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8 Foolproof Ways to Ruin a Family Vacation

Family vacation always sound good…but the reality is sometimes different. Stacey Gustafson shares her family’s trip to Ireland. Check out Stacey’s blog, and her book, Are You Kidding Me?

8 Foolproof Ways to Ruin a Family

This summer in Ireland, I discovered that there are at least 8 easy ways to ruin a family vacation. Some things may be just a minor inconvenience but others may prohibit your chances of a return trip abroad.

8 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Family Vacation

Ask For More Ice

What’s with European countries and the ice? When you ask for ice with your drink, your request is treated with a snarky attitude as if you’ve asked for free champagne. “Oh, you want more ice?” the waiter says, dropping one measly ice cube into your glass with tongs. And don’t expect free refills either.

Eat Food with Weird Names

In Ireland, choosing what to eat from the menu is a game of charades. My son picked the Cock and Bull Blaa at our first meal. “What’s a blaa?” he asked the waiter. Looks like: “It’s a doughy, white bread bun.” Sounds like: “Cock and Bull means chicken breast with steak.” Of course it is!

Black pudding – sausage made from cooked pig’s blood, pork fat, pork rind, pork shoulder, pork liver, and well, you get the point
white pudding – similar to black pudding but containing no blood
coddle – layers of pork and bacon
colcannon – mashed potatoes with kale
drisheen – another type of black pudding
crubeens – boiled pig’s feet

Hate Guinness Beer

It’s a big no-no to dislike Guinness beer in Ireland, a country that absolutely prides itself on this thick, creamy concoction. Coined a “meal in a glass,” the Irish can’t drink enough of it. Just ask any drunk in a pub their favorite beer, and they will proudly slobber, “Guinness.” They even have Guinness ice cream.

Invite Men to a Tea Party

The guys in your life will not appreciate the finer nuances of an afternoon tea party. For instance, first one must wait for the server to completely set the table before indulging in the sweets and loading your plate. It is bad manners to knock her hand out of the way. Second, it is inappropriate to point a finger and ask, “What’s that gross looking thing?” when faced with a tiered cake stand filled with tiny, crustless sandwiches, petits fours, and pastries. Lastly, one should not fall asleep on the sofa midway through the tea service. That is all.

Pack Liquids In Your Carry-Ons

At the airport, TSA provides plastic bags for small liquids, like aerosols, gels, and creams. Take it from me. It’s worth the extra few minutes to check your bag again. I held up the area for 20 minutes over a tiny 2 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer. People in line become quite aggressive when you break this rule, calling out “idiot,” “jerk,” and “f#$!.”

Joke Around at Immigration

Everybody knows that before you can enter a country, you must go through immigration and show your passport. But did you know that the immigration officers have absolutely no sense of humor? The answer to the question, “How long will you be in Ireland?” should never be “A few hours.” This move may slow down your entry into another country by several days. Strip search not necessary this time. Warning: Don’t mess around with an immigration officer.

Lose Adapters

Our family of four brought four iPhones, one laptop computer, an iPad but no adapters on vacation. It’s that crazy little piece that allows American plugs to be connected to European sockets.Well, we had one adapter for the first 12 hours until we lost it. A game or rock, paper, scissors turned into a cage fight as we each tried to score some recharging time.

Bring Your Family

Enough said.

Which one of these things have you done to ruin your vacation?


Stacey Gustafson

Stacey Gustafson is an author, humor columnist, and blogger who has experienced the horrors of being trapped inside a pair of SPANX. Her blog, Are You Kidding Me? is based on her suburban family and everyday life. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and seven books in the Not Your Mother’s Book series. Her work appears in Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, ZestNow,, Pleasanton Patch, Lost in Suburbia, Better After 50 and on her daughter’s bulletin board. She lives in California with her husband and two teenagers that provide an endless supply of inspiration. She writes about parenting and daily frustrations like her dislike of the laundry, self-checkout lanes, public restrooms, Brussels sprouts, roundabouts, and being middle-aged. Her book, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives, hit #1 Amazon Best Seller in Humor - Parenting & Families and #1 Amazon Best Seller in Motherhood. Released September 2014, it is available on Amazon and eBooks. Visit Stacey at or follow her on Twitter @RUKiddingStacey.

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Laura Ehlersl

Sunday 28th of September 2014

My most recent 'ruining' of a family vacation was mentioning that I returned my first engagement ring. Our kids (ages 18 and 20 at the time) had no idea that I had been engaged TO SOMEONE ELSE!!! It is now the go to comment when things begin to go off plan "Well, Mom's ruined vacation again!)

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