From our June issue: Readers share anecdotes that once again prove that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction. Plus, this month's prize winning story about a lost wife on Valentine's Day.
New Prize: Celebrity cruise for two
The best response we receive between May 14, 2008, and June 30, 2008, wins a Celebrity Cruises sailing for two good for up to 14 nights in Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, or South America (excluding the Galápagos on Celebrity Xpedition). The prize includes accommodations in a veranda stateroom and is valid from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 31, 2009. For more information on Celebrity Cruises: 800/852-7239, celebritycruises.com.
How to enter
E-mail us at TrueStories@BudgetTravel.com or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. For a complete rundown of the contest guidelines, please see BudgetTravel.com/truestories.
This month's winner!
This month's winner is Gene Jackson of Longmont, Colo. His prize is a five-night trip to New Zealand from ATS Tours.
On our final day in Cancún, I headed to the beach to read while my wife went to the room. After an hour, I called the room, but there was no answer. I figured she got sidetracked. When another hour passed with no sign of her, I called again—still no answer. As soon as I walked into the room, I heard pounding on the bathroom door and saw a washcloth on the floor with "help" scrawled on it in mascara. "Get me out of here!" my wife was yelling. "I'm locked in!" She'd been trapped in the bathroom for two and a half hours. What a way to spend Valentine's Day!
Mr. T couldn't pose because he was, you know, busy
My husband and I were in a daze when we arrived in Chicago, having just completed a 96-day backpacking adventure around the world. As we shuffled past the Sears Tower on the way home, we spotted both Conan O'Brien and Mr. T on the street! Sensing our excitement, Conan agreed to pose with us for a photo and joked, "Let's pretend we're in the Himalayas." We couldn't believe he was the first person to welcome us home. Lilly LeClair, Princeton, N.J.
Good schlep is hard to find
We went to Venice in November, which happens to be flood season, so I was forced to buy a pair of boots that I could slosh around in. I was en route to Piazza San Marco when I encountered a stylish businesswoman. She kept gesturing toward the water, my feet, my backpack, and the next bridge. But she was speaking French, so I didn't understand a word, and she huffed off after a minute or two. Later, when I saw her getting a piggyback ride from a man, I realized what she had wanted. Susan Green, Lawrence, Mass.
Hey, if the boob fits...
I was thrilled to be having my first-ever massage, in a spa on the Riviera Maya. But when the therapist indicated that I was to lie face down, I knew I was in trouble. I'm well-endowed with fibrocystic breasts that are very tender, so there was no way I could do as she said. As she tried to reposition me, I squirmed, trying to find a way to get comfortable. Suddenly, I felt relief: One breast had entered the table's face opening, and the other was on the outside. The bewildered masseuse handed me a folded towel to rest my head on. I was never able to relax, though—I kept chuckling, wondering what the masseuse would tell her friends. Barbara Ridihalgh, Carmen, Idaho
Italians and baseball: a strike waiting to happen
My husband and two sons are huge baseball fans, so they made sure to bring along mitts and a ball for our camping trip in Italy. One day, as they were playing catch, they attracted the attention of local kids who had heard of baseball but had never actually seen it up close. Pretty soon they all got a game going, using the handle of a broken beach umbrella as a bat. For the rest of our stay, the kids would come to our cabin every day at 7 a.m., ready to play. Nancy Gill, Reno, Nev.
Watch your toothbrush
On a Mexican Riviera cruise, my husband and I were entertained by the creative towel critters that our cabin steward left for us every evening. One night, we decided to return the favor, constructing an "indisposed person" inside our bathroom. The steward's screams turned to laughter when he realized that we had upped the ante. Terri Stanley, Raleigh, N.C.
Our first guess would've been a nun with a bullwhip
My friend Holly and I were in Oaxaca the night before the Mexican presidential election. There had been political and social unrest all summer, so as we went to bed, we weren't sure what to expect the next day. I awoke to Holly tugging my arm and shouting, "It's the revolution! Wake up!" Noises that sounded like gunshots were coming from outside, and a crowd had gathered. We huddled on the floor, trying to figure out how to contact the U.S. embassy for help getting home. It was terrifying. Holly crawled to the door and peered out. Just then, a bunch of "gunshots" went off, and the crowd cheered. The gunshots were fireworks. The kid next door was celebrating a birthday. Jenny McCarthy, Carrboro, N.C.
On a National Geographic tour of Yellowstone National Park, my husband and I spent every night at a different lodge, enjoying after-dinner lectures about the fragile and ecologically important sites we'd seen. On the last day, we arrived at the lodge late after a long day of sightseeing. Jim showered first, but he complained that he could barely get any lather out of the soap. "This must be some environmentally correct soap," he said. I picked up the soap and figured out what was wrong: It was still shrink-wrapped. Barbara Kenny, Odenville, Ala.
Perhaps veendam is the Dutch word for mortifying
Our family took a Thanksgiving cruise in the Caribbean on Holland America's Veendam. One day, needing a break, my son decided to spend the day in the cabin. After I finished lunch, I headed down to the room for a nap. The cabin was dark and Tyler was fast asleep, so I headed back to the deck with a book. But my husband had other plans: He was in the mood for a little afternoon romance. He tiptoed into the cabin, navigating with a lighter. He removed his clothes and slipped under the covers. My son's shock at the touch of a hand on his shoulder sent them flying to opposite sides of the bed. It's one of those memories too precious to keep in the family! Christine Mitchell, Woodbine, Md.
Now we know what the Swedish chef was cooking
The cooks at our all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic set up cards naming the various dishes, and they'd often mix up the English words for ham, chicken, and other meats. I guess one night they gave up. Bud Bloom, Hilliard, Fla.
Dennis the lusty menace
During an OAT tour in Peru, I was dazzled by a shaman's knowledge of the rain forest. The group sat in a circle as he shared his plants and remedies and gave us tattoos with vegetable pigment. At the end of the presentation, he said that he had a surprise for us. He opened a door and released Dennis, the resident anteater. Dennis headed right for me. I was flattered (I've always loved animals) until Dennis forcefully mounted my leg. The shaman needed the help of two assistants to free me from Dennis's embrace. Mick Aldworth, Los Osos, Calif.
He's no Dennis
When I found out my company was sending me to China for four weeks, I was stressed. I had never been to the country before, and I'd be traveling alone. My husband, Chris, assured me it would work out, but my anxiety grew. After the grueling flight, I arrived at the hotel and found a surprise in my bag: Melvin, the Uglydoll that sits on my dresser. At first I felt silly traveling with the toy, but it made me laugh so much that I was glad to have Melvin along. When people asked whom I was traveling with, I'd say "Melvin." This worked well until a British couple asked if Melvin and I would join them for dinner. "You just missed him!" I said. "He's in the room, and he's already stuffed!" Emily Gerhardt, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
"Well, stick around, because you're about to see one very memorable moonrise"
In Hawaii, my girlfriends and I hiked across lava rock to a secluded pond. We didn't encounter anyone until we came across a lone hiker, wearing nothing but a large backpack. He looked as surprised to see us as we were to see him. Trying to offset the awkwardness, he asked if I'd seen any whales. I said that we had, in fact, seen a whale, doing my best not to allow my eyes to drop below his waistline. Rachel Tavel, New York, N.Y.
For her story about dressing up as a group of Elvises in Las Vegas, Suzanne Fox Sevel of West Melbourne, Fla., won a six-night vacation rental from HomeAway.com. "Our villa in Martinique was magnifique!" reports Suzanne. "It was close to the island's best spots, but far enough from town to offer privacy. My family and I had a wonderful time."