Diana Balham warns of 10 pitfalls that could really put a dampener on your upcoming summer holiday.

Ah, the summer holidays - those precious few weeks when just about everybody heads off to the nation's best beaches and beauty spots.

Come Boxing Day, our population seems to quadruple as every man and his dog, his significant other, the kids and all the water sports equipment cram into the old banger and creep on to the highways and byways of New Zealand to join the national traffic jam.

It's summer. What could possibly go wrong?

You get lost


Men have photographic memories when it comes to remembering how to get somewhere they haven't visited since they were nine. They also lack the gene that enables them to ask for directions.

A woman would look at the map but dad threw these on a bonfire when he bought the fancy new 4WD with the very latest GPS. Which is broken and doesn't know its "turn left at We'regoingincircles in 100m" from its "take the third roundabout at Wherethehellarewe".

Stop at the nearest petrol station and buy one of those old-school map thingies.

You forgot to pack the tent poles and pegs

Unless you want to spend two weeks bivvying under the canvas, you'll just have to improvise. Use fishing rods to hold up the tent and forks to anchor it. Trouble is, you won't be able to feed yourself, given that you can't fish and half the cutlery is buried in the dirt ...

You get food poisoning

Forage for kai moana instead. Good idea! Pity no one reads the signs about the ban on shellfish gathering in the area. Back to ham sandwiches once you're feeling better.

You didn't label the storage containers

Fortunately, you remembered to bring washing powder and milk powder. Unfortunately, you mixed them up. I have done this. We all smelled funny for ages, but the flies seemed to like us.

The cat falls down the long drop

Yep, been here as well. He was a seal-point Siamese and it was a bit hard to tell where the cat ended and the poo began. Tether Tickles to the car by a long rope or close the lid. You could even consider shutting the loo door. Don't know why we didn't think of that.

The bach's water tank is running low

Tell the teenage daughter you found a dead rat in the gutter. That'll keep her out of the shower. But she'll demand expensive bottled water or, worse, alcopops to quench her thirst ...

Your teenager becomes fixated on the neighbour's revolting son

Thanks to the alcopops. She wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot temporary tent pole usually. Send them on a dodgy shellfish-gathering expedition. What happens next will take their minds off their raging lust.

You've got obnoxious neighbours

Tricky. It's not forever so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Download the teenager's loudest, most antisocial music and play it at ear-splitting decibels, fart loudly and crap on about your V8 and all the record-breaking fish you caught 'til 3am. Or you could try converting them to your made-up religion and invite them to an impromptu service.

You're plagued by insects

Mozzies, sandflies, wasps and flies - these spell summer holidays as much as barbies and sunburned shoulders. Forget citronella and insect repellent. Buy a huge bottle of cheap, nasty scent from a $2 shop and douse your family in it. The pests won't come near you and, with any luck, neither will the neighbours.

You leave Granny behind

Somehow, in all the confusion of packing up, you manage to forget Granny. Retrace your steps as quickly as possible. There she is, lying on a banana lounge with a sweet sherry in one hand and a Mills & Boon in the other. Put her in a high-vis orange vest for the last 24 hours and park her in your field of vision. This also works with pets and babies.

Or you could go on holiday in the middle of winter ...

The water will be freezing but there'll be no insects, no "neighbores" and no randy teenagers.

And it'll rain the whole time so you won't have to worry about the water running out.