Traveling families: we experience travel fails too!

Suewan Kemp Kids, Parents Leave a Comment

Think family travel is always sunshine and roses? Think again.

Turns out the reality of travel isn’t as picture perfect as those Instagram photos may have you believe. Traveling with kids can be a nightmare! Read on to see how these traveling families have experienced epic travel fails.

Dawn from 5 Lost Together

Our biggest travel fail was when we went on vacation with a baby and toddler and forgot our diaper bag at home.

We were really excited to escape the Canadian winter with a week in the Bahamas.  When we arrived at the airport we realized we forgot a pretty crucial item when traveling with little kids: our diaper bag. We had no diapers, wipes or any of those other useful things you keep in a diaper bag.  Luckily the flight was only a few hours and we spied some parents at the airport with babies and borrowed a few diapers to get us through the flight.

So while we remembered to pack all the little things for travel with a baby and toddler, we forgot one very big and important item.  Lesson learned – make lists when packing and check them twice.

Angela from Reading Inspiration

Our family travel fail took place on a train journey from London to Berlin.

East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall. Taken by Angela Stapleford.

We hoped to make the journey fun. Once in Paris, we spent a few hours sightseeing and then boarded the sleeper to Berlin. Our then-6-year-old was excited about the idea of going to bed on the train! Our cabin was narrow but cosy. We looked forward to waking up in Berlin.

But come morning we looked out to see a French station sign. The engine had broken down, just a few miles outside Paris! The helpful, but weary conductor advised us not to leave the platform – we might get moving any time. Our son got bored at times but happily played with other kids.

By late afternoon the train got moving. It could only get us as far as Frankfurt and then we had to dash across the station to catch the last train to Berlin. We made it to Berlin exhausted at 2 am the next day, 17 hours behind schedule! The next day we got on with enjoying a fantastic holiday. On the way back the train ran smoothly and we woke up refreshed in Paris as hoped for!

Clare from Epic Road Rides

I had a big fail when travelling with our 3 year old in Barbados.

I got into the hotel lift, but then realised I’d left something behind in the room. I jumped out and immediately the door shot across, leaving my 3 year old inside! Total panic as the lift went on it’s way downwards. I could hear his screams as I dashed to the staircase and chased after him!

Luckily he got out at the bottom and we were reunited, but two years later he still enjoys reminding me of my mistake every time we get into a lift. I don’t think he’s going to let me forget it!

Beach in Barabados. Taken by Clare Dewey


Sharon from Melbourne Family

When we were in Paris we had a couple of our biggest travel fails and the scariest was when my son’s hand got caught in a train door.

We were on our way to the airport and standing next to the door with our luggage. We were travelling with two kids aged 3 and 5. I kept telling my 3-year old to not touch the door. Unfortunately, he did not listen.

He had his hand on it one time when we came to a stop and, as the door opened, the train took his hand into the train with it and it was firmly stuck.

He was screaming.

I was screaming.

Many people rushed to our aid and tried to open it. Someone set off an alarm and eventually we were able to move the door and get his hand out.

We were made to get off the train to wait for an ambulance, although thankfully he was more shook up than hurt. We managed to still catch our flight but it was a terrible experience and I’m now overly paranoid everytime we are near a door on a train.

Melissa from Thrifty Family Travels

The very first flight we ever took our daughter on was to Thailand.  We were heading to Phuket and had a short stop over in Bangkok.  Well just after we had landed in Bangkok, my husband was holding our daughter when she decided to power chuck all over him!  It was disgusting! 

Once off the plane we cleaned up our daughter and changed her into the spare set of clothes we had for her.  Unfortunately, though we did not have any spare clothes for my husband, as our bags were in transit to Phuket.  It was also the middle of the night and there were no shops open to buy another shirt. 

My husband did the best he could to clean himself up in the toilets, but he still stunk like baby vomit and had to remain like that for our next flight to Phuket.  Lesson learned take a spare set of clothes for everyone!

Melissa and her family


Kyla from Where is the World 

While traveling through Alaska we wanted to ride the dome train, but we also wanted to save a bit of money! So, we decided to take the train from Denali to Talkeetna, and then the bus from Talkeetna to Anchorage.

We spent the night in Talkeetna, at the McKinley Princess Lodge where our bus had stopped for a break on the ride from Anchorage to Denali. I made the blind assumption that this would be our pick-up point on the return journey. That morning we packed up our bags and hauled them down to the hotel lobby. Then we waited. Buses came and went, and it became more and more difficult to entertain our then 3 and 5 year old girls!

The bus company finally got hold of us, and we learned we were waiting at the wrong hotel. Transportation options are limited in Talkeetna, and we ended up having to take a taxi the 2+hr journey to Anchorage…with NO carseats!

Josie from Josie Wanders

My family didn’t travel much until my kids were teenagers, and considering some of the travel fails we have had since, that is probably a good thing.

One that I am constantly reminded of occurred when we were in London. We had a busy first day checking out sites all over the city and were on our way back to our AirBnB. The whole family made their way down the stairs into the tube station. As we neared the bottom, our train pulled into the platform, so we rushed to jump onto the nearest door. Our eldest daughter was a little behind, bringing up the rear, and could only watch as the doors closed in front of her. I was able to yell at her to get the next train, and the name of the station to get off at, but the look on her face was pure terror!

She does not catch public transport at home, and in a big, crowded city on the other side of the world she was petrified! Of course everything was okay, and it was only a few minutes of drama, but she stuck to us like glue for the rest of the trip.

London tube

Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures

We discovered the hard way that our eldest daughter suffers from travel sickness – as soon as we started a four-month trip through South East Asia! Unfortunately, the poor thing was ill on a public bus in Cambodia, numerous vehicles in Sri Lanka and on a ferry in the Philippines.

Luckily we discovered a couple of remedies that we now never travel without, her trusty Sea Bands which are acupressure wristbands that help with nausea and conveniently come in children’s sizes. We also give her Gin Gins which are all natural ginger candies, also reputed to help with nausea. We also never travel anywhere now without an emergency plastic bag!

Wearing sea bands

Chris from Chris Travel Blog

During the Christmas holidays of 2017 I travelled for 2 weeks through Japan with my family. One thing that happened during this trip I will never forget. It sure put some grey in my hair.

My son, 14 years old, isn’t the most difficult teenager but does want to do on occasion his own thing. In Kyoto he didn’t want to join the 3rd day sightseeing temples and stayed at the hotel. He does love Japanese food, so he did want to join us for dinner. It was just a 30-minute walk from the hotel to the restaurant. He never made it there.

While chatting with his friends about boring temples he took a wrong turn and ended up somewhere in Kyoto but in the opposite direction. When, after 45 minutes, he didn’t arrive I checked with ‘find my phone’ where he was. I got a position, but a few seconds later his phone ran out of battery. I then of course went back to the hotel where I didn’t see him in his room, nor in mine. I waited over an hour and still nothing.

You can imagine how worried I got as a father. I then went to his room to get something and there he was! Enjoying room service! He didn’t bother to call at all to tell us that he was safe. No, he ordered room service as he was hungry!

My worries turned into anger, but I realized very quick it wasn’t anger at all but happiness he made it back in one piece. I made sure that if this ever would happen again he at least would call that he was safe. A great story which we for sure will never forget. I learned one big lesson: Teenagers will look after themselves but won’t bother telling you that they did!

Photo of Kyoto taken by Chris

Sammi from Momma’s Blueprint

I never considered traveling to be that elaborate a task before. Earlier forget packing, I wouldn’t even need a plan for a trip. When I think of those days while packing for a trip with my kid now, I find it hard to believe how this little human being needs so many things for a few days. I usually take a couple of days to prepare all that my little champ may need and spend the next day deciding what he may not need.

Photo taken by Sammi Basi

I remember one such trip when my baby was 1.5 years old. We made our packing as basic as we could. I carried only two pairs of trousers to team up with different tops. Still, we had our luggage packed till it refused to shut.

And when we returned, our little man had us pick everything he fancied. A boot-shaped bean bag was one that he personally checked by sitting and playing with it till it vanished in the packing. When it reappeared in the security check he was overwhelmed, but he froze when the bean bag was emptied. Needless to say, we were the center of attention with the uncontrollable tantrums.

Add to that the extra hand luggage we had, despite paying extra because a toy was not allowed with checked luggage. We walked around heavy on all sides till he calmed down (luckily before boarding the aircraft).

Lindsey from Carpe Diem OUR Way

Last year we spent a month in Jordan.

About a week before we left, my then three year old had a stomach bug. Thankfully he was better before our flight, but guess who got it on the plane, ME!

It was 4 hours of hell with a 5 year old, a three year old and me in between them, throwing up in an airplane puke bag. Fast forward to Jordan, two weeks into our trip, every three or 4 days my kids are either puking or have diarrhea. I though they were somehow passing a normal virus back and forth and we were mostly able to do what we wanted to do around their sicknesses.

Finally, I took them to a doctor in Jordan (the process was made much easier having an arabic speaking boyfriend), and after a 5 minute check, we were sent away with two prescriptions for anti-parasite medication costing me less than USD10 for the doctor’s visit and the medicine. Despite its horrible flavor, after our visit the kids were fine the rest of the time. I felt horrible for not taking them sooner for something so simple!

Lindsey’s family

Melissa from The Family Voyage

We’ve been traveling full-time for the last ten months and have mostly had smooth sailing; however, we had one week when everything went completely off the rails! We were having a great time exploring the small city of Chiang Rai in northern Thailand and we’re heading to Bangkok the next day, from which we planned to launch into a month in Vietnam.

Two things went wrong that night and ripples through the following months of our travel. First, while chatting with other parents in a family travel group on Facebook we learned that Vietnam might not be a good choice for our family – despite a month of travel already booked and one brand partnership already secured. As we sat in bed into the wee hours of the night processing what we had just learned, we decided to take a break to go check on the kids in the other room.

Melissa’s family

Blow number two? Poor Shoshana could barely breathe! She had been coming down with a little cold earlier in the day, but it very quickly turned into full-blown bronchitis! Ronnie rushed her to the hospital with our amazing host Toddy, and they returned after 4am – with her breathing improved but an extremely high fever.

By morning things had calmed down and her condition began to improve, but to be on the safe side we visited a (second) hospital in Chiang Rai for a follow-up visit. Shockingly, we made our flight to Bangkok with a handful of minutes to spare but still in total shock about what had transpired over the last 24 hours. Ronnie and I subsequently fell ill in Bangkok and we all spent a full week there trying to regroup and figure out where to go next. We went to Starbucks, saw a movie and even took in a few sites. Fortunately at the end of it we made some solid plans and had all recovered physically, but that crazy night had a huge impact on our travels!

You see, family travel isn’t always amazing. Sometimes there are tears, worries and vomit!

However, all these families continued to travel despite these things. So while it isn’t always Instagram perfect sunsets and cocktails there is something about travel hooks you.

Have you had any travel fails? 

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