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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Sixth circle: Heresy. Where heretics are trapped in flaming tombs.
Paradise Los- oh wait, that joke's already in the drawing.
Whether your destination is Tokyo, Japan, or Buttville, Arizona, you'll end up insulting the local populace in some exotic way. We're not saying it's because you're a drunken fratlord who guzzles, shoves, and vomits his way through a pristine Polynesian island until the locals finally have enough and throw you in the nearest volcano (which will immediately explode, because lava deities notoriously frown on douches as sacrifice). It's more likely to be completely unwitting, like that thing where people who volunteer for overseas charity work often end up being more trouble than they're worth because they don't know what they're doing.
You're not going to be familiar with the customs of the place you're visiting. Even if you make an effort, there are going to be all sorts of pitfalls you just plain can't learn without a lifetime of experience. Maybe you distinctly remember reading somewhere that this is the country where good table manners involve chewing as loudly as possible and you show appreciation for the meal by shitting directly on your finished plate, only to find out that it most certainly isn't. Perhaps you unwittingly sit on Peter the Prospector's seat at the local saloon, completely unaware that stereotypical Gold Rush-era gold diggers still exist, at least up until the pickax hits the table. Maybe you're not quite up to date with your German hand gestures, and suddenly the Nazis start gunning down you and the rest of the Inglourious Basterds.
We're not sure where the flaming tombs factor in, though. Maybe play it on the safe side and don't talk down the local propane salesman-slash-undertaker? Actually, that's pretty solid advice for all aspects of life.
Violence Against Everything
Seventh circle: Violence against neighbors, self, God, art, and nature (yes, all that). Where everyone is kind of bullshit and gets a face full of assorted fire- and pain-themed punishments.
Everyone here knows only two words of English.
Some locals are cool with you unwarily crapping all over their customs, realizing that you're but a bumbling visitor. Others will spit in your cheeseburger. And Parisians will just openly hate you, but that's OK because they're always like that. But regardless of their tendency to grab torches and pitchforks, your lack of understanding re: how things are done in this place will eventually bite you in the buttock.
If you've ever vacationed in a location you're not familiar with, you know the feeling. You need to accomplish an errand -- maybe you're buying a ticket, or asking for directions, or trying to explain a food allergy to a waiter. Suddenly, it strikes you that you have absolutely no common ground with the person you're dealing with. You come from different cultures, possibly speak different languages, and have very different attitudes about life. All of this is a good thing. It's good to interact with people you have little in common with. Spread the horizons. Only, right here and right now, you're in a situation where you must squeeze whatever information you need out of that person. You're completely at their mercy. That shit will burn like someone sprinkled Sriracha on your soul.
Such is the hell of violence: You fucked with their culture; now their culture fucks with you. It's not a bang but a whimper -- the burning yet chilling sensation at the back of your neck as you attempt to buy a ticket for the train you really need to catch, only to realize that for the last 30 minutes, you've been standing in line at the local florist's. And now, a determined lady with absolutely no common vocabulary with you is actively attempting to sell you four dozen lilies. Still, maybe you can appease the flaming tomb guy with them.
Eighth circle: Fraud. Ten "evil ditches" full of treacherous and fraudulent folks and inventively hellish punishments.
Surely the next snake ditch will be absent of snakes ...
Now we're neck deep in the Malebolgia: 10 fucked-up ditches where there is only treachery, pain, and despair. This is where you'll be after you've trudged through whatever other circles your hell-cation took you through. You've seen the obligatory sights, had the obligatory fights, noticed that your travel budget would barely support an optimistic gnat, and realized that the locals aren't about to crown you as their king after all. All that is left are streets filled with unfamiliarity and weirdness and a strange, unquenchable pain in your heart. This is where the culture shock and homesickness start to set in. Why did you come here? When can you leave? Did you actually pay for this shit?
Oh, and because this is hell: Did you know that homesickness is actually just an adjustment disorder that has nothing at all to do with your actual home and everything to do with the fact that you're just shit at coping? Shyamalan twist! All this time, it was you who was the fraudulent one.
But When It Ends, It's Even Worse
Ninth circle: Oooooh shit, son, it's on.
This is it, guys. The epicenter, the ultimate terror, the Devil himself. What sort of pain could this worst place in the world have in store for us? What kind of mayhem will we have to endure? What terrible encounters will we have to fa-
Sign our Change.org petition to rename Earth "Superhell." The moon can still be the moon.
Hold on, it's Monday? We returned already? We're at work? Oh, goddammit: 174 unread emails, including that group email that fuckstick Steve from marketing keeps sending around? Seven meetings? A project that's due tomorrow? A bunch of notes from the boss and HR, looking for an explanation for how the petty cash fund turned into a crumpled IOU note distinctly written in our handwriting?
Is ... is it too early to go back on vacation?
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and is banned from 196 countries. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
Winston Rowntree is also available in webcomic form. Like him on Facebook too, or he'll get you ...
See the worst places to vacation in 5 Awful Travel Destinations You Think You Should Visit, and learn why traveling with hippies is the worst in 6 Terrible Travelers Who Turn Any Vacation Into A Nightmare.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the worst hit in time-traveling history in How Not To Go Back In Time To Kill Hitler, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook, because while some things are ephemeral, Facebook will be forever.