Not all family vacations are the best. These people share how their family vacations were unfortunately ruined. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
“It Was The Summer That I Began To Hate My Mother”
“One summer, we traveled to several states to visit family. We had moved away for a couple of years so this was exciting. Each stop we stayed for a week or so.
I was about 12. I got to see cousins I didn’t normally get to see, I got to see my grandparents, and aunts, and uncles. It should have been a wonderful summer, but it was the summer that I began to hate my mother. Despise everything she stood for.
My final grade for English that year had been a C+. Not bad but it was my first ever C and I earned it unfairly. However, my mom made me feel lower than low. I was grounded from going to the big party on the last day of school that everyone went to. I never stopped hearing about it the next year. And yes, this was because of one C. Every single family we stayed with, she made sure to tell them along the lines of:
‘Yeah. Linda basically failed English. C+ What a shame.’
‘Yeah, she might have to repeat sixth grade.’
‘We taught her better than that. We don’t know what happened. We’re so ashamed.’
From that summer on, I was critical of everything she did and that was not good news for her. She was the worst, most narcissistic prick of a parent that I am grateful for each day she’s gone. She left this earth over four years ago and I’ve been so happy. My life has been so peaceful. I love my life now.”
“At around 10 years old, I was part of a multigenerational entourage that was waiting at an airport en route to a family reunion.
When it was time for the group to move on to our next stop, my grandfather was missing. My brother indicated that he’d go look for him, and I immediately piped up that I would go instead, but it was too late. After a short period of time, my brother and grandfather were heading back to join the group, and everyone could hear my brother confronting my grandfather because he had caught him smoking. Mayhem ensued. Several of us spontaneously tried to shut my brother down, and my mom got to him first, pulling him aside. Everyone, including my grandfather, acted like nothing had happened and we all played dumb. At that moment, I realized that almost my entire family had known the same secret that I’d never discussed with them and that we all likely had the same rationale for keeping it that way.
So here’s the backstory. My grandparents both had a lot of health issues, and my grandmother was a chain smoker. As kids, we were mortified by her habit and what it was doing to her health, but there was nothing we could do about it. She smoked in front of us all the time whether at her home, in the car, while shopping, at restaurants, etc (back then you could smoke pretty much anywhere).
A couple of years prior to the airport incident, my sister confided to me that she had seen my grandfather smoking. She was in disbelief and questioning whether this was really happening. I was oblivious to this as well, but it made a lot of sense. He had all kinds of smoking-related health problems and would often disappear when we were out. Since he lived with a chain smoker, it was easy for him to hide his habit (their apartment, cars, clothes, etc. reeked heavily of smoke anyway). My sister and I decided it was better that he smoked in secret since this would reduce the amount he smoked, so we kept this information to ourselves. From then on, whenever he was ‘missing’, I would be very careful not to catch him in the act (I’d make noise, look the other way, etc.). I did not want him to know that I knew.
So that day at the airport when my grandfather was away from the group, I wanted to be the one to go find him, lest someone else accidentally catch him smoking. My brother would have been the worst person to find him as far as maintaining the secret (based on my brother’s personality). When I heard my brother confronting my grandfather, my fears were realized, and I made a seemingly futile attempt to prevent this irreversible course of events from unfolding. Well, to my surprise and amusement, I was not alone. Literally, the entire group other than my brother and one other person all independently and yet somehow in coordination took swift action to get my brother away from my grandfather whilst simultaneously acting as nothing had happened.
Upon realizing that everyone already knew, I was later able to discuss the matter with others. Each person had gone through a similar situation and thought process that my sister had, and decided on the same course of action. This even included my grandmother, who my grandfather also hid this from. That was kind of strange of course since my grandmother was so open about her smoking. We all kept his secret for the rest of his life. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t know we all knew, especially after incidents like this, but if he did then he went along with our efforts to help me with his own coverup.”
The Room Situation
“We planned a family trip to Disneyworld. That is, myself, husband, and 22-year-old daughter, planned it. My 23-year-old son didn’t want to help us at all. We had a great time at Disneyworld, then went to Fort Myers to visit relatives. Our accommodation there was an Airbnb. There were two bedrooms plus a futon in the living room.
Since my daughter helped with the planning, she naturally claimed the second bedroom for herself. When my son found that he would have to sleep on the futon, he went ballistic. He wanted us to give him the bedroom; we three told him that he didn’t have any say because he refused to help with the planning. We had a huge argument and it ended with him walking out and finding his own room. We all had to meet later for a family function and more arguing went on. I told him that never again would we all go on a family vacation together.
We have all since apologized to each other, but as he still thinks he was in the right, he won’t be going to the Indianapolis 500 with us later this summer. We’re not even going to say anything about it to him.”
“We Waited For The Boy To Return To The Surface”
“Because my mom worked in the travel business, we had the opportunity to visit a number of places for free. We traveled often and this was no exception.
I was around 12 when my parents brought me along to the Bahamas.
If you have never seen it, it’s what I imagine paradise to be. It’s a beautiful island with long shores of white sand beaches and blue-green waters. When you swim along the shore, tiny silver fishes swim up to greet you. It’s both a charming place and a stunning location.
Our hotel was on a smaller island called Paradise Cove. We would take water taxis back and forth to the main island. Generally, this operation is employed by preteens and teenagers. They shuttle hotel guests back and forth from the hotel to the main island.
My parents and I had spent the day in the Bahamas proper and now it was time to head back to the hotel.
We boarded the boat and made ourselves comfortable. The boys in charge of the water taxi were laughing and teasing each other as they prepared to head out. There was a loud sound from underneath the boat. The anchor seemed to be stuck. And so we waited. The oldest of the boys jumped off the roof of the boat into the waters to try and free the anchor.
A few minutes or so later, the boy reported the anchor was quite stuck. He may need a second set of hands to help him. He wanted to try again. The boys still made jokes. We sat on the boat and waited.
We waited for the boy to return to the surface. The boys began calling out their friend’s name but there was no answer. Another boy and a guest jumped into the water. There was a quiet over the boat. We feared the worst.
The two rescuers returned to the surface with the original boy’s arms slumped over their shoulders.
The guests onboard helped reach for the limp body and brought it onboard. His body was placed on the bench in the center of the boat.
My dad sprung into action. He turned the boy’s head to the side. Some water drained from his mouth and nose. Turning the boy’s head again, face straight up, I watched my dad try and revive him. He blew into the boy’s mouth.
A passenger on this water taxi was sobbing uncontrollably. The boys, who at first were yelling out, were now silent.
My dad’s ear went to the boy’s open mouth but there was no sound. He tried reviving him again but there was no hope. The boy that lie in front of us was dead.
The authorities came on board and asked what happened. My dad stood and explained the boy was brought on board unconscious. He was a licensed physician. In spite of his efforts, the patient who had succumbed to drowning was pronounced dead.
The authorities looked at us and then the dead boy. No one spoke much after that.
We were brought another water taxi to take us back to our hotel. We tried to shake the feelings of sadness and loss but the dark cloud wouldn’t lift. My dad especially takes it hard when he is unable to save someone. He was quiet and withdrawn. introspective after what had happened. My mom decided it was best to change our tickets and return home early. This vacation was over. We never really did talk about it after that. After so many years, it’s a faded memory of a horribly unfortunate day”
“We went to Yellowstone National Park last summer for 10 days. My sister-in-law joined us with her family. It was a good trip for the first eight days. I have a four-year-old daughter and she has two boys aged 10 and 4. She is always trying very hard to be a good mom and keeps her children as her topmost priority. I respect her life choices, however, I am different and I like my daughter to be slightly independent. So I set clear expectations when it comes to schoolwork. I tell my daughter to first try to do something herself and if she fails, I will be more than happy to help. It’s just my way of letting her try to use her logical thinking before she looks for help. My sister-in-law always tries to be protective of my daughter, even if she makes a mistake, and we correct her. It doesn’t go well with my sister-in-law.
So on the ninth day of the trip, she started rudely saying that we did not appreciate our child enough. Maybe it all came from good intentions, but her tone was extremely rude. I asked her politely to not get into this. My husband was around too. My sister-in-law did not budge in and accused of us being bad parents. The tone got escalated and my husband jumped into it too. I walked out of there because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I do not know what happened after that.
I went back into the RV after an hour and she apologized. It didn’t seem like an honest apology but I didn’t say anything. The night went by and we all took the flight next day as per schedule. On the journey back home, my husband and I started talking about the whole episode. I explained to him that I felt bad because his sister took the liberty to accuse us of being bad parents. Whereas, we never judge her parenting skills or styles. She is very secretive about her plans and her life, but always takes extra interest in ours. This has been going on for the last nine years.
A few days later we started talking cordially. However, the tone or the words she used for us were rather harsh. I haven’t been able to erase that from my memory. It has definitely changed the relationship we share from my end. I am a little more guarded during my conversations with her now.”
“They Made No Effort To Protect The Luggage”
“There was the time when the airline left our luggage out on the tarmac for an extended period of time. The flight was delayed for mechanical issues and it POURED down rain. They made no effort to protect the luggage, so it just sat there during the storm.
When we arrived in Oslo, Norway, and unpacked, all of our clothes were soaked, and the inside of our luggage was ruined. It was on the same trip on our return flight from Oslo that the plane, once again, had mechanical problems. The gate attendants actually made the announcement, ‘Sorry for the delay. We have food vouchers that you can use, but nothing’s open right now so good luck.’
Then they left the counter and didn’t come back for several hours once the plane was fixed.”
This Dad Tried To Move Over But It Was Too Late
“My dad worked six days a week, sometimes seven, and being self-employed, there was no time off. Church (which could not be missed) was on Sunday and we almost always went to one set of grandparents after that. Nevertheless, my mom was able to talk him into on Sunday afternoon (sometimes two) during the summer where we’d go to a nearby lake with a picnic area.
One time though, they decided to take us all the way to a wild animal park that was around a three-hour drive away. So, we were up at around six am, which left one of my brothers in a cranky mood right to start with. Nevertheless, off we went with only the usual ‘Are we there yet’ on the way.
My one brother was a candy/gimme friend so by lunchtime, he was sick on candy and my dad was far less than pleased at how much they’d already spent on him. He of course didn’t want lunch whereas my youngest brother ate quite a bit.
The day was very hot and by mid-afternoon, my youngest brother all of a sudden turned pale white, got woozy, and down he went. Now by that time my other brother had been cut off from any more spending, so he was shall we say ‘less than pleasant.’ When my youngest brother went down, they knew he had to cool off for a while. What to do with the other two of us? Well, they caved and gave my other brother more money.
Which he wasted on all the scam games in the midway, but it kept him busy while my youngest brother recovered.
An hour or so later, late afternoon but not park closing, my parents said, ‘ We’re leaving.’
Naturally, that left middle brother fit to be tied again but off we went.
Bearing in mind that middle brother has had nothing but candy since breakfast, now he was hungry. We had planned at stopping at a state roadside pull-off halfway back but small problem: they’d used all of our water to cool off my youngest brother and re-hydrate him. Dad had no choice but to pull off into the first greasy spoon diner he could find.
My middle and youngest brothers ate, both getting the greasiest stuff they could find. And off we went again. We probably got about 10 minutes up the road when the youngest brother said in a drawn-out fashion, ‘Dad … I … think … you … need …to … pull -‘
Dad headed for the shoulder of the road even as he was saying it, but he never quite made it. He threw up all over the back seat, all over my other brother, all over everything. Then he made it out the door and threw up all over the side of the car.
They tried to clean up as best they could. I think we had a couple of towels and a couple of extra shirts. All that was dumped by the side of the highway. The car had no A/C so the one saving grace was that the windows were open all the way home. Not that this helped a lot.
And there was one other minor problem: my dad had just taken delivery on the car the day before. It was the first brand new car he’d ever bought.
Bet you can guess how many family vacations we took after that!”
A New Relationship
“When I was about eight years old, my family went on our yearly vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We always camped for a week or two at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. On this particular trip, I rode my bike around the campground and befriended a boy around my age who it turned out, lived not far from me in Maryland. It was decided that our families should get together for dinner at the campground.
I don’t remember what was talked about, or if the fireworks were visible that evening, but my mother and the boy’s father must have made a connection. A year or so later (the timeline is murky), my mother left my father, for this boy’s father.
For years I blamed myself for introducing them, but in hindsight, while my mom was dying of pancreatic cancer, I finally forgave myself.”
Major Sick Day
“We had a three-year-old daughter and a three-month-old baby daughter. I had a low salary, so my wife was getting baby financial support. We asked my parents for financial aid for a vacation, but they refused to give it. They told that one of them had to pay some hefty dentist bills.
Some days later, they invited us to an extended family vacation with 11 participants: my parents, my siblings and their family, my own family, and my widow aunt.
The place was at Abaliget Camping in Southern Hungary.
The journey was itself separated. I took a train with my brother and elder daughter, while my wife arrived in our landlord’s girlfriend’s small Italian car. The others were in my father’s car. Needless to say, the problems began fairly quickly as we all arrived.
The Chimborazo of the events was the roasting of specs on an open fire. My sister-in-law had just recovered from hepatitis (got it from a dead fly in a green salad). The doctor prohibited her from consuming fatty meals, however, my father and brother (her husband), forced her to eat the bread with molten fat and burnt specks. The result was a big epileptic spasm. She was foaming from the mouth, had convulsions, and eyes in abnormal position in the presence of our daughters.
The way home was separated and very long.
When I told my father that I should not never in my life spend a vacation with my brother, he was on the upper side: ‘We gave you the broad cottage, while we were living in the worst conditions.”
“So I planned for a vacation to visit with my children and grandchild and my mother, brothers, and family. My extended family by marriage decided they wanted to come along. I was left with planning international travel for ten people, plus two weeks of accommodation in Florida.
This was not the vacation I wanted, but it was the vacation I got. Alas, two days after arrival, a hurricane was in our path and we had to do a mandatory evacuation. My mother happened to live outside the evacuation area and cordially invited all ten of us to stay at her home. I was left to coordinate all of this.
My mother took all of these people in. During the three days we all lived in her house, the MIL did not lift a finger. She sat on a chair the entire time and wanted to be waited on. When I got frustrated with this attitude, I was the bad guy. I busted my butt, my mother busted her butt and most everybody was extremely helpful in making it as bearable as possible. Except her. Sat like she owned the place. It was embarrassing.
But God forbid if anyone stepped on her feelings.
I really and truly lost what little respect I had for her after that point and actively avoided her. Luckily, I no longer have to deal with her.”
“Once we had a family trip planned to Andrapradesh, India (now Telangana). One day we were on our way to see the magnificent Nagarjun Sagar Dam, so we left from Hyderabad. As we were on the way, we were crossing a small village where we met with a car accident. Two cars rammed into each other causing significant damage to not only their cars but also ours.
Luckily, no one was that hurt but the front engine part of the car we rented was completely damaged. Everyone was safe but we could not continue our trip as our car was damaged. It took more than three hours for the travel operator to send a new car to guide us. Our day got wasted and we could not enjoy the trip.”