Summer vacations should be extended periods of time filled with relaxation, laughter, and family bonding. Instead, they’re often extended periods of time filled with tension, obnoxious relatives, and rain. I’ve had my share of “fundatory” family vacations, and while some have been more enjoyable than others, many have throbbed with memorable moments of horror that make for great vacation stories today.
Going to Grandma’s: Everybody loves going to Grandma’s house! But the best part of the trip is getting there. Gee, I sure do love being stuck in a cramped minivan with a bunch of fighting kids for six hours. I especially love it when it's midnight, the minivan has just run out of gas in a deserted forest somewhere in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, your dog has just barfed, the younger kids are screaming, and you mother asks your first serious boyfriend (who tagged along and whom you only want to impress with your happy and loving family) to walk along the shoulder of the road and report back when he finds a sign.
Leaving New Jersey: What’s even better than a barfing dog and a shady forest? Trying to leave penny-grubbing New Jersey when you lack pennies. Truly, this incident is my fault. I’m a small town girl who forgot that toll booths exist to crush dreams and ruin lives. So when my sister and I left my college roomie’s house in New Jersey only to discover that a cash offering is required to pass through our nation’s original capitol of Philadelphia, we were a bit surprised. The toll was four dollars. My sister and I had 97 cents between us. I begged the toll master to let us through with what we had, but that chieftain of Satan said he couldn’t and that the police would have to come and escort me back to New Jersey. “Standard procedure, miss.” In normal circumstances this would have been fine. Not ideal, but fine. The circumstances, however, were Abby Normal as a few weeks earlier my wallet had been stolen and thus I possessed no physical copy of my license. Though I probably would have just received a fine or something, I was scared that I would be arrested for not only lacking a license, but also for seemingly trying to sneak over the border of Philadelphia. In my panic, I quickly instructed my sister to dig around our van for spare change. As we waited for the cop to arrive and surely arrest me, we jammed our arms under the seats, crawled through the trunk, lifted all the floor mats and eventually found the remaining $3.03 in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and one a half dollar. I smugly paid the toll master, waved cheerio to the cop that was just pulling up, and wiped the sweat from my brow.
Stranded in Spain: Sophomore year of high school, I saved enough money to take a 12-day trip to Spain with the Spanish club. The trip itself was absolutely amazing. The un-amazing part, however, was when one of my classmates lost his passport, four credit cards, and all of his cash. In typical circumstances, when one loses his passport, one trots on over to the local embassy and has it replaced. My classmates and I, however, were in Spain during Santa Semana, or Holy Week, and the very day my classmate lost his passport was the very day that all of the embassies closed for an extended weekend. Our flight was leaving the Saturday before Easter Sunday, and the embassies weren’t opening until Tuesday. No joke, we had to leave the kid in Spain.
As you embark on various family vacations this summer, remember to check your gas tank, your wallet, and your passport. If all else fails and you end up stranded in the middle of a forest, the no-man’s land between New Jersey and Philadelphia, or Europe (best case scenario), make sure you at least have something to distract yourself, like WWF or Angry Birds. Trust me, it’s gonna take a while for your sister to find that final four cents.
Got a vacation horror story? We want to hear all about it!
Related post: The Quotable Family Vacation