The 9 Circles Of Vacation Hell

In theory, everyone likes a nice vacation. In practice, everyone who's ever had one knows that for every moment of peace and relaxation, you'll have to fight through mounds of stress, panic-sweat, and unexpected costs. What we're saying is, vacations are hell. Quite literally, too: There are shocking similarities between the most famous description of biblical Hell -- The Inferno section of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy -- and the overpriced trip you fooled yourself into taking last summer.

Come, friend, allow us to act as Virgil to your jet-lagged Dante, as we delve deeper and deeper into vacation-themed terrors, such as ...

#9. Limbo

First Circle of Hell: Limbo. Where those who are not saved, even if they did not sin, forever wait on the edge of things.

All around the limbo clock
Hey, let's do the limbo rock

On the sliding scale of inconvenience, packing for a long trip ranks just behind the DMV line and getting a root canal. Whether you're embarking on a road trip to Vegas, a flight to romantic Paris, or an 80-mile hike, you're going to need to pack all sorts of shit. Deciding on what clothes and supplies you need takes time, and it tends to be just a tiny part of the equation. Suddenly, you'll remember that the remote, almost-certainly-not-haunted log cabin your group of attractive high school friends rented for spring break is infested by dildo-shaped iguanas. You're going to need some repellent (because those things love to hide inside sleeping bags) and a better camera (because hehehehe, boner lizards). Errand time, baby! Hold on, didn't you promise your boss to take care of that one thing before you leave? Shouldn't you just reply to that one email before you go? Oh God, did you leave the oven on?

Such is the state of pre-vacation preparation -- a limbo where you exist outside both your normal life and your upcoming vacation, and things keep piling up until you're unable to think about anything else. And even if you're one of those fuckers who cheats their way through this stage by just throwing a toothbrush and some spare underwear in a backpack, you're not safe unless you travel alone: By the time you think you're ready to go, you suddenly have to wait for a late friend/family member/flight, making your time in the purgatory between your home life and holiday life seem eternal.

#8. Lust

Second Circle: Lust. Where carnal malefactors are blown about by a violent storm.

This was all in the brochure, but we assumed it was a joke.

Hehehe. "Blown."

Everyone either screws or hopes like hell to do so during their vacation. That's just human nature: Introduce a Homo sapien to greener pastures, and suddenly everyone around them seems just that little bit more genital-worthy than their equivalent back home. People sure enjoy cheating during holidays. They AshleyMadison around the globe with their assorted lovers. And even if you're stuck with your plain ol' significant other instead of the hordes of gorgeous locals no doubt waiting to hurl themselves at you, you can always count on a little bit ... riskier sex than usual.

Which is all just awesome, until you realize you're far more likely to spend the next few hours trying to locate Unimpressive Tourist Attraction #87, which neither of you really wants to see yet have unwisely placed on your List of Things To Locate And Look At. There will be many more attractions like this one. There almost certainly won't be sex, regardless of how much you technically want to have it. You're going to be way too tired for even the most unenthusiastic of smoochin' sessions.

Especially as you'll probably catch a cold while cruising to sight unimpressive pieces of local architecture like they were Pokemon. It's not a coincidence that Dante's holiday hell punishes sex-themed sinners with terrifying storms, as everyone knows that the weather during your vacation is always shit. If it's not, you're not really trying. A well-worn tourist could visit the Atacama desert -- a forsaken patch of land in Chile that NASA uses as a Mars simulator -- and have the whole place flooding in minutes.

#7. Gluttony

Third Circle: Gluttony. Where the gluttonous wallow in disgusting crap-sludge brought upon by a great storm of putrefaction.

We're on the seafood diet ...

Very few people have returned from a good vacation a whole lot skinnier. Scientists have even made a study about this very thing, and how the entirety of its abstract isn't just "Well, duh" on an otherwise empty page we'll never know.

No one cooks during a vacation. Depending on your budget, you'll almost certainly either frequent restaurants or feed on fast food and the local equivalent of bullshit 7-Eleven fare. Both of these scenarios will lead to you inevitably coming back several pounds heavier. That's you being a glutton. Your punishment, as dictated by the Third Circle of Dante's hell, will be a "great storm of putrefaction." Congratulations! You are now the lucky recipient of the latest local strain of runs, and the inevitably interesting airport/bar/gas station/Taco Bell toilets you'll have to frequent will be legion. Hey, it turns out you can lose weight on a vacation after all!

#6. Greed

Fourth circle: Greed. Where people who are shit with money lug huge weights around and fight.

I'll kill you for that thing neither of us want or can afford!

In this circle, sinners constantly joust and fight with heavy bags that may or may not be full of money, symbolizing your inevitably inadequate travel budget and the constant, petty squabbling with whoever you're traveling with. We'd love to make a joke here, but no meager jest will ever appease the existential terror of having to negotiate your way through the sale of that silver horse mask you never knew you wanted until just now, while simultaneously realizing that you have precisely $1.39 in your pocket. Especially when Chad, your traveling companion, is standing right behind you, prepared to buy it from under your nose with all the might of his trust fund.

And that, senor oficial, is how the fight started.

#5. Wrath

Fifth circle: Wrath. Where everyone is so goddamned angry they either tear into each other or silently seethe in a choking rage.

If you kids don't cut it out, I'm going to NOT turn this car around!

Hey, speaking of fights!

As annoying as the occasional quarrel with your friends or S.O. may be, it's still pretty much par for the course. You're both tired, out of your comfort zone, and quite possibly drunk off your face. Of course someone will occasionally lash out. But if you're traveling with family, things get vicious.

"Wrath" is a powerful word, but to anyone who has experienced a proper family throwdown, it's an understatement. The best way to experience this is if you're traveling by car, preferably one that's stuffed a little too full and features at least one person that's not in the immediate family (mother-in-laws are a firm favorite here, but a sarcastic grandmother a la Estelle Getty or an uncle with Political Opinions will do in a pinch). This is a cocktail that will shake and stir itself, as the participants grow increasingly more aware that everyone present has armpits and the air is filled with battle cries of "Are we there yet?" "Honey, watch that car," "I need to pee," and "But seriously, Trump has a lot of good opinions." Fast-forward to the end of the day, and the description of the Fifth Circle above reads like a goddamned documentary. Enjoy your vacation! Only 2,500 more miles to go!

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Pauli Poisuo

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