You've spent months planning the perfect vacation. You managed to get a direct flight at a great rate, found a beautiful hotel, rented a sporty car, and have even learned a few important local phrases.

But here you are, stranded in the airport, without your luggage, hoping that your beautiful hotel and sporty car haven't been destroyed by the hurricane that is currently blowing through your perfect vacation destination.

Vacations rarely go exactly as planned, but some types of travel misery are more common than others. Here, the six worst things that can go wrong on vacation.

Treacherous Travels

From wacky weather to outlandish local laws, for some tourists, everything that can go wrong will

1. Going to jail.

Foreign countries often have much harsher penalties for offenses that would be relatively minor in the United States. For example, the U.S. State Department warns students traveling to Mexico on spring break that they could be arrested for littering, indecent behavior, drinking on the street, using public transportation without paying, and making obscene remarks. In addition, a person who is caught using or buying drugs could be held in jail for a year before their case is even brought to trial.

2. Being hospitalized.

Getting sick is never pleasant, but it's even worse to fall ill when you're away from home, particularly in another country, where you don't speak the language. If you become seriously ill while traveling abroad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends calling the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if calling from outside the U.S. or Canada, dial 00 1 202-501-4444). In addition, you may want to consider joining a group like International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) or International SOS, which can put you in touch with a qualified, English-speaking physician in dozens of foreign countries. Some of the organizations charge a fee for joining, while others request a donation. It's also important to find out before you travel if your health insurance will pay for medical expenses incurred outside the United States. Medicare, for instance, typically does not cover such costs.

3. Evacuating due to a natural disaster.

Imagine being at the beach, sipping on a daiquiri and flipping through a magazine under an umbrella one day, then fleeing for your life the next as dangerously fast winds and giant waves crash down on your vacation home. That's exactly what happened to thousands of tourists in December 2004, when an earthquake triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The tsunami killed more than 200,000 residents of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other nearby countries. In addition, about 9,000 tourists were reported missing or killed. Hurricanes, mudslides, and tornadoes have ruined plenty of other vacations, too. When traveling overseas, be sure to leave a copy of your travel plans and accommodations with a family member or friend and register with the State Department, which will make it easier for others to contact or find you in case of an emergency.

4. Being involved in a car accident.

Whether you're the driver or a passenger, being involved in a car crash in an unfamiliar place can be frightening. More than 200 American citizens are killed in car accidents overseas each year, according to State Department estimates. Before you arrive, find out what to expect in the country you'll be visiting. For example, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, drivers in Greece may drive on the sidewalks and expect pedestrians to move out of their way, while drivers in Thailand will create a third middle lane in the center of a two-lane highway. You may also want to consider applying for an international driving permit, which is recognized by more countries than a driver's license.

5. Being stranded at the airport.

Reduce your chances of being stranded at the airport by not flying to and from locations known for delays. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, of the top ten flights that were delayed most often during the first quarter of 2008, seven of those flights originated or ended at the Chicago O'Hare Airport. So it would be smart to avoid that layover at O'Hare, if possible. And if you're traveling to or from Chicago, consider flights that land or leave from Chicago Midway Airport.

6. Losing your luggage.

Perhaps it's not the worst thing that can happen while you're vacationing (what better reason to go shopping for new island-inspired clothing or indulge in a famous European label?), but it's also a common travel mishap. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that nearly eight passengers per every 1,000 filed a lost luggage complaint in June 2007. A year later, the numbers improved to a little over five reports per 1,000 passengers. The figures get worse overseas, where the Association of European Airlines reports that British Airways lost 28 bags for every 1,000 customers.