Parasitic Hookworms, Bed Bugs, and Other Disgusting Vacation Nightmares
Dream vacations might look different to everyone, but it’s safe to assume they never involve horror stories like bed bugs or other disasters. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes travelers get more than they bargained for on their trips.
These vacation nightmare stories are all true, and they’re all horrifying. While they’re not meant to deter you from traveling, they might make you be extra diligent about checking your surroundings.
Just how likely are these things to happen?
Fear not: Major vacation mishaps, while annoying and occasionally horrible, aren’t overly likely to happen. Your risks will depend on the type of travel you’re doing, but the vast majority of vacations are quite safe. For example, finding bedbugs in your hotel bed isn’t as common as you might think, and as long as proper precautions are taken, they shouldn’t ruin your life or even your vacation.
But sometimes, the unthinkable happens … and all you can do is get through it.
Next: These couple’s horrifying foot pictures went viral fast.
The parasitic hookworm story that went viral
Early in January 2018, a Canadian couple took a vacation to Punta Canta and walked barefoot on the beach. They returned home with feet full of hookworms, which they only discovered after they developed painful swelling, itching, and blisters. Although the infection can typically be treated in one to three days with medication prescribed by a health care professional, the brutal photos were enough to make people vow to keep their sandals on at all times on tropical getaways.
Next: This story is hard to hear.
An ear infection? Not quite
In 2013, British tourist Rochelle Harris was on a return flight from Peru when she got a splitting headache and shooting pains in her face. She also began hearing strange scratching noises … coming from her ear. She went straight to the doctor when she landed, who eventually discovered eight large maggots wriggling around inside her ear canal.
Harris recalled walking through a swarm of flies during a hike, and when one buzzed in her ear, she waved the fly away … but clearly, the damage had been done. Luckily, Harris escaped the ordeal without permanent hearing damage.
Next: Cockroaches love toothpaste, apparently.
A Guatemalan infestation
A couple was enjoying a getaway in Guatemala at a (very) rustic retreat, when they returned to their room in the evening to find a cockroach crawling on their bags. They pulled back the curtains to discover that they were literally crawling with roaches. The staff at the front desk explained that their toothpaste was likely the culprit. The couple sprayed the room with roach spray, but since there were no other rooms available at the resort, they were forced to spend the night there — with the lights on and the bed pulled into the center of the room.
Next: This tale may prevent you from enjoying chocolate for awhile.
A travel journalist named Michael was horrified when he pulled back the sheets on his bed at a five-star hotel to discover dark brown stains wiped on his bedding. Assuming the worst, he called the front desk, which sent someone to investigate. Thankfully, a half-eaten chocolate bar was discovered under the covers, and his bedding was replaced without crisis.
Next: Snakes on a plane? Not quite.
Blanketed with bed bugs
Most seasoned travelers know to check their hotel beds for bed bugs … but this story is a cautionary tale about checking blankets, too. In 2016, news broke that there was an outbreak of bed bugs on a British Airways flight from the U.S. to London. The bugs were initially spotted by Zane Selkirk, who discovered them on a blanket she’d been given.
Next: The cruise from hell.
Considering a cruise? You may reconsider after this.
In 2010, more than 400 passengers aboard the Celebrity Mercury was struck with a sudden gastrointestinal illness, causing them intense pain, not to mention vomiting and diarrhea. Due to the close proximity of the vacationers and crew, cruise ships are highly contagious places. And this is just one of many cruise ship horror stories that have happened over the years.
Next: Mexican food gone wrong.
Food poisoning for the family
Many travelers to Mexico report some sort of gastrointestinal distress at some point, and the family in this story is no exception. The family of five enjoyed a nice meal, but on their way back to their hotel, one by one, everyone in the family had to pull the car over to throw up. Their food poisoning was so awful that they couldn’t even swallow medicine or water for awhile.
Next: We’ll never know what happened in this paso Robles room.
Kristen and her husband once checked into “probably the last motel room available in Paso Robles” after a long day of driving. Right away, they noticed the sheets clearly hadn’t been changed, but that was the least of their worries. They soon discovered red spots on the bathroom wall that looked suspiciously like blood, and the screen was off on the open window. The couple bolted from the place at the first sign of daylight.
Next: When good intentions go bad.
The roach motel
Reddit user softandteeth was once treated to a hotel stay by her boyfriend, and the mother of a young child was really looking forward to a restful night’s sleep. But the “hotel” turned out to be less than luxurious, with stained bed sheets and bad smells. Since sleeping in wasn’t happening, she decided to take a bath early the next morning. But when she went into the bathroom, she discovered the tub was already occupied — by at least 15 cockroaches.
Next: The bat that wouldn’t back down.
Ecuador and the bat
Rachel Sumner of Ithaca, New York, went to Ecuador to study for a semester. She and her friends had a beautiful hotel room by the beach, and everything was perfect, aside from the stubborn bat that refused to stay away. The hotel staff initially captured the bat and put it outside after it was discovered, but that night, when the ladies were sleeping, the bat returned … and Rachel woke up to it crawling on her leg. She had to get a rabies shot, and to this day, she says she has little sympathy for the plights of bats.
Next: The slimy cruise ship story.
The pink slime on the cruise ship
In case you aren’t convinced that cruise ships can be really disgusting, here’s another horrifying tale: On the Carnival Paradise in June 2017, an inspector noticed a mysterious “pink substance” lurking on the outside of two different ice dispensers. The source of the pink slime was never discovered, which somehow makes it even worse.
Next: Thankfully, this hotel of horrors is now closed.
The dirtiest hotel in America
It can’t feel good to be ranked as the worst hotel in the country, but before it closed down, that title belonged to the Heritage Marina Hotel in San Francisco. The hotel’s Yelp page is full of pictures of bed bug bites and broken windows, and all reviews warn others to stay away. One TripAdvisor user claimed the staff lost their reservation (and was rude about it), but eventually got them into another room … one that had bed bug all over the bed, walls, and floors.
Next: Death in the air.
Worst flight ever
Journalist Lena Pettersson noticed immediately upon boarding her flight that the man across the aisle from her didn’t look well. He wasn’t — in fact, despite attempts by a passenger with medical experience to revive him, he died a few hours into the 10-hour flight. And since the plane was extremely crowded, the plane crew wrapped the man in a blanket and laid him out across three seats, moving people directly next to him away. Pettersson was literally forced to stare death in the face for hours … but at least Kenya Airways refunded half her ticket price.
Next: A Fiji trip most foul.
A not-so-romantic getaway to Fiji
Kate and Nick were excited for their week-long escape to Fiji, but things soon went awry. On the third day, after eating a steak sandwich, Kate started to feel sick … and it wasn’t long before both of them were projectile vomiting and visiting the toilet. The couple ended up in the hospital with severe cases of food poisoning.
“Lying facedown next to my partner in a Fijian hospital with an anti-vomiting needle in my butt was not how I had pictured spending my romantic holiday,” Kate quipped.
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