The Worst Vacation Ever! — a Talking Points lesson plan for reading and speaking

This is a complete lesson plan that you can use in your English or ESL class today. You can use it for IELTS too.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below!



The Worst Vacation Ever!


I knew this was going to be a terrible vacation as soon as we arrived at the hotel.

The travel agent told us that it was a brand-new hotel in a quiet part of the island. But when we arrived we found that it was not brand-new at all — the hotel was not even finished.

There were construction workers still building parts of the hotel!

But the manager assured us that our stay would be fine. In fact, he told us we would have a great stay.

We got to our room and it didn’t seem too bad. Everything looked like a normal good quality hotel room.

Then we looked in the bathroom. There was no shower. Only a washbasin and a toilet.

I asked the manager how we would take a shower and he just shrugged and said that we could use the showers in the spa. My wife asked what time the spa opened every day and he said 10:00am.

At that point, we had had enough, so I said to my wife that we would leave immediately. I didn’t say another word, just took hold of our luggage trolley and went to leave the room.

Then the manager stopped me. He was very apologetic about it. That week was one of the busiest times on the island. Apparently, there was a wine festival that had just started the day we arrived.

Every hotel is fully booked, said the manager. I can’t let you leave. You will have nowhere to sleep for the night.

My wife raised her hands to the ceiling and rolled her eyes.

I swore out loud.

The manager told us he would do everything he could to make it up to us. Then he left.

I lay down on the bed and kicked off my shoes. My wife unpacked our things and put them in the wardrobe. As she was doing that, she let out a scream.

I jumped to my feet and she leapt onto the bed. She was pointing at something in the wardrobe. I looked inside and I saw a huge dead rat. It looked like it had been dead for several days.

I was furious. I told my wife that we would go downstairs and tell someone on the front desk to change our room. And then hopefully go to the bar and get a stiff drink.

We left our room and went to the lifts. It was then that we saw a sign that said only one of the lifts was in operation. The other one was being repaired.

Things were just getting worse and worse!

Eventually, we got downstairs and I told the front desk about the dead rat but they said they couldn’t change our room as they didn’t have any other rooms available.

At that point, I didn’t need just one drink — I needed three or four.

I asked them where the bar was and they pointed to a door. Above the door was a sign that said The Lounge Bar.

We went in and there was no one around. No customers and certainly no barman.

I just shook my head. My wife started to cry.



Essential Vocabulary


travel agent


construction workers




at that point

had enough


luggage trolley


wine festival

fully booked

raised her hands

rolled her eyes


swore out loud

make it up

kicked off



let out




a stiff drink



in operation




shook my head



Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when


I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”



Reading Comprehension Questions


When did Mike know that it was going to be a terrible vacation?

Is the hotel new or old? Is the hotel in a noisy or quiet location?

How did Mike know the hotel was still being built?

What was the problem with the bathroom?

What alternative did the manager offer as a bathroom? What time did it open?

Why did the manager stop Mike from leaving the hotel?

What did Sylvie find in the wardrobe?

Why did Mike want a drink after seeing what was in the wardrobe?

Why did Mike and Sylvie go downstairs?

What was the problem with the lift?

What was the name of the bar?

Why couldn’t Mike get a drink?

Discussion Questions

Why does Mike and Sylvie’s hotel have all these problems? Is this acceptable do you think?

Should the hotel offer them an alternative? Or compensation?

How did the dead rat arrive in the wardrobe do you think?

What did Mike mean by wanting a ‘stiff drink’?

If you were in this situation, what would you do? Talk about all the steps you would take.

Have you had a ‘vacation from hell’? What was it like?

What is the worst hotel you have ever stayed in? What about the best?

How can we check the quality of the hotel before going there? Provide details in your answers.

What are the ten most popular complaints that hotels receive do you think?

Have you ever lost your luggage on a vacation? What happened? How did you get your luggage back?

Have you ever lost your passport or a large sum of money while on vacation? What happened? Did you recover the lost items?



A Vacation From Hell!


Work on your own or in small groups.

You have to make up a story similar to Mike and Sylvie’s experience in the story above.

Try to make your story as crazy as possible!

Use your imagination and think of all the terrible things that could happen when you go on vacation.

When you are ready, tell your story to all the class.



Offering Help Using ‘Will’


If someone asks us for help – or tells us of a problem that they have – we often use the word ‘will’ to explain the things we want to do to help them.

For example, maybe a guest has arrived in a hotel and they tell the front desk that the airline has lost their luggage.

They don’t know what to do.

And the front desk might say:

I will call the airline and ask them what they can do to find your luggage. Then I will give them your flight number and your name and boarding pass details. After that, I will call the airport security and see if they know anything.

Once the airline or airport give me any information, I will call you and let you know what they said.

In this exercise, pretend you are working on the front desk in a hotel. Many guests have some problems today and need your help.

Using the word ‘will’ explain to them what you plan to do and how you can help them.

Look at all these guests’ problems below and prepare things to say.

  • Our room is too small! We booked a room for three people.
  • We are hungry but the restaurant is closed.
  • Last night, some workers were repairing something on our floor and made too much noise.
  • We went to the beach but it was really dirty! Lots of trash and litter all over the sand.
  • We got sunburned lying on the beach because there were no sun umbrellas available.
  • We tried to make some coffee in our room this morning but the kettle was broken
  • We tried to brush our teeth this morning but there was no toothpaste
  • Last night we tried to sleep but the bed was too cold
  • We wanted to watch a movie last night in our room but we didn’t know how to use the TV remote
  • The air-con in our room is set to hot and it makes us uncomfortable



Role Play


This is a role play exercise using the exercise above.

There are two main people in this role play:

1. You are working on the front desk of a five-star hotel. The hotel is very busy but sometimes the guests complain about the smallest things.

It is your job to deal with these guests and ensure they are happy at all times.

Many guests approach you with complaints. You must help them.

2. You are a guest in the hotel. You have a complaint using one of the examples in the exercise above.

Express how unhappy you are to the front desk. Make sure you get complete satisfaction from the staff as you are a high-paying guest in a top hotel.

One student can be the front desk while the others take on the role of hotel guests. Each hotel guest has to express a complaint to the front desk.

You can change the student who is at the front desk. Let other students take on this role too.





You are Mike from the reading exercise at the beginning of the lesson. You have just got back home with your wife and you have had the worst experience in the hotel.

Write to the travel agent company and express how angry you are with their service.

Go through all the complaints and things that went wrong one by one.

In the end, ask the hotel what they will do about it. And see if you can get some compensation.



What did you think of this lesson plan? Was it useful for you class?

Let me know in the  comments below!

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The Worst Vacation Ever!

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2 thoughts on “The Worst Vacation Ever! — a Talking Points lesson plan for reading and speaking”

  1. Hi David, this was a very funny story and I thought the activities that went with it were great. They stimulate creativity and fun for the student. More lessons should be like this, because students can get emotionally involved which enables better learning.

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