request to check and roll across the bed, where I was sleeping alone, towards the door, and stand up. I take two steps forward...
COLD. WET. Not just wet, but pooled. My socks are now completely sodden, and the water is ice cold. I am, in an instant, stone-cold sober and very much wide awake. Which is why I can remember this night, this event, very well.
I turn on the dresser light to find that there is standing water in the front half of the room, under the bed I was sleeping on, and that it's a steady river coming from under the bathroom door, where a second, very loud, snore is echoing from. I find the door is locked, and no amount of pounding and shouting (I am quite loud under normal circumstances) is waking the dumb-ass former roommate, who is totally passed out, with the shower running, his butt cheek blocking the drain. As a side note, this idiot had the same habit when I used to be one of his roommates, and it was a constant, major issue. The only difference now was that instead of being at home with the bathtub drain safely draining at one end, this was a shower stall with just enough of a lip to keep the water in under normal circumstances, drain smack in the middle, which is now under a butt cheek. It's been another couple of hours since I kicked the Talker off the bed I was sleeping on, so the water has been flowing into the room, pooling, soaking through the carpet, the floor boards, to the ceiling below and cascading down the walls of the room beneath us for who knows how long. The front desk is both horrified and very confused. I had to repeat to what was happening several times, which included requests that security come to break the bathroom door in.
My chore now is to wake a still-very drunk birthday boy, in whose name the room is booked, and therefore the responsible party, to be conscious and present before security gets to us. What a chore that was, and what a memory... to this day I've never seen this friend as murderously angry as he was that morning. We are both mortified and terrified when several large, angry security guys come and start pounding on the door, waiting for someone to come pick the lock, with the front door open and patrons in the hallway trying to find out what was up. It only got worse when their Boss walks in and just stares at us as all this is going down behind him. I'm having to keep my friend, who is one of the most emotional composed people I know, as calm as possible while trying to explain ourselves. It wasn't until the door was opened and the dumb-ass was woken up, buck naked, pissed and verbally assaulting the security guards that this Boss took pity on the two of us and directed his anger to the appropriate party. We handed our former friend's bag over, the guards dressed him in his wet boxers, and took him away; the Boss being the last man to leave. We've literally not seen this former friend in the 13 years since. The best way I can describe it was being as close to dealing with the Mob as we will ever get. Which is why I say Boss, as in Mob Boss, because while shorter and with considerably less hair than De Niro, it felt like a scene from "Casino." I'm pretty sure this is what caused my first grey hair.
After all that happened, my friend, the birthday boy, thankfully wasn't held responsible for damages. He was however, not allowed to move rooms for the remainder of his stay, so when the second wave of friends arrived, they had to deal with soggy carpet, a huge floor fan, and one hell of a story. We're still all close friends, obviously except for one, forged in the inferno of "what happened in Vegas" and older with major responsibilities, none of us go farther than happily buzzed. Probably because we also can't physically handle that after math.
Oh, before I forget, I did get a call from the dumb-ass three months after the ordeal. He was kicked out of the hotel, banned for life, and had to get money wired to him for a bus ticket home.