The Worst Vacations Ever? 8 True Stories

Your dream vacation could consist of any number of things. Maybe you want to spend your days on the beach, sippin' out of a coconut. Maybe you're looking for a skydiving adventure. Maybe you just want to work your way through every awesome restaurant in your destination. But "accidentally drugging myself" is probably NOT on anyone's vacation to-do list — neither is "getting a UTI."

Unfortunately, these are things that do happen. Here, we round up some of the most embarrassing, horrifying, and just plain cringe-worthy vacation stories from real people. Remember guys, safety first.


The UTI That Just Wouldn't Quit
"I got a urinary tract infection [Ed. Note: when it feels like your vagina is burning when you pee.] while staying at a remote farmhouse in Umbria for a week. We were outside of Perugia, in the countryside, and the pharmacy was like a 10 mile trek on a bicycle. Luckily, the owner of the house spoke English and called the pharmacy ahead of time, but I had to bike there and back. Not only did it ruin a week in the countryside, the antibiotics didn't clear things up the first time. Takeaway: Travel with medications. You never know when you're gonna need 'em." — Elizabeth, at 22 years old

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Whoops, That's Not Weed
"I was in Amsterdam with my best friend and our roommates at the hostel invited us to come smoke with them. Because we were trying to be cool, we said yes. After taking a few hits, I felt really weird and realized it was not weed. I remember going to the bathroom and looking in the mirror thinking, What did I just do?!

"I grabbed my best friend and we went to the only adult we knew — the receptionist. We went up and told her our situation, and she (totally unfazed) said, 'Did you ingest something, or did you smoke something?' It turns out it was opium and she told us that we would be fine — we should just walk it off. Of course, we didn't want to leave the hostel, so we ended up just walking around our room in circles, like crazy people, while the rest of our roommates were out for the night. We ended up recording our last will and testament to each other on our phones. I deleted it, obviously." — Alexandra, at 18 years old


That Time I Accidentally Roofied Myself
"I was hanging out with a bunch of guys I met at the pride parade in São Paulo, Brazil, and we were going to this big EDM gay club, The Week. I knew I wanted to do Molly, but we’re bar hopping at this point and it's like 2 to 3 a.m., and the other guys we met were looking for almost anything — including GHB. [Ed. Note: This is known as the "date rape" drug and can render victims comatose, but some people take them recreationally.] I wanted nothing to do with GHB, because I knew it would just be a bad idea.

"Hours later, near sunrise, we're hanging out with this group of guys and a couple of drag queens, and I was switching over to water at this point. But I was still pretty drunk, so I was just drinking from a water bottle they were passing around. I didn't know it at the time, but the water bottle had GHB in it. So, we get even more wasted, I start not being able to walk or stand, and we lose each other pretty quickly. I have black-ins of trying to leave the club and not being able to, because all our drinks were tallied on a credit card-like thing they give you, which I had lost. So, I had to fight with the bouncers, and eventually fought my way outside, threatening to call the embassy for help, and then some random guy takes pity on me and puts me in an Uber. But at this point, I'm not able to operate anything, let alone the Uber app, so he takes me to his place half-an-hour away from São Paulo. The next morning I wake up, naked, in bed next to him in this shack, and we couldn't speak to each other at all; he spoke zero English. I kinda just gathered my stuff and left, hopped on a random bus going the wrong way, and finally made my way back to my hotel. At noon." — Matt, at 28 years old
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Worst-Planned Spring Break, Ever
"I booked a spring break trip to Panama City Beach with my friends, despite the fact that I had NO MONEY. I used up every penny I had to get down there and then, once I was there, realized I had about $10 left to my name for food for the ENTIRE seven days. I went to Walmart and bought a 90-pack of Tostino's pizza rolls for $7 and an extra-large water, and rationed them out. That's all I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the entire time I was there. I can't even look at them now." — Catherine, at 20 years old
The Time I Became A Football
"When I was about 12, I went on a family vacation to Aruba. I was playing a hide-and-seek/dodgeball combination game with my brother and his friends on the beach at night, and a drunk teenager staggered to my side while I was hiding behind a stack of beach chairs. I didn't even think to look, because I felt so comfortable and safe on the beach in front of the resort. The next thing I know, the teenager stands up, comes over to me, and kicks me in the head like punting a football. I go flying across the beach. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt that much, I was just terrified (and rightfully so). We ran to get security and thankfully, they caught the teenager." — Lucie, at 12 years old
The Last Hurrah
"I went to South Padre Island [TX] for spring break during my junior year in high school (instead of traveling FREE to tour Austria with my orchestra). Obviously, I had to do what the cool kids were doing. On the last day, I went out with a bang by getting my eyebrow pierced, going bungee jumping, skinny dipping in a non-skinny-dip-acceptable public pool, and getting a 103-degree fever." — Maryann, at 17 years old

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
From Heineken Museum To Heineken...Tattoo?
"One of the biggest attractions (to young, ill-informed tourists!) in Amsterdam is the Heineken Museum. It is literally a museum dedicated to the history, making, and DRINKING of Heineken. After a quick tour, my friends and I drank copious amounts of beer in the museum bar, which led to me having a genius idea — we should all get the red Heineken star tatted on us as a souvenir of the trip. I trekked over to a random tattoo shop (it may or may not have been directly next to the red light district!), and under the needle I went. The tattoo artist was drinking and smoked a huge joint halfway through. I should have left right then, but I didn't, and somehow ended up with a red Heineken star on EACH ankle. One — totally unsymmetrical! I still have them to this day." — Elyssa, at 25 years old
The Terrifying Roommate Experience
"My two best friends and I were traveling the Pacific Northwest together and had started our trip off in Seattle. I'd stayed in plenty of hostels before, so I suggested we stay in a four-person room at a high-rated hostel, since we figured we wouldn't be in the room all that much. Upon arrival, we met our roommate, a 35-year-old woman, who seemed a little quirky, but we didn't think much of it and we left for the day. That night, we were all in the room and she told us that we couldn't open the windows, because someone was going to come in and hurt us, even though we were on the third floor. She also asked us if we called our parents to let them know where we were, because something bad was most likely going to happen to us. RED FLAG.

"We tried to brush it off as much as we could, but as the night went on it just kept getting stranger. We would hear her talking to herself again about something really bad happening to us and that we should call 911. When she said she was going to sleep — sitting up with the lights on, no less — we thought it would be a good time to tell the management, seeing that we were concerned for our safety. Management had to ask her to leave due to the things she was saying. This was a huge relief, but looking back on this, I do feel really bad for this woman, seeing that there might be something wrong with her. But in that moment, we felt like we had to do what was safe." — Alex, at 23 years old

More from Travel

To some, the term “elope” still conjures images of hasty lovers stumbling into clandestine chapels, or frugal pairs looking to save a few pennies on the ...
Travel mistakes cost time and money — two things I want more of when planning a trip. With so many online options available at our wanderlust-loving ...
Having a smartphone means having the world of social media at our fingertips all day, every day. With that, comes the temptation to share every aspect of...
(Paid Content) Every city has its own culture, its own way of creating art, food, and music. There's just something extra special about that of Montreal
No one would deny a blind person's right to take his or her guide dog on a plane. Likewise, we're beginning to accept that there are people with real ...
If you’ve been feeling down about summer’s official end, don’t be. It turns out, you can still take incredible vacations in the fall! And with help from ...
What is it about Paris that puts it at the top of everyone's must-visit list? Is it the anticipation of seeing the Eiffel Tower shimmer and sparkle at ...
(Paid Content) Your next weekend away has to be in Toronto. Period
The dilemma: You want to take an unforgettable vacation with a bunch of your besties, but you need it to be affordable. You already learned the hard way ...
If you like to travel, you probably have a bucket list of places you want to hit throughout your lifetime. If you've been under the MO that seeing them ...
In the old days, vacation planning was practically a workout. To land a good deal, you had to keep your eyes peeled for newspaper ads and hit up every ...
The world is full of magical hidden wonders. Need proof? The talented team at Atlas Obscura spent the past five years working on a gorgeous, 480-page book ...
JetBlue loves to throw amazing deals at us, and its latest sale is no exception. The airline's "Watch Fares Fall" sale is happening now, and the airfare ...
Doing things alone can be immensely therapeutic: A solo meal can help you really appreciate food; a solitary walk can be a rare opportunity to think; and ...