Vacations are beautiful things. My favorite vacations are ones that give me an excuse to eat a lot of food without feeling guilty.

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But sometimes horrible things happen on vacations. Like the time when I flew from LA to NYC on JetBlue and my TV didn’t work. Or like the time when this woman got maggots in her brain from her trip to Peru. Yes, the ole maggots in the brain urban legend that happens to be true. Rochelle Harris returned from her Peruvian vacation with a bad headache that only got worse. Then came the “strange scratching sounds in her head.” At the hospital, the shocked staff discovered that maggots had chewed a 12mm hole into her ear canal (via The Telegraph). Thankfully, doctors managed to get all of the bugs out of her head and she’s doing fine.

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Hopefully nothing that dreadful happens to you on your vacation, but if you want to let your imagination run wild, here are the 10 worst vacation nightmares.

10. Your cruise ship turns into a floating prison.

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In February, a Carnival cruise ship turned into a scene out of The Road when an engine room caught on fire and left everyone stranded in the middle of the ocean fighting for food and basic human rights. Once the electricity and running water was gone, cruise ship guests soon felt like prisoners. Without running water, toilets and showers weren’t an option. Guests were given biohazard bags to relieve themselves in. Conditions got very unsanitary — as in ‘urine everywhere, feces smeared on walls’ unsanitary.

But here comes the biggest nightmare of all. As a result, the Mark McGrath & Friends Cruise AKA the ’90s music nostalgia cruise AKA the best idea for a cruise ever, was cancelled. Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, the Gin Blossoms and Spin Doctors were all going to play together, on one boat, from Miami to the Bahamas. Mark McGrath tweeted a series of heartfelt apologies, explaining, “That poop cruise did us no favors.” Thanks a LOT, Carnival.

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9. You could get delayed at the airport — for 18 years.

Photo: Wikipedia

Mehran Karimi Nasseri and his political views got him kicked out of Iran, so he decided to go to the UK. Unfortunately for him (like, SUPER unfortunate) on his way to London his papers confirming his refugee status were stolen in Paris, thus stranding him at the Charles de Gaulle Airport — from 1988 to 2006. The Tom Hanks movie Terminal is based on this story.

Photo: Buena Vista/Everett via TIME

It’s a long and complicated explanation as to why Nasseri couldn’t legally leave the airport. The Tom Hanks movie had Catherine Zeta-Jones explain it to Hanks’ Nasseri-inspired character with, “You’re not a citizen of anywhere and you have no home country to return to.” Hanks then asked, “Where can I buy the Nike shoes?” and lived in the terminal for over 10 years.

Nasseri finally got out when he had to be hospitalized for some reason. From there he managed to get into a shelter in Paris where he lives to this day.

8. You could get arrested for accidental drug smuggling.

Photo: Wikipedia

Brokedown Palace was a film starring the incredible Bill Pullman. Oh, and I guess it also starred Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale as two teenagers arrested and thrown into Thai prison after a hot dude hoodwinked them into smuggling heroin over the border. Airport officials didn’t believe that they didn’t know there was heroin in their luggage and desperate to go home, they unknowingly signed away their rights in an interrogation room. They were thrown in prison with no hope of release, until they hired Bill Pullman, who played a legendary American lawyer with a reputation of winning these cases in court. For America.

The film wasn’t based on any one true story but draws inspiration from the cases of Patricia Cahill and Karen Smith, who in 1990, were arrested for drug smuggling in Thailand. A handsome stranger offered to pay for their flights and gave them a package to take to Gambia, which is apparently a popular drug drop-off location. The girls said they thought the package was a care package, filled with things like candy and toiletries. While there were shampoo bottles and cookie tins inside, they were filled with heroin, not shampoo and cookies. Oops. The girls avoided a death sentence, which was the usual punishment for drug trafficking in Thailand, and instead spent three years in prison.

Moral of the story: do not trust strangers who give you cookies. If you forget this rule, kindly ask a kindergartener to help you out. If they won’t talk to you, tell them it’s okay, and offer them cookies. Wait–now I see how this cycle perpetuates.

7. It could rain spiders.

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Brazil is a beautiful country. Until it rains spiders, in which case, you’re better off visiting Silent Hill.

Photo: Silent Hill Revelation by Open Road Films via

In February of 2013, it appeared to rain spiders in and around Sao Paulo. The spiders create giant, light, invisible-looking webs that span great distances overhead, and when breezes come around, the delightful little arachnids get carried in the air, flying so beautifully and delicately in the sky.

Photo: Iron Man 2 by Walt Disney Studios via

The most horrifying thing of all is that this wasn’t a random fluke. Biologist Marta Fischer of the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana said, “This type of spider is known to be quite social. They are usually in trees during the day and in the late afternoon and early evening construct sort of giant sheets of webs, in order to trap insects.” (Smithsonian.)

Many risked their comfort level and sanity to go outside and record footage of the spider showers. If you feel like crying, here’s a shaky video, complete with zooms:

6. You could die on a seemingly harmless roller coaster ride.

Most people don’t die at theme parks unless it’s their fault. These are places designed with the safety and comfort of its guests in mind.

Unless you’re at a Six Flags theme park, in which case just go ahead and bring CamelBak of Holy Water with you if you want to get out alive.

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Imagine sitting with your mom on a roller coaster. You’re six years old. You’re having a great day. You’re going over a hill and you’re having so much fun and then suddenly, your mom falls out of the roller coaster to her death. It was Rosy Esparza’s first — and sadly last — visit to Six Flags. She and her son were on The Texas Giant, the tallest coaster in the world. The ride began and then, according to this report from CBS News, she, “somehow fell from the ride as her young son sat by her side. Esparza expressed concern, according to witnesses, about her lap bar not being secure. Several other witnesses on social media immediately after the incident said it appeared her restraint either broke or came loose. [Her son] was screaming “My mom, my mom — we’ve got to get my mom… she’s gone.'”

I wish this was just a fluke accident, but it’s one of the many bizarre and sad cases that happen at a lot of Six Flags locations. At Six Flags America in Washington, D.C., on the Renegade Rapids ride, “eight people were trapped when their raft capsized […] All riders escaped, but two were injured.” On something called Two Face: The Flip Side, there was a malfunction, “causing the cars to become stuck on the lift. Once the train became dislodged, the hydraulic line was severed and hydraulic fluid was sprayed onto multiple riders. In total, twelve people needed medical attention, two of whom were taken to the hospital to be treated.” (Wikipedia.)

Here are just some incidents in Six Flags history, from the ’80s up until today, from all park locations: 28 people got stuck 125 feet up on the Boomerang ride for hours, a 14 year-old girl fell into a gap in roller coaster cars on the Poltergeist coaster and was paralyzed, 20 people were left hanging upside down for 40 minutes on the Batman & Robin ride, 8 people were killed in a fire when they were trapped in the Haunted Castle ride, a 19-year old fell off of the Lightin’ Loops roller coaster and was killed due to an employee’s lax safety check, a 20-year old woman fell out of the Colossus roller coaster when her lap bar malfunctioned, a 53 year-old man died after falling out of Superman: Ride of Steel also due to a negligent employee and broken lap bar, a 17 year-old male was decapitated on Batman: The Ride, and a female guest got attacked by a goddamn puma.

Still from Anchorman by DreamWorks via YouTube If you’ve got the time and morbid curiosity, you can read about every incident here. It seems that most of the fault lies on the employees and the park rather than its guests.

5. You could get cheated on during your honeymoon.

Photo: Elena Rudakova via ShutterStock This one is a nightmare in a different sort of way. This one is about emotional damage and pain. A quick internet search will turn up several different stories about husbands cheating on wives and wives cheating on husbands during their honeymoon vacations. I’m pretty sure I saw at least 2 Dr. Phil episodes covering this.

Photo: After seven years together and with one child, Kris and Louise Blair got married and honeymooned in Ibiza. But not long after arriving, Kris met a woman named Charlotte and the cheating began immediately. As in, the morning after meeting, Louise woke up in an empty bed. Her husband’s excuse was that he went for an early swim and ran into Charlotte, but when she woke up alone again the next day, Louise wasn’t buying it. As she told The Sun, “I stormed to Charlotte’s room and knocked on her door. She was wearing nothing but a towel and Kris was in his shorts. My heart was broken in that moment. Kris said he didn’t love me and wanted a divorce.”

Weirdly, neither of them decided to cancel their flight and reschedule, so they flew back together in complete silence and seething hatred.

Don’t worry, though, Kris has a solid explanation for cheating: “It looks bad but everything wasn’t hunky-dory between me and Louise. I’ve had to put up with her s*** for seven years. After the honeymoon, I met Charlotte and she ended up staying.”

Photo: Fanpop 4. You could get lost — in a cave.

Photo: Ulysses_ua via ShutterStock Personally, I don’t understand why people choose to go cave exploring. To me it’s one of the most terrifying activities anyone could willingly pursue. The feeling of being trapped in a small space in the dark isn’t really my thing, but I will admit that some caves are beautiful and breathtaking.

Gary Lutes, an experienced caver, took his two sons, aged 13 and 9, on a caving trip in Franklin, W.Va. Everything was going great at first as they made their way through New Trout Cave, nicknamed “The Maze.” Then, Lutes made a really bad decision.

“.. the three came to an eight-foot drop-off through sharp rocks. ‘Man, I do not want to hassle with this pack snagging on every little rock,’ Lutes recalls thinking. Then, violating a basic tenet of caving, he decided to leave behind the bag, with its emergency supply of water, food, fuel, cigarette lighter and a candle.” (People.)

You can guess where this goes. Their lamps eventually ran out until they were down to just one dim light. Panic set in. The sons asked if they were lost and Lutes tried to assure him that they weren’t. Then their last light went out and they were lost in total darkness. “‘Nobody really said much of anything other than the kids asking, ‘Are we gonna get out of here? Are we gonna get out of here?'” he said.

They were in the cave for 5 goddamn days. They ran out of food, began to choke on dust and were taunted by the soothing sounds of bats, all in pitch black darkness. At one point, Lutes admitted that they lay down to die. Incredibly, they were rescued and hospitalized for 2-3 days. Of the experience, Lutes says it’s made him become a more patient person. “And the boys—I’m noticing little differences in them, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

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3. The hotel water you’re drinking and bathing in could be contaminated with a dead body.

Photo by Draconis B. via Yelp I want to be clear that the real nightmare of this story is what happened to poor Elise Lam. Elise Lam was a young Canadian woman taking a road trip to San Francisco. On the way, she stopped in Los Angeles, where she stayed at the Cecil Hotel in downtown LA. The Cecil is a very old hotel, and while it appears that it got a renovation and looks new and trendy, it’s misleading. The hotel is located in about a three block radius that isn’t too dangerous and isn’t too seedy, but turn the corner and walk for five minutes and you’ll realize it’s not the best neighborhood for a young woman to be alone.

At some point during her brief stay, Lam disappeared. An elevator security camera shows the last footage of her alive. Just thinking about this video makes my skin prickle. It’s scarier than any horror movie. Her behavior is erratic, to say the least. She darts into the elevator, hides in the corner, peeks out, presses buttons, darts back out of the elevator and appears to have a discussion with no one, dramatically gesturing with her hands in an unnatural way. Then she’s gone. (If you want to see it, search “Elise Lam elevator” on YouTube. I’m never watching it again.)

Sadly, she was found dead in the hotel’s water tank. The case was ruled an accident but the whole thing is mysterious as hell for me. Unfortunately for the hotel’s guests, the lag time in between her disappearance and the discovery of her body in the tank meant that guests were bathing and drinking water with a decomposing corpse floating in it. LA Health officials claim that the water was fine from a “microbiological standpoint” but people are still suing. Reviews of the hotel were already poor before this happened, with guests complaining on Yelp of broken air conditioning, rude employees, disgusting rooms, dirty bathrooms, and a general creepy feeling. Probably didn’t help that “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez was living there at one point.

Photo: Wikipedia

2. You could get stranded in the middle of the ocean.

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There’s another obvious Tom Hanks movie I could reference here, but I’m referring to the scary and sad true story of a couple who were stranded in the ocean during a routine scuba diving trip. There’s a movie based on their story. That movie is Open Water.

Photo: Wikipedia

Tom and Eileen Lonergan were on vacation in Australia when they were mistakenly left behind during a scuba diving session in the Barrier Reef. “In Port Douglas, an upmarket diving and sailing town towards the end of the road north through Queensland, they decided to take a day trip on a 26-passenger boat, the Outer Edge. […] On their third dive, round about 3pm, they headed off together and were last spotted swimming calmly 12m down. When they came to the surface after less than an hour underwater, the Outer Edge had gone” (via The Guardian).

Tragically, no one noticed they were missing. We know they survived the night as several months later a dive slate was found with a note left by Tom with the time and date they were stranded and for how long. Their wetsuits, dive jackets, and air tanks (a little bit of air was left) also washed up.

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In 1962 actress Jayne Mansfield, husband Mickey Hargitay, and their friend were stranded during a boating and water skiing accident. They were on a moterboat in the Bahamas when their boat overturned. Mansfield was terrified of sharks. They swam until they found an island and were rescued the next day. According to doctors Mansfield “suffered quite severe exposure and the effects of bites from numerous mosquitoes and sandflies” (via Google Newspaper archives). Thankfully, no one got maggots in their brain.

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1. The urban legend of “The Vanishing Hotel Room” could happen to you.

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I say “could” in a completely theoretical but not practical way. The legend was founded long ago, and I think this would be harder to pull off considering we have cell phones and Internet now. Here’s how this urban legend typically goes.

A young woman and her mother visit Paris. They each get their own room. Not long after arriving, the mother collapses. The young woman calls for doctors. They come and examine the mother and determine that her daughter must make a trip across town to pick up a very special medicine that will cure her. They have lots of reasons as to why she must be the one to do it. The simple errand takes her hours; it seems that everything that can go wrong does go wrong. She finally arrives at the hotel with the medicine. But the front desk clerk has no idea what she’s talking about, or who her mother is, and claims there is no one staying in that room. The daughter talks to everyone working in the hotel, and the entire staff insist that the young woman checked in alone. She demands to see her mother’s room and when she does, it is entirely different. It is redecorated and no trace of her mother or her things are present. Instead, a stranger’s luggage is in the room.

The story usually ends with the daughter discovering some trace of the old room, like peeling wallpaper, and the staff’s lie is destroyed. It turns out that her mother died and they wanted to cover it up, because no one wants to admit that someone died in their hotel.

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It’s such a creepy story because it plays upon the classic fears people have of being alone in a foreign country, unable to speak the language, and also worrying that they’ve gone crazy. People love to claim that this actually happened at some point, but there’s no evidence. If this ever happens to you, you better take it to Twitter ASAP.

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