In this article, the biggest mistake parents make when traveling with kids, is to help you realize there are some mistakes we have made when traveling with kids that could ruin your holiday and hope you can avoid them from happening again. You may be a seasoned traveler and meticulous planner, but one thing for sure about travel plans: They do not go as planned, especially when you are traveling with kids!
Itinerary ironed out? Check. Accommodation and activities booked in advance? Check. Still, there will be days you will run late for your appointments. Traffic will be bad because of unforeseen accidents. One kid can have a meltdown just when your patience is running short.
Something may go wrong with your perfect travel plan, but it helps to know what to avoid. This is especially true when it is your first time traveling with the whole family. Mis-allocating the travel budget is the biggest mistake parents make when traveling with kids. You can breakdown this mistake into three key factors.
The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Traveling with Kids
Buying the Cheapest Tickets
Early morning flights with layovers are usually the cheapest ones. This could work if you are a backpacker traveling solo. But if the whole family is traveling together, shelling out a little more can lessen your stress. Non-stop flights offer the convenience of not offloading and onboarding the luggage and baby gear at every stopover. The whole family will not be running around the airport to catch the next flight. You would not have to worry about missing the connecting flight, either.
Traveling by bus? Taking a long flight? Paying for another seat will make for a more convenient travel arrangement. You do not have to stress about a squirming toddler on your lap or finding the right position so that both of you can get comfortable. Also, if you are expecting a long travel time, do not book the day’s flight. No matter how much travel activities you pack, you must deal with a restless kid during the flight. By taking the evening flight, the kids will sleep through it. Hopefully. And if the budget still allows it, splurge on car service to pick you up from the airport.
Booking the Wrong Accommodation
It may be cheaper to pile everyone in a standard room and share a bed—fun too on some days. Getting a suite with separate sleeping quarters may be more expensive, but it allows you the ease of mind that everyone is nearby. Plus, you get a well-deserved break and rest after a long day of visiting places.
Choose a hotel with a doctor on call, play area, or even daycare service. These facilities are rare in the list of priorities when booking an accommodation, but invaluable in case of emergencies. You can even request for a crib to be prepared in your room from some hotels.
Another factor to consider is the distance of the accommodation to the attractions and child-friendly places. Shorter travel time from the hotel means less stress. And when your child gets cranky or bored, there are child-friendly places nearby where they can release their pent-up energy.
Picking Buffet for Your Meals
Traveling teaches children about being adventurous, not only in experiencing new things but also in tasting different flavors. Booking buffet meals is convenient and offers plenty of choices. For kids, these choices are overwhelming. So, as mom, you pick the food, serve it, and even feed the little ones. By the time everyone finished their meal, and you get the chance to eat, you must deal with restless kids.
Enjoy the hotel’s buffet breakfast, but for dinner, you can ease up on overseeing everyone’s meal. Get a table in a local diner and experience the city’s specialty or signature dishes. Book a reservation and let the kids try fine dining in a new place. Culinary exploration is part of traveling to unknown places.
Do not rely on airplane meals, though. Pack more than enough snacks and water before boarding. It also means having snacks on hand while sight-seeing, in case the little ones get hungry, or the mealtimes get extended unexpectedly.
So, what Should You Do?
Whether you plan for a solo travel or a family trip, your travel budget is your biggest consideration. It determines when and where you can go, and how much you can explore. A sizeable chunk of the travel budget goes to transportation, accommodation, and food. That is a given, but sometimes you try to shave off as much as you can from them. That way you have more budget for attractions or souvenirs.
That is how you end up buying cheaper tickets despite the connecting flights or booking a hotel outside the city for a lower rate. Paying a little extra for convenience and comfort brings more benefits. You have already stressed over the travel plan by making contingency plans and ticking the long checklist of to-dos and to-brings. Things may not go according to plan, but by properly allocating your budget, you’ve covered your bases. The family trip is for everyone’s enjoyment and adventure, including yours. Pay for less stress and more fun.
Read more ” 5 things you must prepare when traveling with the kids“, ” Useful tips for family trips with kids“
2 thoughts on “The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Traveling with Kids (My Top 3)”
I’d like to share my travel experience with my son, going back 30 years. We started flying with him when he was 6 months old. It was a time when children’s travel permits were attached to one of the parent’s passports. At the immigration, I remember vividly how they took his baby footprint for the application process.
When he was almost 3 years old and able to walk the airbridge to the plane, he suddenly stopped at the plane entrance and refused to go in, causing a small traffic jam there. The man behind us said “Go on, boy, go in.” but he refused to budge. When I asked him what the matter was, he asked me “How are we going to come down?” It really took me by surprise! It’s something we adults never think about and here was the little person afraid that he would be in the air forever. I had to assure him that the plane would definitely come down again before he decided to walk in.
Talking about meals , we found we were a little out of sync with some European meal times, particularly in Spain. The Spanish don’t eat their dinners till almost 9pm. Hence most proper restaurants do not serve sit down dinners till that time. Our Asian dinner time of 6-7:30pm is their tapas time at bars, usually taken standing up and not suitable for young children. We found ourselves having casual meals at cafes only! The hotel had a baby-sitting service but I was not comfortable with leaving my son behind with a stranger.
Another issue when travelling in Europe which I remember was toilet facilities. I found myself constantly watching out for toilet availability. Kids just cannot wait and in a new environment it’s difficult to see where the toilets are. Outside of a mall, a fast food chain is probably the best but many fast food chains overseas do not have sit-downs either. Mainly take-aways. In our warm tropical surroundings one just pulls down the pants but in the colder climates there is more to strip.
I guess it is probably better not to travel too far away from home to make life easier. ^_^
Thank you, Mdm Lo, for sharing your traveling experience with your son 30 years ago. It is a real example of what parents may encounter when traveling with a young kid, there are many things we just can’t anticipate. You have given us a good lesson learned.