People Who Mysteriously Vanished While On Dream Vacations

When you plan your next dream trip, make sure you take warning from the many tales of people who vanished on vacation. Instead of removing themselves from work and stress, people who disappeared on trips removed themselves from the world entirely, vanishing in the midst of what should be paradise. These mysterious disappearances baffle many an investigator, who often comes up short with substantial evidence or compelling motives. For example, when a person disappears from a cruise ship, a number of possibilities arises: did they fall, were they pushed, or did they jump of their own accord? And since many vacation spots lie within or near remote and wild locations, authorities tasked with finding a body are at the mercy of nature's whim. A deep forest or ocean current can hide all sorts of evidence, including any traces of a "dream vacation."

Rather than avoiding travel altogether, let these unsolved disappearances on vacation serve as a warning. Know to put safety first, stay aware, and use the buddy system, all precautions that may have saved many of the missing tourists below.

Photo: Unsplash / Pexels/Unsplash

  • Natalie Holloway's Infamous Graduation Trip

    Then a recent high school graduate and picture-perfect American teenager, Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba back in 2005 while on a graduation trip. Full of high spirits like any typical young grad, Holloway spent her days on the beach and nights out at parties. On their last night, Holloway and her friends went out to the local bars, where she was last seen leaving with three young me. Over the next ten years, all three of the men were arrested repeatedly, though never formally convicted of any charges. Meanwhile, Holloway's case made national headlines, and stirred conversation about missing white women syndrome, referring to the intense media attention placed upon Caucasian victims that people of color never receive.

    The local police chief named Joran Van der Sloot, the son of a prominent politician's family, as their primary suspect. Van der Sloot, though likely Holloway's killer based on confessionals and evidence, actually ended up in prison for the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramírez in 2010. 

  • Madeleine McCann Was Taken From A Portuguese Resort

    More than a decade later, the horrific story of a young English girl snatched from her resort hotel room continues to resonate around the world. In May of 2007, three-year-old Madeleine McCann was vacationing with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, along with her younger siblings at a luxurious Portuguese resort. The location was quiet and laid back, a place where parents let their children sleep in the suite while they went for a peaceful dinner. The family hired a babysitter to assist during their stay, but that individual was not present the night of Madeleine's disappearance. Around 10 PM, Kate McCann slipped back into the suite to check on her children, and immediately noticed her daughter was missing.

    The investigation began that night and remains open today, authorities in Portugal and Scotland Yard both searching for answers. While Madeleine's DNA turned up during a sweep of the room, the scene is considered contaminated after additional guests stayed in the suite before authorities properly swept it. Theories as to the child's disappearance range from parental involvement to child trafficking, but no one knows where Madeleine went, or why her siblings were left behind. Thousands of reported sightings have occurred in over 100 countries, adding further confusion and mystery to Maddie's saga.

    In June 2020, UK's Metropolitan Police force announced they officially had a prime suspect in the case. Though the suspect remains nameless, he is reportedly a 43-year-old German man who is incarcerated in Germany over an unrelated matter. Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said, "The Met received information about a German man who was known to have been in and around [the resort]. We have been working with colleagues in Germany and Portugal and this man is a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance." 

    Cranwell further revealed details about two cars linked to the suspect at the time saying, "The first vehicle is a distinctive VW T3 Westfalia campervan. It is an early 1980s model, with two tone markings, a white upper body and a yellow skirting. It had a Portuguese registration plate... The second vehicle is a 1993 British Jaguar, model XJR 6, with a German number plate and registered in Germany." 

    There is a $25,000 (£20,000) police reward for information about the case. 

  • Catholic Nun Goes Missing On Dream Vacation To Austrian Alps

    Sister Eileen Christie, 72, was a Roman Catholic nun and teacher of theology who left New Yorkk in 2016 for a European vacation. Along her way, she kept in contact with a nephew from home via email. The last time her nephew heard from Sister Christie, she informed him that she had checked into a hostel in Hallstat, Austria, a village near the Alps. After being reported missing, authorities searched the hostel; most of her belongings, including her passport, her cell phone, and wallet, were left behind. Her phone's camera roll revealed images and videos that suggest she was having a wonderful time. 

    A number of strange circumstances surround the nun's disappearance that fail to add up. One of the only missing items from her room was a swimsuit, suggesting she may have drowned while taking a swim. Yet Sister Christie frequently swam during her travels, which she also frequently took to this area of Austria over many years. Her familiarity and experience with the village makes it seem more likely she was taken, yet no major suspects have arisen.

  • Teen Vanishes Over Spring Break, And Her Remains Are Found 13 Years Later

    In April 2009, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel slipped from her Rochester, NY, home down to Myrtle Beach, SC, for spring break without her parents' knowledge. They had forbidden her from making the trip, though they offered a compromise by letting her stay at a friend's house for the week instead. Drexel initially agreed to this plan but decided to make the clandestine journey anyway. 

    The last verified sighting of the teenager comes from hotel security footage filmed on April 25, the day she went missing. The footage captured her leaving the hotel after reportedly picking up a pair of flip-flops from a friend's room. 

    For a time, she remained a missing person. Then, in 2016, an FBI agent took a statement from an incarcerated man who claimed Drexel was kidnapped, assaulted, shot, and left for dead in a swampy area known to be the habitat of alligators. The inmate, Taquan Brown, named the man he claimed was responsible, and though this man was arrested and questioned by police, he was later released on $10,000 bond. While it led to another search for Drexel in 2017, the investigation came up cold, and no concrete evidence has linked this man to the case.

    In May 2022, 13 years after Drexel vanished, her remains were discovered buried in the woods 35 miles from where she was last seen. Her identity was verified through DNA and dental records. According to Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver, South Carolina resident Raymond Moody - a registered sex offender with an “extensive” record dating back to 1983 - kidnapped, assaulted, and strangled Drexel on April 25, then buried her remains the following day.

    Investigators have revealed little else about what led them to this break in the case, though Moody was arrested on May 4, 2022, for obstruction of justice.

  • Man Sends A Final Text To His Wife Before Disappearing From Cruise

    Poor John Halford; a well-liked guy of 63, he owned and operated a popular book and gift shop in England. In March of 2011, just before he and his wife were to celebrate 25 years of marriage, he went alone on a cruise to Egypt, eager to fulfill his life-long dream before arthritis made it impossible. And so off he went. He had an amazing time, all the while texting back home about his adventures, and taking photos and videos of the sights. On the night before the ship docked, Halford sent his wife a text regarding his flight information.

    Planning to meet him at the airport, Halford's was practically on her way the next day when she got the call her husband vanished from the cruise ship. She suspects Halford fell from the ship, a theory supported by the fact he was last seen drinking cocktails near midnight. If intoxicated and too close to the edge, Halford might have just encountered a bit of bad luck.

  • Little Boy Disappears From Family's Idaho Vacation Campsite

    Did a wolf, bear, or some other animal attack and drag away a two-year-old boy from a popular Idaho camp site in July 2015? DeOrr Kunz and his parents, Jessica Mitchell and Vernal Kunz, were enjoying a wilderness camping vacation. One day. the parents left on a walk, saying they left DeOrr with his great-grandfather, who conversely thought the parents were with him; when they returned, the boy was missing. Once the parents reported the disappearance, local and state authorities descended upon the area, scouring it for any evidence of little DeOrr.

    Neither the great-grandfather nor the grandparents, while considered suspects, have been charged Some experts are suspicious of the parents' behavior, stating that the mother in particular exhibited erratic behavior and apparently disliked being a mother. The parents' attorney proposed that a bald eagle carried off the child, though they remain under investigation.