Created By: Sylviagrace on April 7, 2012 Last Edited By: Sylviagrace on April 18, 2012

Low-Budget Vacation Failure

Someone's idea of a low-budget vacation turns into a nightmare.

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Trope
A group of characters (often a family) goes on a low-budget vacation on which nearly every possible thing goes wrong. It's likely people will end up sleeping in awkward conditions and eating sub-par food, or getting lost. It may even turn into a survival trip. This is usually because of one character, the vacation planner, continually making cheap and/or stupid decisions. The vacation planner is likely very excited about the vacation (or at least acts that way, and may be in denial about how bad it is), while all of the other characters just want to go home. The other characters usually get pretty antagonistic towards each other due to their frustration over their lack of ability to simply get a good meal or adequate sleeping conditions, but often there is a turning point at which the characters are just happy to be together.

This trope may overlap with Vacation Episode, but is not usually filmed in a special location. It is likely to be a Road Trip Episode. It may also be a Horrible Camping Trip, if the group goes camping as a cheap alternative to something more luxurious.


Examples:

Film
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, little girl Olive qualifies for a beauty pageant. Her trip to the pageant turns into a family vacation, with her whole household coming along as the most financially viable option. The movie follows this road trip, with one setback after another, in a van that needs to be pushed by the whole gang every time the engine starts to get it going.

Literature
  • One of the early Berenstain Bears books featured this. It's not quite a horrible camping trip because there is a cabin, but the cabin leaks in the rain, there is a pump, but the water is brown, and so on. Papa Bear is positive about the setbacks, but the other bears aren't so upbeat.

Live-Action TV
  • In one episode of King Of Queens, Doug and Carrie decide to go to a cheap bed and breakfast. It ends up being really awkward, with privacy issues and questionable food, but they can't leave because Carrie would feel bad about offending their hosts. They end up trying to sneak off to the Hyatt.
  • In Yes, Dear, Jimmy decides to treat Greg and Kim to a vacation, but since Jimmy is not as rich as Greg, it turns out to be very frugal, and not the sort of thing that Greg and Kim would have done.
  • In I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Annie takes the gang on a trip so that she and Nikki can spend time with their daughters for spring break. The daughters are not excited about it. Annie's choices of stops turn out to be pretty bad. Subverted when their quaint cabin destination turns out to be a spa, to Annie's surprise.
  • In The Office, Dwight invites Jim and Pam to stay at the bed at breakfast at his farm. It turns out to be pretty weird.

Newspaper Comics
  • Early in For Better or for Worse, the family takes a trip to their friend Ted's cabin in the woods. When they get there, the cabin is completely run-down and practically unlivable. They stay there and make the best of it. When they get back, they find out they were at the wrong cabin.

Western Animation
  • Inverted in Hey Arnold!, when Helga's dad takes the family on a camping trip, but brings along all this expensive technology so that everything runs smoothly. It turns out all the fancy gizmos he brought fail to work in some way, and it's actually Arnold's old-fashioned survival skills that his grandfather taught him that save them.
  • In the Garfield special Garfield In Paradise, Jon books a bargain vacation, he gets nasty looks for booking third class on the flight and checks into a run down "seaside motel" which, despite its advertising, has no close access to a beach ("by a helicopter maybe"). He and Garfield eventually just decide to search the whole island for a more eventful holiday. Odd gags are recycled from previous newspaper strips with a similar "cheapskate holiday" plot.
    Jon: This isn't what I bargained for.
    Garfield: Oh, you "bargained" for it all right.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • April 7, 2012
    Psi001
    • In the Garfield special Garfield In Paradise, Jon books a bargain vacation, he gets nasty looks for booking third class on the flight and checks into a run down "seaside motel" which, despite it's advertising, has no close access to a beach ("by a helicopter maybe"). He and Garfield eventually just decide to search the whole island for a more eventful holiday. Odd gags are recycled from previous newspaper strips with a similar "cheapskate holiday" plot.
      Jon: This isn't what I bargained for.
      Garfield: Oh, you "bargained" for it all right.
  • April 7, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    Calvin and Hobbes doesn't count. That's just "one person is an outdoor nut and the rest of the family aren't." We are never given to understand that they can't afford a better vacation.
  • April 8, 2012
    IsaacSapphire
    One of the early Berinstein Bears books featured this. It's not quite a horrible camping trip because there is a cabin, but the cabin leaks in the rain, there is a pump, but the water is brown, and so on. Papa Bear is positive about the setbacks, but the other bears aren't so upbeat.
  • April 8, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    Hmm, that's true about some of the other camping examples too (about Calvin and Hobbes), but I just assumed that trips like that are low-budget by default, not necessarily that they can't afford anything more luxurious. I don't know?
  • April 8, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    What do other people think? Do you think the trope should include only vacations where it's obvious that someone can't afford a nicer vacation, or is being cheap? Do you think this distinction needs to be addressed in the description?
  • April 8, 2012
    Tzintzuntzan
    I think one trope can cover both poverty and cheapness. I wonder if this could be merged with Horrible Camping Trip and expanded to cover all vacations, not just outdoor camping.
  • April 8, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    Oh, I didn't know about the horrible camping trip trope! I guess I would be more inclined to separate out the camping ones, then. Unless they were specifically camping for the cheapness of it.
  • April 8, 2012
    Quatic
    The third National Lampoon's Vacation Movie, Christmas Vacation, involved the vacationers staying home, I think partly due to money woes due to a cancelled bonus from a scrooge boss. Despite not traveling, trouble comes to them.
  • April 8, 2012
    Quatic
    And, there was a comic relief subplot in Superman III where a couple vacationing in Central America is caught in a hurricane created by a weather control satellite hacked by the Big Bad computer.
  • April 10, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    Okay, I took out the camping examples.
  • April 12, 2012
    nielas
    ^^ In the Christmas Vacation movie, they do not find out about the canceled bonus until much later in the movie. The bonus money was supposed to be used for a pool and not the vacation. Considering the cost of all the decorations Clark put up and the fact that he invited his parents and in-laws for the holidays, it was not really a low budget vacation.
  • April 18, 2012
    Sylviagrace
    Ready to launch? Anyone? Anyone? ... Bueller?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=27limo5bpd172fvpdchzvvly