Two years ago, my husband and I booked a city bus tour in Athens, Greece. We were told to wait in the hotel lobby at 7 a.m. and hop onto the bus when it arrived, which we did. First red flag? Our guide spoke only Portuguese. Second red flag? The bus stopped at a port, and everyone was herded onto a boat. It turns out that we, two 69-year-olds, had boarded a 12-hour party-boat tour of the Aegean Islands with a Brazilian tour group! We had no IDs and very little money, so we decided to stay put (instead of getting off at one of the island stops), drink a few beers, and get some sun. Lesson learned: Speak up at the first red flag.
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Upon arriving at a beach-house rental, I noticed that it was filthy and proceeded to scrub the toilets, floors, bathtubs, and kitchen cabinets. I was so upset that the house was not ready for guests! Later, my family and I discovered that we were supposed to be staying at the house next door. (The two rentals must have shared the same entry key code.) I had “white gloved” the wrong place.
Greenville, South Carolina
I had to buy a whole new wardrobe for my toddler after I opened up her suitcase to find that she had replaced all of her clothing with toys. Her explanation: “I just wanted to play.” Once we returned home, I saw the suitcase’s original contents sitting in a big pile on her bedroom floor.
I got trapped in an elevator alone while on a family cruise, and Spider-Man (or, rather, the maître d' dressed up for “superhero night”) came to my rescue, ripping open the doors and making a huge scene. The crowd applauded as he helped me escape.
Linda Mora Konley
Evergreen Park, Illinois
While snorkeling for the very first time, I had finally gained control of my breathing and started to relax when I saw this black, snakelike thing swimming close to my chest. I began screaming and quickly swam back to the boat. It was a big relief when the “snake” turned out to be the belt strap from my life jacket.
During a train ride in Italy, my new husband and I attempted to chat up an elderly couple with the help of our trusty Italian phrase book. I practiced the pronunciation for “We are on our honeymoon” quietly to myself so I could get it just right. Finally, with much confidence, I exclaimed, “Siamo allupato!” Both the man’s and the woman’s jaws dropped and the blood drained from their faces. I rechecked the book and realized I had accidentally told this lovely couple that we were horny! From then on, my husband held on to the book.
Fall River, Massachusetts
During a go-kart ride at Disney World in the 70s, my mother and I drove separate cars while my little brother shared a car with my dad. I completed the ride first and walked over to a bridge overlooking the finish line just in time to see my brother and dad rear-end my mother’s car. Her Carol Brady–style wig popped off her head and into her lap—right in front of the rows of families waiting to enter the ride. I was mortified, but my mother was laughing so hard she could barely get out of the vehicle.
Auburn, New York
When I informed my then four-year-old son that our hotel in Texas had a pool, he couldn't have been more excited. After we got off the plane, my in-laws greeted us near a fancy fountain on the airport’s main floor. I was chatting with them, and the next thing I knew, my son had removed half his clothes and was about to jump into the fountain. He thought it was the hotel pool!
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
My husband and I crashed a class of ‘84 high school reunion. People actually thought they remembered us and said they were happy to see us together after all these years.
Brandy Lynn Johnson