When Good Vacations Go Bad: Hilarious Nightmare Stories

5 Minute Read

Picture a scene on your dream vacation.

Maybe it involves relaxing on a beach, hiking in the mountains, or visiting your favorite theme park. Everyone is smiling, the weather is perfect, and you have no cares in the world. It’s the kind of getaway you don’t want to end.

Well, Dave’s Facebook fans remember these vacations, not so much for their dreaminess, but for their nightmare budgeting mishaps. As shocking and heartbreaking as these are, learn from them as you prepare for your next travel adventure.

Overspending Put Them Under

We can spend a lot on our getaways. According to a 2013 American Express survey, the average vacation expense in the United States is $1,145 per person. Jennifer certainly spent that amount—and then some.

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“We went on a cruise that had a few country music star singers on it,” she said. “We paid $2,000 for this cruise, then bought excursions for more than $500 because some of the stars were on them. Then we ran up a $1,400 bar tab for the week buying them all drinks!”

Overspending is bad. Overspending to impress your mom and dad, which Sabi admits to doing, takes the joy out of the trip, even when you’re at what many call the happiest place on earth.

“We went to Disney World,” she said, “and trying to impress my parents, we overspent by nearly $6,000 in four days! Each time we had to pay for something, I held my breath waiting to see if the card was going to be approved or declined.”

Related: It's True! You Can Travel Without a Credit Card

While Jennifer and Sabi came back from their trips with huge bills, Chris came back with much more after his vacation to Cabo.

“I got caught in a moment of weakness and bought a $12,000 timeshare, and we spread it out over three credit cards!” he said. Later, when he started listening to Dave, Chris realized his mistake and got rid of the timeshare—for $2,000. “That’s $10,000 in stupid tax. Sure wish I had a do-over!” he said.

Eating Away at Their Money

Part of the fun of going on a trip is eating out. Who doesn’t love stopping by a mom-and-pop café for lunch or having dinner at a seaside restaurant?

But it’s important to correctly budget for it. If you don’t bring enough money, you’ll end up in a situation like the one Stacia faced.

Related: 7 Money Mistakes to Avoid at Restaurants

“We went on an anniversary trip to Puerto Vallarta. My husband only brought $150 for food and spending money for four days based on the fact that he went to Mexico one time and only needed $100 for two weeks.”

How was her husband able to pull off such a long stay for so little cash? Because he went 20 years ago with his high school, and his meals were included with his fees—which his dad paid.

“We went to a $30-per-person ‘fiesta’ the first night and then ate breakfast out the next morning. Then my husband suddenly realized we were getting short on funds,” Stacia said. Their solution was to buy peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of bread. “And we pretty much ate that the rest of the trip!”

Going the Wrong Way

We know that not all overspending happens because of bad planning or a lack of discipline. Sometimes, it’s just an honest mistake.

Kristen’s mistake involved a little jaunt to the Bahamas. “I bought a plane ticket to the wrong island, then had to buy an additional two tickets to get back. I also forgot my bank card and took out cash from my credit card!” she said.

Mike’s mishap wasn’t about the destination so much as the language. “We took a Mediterranean cruise,” he said. “To save money on our transport to the 8 a.m. flight, we decided to take the metro train. Not knowing Spanish, we didn’t recognize we were at our stop and ended up taking the train out of where we originally needed to be.”

That caused them to miss their flight, so they had to buy new plane tickets. Mike didn’t say how much the goof cost them, but he did say how long they dealt with it. “The debt stayed with us for 18 months until we discovered Financial Peace University.”

As you can tell, these vacations didn’t go very smoothly. To make sure your upcoming trip is more enjoyable than these, make a plan for your spending and stick to it. It’s the most surefire way to have a dreamy time on your next getaway!

We’re all for saving up money and enjoying a vacation! But while you’re working on getting out of debt, you may wonder how vacation fits into that plan. Check out our general guidelines for vacations at all points along the Baby Steps.

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