Whether you’re headed to a 5-star resort or bonding on a road trip, a family vacation is a great opportunity to create memories with the people you love.
However, there are a few families who take those memorable moments to the next level with their wide-ranging “vacation fails.” When you think of wacky family vacations filled with bizarre hijinks, it’s easy to point out popular cult movies like National Lampoon’s Vacation that feature calamity-filled roadtrips and hilarious mishaps. But sometimes life imitates art.
Between funny vacation fails and outright horror stories, these families give Clark Griswold’s family a run for their money.
Disney, the Happiest Place on Earth?
Disney World is usually known as the happiest place on earth, but not for Capital21’s parents. “My parents got into a huge fight and decided they wanted a divorce on the second day of a week long vacation at Disney world. It was the most awful week of my life.”
The Case of the Missing Contacts
One vacationer (who is legally blind without a visual aid) put their contacts in some water in cups while on vacation. Seems pretty tame, but as it turns out, it wasn’t a smart move. “My mom woke up and threw them down the sink because she thought they were just cups of water. The rest of my vacation I saw vague shapes.”
No man gets left behind
What are the ingredients for a great family vacation? Well, for one — your whole family. You shouldn’t leave anyone behind! One commenter explained a hilarious snafu that almost ruined their family trip. “One time on a road trip, we left my mom at a rest stop accidentally. I was riding in the front seat with my dad so that I wouldn’t get car sick. My brother pipes up with a super casual ‘Hey Dad…where’s mom?’ from the backseat. My dad goes ‘Oh s— we left your mom at the rest stop!'”
The Terrible No Good Very Bad Camping Trip
A family of six, including children ages 7-14, embarked on a camping trip to the California coast. This family vacation was plagued with a teenage breakup, the “newly fixed” car overheating, campers from another tent screaming at each other, and one very awkward bathroom stop. The poor mother explained, “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.”
The Not-So-Sweet Honeymooners
One couple was about to enjoy a honeymoon when they were told that their airline tickets were voided and that they would have to buy new tickets to get on the flight. They decided to pay for new tickets and run to the gate, but their troubles continued at their destination when they realized their driver missed their pick-up flight because they were napping in the transportation vehicle.
One Family Suffered Multiple Injuries
One accident-prone family went through quite the horror story during a vacation near Durban in South Africa. The commenter writes, “My dad became deathly ill, I was nearly offed when I choked on a massive fish bone, and my mom was cooking when the gas stove f——g exploded, showering extremely hot shards of glass all over the house.”
One 10-year-old Gets Urinated On
A trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s turned downright hilarious (and painful!) when the commenter (who was 10 when the story happened) dove into a school of jellyfish. What happened next could be used in a comedy. “This is the point where a good samaritan runs up, tells my mother with great authority that ammonia will reduce the inflammation- ‘Ma’am ammonia! Like in urine!’ He proceeds to drop trou in front of an already freaking out 10 year old me and my hysterical mother and unleash a cascade of piss in my face, and over my seared jellyfish tortured body. Finally my dad has shown up with the car and they trundle my pee scented body off to the hospital.”
Family Vacation Turns into a Vomit-Inducing Experience
One mother wrote about her stay with 20+ family and friends. On the first night, her infant daughter vomited, and on the second night all hell was unleashed when everyone got sick. “26 people end up with the most intense stomach virus I have ever seen. And three bathrooms. At one point my aunt was pooping on the toilet and puking into the waste bin, my cousin and laying in the floor of the family room, puking where she lay and sister was standing on the balcony debating if she had the time to run to the sink or should just heave over the balcony.”
The Car Ride to Disney World Gone Wrong
One writer, then in the third grade, thought they could manage the cramping in their stomach, which got increasingly worse in the backseat of their parent’s car. After telling their parents to stop for a bathroom, they decided to ride an extra ten minutes to a nearby rest stop. What happened next was traumatizing. “When the car finally stopped I ripped the van door open and took off like a shot … and projectile-running-crying vomited all over the lawn/sidewalk/garbage cans of the Louisiana Welcome Center to the horror of many traveling families and my mom, dad and sister. I had the stomach flu for the next three days, and spent them writing in pain in the back seat of the family mini van and barfing my way across four states and the Magic Kingdom.”
What’s the Difference Between a Motel and a Strip Club?
A descriptive writer explained that her family trip turned awkward by the odd environment of one motel. After their fifth stop, the family finally found a motel, which just happened to be connected to a strip club. “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.”
Grandma, Don’t Take the Wheel
One person explained their family road trip to Gettysburg was practically ruined when their grandmother insisted on taking the wheel. “My grandmother, who can’t drive for s—, drove the whole way and refused to let my mother take the wheel. So we were treated to her constantly stopping on the g–damn interstate to check and see if she had missed her exit, while cars screeched and honked at us for sitting in the middle of the road. Every time an exit came up I damn near shit my pants because I was waiting for a car to hit us.”
When Grandma Dumps and Leaves
After a dinner didn’t agree with one writer’s grandma, this family decided to make a pitstop while on the road. The rest could be a great comic sketch. “While my sister, mom, and I are cleaning up [when] 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.”
What Begins in Chaos Ends in Chaos (and Puke)
This trip to Florida begins and ends in complete chaos. After denying her grandmother’s desire to go bar hopping and throwing raw beef at her father out of anger, the writer decided to go on a dolphin cruise with her mother. Unfortunately, her mother got extremely sea sick. “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.”
Crammed in the Back Seat
One writer told how one road trip turned into an uncomfortable situation, literally. “We drove in a mini-van with a broken radio. I was shoved in the back seat, re-reading the same books, unable to move much because my mother’s gigantic plants in their huge terra cotta pots were stuck back there with me.”
Not Exactly the Party She was Expecting
One person related that when she was 17 years old she was forced to go to a conference during the summer with her family. After already dreading spending time with her family, she got an ear infection and needed to be taken to the ER. To make her feel better, her mother sent her little brother into a “party store” for some balloons, but it turned into a different kind of party altogether. “They pull into the parking lot of said party store to exchange insurance info, my mom sends my 11-year-old brother in to buy me balloons and party favors, only to find out that ‘party store’ is a euphemism for a liquor store.”
The Little Mermaid No One Asked For
Back in the 1990s, one family trip to the Rockies turned into a nightmare when this commenter’s little sister insisted the family listen to “The Little Mermaid” during the whole ride. “We have no radio signal in the car and only one tape: my little sister’s soundtrack to The Little Mermaid. She adamantly refuses to let us turn it off. Fifteen years later and I can still sing ‘Part of Your World’ in its entirety.”
Saved by the Pilot
During a trip, one commenter’s mother, who was a private pilot, saved her whole family during a scary incident. “As we were flying back to Seattle the airplane had engine failure over the Rockies, like threw a rod, engine failure. We were flying over the largest roadless wilderness area in the continental United States, it wasn’t looking good for us. As you can see, I lived to tell about it, but by the skin of my teeth.”
A Technological Mishap
The thing about technology is that it’s very touchy. One wrong move and you can erase an entire trip of memories. One writer, Divya, explained her horrifying story, “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!!”
Lost the Directions
During a trip to Lake George, one husband insisted on holding the directions, but when he opened the window, they went 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.”
Close Encounters of the Moose Kind
One family had a close encounter with a moose during a camping trip to Denali National Park. During dinner, the moose decided to check into the family’s vacation. The writer explained, “We quickly realized we were standing between her and her baby and she was MAD. My mother ran to the outhouse with me where we stayed for an hour peering out the little window, watching the moose roam the grounds while my dad stood guard. Nothing happened, but we still laugh about it to this day.”