As Brits prepare to jet off on their summer getaways, the new study from comparethemarket.com reveals that almost a quarter of trips to Spain end up in some kind of holiday mishap, while France is the European 'car crash capital' and the most activity-based accidents befall Brits in Austria.
Lost items, sickness, cancelled or delayed flights and accidents or injuries are the most common experiences that can turn your dream getaway into holiday hell, with the most mishaps taking place on mainland Spain (24 per cent of visits), the Canary Islands (20 per cent of visits) and Greece (17 per cent).
The research found that almost half (48 per cent) of Brits avoid eating certain foods while abroad to avoid food poisoning. Despite this, one in 20 trips involves an illness of some kind, with Spain, Greece and the Canary Islands the countries where people are most likely to be struck down in Europe.
Some holidaymakers experience mishaps before they've even arrived at their destination thanks to delayed and cancelled flights. Russia emerged as the place to avoid if you're looking for a smooth travel experience, as the poll showed the country topped the flight issues list. It is also the place you're most likely to lose your luggage. For cancellations, Spain came out on top.
Meanwhile, the countries with the highest proportion of accidents were tied across France, Austria and Spain. Natural disasters were most reported in Iceland, car accidents in France and activity-based accidents in Austria.
A British couple who booked a Canary Islands cruise wish they hadn't after a vomiting bug broke out. Shaun and Elizabeth Shields said they were locked in their cabin for 48 hours as staff attempted to control the outbreak of norovirus. Shaun caught the bug four days into the holiday and said his wife was not allowed out even though she wasn't ill. He said they were "treated like dogs" and fed only crackers and cheese. When they were finally allowed out of their cabin, the couple saw "people being sick everywhere".
A group of 15 blind and partially-sighted people endured a real holiday from hell when they stayed at student accommodation in Wales. The group, who travelled with 10 staff from Teesside and District Society for the Blind, were shocked to discover damp mattresses, windows jammed open with cutlery, broken toilets, a broken lift and poor lighting. Two members of the group also got locked in their rooms. The group's manager, Rona Aston, said everyone was left "very upset".
Dozens of British holidaymakers staged a sit-in at a luxury Caribbean hotel after "drunk and rowdy" locals turned up and urinated in the swimming pool, ate the buffet food and caused "chaos and destruction". Guests at the Dominican Republic resort claimed their holiday was ruined after the group "destroyed everything, ate everything" and even "washed themselves down fully in the shower by the pool". After holding the sit-in, they were eventually moved to another hotel.
A holidaymaker in Spain almost died when she contracted a rare flesh-eating bug after being bitten by a spider. Sue Isaac was bitten on the bottom when she sat on a sunbed by the pool. She started to feel unwell within days and ended up in intensive care after surgeons operated to remove decaying flesh from her leg. Her left thigh had swelled to three times its normal size and tests showed 14 types of bacteria in the wound, including flesh-eating Streptococcus pyogenes. A series of operations to remove the dead tissue were a success and remained in Spain for two months until she was well enough to return home.
When a British woman visited a safari park in South Africa, the last thing she expected was to be mauled by cheetahs. Violet D'Mello was told it was safe to get up close and personal with the cheetahs at Kragga Kamma Game Reserve but one of the animals turned on her, gouging her head. She said that it seemed like play at first, but "turned very serious very quickly". Mrs D'Mello managed to escape when a woman from reception ran over with a stick.
After a nightmare flight to the Caribbean, a passenger wrote a hilarious complaint letter to the airline. Arthur Hicks sarcastically wrote in the open letter to LIAT that he was "intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports". He said that going through the security scanners at each airport and being patted down by a variety of islanders made him "feel as if I've been hugged by most of the Caribbean already." Hicks' luggage was also lost. Read the full complaint letter including the funny ending.
A British man on holiday in Rhodes was arrested and thrown in jail for 72 armed robberies he did not commit. Fran Prenga was arrested when he went to a police station to fill in documents relating to a business he was investing in with his family. He was told police had been looking for him for four years in relation to the armed robberies and one count of possessing a weapon without a licence in Athens between 2004 and 2005. His wife Louise said that despite having evidence he was in Rhodes at that time, authorities refused to release him. He was finally released more than five months after being jailed.
A British builder's dream trip to Australia turned into a nightmare after thieves emptied his bank account of £12,000 and spent it on expensive watches and perfume. Greg Fletcher was left stranded, unable to enjoy anything and barely able to buy food and drink. He was given several Moneygrams, but they took hours to process as staff had to call Visa offices in America to verify his details. On his return stopover in Dubai, Greg even had to borrow money from a hotel porter to pay for a cab to the nearest Monogram office.
Even the celebs experience holiday nightmares as actor Gerard Butler explained when he told Shortlist magazine about getting sick in Asia. "We went up into the Himalayas and I drank water from the Ganges River. We hiked up to the top of this mountain and I got sick - and I mean sick. I ended up getting sick for a month. Butler continued: "The water looks fresh up there but what I didn't realise is that, upstream, there's villagers pissing and s****ing in it. We camped on top of the mountain ... I'm up all night s****ing and throwing up, with a massive Himalayan thunderstorm going on. It felt like the whole world was exploding."
A little boy with a serious heart condition was forced to sleep on a hotel floor when his family's flight home from Mallorca was delayed by 27 hours. Sam Smith, seven, was born with a rare artery defect and has to sleep plugged into his oxygen supply. It was the first time he was allowed to go abroad but when his family's return flight to the UK was cancelled, the "gorgeous" trip turned into a nightmare. Sam's dad Anthony said they were put up in a "filthy" hotel that contained a dead bird, sanitary products on the floor and just one plug socket. Sam ended up sleeping on two suitcases with his oxygen supply plugged into the wall in the hotel reception.
When the River Severn burst its banks in winter 2012, a family's luxurious Christmas holiday turned into a nightmare. Simon Hughes and his extended family, including eight adults, four children and a dog, paid £2,500 for a week in a cottage in Gloucestershire. The area flooded and they were left marooned inside looking out at waist-deep water. The family spent Christmas keeping themselves amused with board games and treasure hunts.
AOL Travel reader Ellie was horrified to find an all-out gang war taking place outside the hotel she had booked in San Francisco. "The hotel wasn't in a very nice area," she said. "We were warned to only head out one way when we left the hotel, and get a cab if we came back late at night. We only stayed two nights - that was enough!" Read more hotel horror stories from AOL Travel readers
An Australian couple were stranded in Bolivia when they became infected with a flesh-eating parasite that crawls out of the skin. Ally Vagg and her boyfriend Bryan Williams returned from a trip to the Amazon basin when they noticed what they thought were mosquito bites. When they both felt things move under their skin, they discovered they had human bot fly infection. The pair pulled out worm-like larvae from their stomachs, backs and legs. They were forced to remain in Bolivia for a month while the infection cleared.