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Travel Mishaps Part 2: Sick and Tired Vacations

Travel Mishaps Part 2: Sick and Tired Vacations

Behind every perfect Instagram picture is a story. The story is often more interesting than the picture itself. We have shared how we have struggled through some travel experiences in order to get that Insta-worthy photo here. But, what happens when you are traveling and get sick. We know what it is like. Here are some stories of our sick travel mishaps.


That Time When We Cruised through a Tropical Storm

Our favorite type of vacation is a cruise. What could be better than getting on board and having someone else drive you to destinations, clean your room, and cook your food? However, it’s not always as great as it seems.

We have cruised in the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea. And we also have cruised in the more choppy waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. On one Atlantic Ocean cruise, our ship sailed through a tropical storm. Throughout the day, we felt the swell of the waves rock the ship. The captain’s noon-day report alerted us that the sea would be rough. But, we had no idea how rough.

Clouds and Cruise Ship
The weather wasn’t always bad on our cruise.

Our dining room was aft. Here, we found more pronounced choppiness. This night was especially jarring, leaving us feeling slightly queasy. After dinner, we headed to the showroom at the front of the vessel for an entertaining musical showcase. We laughed as we tried to climb the stairs to the showroom, only to find ourselves moving more horizontally than vertically due to the tossing of the waves. After sitting in the showroom for a few minutes, my wife felt quite seasick and excused herself to our cabin.

I decided to ride out the storm and watch the show. Dancers fell all over the stage in much the same way that we traversed the staircase. Many in the audience left throughout the hour-long show due to sickness. Cruise personnel came through the aisles with barf bags.

Most alarming was watching the assistant cruise director trip out of the showroom, barf bag pressed to his mouth. The few of us who made it through the show were told that we were expecting a full-night of rough seas. I made my way to our cabin to find that personnel had strategically taped barf bags next to the elevators for guests (and a few staff as well).

My wife spent all night, and half of the next day in bed. We ordered room service the next morning, and waited a long time for our food because the room service staff was swamped with requests. It was one of the more miserable nights we have spent on vacation.

But, There Are Other Cruise Disasters

Since we didn’t want one poor experience to upset our love of cruising, we booked another cruise in the Caribbean. This was our first cruise with our kids, then ages 6 and 4. We had hyped up cruising to our kids, hoping they would love it as much as we did.

The first night of our cruise, I ate a dish with peas. The peas did not sit well on my stomach and I fell violently ill. I spent all night in our cabin bathroom.

Carnival Cruise Ship
Our cruise ship

Anyone who has been on a cruise ship knows that the walls between the cabins are thin and sound travels too well. I was so self-conscious about being sick and about keeping quiet so the other guests could not hear me. We don’t know if the other guests heard, but we know that both kids slept completely through the night (lulled by the gently swaying of the waves).

The next morning, I was feeling slightly better, but I needed to launder my clothes. Fortunately, your cabin steward can launder your clothes for you. Although really embarrassed that our steward had to take the clothes, I knew it was the best option.

What I didn’t know is that he would not only launder my clothes, but also press them. All of them. Including my underwear. I was mortified to find my freshly laundered and pressed clothes in our cabin two days later.

Family in dolphin pool
Our family in the maternity dolphin pool.

I got better throughout the trip and we were able to enjoy two fun shore excursions, including swimming with dolphins. We had the special treat of being in a maternity pod, with a mommy dolphin and her baby. But, we won’t soon forget that awful night in the bathroom.

Sick with the Mouse

We planned a family reunion at Disney World. Our kids were 2-years-old and 9-months-old. We lived on the West Coast of the U.S. and had to fly to the East Coast, which was a big, hairy adventure for us. But we did it.

Soon after arriving in Orlando, I became violently ill. Fortunately for me, I was sick while in a two-bedroom timeshare instead of a cramped ship’s cabin, but I was still sick.

Father and daughter at pool
Spending time with my daughter at the pool.

Our plan was to go to the Magic Kingdom that next morning; however, I was in no shape for such a trip. I told everyone to go without me, but the family insisted that they could wait a day. As the day wore on, I was unsure that I would be better by the next day.

Family with Mickey Mouse
I make the most of our Disney World trip, despite being ill the day before.

I did get better and we were able to enjoy the House of Mouse the next day, although I wasn’t ready for any speedy or turbulent rides. Let’s just say that the kiddie rides were enough for me that day.

Most of the family planned to spend the entire day at the park, which closed at midnight. Since our children were very young, and since I was not feeling well, my immediate family cut our trip short and left early. This was not my favorite Disney adventure.

Hey, Don’t Leave Our Son Out

We love to trade cruise illnesses, apparently. On another family cruise, our son got sick at sea. We were on a Disney Cruise Ship and we were in port in San Maarten. Our son woke up not feeling well. We did not have a shore excursion booked for the day, but we had plenty we wanted to do.

San Maarten
Our kids in San Maarten during our short trip.

When we got off the ship, our son complained that he was hot and didn’t want to walk. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but his complaints continued. You could see that his face was flushed, and when we checked, it felt like he was running a fever.

Boy Pirate
Our son gets his pirate makeup on during our Disney Cruise

We still tried to press on, but he got progressively worse. We quickly decided to go souvenir shopping for the kids and head back to the ship.

Our plans to go to Maho Beach and watch the planes land at the nearby airfield were quashed. Fortunately, we had not purchased any shore excursions.

We got our son medicated and he struggled through the rest of the day, which happened to be Pirate Night on the cruise ship. He was a trooper and got dressed and made up as a pirate, but our evening was a short one.

Disney Pirate Night
Our son ready for Pirate Night

The next morning, he was much better and ready to go on shore in St. Thomas and continued to improve throughout the remainder of the cruise.

And the Little One Always Gets Car Sick

Our daughter often gets car sickness. She’s been ill on short trips, and especially on longer trips. Part of it might be an excitement about going to new places.

We planned a Thanksgiving trip to my sister-in-law’s house, a nine-hour drive. We were traveling with my in-laws in a rented van. It was a cold November morning with fresh snow on the ground. We were about 45-minutes into our drive when our daughter said that she was feeling sick. Before we had time to open some windows and circulate cool air (which often helps her), she threw up all over the back seat and on her clothes.

We had to pull over to the side of the road, unpack our luggage to get her a change of clothes, and clean up as best as we could. Our poor daughter had to change on the side of the road with her bare feet in snow. Since this incident, we always pack some extra plastic bags and baby wipes on a road trip, just in case she gets car sick.

Here’s hoping that we don’t have any more vacations involving sickness. But, given our track record, this may be too much to ask.

Have you had a bad travel experience? We’d love to commiserate with you. Tell us your story. You also can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to see future travel worthy photos. We promise to tell you the story behind the picture — warts and all.

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31 thoughts on “Travel Mishaps Part 2: Sick and Tired Vacations”

  • I have always wanted to try cruise hearing so many stories about cruising. You adventure is kind of real and bring more real knowledge to me. I didn’t know the water can get that rough and make everyone so sick. Are there any pills to take to stop the sickness?? Do you have a video clips when there is a rough water happened in the sea? Anyway I love reading your cruising adventures.

    • Yes, there is medicine you can take to help with the symptoms. We did not bring any and when we checked the ship’s store, it was sold out.

  • When I was younger I never used to get sick when I was traveling. But lately I do… I will never forget how I’ve spent half of my trip to Central America having the flu. And how I insisted I want to do things, and even went up a volcano one day, which was definitely not a good idea, as all the dust when down my throat and make it worse. But still, these moments are not the ones we remember, only the good memories stick with us.

  • Some really bad luck here with sickness! Makes me realise how lucky we’ve been on our travels. Just had to put up with mild food poisoning a couple of times. But you look like you’ve powered through it and are still enjoying the moments in the pictures 🙂

  • I think I have a few travel mishaps, but I fail to remember it now. LOL. Your family surely did have it’s share of unfortunate moments and epic fails, but despite that, this things often make a trip a very memorable and educational one! 🙂 Glad to know that you still take the kids with you despite them being sick (sometimes) on the road.

  • We’ve had a few illnesses on vacations, too. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. I’ve had a few bouts of food poisoning, and my son had a fever over 103 in India. The ER had to call in a pediatric doctor on a Sunday to see him. And, our bill was $8.

    • Sorry to hear that he was ill, but I’m sure you were loving an $8 bill. We’re always worried about exorbitant medical bills on vacation, but we’ve been fortunate so far.

  • I’ve just driven through the worst of the tropical wet season in Australia – totally didn’t do my research on weather before arriving. Wet and cloudy was not what I expected but to experience it was definitely unique and quite incredible. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be on a cruise. On the road you can’t see more than a metre in front when it’s chucking it down and the wind is so strong it pulls you out of your lane.

    • Glad you are safe and sound. We look back on that cruise with lots of laughter. It was so outlandish that the only thing you can do is laugh.

  • I must say it was an interesting read. This prepares me for the disasters that actually can happen. ANd I being a solo traveller planning to travel with kids in future it’s gonna be a task for sure. But then while reading it I also felt that no matter what but every experience would be an unforgettable memory.

  • Having kids sick on a cruise might be disturbing the very least. My travel companion was allergic to most foods and had a very tough time on cruise. Though I knew about her situation, I wasn’t prepared for the precautions she had to take. I am still reeling from the sunburns – a month and a half after the cruise.
    Love the pirate:)

  • I am sorry you had to experience such sick and tired vacations. Not fun, especially with kids. We spent a few days of a 2-week Baltic cruise sick with colds and fever that caught probably half of us on board. It put a strain on the whole ship. The recovery was slow because we were all breathing into the same air.

    • Fortunately our cruise sicknesses have not been spread throughout the entire population, but that would be troublesome. Our kids our troopers, and even when sick they are great little travelers. Usually our daughter perks right up after her initial bout of car sickness.

  • Ah yes, sick on the road. I have definitely had my fare share of this, as both a solo traveler and with my son and husband. It’s ranges from food poisoning, ear infections, jet lag, flu, car sickness, cruise motion sickness (we’ve also been on REALLY rough seas heading to Alaska).. I am actually sick with a cold while traveling right now. The hardest part for me is the passage of time. Travel time is limited and my expectations need to shift when I (or we) can’t do what has been planned. Here’s hoping for more happy and healthy travels for us in the future.

    • Thank you. I, too, struggle with readjusting schedules based on sickness. It seems that we plan so much for our vacations, and pack so much into those times, that it really throws me a curve ball when things are off. We’ve started planning some “unplanned” time into our schedules to help provide some balance.

  • My husband and I love to cruise and have been so fortunate so far to always have good weather. But we know there is always that chance of a bad storm and I can’t imagine how I’d handle that kind of sea sickness! Thanks for sharing the reality of what this is like: barf bags and all!

  • Yeah, that’s why my college professor always referred to cruise ships as “Floating death traps”. It’s so easy to spread illness and if anything goes wrong, you are stuck at sea! Glad you all made it out okay though.

  • You’ve had your fair share of sickness mishaps! It definitely comes with the territory of travel, and especially as we travel with kids. Cruising is something we cannot wait to do, but I do worry as two out of the four of us suffer from quite severe motion sickness. It tends to kick in on winding roads, spinning rides….and rotating restaurants!

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