What would you do with a vacation crasher?

Sponge Bob and Patrick make great vacation crashers

It was during our Nickelodeon cruise aboard the NCL Epic that we met a family we’ll call the Smiths. We’d snagged a trip to the bridge to meet the captain and they were one of the other families on our tour. The parents were nice enough, and our kids really hit it off.

From there we headed to arts and crafts activities in the lounge and invited them along. It seemed as though the whole ship had turned out to color beach bags with famous cartoon characters. We decided to come back later and wished our new friends goodbye.

A few hours passed and we saw each other again. This time we were on line to have our pictures taken with Spongebob and Jimmy Neutron.

“We’re not stalkers,” they joked.

Seemed funny at the time. But looking back, maybe it wasn’t.

Later, the same family spotted us at the Freestyle cafeteria and we ate dinner together followed by ice cream poolside. They next day they tracked us down at breakfast and I became concerned that we might spend the whole day at sea with them.

I had plans to explore with my kids. This was our trip and time we set aside to be together as a family.

But our kids were thrilled to see the friends they made. And by the time we left to change for dinner – we’d made plans to eat at Teppanyaki that night – I had to make a firm break and turned down the other family’s invitation to meet up for dessert afterwards.

Let’s spend the day together

No, they weren’t swingers or meanies. I never felt uncomfortable or in danger. They were really sweet, nice folks. But I didn’t want to spend all of my vacation with them – I wanted to bond with my family.

Whether they knew it or not, our new friends were vacation crashers.

Vacation crashers are people who become a part of your vacation – sometimes innocently like the “Smiths” and sometimes not so innocently, like when the other couple leaves their kids with you so they can visit the spa.

They can take many forms and sometimes you don’t realize you vacation has been crashed until it is too late.

Have you ever been a vacation crasher victim – and what did you do?

Have you ever been a vacation crasher victim?

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Kari Haugeto

Kari is a serial entrepreneur with an education addiction and a profound curiosity that, more often then not, fuels some pretty incredible adventures. Currently her attention is focused on social and digital media technology and she is developing a project with her family of five and a variety of sponsors to share their cross-country adventures online in an interactive, socially responsible, educational and authentic manner.


  • sanibelsyl

    I can’t really vote because Joe and I manage to thwart the crash when we see it coming. We rarely, rarely travel with friends because we prefer moving about on our own. Having “strangers” with us? No way!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.p.wilsonii Daniel Prentice Wilson II

    That does suck that you didn’t get to spend as much time bonding with your family as you would have liked. But if that is the worst thing that happened to your family while on vacation, it’s a successful vacation IMHO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000171447550 Margery Wilson

    Several years ago our family took a trip to Canada. On one day we visited an amusement park in Montreal. My daughter was about 8 at the time. Almost as soon as we arrived a girl, around the same age as my daughter, said hello and started chatting with us (in line for a roller coaster, as I recall). From that moment on she never left us. We learned that her mother had dropped her off for the day at the park. From putting two-and-two together from comments the girl made in the hours she was with us I am pretty sure her mom was an alcoholic. We really didn’t want to have the girl with us all day, but she was so resolutely cheerful and chatty (and needy) we felt crummy cutting her off. She didn’t have any money with her so we ended up taking her to lunch and dinner with us. I can’t say it ruined our day, but it did change the dynamic.

  • Rusty

    If people want a family bonding kind of vacation, then they should stay in a more private location, and go to sites where they aren’t going to see the same people again and again. Going on a themed family cruise is a great way to meet and socialize with others, but that isn’t what you wanted. Next time, pick a different kind of vacation.

  • [email protected]

    Actually I’ve organized group vacations and while we all know each other well we just want to eat dinner together or have a few drinks together until it got to be where they were sitting in beach chairs at 6 am waiting for us to come up for breakfast. I ended up saying we’re not going into port today and then leaving on our own a little later just to get away from them.

  • mikegun

    We once had a weekend trip to a theme park planned with another couple when our children were toddlers. (Someone I worked with.) The day before we were to go, we found out the other couple’s wife had an existing back injury and was going to need a wheelchair. This was a chronic condition that they knew about all along. In the weeks leading up to the trip, we had talked about the various activities we’d be doing and had no idea she would not be able to join us. One of the parks we planned to visit was a water park.

    Their motive was for us to take their kids on the rides while she sat in the wheelchair waiting and tending to their kids since she expected to be in too much pain and the husband needed to push her. (Per their words.)

    We backed out at the last minute, not exactly our idea of fun and did not appreciate being duped into the trip as baby sitters pushing their kids around in strollers.

    (BTW…Had they been up front about it, we probably would have made the trip and helped!)

  • Carchar

    I don’t expect anyone to see this at this late date, but our honeymoon got crashed. We had taken a train with our bicycles and camping equipment upstate to a park we loved. Friends, who were ,counselors in a camp nearby, knew we were there and we did intend to spend a day with them. A brouhaha occurred at the camp, where one got fired. The other three quit in protest and all four came to share our campsite. (This was in the time of hippies.) At least we had had a couple of days without them. In the dead of night, we biked to the train station with our packs and left for home. We laugh about it to this day…almost 51 years later.