People go on vacation for a variety of reasons:  adventure, bonding with family friends, to use up their hours from work and most commonly, to decompress, relax and get away from it all. According to Linda Durnell from the Huffington Post, studies show that experiencing something traumatic during vacation can be even more distressful than a catastrophic event during other times. For some who were particularly distressed, they can experience the same emotions as one who was bullied or harassed.

During vacation your guard is down, you are open to new experiences, novel food, different points of interests. An event like a paranormal encounter is certainly exotic but also can be unwelcome if it is unanticipated. And depending upon the event and how it was received, can be perceived to be quite harrowing. Granted, paranormal just doesn’t happen to those who are expecting it and spooky shit can happen everywhere, anytime. But the majority of us prefer not to vacation at traditionally haunted places for our vacations: Disneyland, the Queen Mary, the Myrtles Plantation, Tombstone, the U.S.S. Hornet. The majority of the general public plan to spend time in more traditional and less spooky locations:  Grand Canyon, Los Angeles. Yellowstone, New York, Rt 66, Lake Winnipesaukee, etc. Granted, these locations have their haunted history too but that is not the primary purpose for most visitors.

These following examples cover the spectrum of surprising vacation spookiness, ranging from mystifying to malevolent. Each demonstrates that sometimes no matter what you pack and prepare for your vacation, spooky can happen anywhere and anytime!

Probably more than unsettling than a ghostly vacation encounter on land is a spooky experience at sea. Instead of leaving the mainland and all earthly cares behind, these unfortunates sailed right into the inexplicable and bizarre. These 2 creepy cruise line experiences are a reminder that regardless of the luxurious setting, nobody is safe from the paranormal.

According to the Ghost & Ghouls website, a mother and daughter were traveling on the Thomson Celebration when one of the days of their itinerary became miserable and stormy. Because it was a rainy day, they decided to spend time below deck watching a movie at the cruise ship cineplex. The duo settled down with their popcorn and drinks in one of the middle rows. They were the only ones in the theatre. However, ten minutes into the movie, 3 people walked in on their left. They walked all the down to the front and then turned around and walked back up.  Despite the fact that there were only 2 other people in the theatre, the newcomers sat right behind them-yeah, I had those kinds of people sit behind me too; they usually kick the back of my seat to boot. As soon as the trio sat down, the 2 women decided to move. When they got up, however, they noticed that there was nobody behind them. What made it so puzzling was that the late-comers would have had to pass them to leave the theatre.

Although that encounter was off-putting, it was a cake-walk compared to this next spookiness at sea.  This paranormal episode also had happened to a mother and daughter but it occurred in their cabin and was far more disquieting. It was the middle of the night and the mother woke to discover what she thought was her daughter next to her bed. She called out to the shadow but instead of responding, it just walked away. Mom quickly fell back asleep. After a few hours, they rose with the sun and were startled by the tv turning itself on. Even more distressing, while they were searching for the remote the room was overcome with the smell of brimstone.

They quickly packed their bags without showering or changing their clothes and made a bee-line to the elevator which was across from their room. On the other side of the elevator, there was a storage room which a staff member was trying to access. Mysteriously, he couldn’t get the door open. He voiced his frustration to the mother and daughter as they were waiting, “What’s going on? It’s like somebody is from the other side is holding the door!!!” The women couldn’t get into that elevator fast enough!

An unexpected paranormal adventure at sea is particularly unsettling because you are trying to get away from it all. The land, civilization, all earthly cares-even the ground itself. However, back on dry land, it still can send you through a loop, especially if you are totally innocent of the site’s haunted history. A honeymooning couple at Key West chose a quiet, unassuming B&B off the Main Drag. They wanted a place intimate and cozy with no surprises or a lot of people. Unfortunately, their assumption about a limited amount of people was not correct. Their room was oversold and they needed to be moved to another room on another floor. As they walked to their room, they encountered a painter dressed in paint-splattered white overalls and who was just about to place a drop cloth on the landing. The couple said hello but he ignored him and continued with his task. To make the situation even more uncomfortable, the smell of paint became increasingly overwhelming-even after they opened all the windows. They called the front desk and pleaded to be moved again. When the honeymooners mentioned the painter, the front desk was incredibly confused. There was no painting scheduled at this property as it was the weekend and the middle of summer.

Thankfully, the request was honored. However, while they were going to their room to retrieve their belongings, they noticed the painter was gone! To add to the confusion, it looked and smelled like he was never there! They decided to take a tour of Key West after dinner and the couple mentioned to their guide of their odd experience. Their guide’s eyes widened as they finished their tale. She explained that this experience was not just an odd event with a worker but an actual haunting! That painter was not a taciturn worker but the ghost of an employee who died 10 years ago – on that very day of their arrival!  He, unfortunately, fell down an elevator shaft and returns on the anniversary of his death.

Each witness to a paranormal event-willing or unwilling-becomes part of the story. They become an element of the tale as they recount it to others. Generally, the witness recounts a lady in white, a spectral child peering from a corner or worse, a scratch on the arm or a hissed, “Get out!”. Unfortunately, for one particular family in Australia, they not only became part of the story but their son became a casualty-with a bizarre photograph to tell part of the tale.

In 1979, 6 young boys and 1 adult male died in a horrific fire at an amusement park called Luna Park.  A fire broke out in the last car of a ride called the Ghost Train and unabated, it destroyed the entire train.  Although there were a variety of factors that led to the tragedy-low water pressure, poor staffing and training, the owner’s alleged ties to the Mob-there was no firm conclusion of why the fire got so quickly out of hand.

There are those who think that the case of the tragedy might not have been man-made but in fact came from a far more supernaturally sinister source. Sometime after the disaster, one of the mothers who lost her son was looking at pictures of the bereaved family’s last hours at the fateful park. The last picture she reviewed not only gave her pause but also chills. To the right of her late son was a disturbingly costumed individual. Upon reviewing the photo, she recalled that a costumed character did sidle up to her son while he was waiting for the Ghost Train. As she was taking several photographs, an individual with a horned headdress, animal printed cape and sarong included himself in a shot of her son. Because of the excitement of the day, the incident quickly disappeared from memory almost as quickly as it happened.

Upon further investigation with Luna Park, the mother discovered that this individual was not affiliated with the property. Their costume is not associated with any particular character, plus to compound the mystery, upon interviewing the staff, nobody recognized the figure as a busker or any someone from an outside entertainment agency.  There is a variety of online discussion whether there is an occult connection with this person or the accident but that is for another writer and another article. But what can be said is that this person was never seen before this fateful day and was never seen after.


What happened to all these vacationers may vary in terms of location and phenomena but the after effects were remarkably similar. Each of the parties felt shaken and disquieted from their experiences.  An unbidden encounter can cause anxiety, stress and other symptoms similar to PTSD, the actual term called Post-Traumatic Vacation Syndrome. The traits for those who experience profound disappointment during vacation can be just like those who have a traumatic paranormal encounter. Perhaps with these stories in mind, we should be packing holy water, iron, and sage along with the sunscreen, bathing suits and flip-flops.  After all, spooky shit can happen anywhere and anytime!