America’s most frustrated travelers share their stories

Back in October of last year, we teamed up with Capital One Venture on a quest to find America’s most frustrated traveler. In that contest, 345 of you shared your story, and five lucky winners were selected to receive a fantastic prize, from a $3000 dream vacation to $100 Marriott travel cards.

After the jump, you’ll find the stories from the winners, which really show just how miserable a vacation can be when things go wrong.

[Photo: Flickr | rudlavibizon]

Grand prize winner: Gerry

We were meeting friends in Ireland who had been there for two weeks and were going to spend last two weeks of their month vacation with them.

Friend was two hours late meeting us (after our 14 hour overseas flight) When we arrived the rental car they had was very small and we could not even fit our luggage let alone the luggage they would be returning with. I finally convinced him into getting larger car. House we were sharing was approximately an hour out of Shannon airport.

My friend was driving and got lost. He ran off the road and blew out tire and bent rim. I walked to nearest town (about 2 miles) to find help. When I got into town, I had asthma attack and need to seek help for that.

When my medical situation settled down, I began looking for repair shop that could help us. It was now 5pm and the only repair shop in village had closed. I sought help from local fire station and they found owner of repair shop who thankfully drove me out to repair car. By the time we got to house we were to stay, it was 10;30 pm. Upon arrival, my friend discovered he had left his identification at the car rental facility at Shannon airport.

Next day the drive back to airport had to be accomplished. On the way back to airport, he ran off road and damaged rental car to point where it was not driveable. I was ready to fly back home……Instead, we decided to fly to London for remainder of trip. Upon arrival in London, we were advised the the underground employees had gone on strike… took us 3 hours to find ride to hotel in London. Whew…..hurts to recall the trip again…:(

Second prize winner: Maria

My most frustrating trip was a special vacation my husband and I took to Florida for our 10th wedding anniversary. At the time we lived in Montana and left our 4-year-old son with my parents in Wisconsin. On the day we were all to fly back home, my mom was to put our son on a plane to Minneapolis, and my husband and I were flying separately to Minneapolis, where we would collect our son and all fly back to Montana. But tornados delayed our flights from Florida. Meanwhile, my mom was freaked about putting her young grandson on a plane alone and insisted on escorting him onto the plane to get settled.

My husband and I fretted, separately, for hours until we took off. I couldn’t wait to get to Minneapolis, certain that my son was going to be terribly upset. When we finally arrived, my husband and I found each other, and went to find our son. The airline people had gotten him some dinner and were keeping him in a little play area. We walked in and one of the airline staff asked our son, “Who are these people?” Our son looked up, shrugged, and said, “I don’t know.” We were afraid they wouldn’t let us take him home!

In the end, we did get our son but missed our flight back to Montana and had to spend a night in Minneapolis. We were glad to see home the next day, our family intact!

Third prize winner #1: Becca

Flying home for grandmother’s 100th birthday. It’s the US Thanksgiving holiday, but I thought I was smart flying the Tuesday before. No problems getting to JFK and I’m even upgraded for no reason! What could go wrong?

Overbook flight. The majority are business travelers and I’m feeling nice so I volunteer to take the first flight the next day. I get up at the crack of dawn and go back to JFK. Check in/security is a breeze. But, once again: overbooked flight. I’m the one bumped because the airline “forgot” about me. They’re apologetic- give me food coupons, a credit. The next flight is soon and I’m guaranteed on it.

On the next flight I’m getting comfy and then the dreaded announcement – 2 seats are broken. No one volunteers to forfeit and I’m cutting it close for grandma’s birthday.

The FA attempts to bump the 2 passengers who checked in last. They refuse claiming they didn’t check in last. They become belligerent with the FAs and we can’t leave until they or someone get off.

At this point, I’m so ticked off at them for being rude I loudly volunteer. As I grab my things, I turned to the two jerks and tell them I will sacrifice my flight AND my grandma’s 100th birthday so the other passengers can get home. I then wished them a Happy f*cking Thanksgiving and hoped they got food poisoning. The passengers cheered, the FAs actually hugged me, but I missed her party.

Third prize winner #2: Cheryl

My husband and I after 10 years of marriage and 3 kids decide to take the honeymoon we never had.

My husband had been in remission for leukemia for 9 months so we figured it was a great time to celebrate. We booked a carribean cruise. We had a 5 hour delay to set sail because a dead body had to be fished from the bay. This was an omen. The ship we sailed on was one that had just been put back into service after being used for the victims of Katrina.

It seems that the septic system wasnt working properly because of the heavy usage. The toilets kept backing up so the smell for 4 days was less than pretty. We would love another chance at a great vacation because my husband is still in remission after 6 years!

Third prize winner #3: Anne

A few years ago, I took an overnight bus ride in Bolivia that lasted about 13 hours. Halfway through it, at about 2 am, the woman seated in front of me marched to the front of the bus and asked our driver to pull over so her young son could take a badly needed bathroom break. The driver refused, muttering something in Spanish that I took to mean, “Tell him to suck it up – we’re running behind schedule.”

Upon hearing this, she calmly strolled back to her seat, propped her boy on her lap, opened the passenger side window and instructed him to take care of business. He did, but sadly most of his urine didn’t make it outside; instead, it landed in my hair, on my shirt and all over my face. And no, I didn’t have anything to wipe it off with – my belongings were under the bus. Grossest bus ride ever.

[Shannon Photo: Flickr/smemom87]