Vacations. They’re all you’ve ever wanted. You just had to get away. The thought of kicking back — on your own time, in an unfamiliar place, with nothing but fun on the agenda — is what motivates most people to power through their daily grind. So imagine the disappointment you feel if your leisure time backfires.

Some people embark on trips that completely ruin their lives. The souvenirs they took home were memories of traumatic events or lasting injuries, and those are just the ones fortunate enough to escape. Before you book your next holiday, consider these horror stories and ask yourself: is it worth it?

1. Erin Langworthy worked up the courage to do something radical — bungee jump. On a trip to Zambia, she visited a popular spot to take a plunge, Victoria Falls Bridge, and thought, heck, why not?

YouTube / Department of Foreign Affairs

With a final deep breath, Erin let her body weight fall down 364 feet, the wind stinging her eyes, waiting for the jolt of the recoil. It never came. Instead, Erin’s cord snapped, and she plummeted into a river teeming with crocodiles.

Victoria Falls Activities

Fighting against the pain, Erin tried to swim, but her feet wouldn’t budge. They were tangled in rope. Somehow, she managed to tread water for 40 minutes before reaching a rock to cling to. She was pulled from the water, suffering bruises and partially collapsed lungs.

Memodiary in Southern Africa

2. Daniel Dudzisz played a high-stakes game of refusing to admit he was lost. The homeless German nomad set out on foot to cross a large chunk of Australia, from New South Wales to Uluru, a distance of 2,400 miles.

Independent UK

What started out as optimistic as the “But I would walk 500 miles” song, quickly transitioned into a frightening standstill. Daniel was trapped between two flooded river banks without a clue of which direction was which. 

Australian Geographic

He ran through rations of cereal and baked beans not long into his 10-day dilemma and kept functioning on a diet of flies. Thankfully he’d packed enough insulin to avoid diabetic shock. A passerby spotted Daniel and returned him to the main road to continue his journey.

Manic Tackle Project

3. On a hike through the Peruvian wilderness, Rochelle Harris swatted away a bothersome fly — or so she thought. Her flight back home to England was marred by a relentless headache accompanied by sharp pains.

Independent UK

When Rochelle noticed discharge draining from her ear and the repeated sounds of scratching, she booked it to the doctor’s office. At first, they called it an ear infection, but that was a daydream compared to the horror that they eventually tugged out of her ear.

Your Mileage May Vary

That pesky fly crawled into her ear canal and laid eggs. No one wants a new world screwworm fly in their head, let alone eight honking maggots. Fortunately, Rochelle was built of stronger stuff. Besides the half-inch hole they’d chewed into her ear canal, she was just fine.


4. Sometimes your trip is ruined before you make it out of the airport. Keith Brown was one lucky traveler when he was apprehended at the Dubai airport for something that was stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

My News Local

Customs officers swooped in the on the father of three, who was grabbing a connecting flight on his way from Ethiopia to London with his wife. His crime? There was a 0.0001 oz nugget of marijuana wedged into the tread of his shoe.


Keith really stepped in it this time. The authorities didn’t care about the absurdity of the situation. He was sentenced to four years of hard time in a United Arab Emirates prison. After serving a stretch of his sentence, Keith was granted an early release.

International Business Times / Reuters

5. Experienced caver Gary Lutes planned a getaway with his sons Buddy and Tim so they could experience the thrill of exploring together. Fast forward to their descent into West Virginia’s New Trout Cave where, at 1,000 feet in, the fun stopped.


They were turned around in a cramped section called “The Maze,” so Gary shrugged off his backpack, planning to grab it on the return. Continuing on in the twists and turns of the cave, panic set in when their headlight lamps burned out faster than expected.

New Yorker

For five days, Gary and his sons were enveloped in darkness with no provisions. Those hours of uncertainty were amplified from their hallucinations and hacking coughs due to cave soot. They owed their lives to the Good Samaritan who called 911 after noticing their unattended parked car.

USA Breaking News

6. Neither Cheznye Emmons or her boyfriend had any second thoughts about purchasing a bottle clearly labeled “Gin” in a small shop in Indonesia. Hours later, the 23-year-old Brit lost her vision and was struggling to stay alive.

Standard UK

When Cheznye reached the hospital her condition was grave. The doctors put her into a medically induced coma while they tried to determine what went wrong. Unbeknownst to the customers, the shop swapped the gin in the bottle for methanol.

The Star

Consuming methanol can trigger vomiting, blindness, kidney failure, and in some cases, death. Ultimately, Cheznye was one of them. After she showed no signs of improvement her parents had to make the impossible decision to remove her from life support.

Sputnik News

7. What could go wrong on a pleasant parasailing trip? Oh my gosh, where to begin. Seventeen-year-olds Sidney Good and Alexis Fairchild were flying high in the Florida sky when an incoming storm kicked the wind into high gear. 


Attempts to bring the girls down onto the boat were dashed as the rope holding them in place snapped. Everyone watched, helplessly transfixed, as the girls soared higher into the air, and veered off towards the side of an apartment building.

WSFA 12 News

They connected with one of the building’s balconies, where some bystanders failed to grasp onto the ropes. Before they could check if the girls were okay, they flew off into the powerlines and crash-landed in a parking lot.

Both girls suffered long-lasting injuries, Sidney’s vision is impaired, and she’ll be dealing with the effects of a traumatic brain injury for the rest of her life. Alexis’ back was broken in the accident, and she too sustained a head injury.

ABC News

Most people make it through vacations without a life-changing tragedy. But pretty much every trip has some unexpected bumps in the road. These families were lucky enough to capture those moments on camera when they were trying to document the memories.

1. As this family discovered, Disneyland is only the Happiest Place on Earth if you love long lines, anthropomorphic mice, and over-priced fair-quality food. You’d find more thrills at a lunch-time board meeting.

2. World travel lets you explore different cultures in thrilling ways. On this vacation, for instance, these young women learned that, in stingray culture, photobombs aren’t just allowed—they’re required.

3. Photocopiers and water coolers look like world wonders when compared to the sight of your tent blowing away, looking like a UFO. Remember the stakes next time, pal.

4. Roughing it, as indicated by its name, never offers the luxuries of an air-conditioned home. Flipping burgers required a little creativity from these campers, who at least found a purpose for cheap beer.

5. Unlike your cubicle, vacations often require balance, or, at the very least, the rare ability not to teeter over a knee-high rail. But hey, at least the Koi fish saw something exciting.

6. Life’s too short to let death, destruction, and boardwalk-incinerating fires ruin your vacation. But all that smoke certainly gets in the way of a good tan…

7. In any of the highly trafficked sun-baked states, locals play a game called spot the tourist. It’s pretty simple. All you have to do is look for someone who forgot that sunscreen is a thing.

8. Surely, years later, these two brothers looked back on their adolescent camping trip and laughed and laughed at the time they faced off against a deadly bear and dad ran for the camera.

9. You never know what you might see when exploring dense jungles in faraway countries, but some sights have a way of etching themselves more permanently into your memory.

10. You know you should’ve saved your PTO when, in the process of documenting a beach stroll with a powdered doughnut, a seagull pries the pastry from your fingers.

11. In other bird news, burying yourself neck deep in the sand is all fun and games…until the seagulls show up. Hopefully, this guy devised an excavation-escape plan. And had a hot shower ready.

12. Imagine dropping a few hundred dollars on a trip to the beautiful Niagara Falls, only for one kid to pull her rain poncho so tight she misses out on actually seeing the falls. Save the money for a college fund.

13. Even the kiddos get a little reprieve from the school life when on vacation. But with a vacation comes a sense of adventure, and with a sense of adventure comes dirt and death-defying climbs. Stick to homework, kids!

14. No one told these brilliant boaters about docking ramps. Rumor has it they’re still stuck at the beach to this day, feebly spinning the truck’s tires and kicking up sand as they dream of their offices’ ergonomic chairs.

15. Hoping to get a little work done on your vacay? Better stay in the hotel room, then, and refrain from posing for artsy beach-and-work pictures. Ocean waves don’t care about your $2,000 laptop.

16. Hotel pools provide opportunities for people of all ages to relax in a comfortable, monitored environment. But something tells us the lady in the background won’t be feeling too happy about her visit to the pool.

17. Pose in front of the waves, they said, make memories that are sure to last a lifetime, they said. Oh sure, it was all great in theory, the only problem was nobody told the ocean to say cheese!

18. Somehow, the subway station turnstile hooked his luggage by the handle. The only way to get it unstuck? Pay another $2.75. This was on his way to the airport, too. What an amazing start to a vacation!

19. Before taking a dream vacation, make sure you check that there aren’t any deadly diseases or infections terrorizing the locals. Or else you might end up like this lady, wearing a mask at a Cancun happy hour to avoid swine flu.

20. Crowded beaches? Who needs ’em! This guy shirked traditional vacations for a staycation in a beach-themed room, and he appears to be having the time of his life.