The Ugly Side Of Traveling With Kids

There is an ugly side to travelling with kids

We have all thought of it, no one really mentions it, and thus everyone is left in the dark as to the real life of a travelling family. Yeah sure, some kids are mellow and just go with the flow. Some are easy going and just love everything. But the average child is not like this. The average child has strong opinions and even stronger desires to carry out those opinions, regardless of the consequences. This is the unspoken truth of travelling with kids those precious little bundles of joy we call our children.

Tantrums in Public

People think we are kidnapping them. Seriously, when the yelling and kicking and screaming are at their max, onlookers suddenly start looking and asking each other questions. We haven’t gotten spoken to yet, but the kids are getting older so hopefully, this ends soon. You never know when travelling with kids; witching hour is a real thing and being exhausted from all the travel and over-stimulation from the surrounding area can push even the greatest traveller over the edge.

Don’t listen

Even if they are being good, they can’t seem to lower their volume or intensity of the conversation. Private conversations seem to be blared out at maximum volume and they repeat the worst parts of it while eavesdropping. Stop talking about why that person is this or why they are eating that! Please!

The Sheer Amount of Talking

I am a talker. I have always been a talker, just ask my mom. When I tell her my ears are bleeding between the two kids talking over my husband, she just giggles and says karma. But it’s true! They don’t stop talking. Sometimes I just want peace and quiet. I really want to listen to the audio guide that I just paid 5 euro for, or to hear the stories on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Heck, I would settle for the announcements on the train.

Always hungry and thirsty

During meal time, it never fails, someone isn’t hungry. We ordered them their own meal, and they just don’t want it. Minutes after leaving the restaurant, they are hungry again. And thirsty, after downing two glasses of milk and my last Capris Sun for the day.

This ultimately leads to always needing to use the toilet about an hour later, if we’re lucky.

Always wants to buy something

Create habits and rules regarding spending. They must look at the whole store, or even a series of stores before they are allowed to pick ONE souvenir. I usually question the choice and offer them alternatives that I think they would prefer. It doesn’t always work but they do only get one.

When they are older, they will have an allowance and only allowed to purchase with that. I will buy one per vacation and the rest is up to them. It worked with me when I was 12 on our trip to Walt Disney World.

What if they don’t like to travel?

There are times when little ones, and not so little ones, just aren’t that interested in travel. They just want to sit at home, watch tv, or colour, or have a play date with the neighbour. And any other day would be great, except the day we are leaving for our 2-week road trip across 3 countries. Why can’t you be happy with being a home body when we have nothing planned, like the last 2 weeks when you refused to do any of the things you suddenly NEED to do now?

Early to bed, early to wake

This one is kind of ok with me. Since their regular bedtime is 7 pm, as most children this age, it doesn’t really change when on holiday. They need to go to bed roughly 7-8pm at the hotel as well. Well, this means everyone goes to bed at 7-8 pm. One bedroom hotel rooms are great if you, the parent, are a little sleep deprived. Sleep when the kids sleep; it will be the most rest you’ve gotten in a while.

As for the early to wake; things open early. You want to be first in line anyways, at least now you have a cute little alarm clock hugging your face instead of a random person ringing the phone.

Never an “off” day to relax.

Unlike solo or couple travelers, family travel with little ones don’t really have a “day off”. We can’t just sit by the pool, sleep in until noon and do whatever. Kids need supervision at all times so unless they are at daycare while on holiday, you are still on duty.

Kids don’t have an off switch.

Going back to my point about no off-days, kids need structure in their day. Sitting around the hotel room doesn’t really cut it for most. They will annoy you and whine, and complain until you do something.

Traveling With Kids

Hotels are harder to find, more expensive and a lot more crowded

Hotels have a nasty habit of charging per body in the room. I have no idea why this is, I mean, the room is being rented out whether it’s one person or 4. Why charge more for the same number of beds and towels. Either way, it’s not like you are going to split the cost of the room with them or anything so hotels tend to cost more for families. We also need a little more space than the average traveller so that brings the price up a little bit.

I prefer a hotel that is somewhat centrally located, only because I don’t have the energy to drag them on two connecting trains and a bus just to get downtown. This means the area is more crowded, my hotel costs more, and the room is probably smaller if I want to stick to my budget.

Bedtime sucks

Try to sleep in a different bed, large room, in sight of everyone. This leads to the 2 hours of “close your eyes, stop talking and go to sleep” broken record.

Must consider them when making the itinerary

Travelling is no longer about you, or your partner. You have other people to think about and they aren’t exactly verbose with their travelling desires. We need to think about what they would like to see, when they would like to see it throughout the day and if what I want to do will cause an epic meltdown because it isn’t “kid-centred” enough for them.

Throughout our 3 years of travelling, the kids have started to learn that the more they allow us to do, the more we will reward them with things that they want to do.

At the end of the day…

I love those little buggers and nothing they do will change that. Also, nothing they can possibly throw at me will stop me from taking them on vacation with us. Check out Why I choose to travel with kids for a Family-blogger Q&A and Why travelling with little ones is the best for some positive reasons to travel with the kids.

Your Thoughts…

Please share your thoughts in the comments...We would love to hear from you.

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The untold truth of traveling with kids is a little hard to swallow but it needs to be said. Learn the truth behind family travel and ways to overcome | Travel with kids |

The Family Voyage - April 10, 2017

This is all so true! But it’s still worth it 🙂

We gave up on hotels long ago, now we stick to 2 bedroom apartments for our family of four.

    Christine Leger - April 25, 2017

    We’ve tried apartments and sometimes they are just too darn expensive or out of the way. For the little one night stays, we have a hotel. Our recent stay in Rome was rather nice; two bedroom suite. No kitchen though. But at least we ha quiet time after the kids were in bed.

Kevin Wagar - April 24, 2017

People always ask about how we handle the kids on the road. Everything you say here is so true, but it’s just as true at home, the environment is just more familiar 🙂

    Christine Leger - April 25, 2017

    Exactly. Nothing they do on vacation/traveling is any different than at home or in their own town. It just feels worse ’cause we can’t easily escape into our safety bubble.

Alina - April 29, 2017

The bit about food sounds like me 🙂 I am always hungry, thirsty and need to go to bathroom 🙂 so at least that won’t change some day when I will have kids to travel with 🙂

Meghan - April 29, 2017

So weird how I don’t really experience this other than the bedtime sucking lol Although most of the time we work them so hard during the day they pass out the second their heads hit the pillow lol That’s always my “plan” lol
Now I just jinxed myself for our next trip… lmao

    Christine Leger - April 30, 2017

    You really have jinxed yourself. lol.

Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate - April 30, 2017

I love the honesty in this post =)

And reasons 1-12 are exactly why I’ve opted not to have children, ha! It’s a good fit for some people, just not me and my lack of patience 😉

    Christine Leger - May 1, 2017

    Kids came first and traveling second, in our case. Hopefully it gets better soon… or we move closer to grandma and she can babysit. I always say grandma, my dad is there too, it’s not like they are divorced or anything lol Anyways, I agree, it’s definitely not for everyone and I can totally see why. Keeping little humans alive is hard

Lia - May 6, 2017

This is hysterical! We’ll be having kids in a few years and we’re trying to wrap our head around all of the adjustments we’ll need to make… thank you for your blunt honesty 😀

    Christine Leger - May 6, 2017

    If you are already a seasoned traveler, throwing kids into the mix won’t be that much of a giant adjustment, as long as it’s early and often, IMO. But we did the opposite; kids first, travel after. It was as much a new experience for them as for us. Plus my son has some interesting characters at his school that tend to rub off on him, and he onto her so there is that lol.

Mary Abbott - September 27, 2017

Love this! Just the kind of thing I would write about. Flipping kids, eh?! Have subscribed btw xx

Liona - Travels With Ted - May 26, 2018

Too true. I identify with so much of this. We usually try to get an apartment. It’s more expensive but we can save a bit of money by self catering at least some of the time. Bedtime still takes twice the time as holidays are just sooooooo exciting.

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