When travel with kids doesn’t go to plan

When travel with kids doesn’t go to plan

So much of what you see on Social Media is beautiful, fun loving photos and stories of travel with kids and how perfect it all is! For a lot of the time it can be like this. I think I am a better person when I am travelling, I am more relaxed and become a little more of a fun parent. But, it can also be hard work. The kids can drive you batty. They can argue, they can get lost, they can turn into spoilt little brats and this is just Ned and Olive.

I thought to myself that surely there are others that have stories to share that are not all good! So, I put it out there to the blogging world and there are some beauties to share with you all! From vomiting stories, getting stuck in a lift, to the best/well scariest – a train in China taking off with your daughter on board while you are standing on the platform!

Have a read through these and let me know if you have any funny or scary stories about travelling with kids to add to the list.

Plane Tantrums

Sharon from Simpler and Smarter

Last year, we were flying long haul to Malaysia with our three kids when the oldest decided to have a MASSIVE tantrum. You may be thinking, so what? Kids have tantrums. But this wasn’t my toddler, it was my seven year old who also has the loudest screams of anyone I have ever heard. When she opens her mouth and screams, it’s like looking into an abyss. She’s also very tall for her age so people think she is a couple of years older.

I could not calm her down. She woke up everyone around us and there were a lot of stares. It went on for quite awhile with nothing I was doing helping. I ended up somehow dragging her to the bathroom (hard as she is not much smaller than me) but, even shut in there, her screams were heard in nearby rows.

I’m not sure how long it lasted since time slowed down but it was a long time. I am now far more nervous about travelling with her than my younger kids.

Train Station Disaster

Bron from Smiths Holiday Road

Without a doubt the most stressful experience we have had as parents was in Beijing, China. We were all packed up and ready to catch a train from Beijing Railway station to another station to get on our Trans Mongolian Train.

While waiting at the station the kids were carrying their own backpacks and we were navigating the security and lifts and trying to find the best way to the platform. Pepper stepped in the train first and somehow the rest of the family didn’t and the doors beeped and shut and she was gone. Her face pressed up against the window looking shocked as we all started screaming! Guards rushed to us and we tried to explain that our child had gone. A lovely lady interpreted for us and the station guard radioed through to the next station.

Meanwhile, Pepper is on the train alone telling her story and showing her identity card with my phone number on it to someone who then helped her get off at the next station and stand with a guard. We jumped on the next train and met her at the next station. Lucky her blond hair stands out in a sea of people! They have a system it works so well. We now get on the train adult-children-adult and hold hands!


When travel with kids goes wrong, this is Smiths Holiday Road exploring

Smiths Holiday Road exploring

Church Escapee

Chelsea from Pack More Into Life

Travelling with children is always a bit of an adventure.

During our trip to Delft, Netherlands, it turned into a bit of a struggle with our toddler. We were visiting Delft on a beautiful Spring day during their Kings Day celebration. We arrived early in town to experience the flea market atmosphere and had a bit of time on our hands before the festivities started.

Delft has a beautiful 14th century church that was under a bit of construction, but still amazing to visit. Our little one wasn’t overly fond of the rules: walk and be quiet. After a few nudges to follow the rules, he ended up in the stroller for a bit. We circled around the altar and then decided that he was ok to “try again” and get back out of the stroller. We reviewed the rules again before letting him “loose”. Within a minute, he cruised down the ramp and dove under the railings towards the alter. My husband’s quick reflexes grabbed his little shoe and dragged him (with hands sliding through the dust) back onto the other side of the barrier. His little hands leaving a delightful trace of the event in the dust.

Oops! Needless to say, we weren’t too impressed and made a quick exit. Oh the joys of toddlers!

Tantrums and Glass Table Tops Just Don’t Mix

Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine

We were on our family gap year and had just arrived at a serviced apartment in Johannesburg, South Africa. My 8 year old son was sitting at the glass topped dining table and was not happy about being asked to do some schoolwork.

He put his hands up to cover his ears and lent his elbows down on the edge of the table. At that moment the glass table top tilted down towards him, raising it straight up into the air. With a fearful look on his face he leapt up and the glass table top came crashing down around him.

It was a shocking, scary moment and thankfully my son was not injured. We sheepishly called reception and asked for someone to come and help clear the glass. I don’t think they could quite believe what had happened (neither could we). The manager was very gracious and did not charge us for the damage.

Needless to say we steered clear of glass table tops for the rest of our trip. And no, the kids were never happy to do schoolwork when travelling!

Broken glass table. Part of when travel with kids goes wrong collab


Shhh – Train travel in Japan with kids

Katy from Untold Morsels

Japan is a beautiful, clean and generally quiet country with refined social etiquette and expected behaviours. One of the unspoken rules is that people do not speak in loud voices on trains. Enter our family. Who knew that two almost five year olds could make so much mayhem?

Even with considerable pre-warning and preparation to educate our twins on what was expected onboard, everything descended into chaos pretty quickly on all our (many) train journeys in Japan. Drinks and food were spilt about 5 minutes into each trip and arguing in loud voices over toys began shortly after. Not to mention whining and putting feet on seats and the inevitable loud ’but Muuuuummmm’ response when they were told off.

In Australia their behaviour would be considered fairly normal, but I would still be embarrassed. In Japan, where everyone operates at a whole other level of decorum I was simply mortified. Luckily the lovely people of Japan don’t look or stare at you when your kids are misbehaving because that would be rude!

Even so,  if you don’t like to stand out in a crowd, refrain from bringing your rambunctious children on board a sleek, spotless and silent Japanese train.

Japan train before the kids arrived. Hill Tribe Travels collab post on when things don't go to plan when travelling with kids

The quiet before the kids

Ouch – pulled elbow in the airport

Kate from Rolling Along With Kids

Flying home from holidays is always a struggle but throw in a 5 and 2 year old and Mummy desperately wants an upgrade just for herself!

We were flying home from our Bali family holiday and had just checked in our luggage. Our 2 year old with autism is quite the entertaining little lad that loves to run and run. Poor hubby was trying to walk with him holding his hand from the check in counter to immigration when he began a tantrum and dropped to the ground. Unfortunately this resulted in a pulled elbow and him screaming all the way through passport control.

Luckily we had the travel stroller with us so popped him into it, made a sling and tried to stop the crying with a dummy. Then I realised, I had no kids pain relief with me! Couldn’t believe it but another Mum came to my rescue at the gate and offered me a dose to use. Once he was comfy and watching the iPad, I gently helped the elbow back in. All those years of being a Radiographer and seeing pulled elbows being reduced had finally come in handy! He was all good within a couple of minutes so I let him have a run around near me. I literally looked down for 2 seconds and he was off down an escalator at another gate! He nearly got us in a lot of trouble trying to board an empty Garuda plane!

What a way to end our Bali family holiday!

Travel with kids they said. It would be fun they said!

Alana Tagliabue from Family Bites Travel

Travelling with kids is hard work. Whoever says otherwise either has very obedient kids or they are a liar!

I travel solo-parenting with 3 kids. My sons were one, three and eight when we started our epic 20-month journey. One of the funniest stories from that trip was when my then 3-year-old refused to walk through the Kerala International airport. We had been travelling all day and he simply refused to walk. I was carrying the baby and we had all our stuff that included 2 car-seats, stroller. We had luggage coming out the wazoo. We had to get to our car and I didn’t have the strength to carry him. He refused to get on the luggage cart. In the end, I had to drag him by his “monkey tail” leash across the floor.  It was for much longer than I had wanted or anticipated.Initially, he fought it whilst in full-tantrum mode, screaming down the entire arrival lounge. At that exact moment, a planeload of Chinese tourists started to transverse the travelator seeing the spectacle. So, there I was pushing a giant luggage trolley, carrying a 1 year and dragging the toddler across the dirty floor. All the people were laughing and videoing it.

Looking back it is hilarious but at the time I was so tired I didn’t care. Travel with kids they said. It would be fun they said.

Lost wallet in Hanoi

Sandra from Heading for the Hills

We spent three months in Vietnam in 2016, giving the ‘digital nomad thing’ a go.

About a week into our trip, we were in Hanoi. I had a lot of work to do (because it’s not all temple visits and sipping cocktails by the pool when you have to work on the road). So, my husband took our then 3-year-old son out for a local bus ride around the city.

Our little boy got bored after a while and started poking around in his dad’s bag. Uh oh. Back at the hotel, my husband couldn’t find his wallet. We searched everywhere for it. The last place he had it was in his bag on the bus! Mr Three confessed to the crime of playing with daddy’s wallet. My husband didn’t confess to paying more attention to his mobile phone than his son. But he did confess to not heeding my advice and splitting his cards in case something like this happened. Oh the horror. He had about $AU800 in cash, his Korean and Australian driver’s licences and Korean ID card plus several credit and debit cards.

It was a nightmare to sort out. We had had to spend about a day cancelling cards and IDs. Thank goodness I still had a credit card that saw us through until my sister joined us about a month later and brought our shiny new cards with her. Neither of us has lost a card or dollar since and we always triple check our belongings after that hard-learned lesson courtesy of Mr 3.

Stuck in a lift!

Clare Dewey from Epic Road Rides

I had a huge travel fail when we were staying in a hotel in Barbados with our 3 year old. I got into the hotel lift with my son, but then realised I’d left something behind in our room. I made a split second decision and jumped out, just as the door rattled across. My son was left inside, panicking! The lift went on its way downwards and I could hear his screams as I ran to the staircase! Luckily he got out at the bottom and we were reunited… I just hope he’s not scarred forever by the experience!


Hill Tribe Travels collab post - when travel with kids doesn't go to plan. This is the beautiful beach which was when things were going to plan

It’s beautiful outside the lift!!

Vomitgate in Cambodia

 Keri from Our Globe Trotters

Cambodia had been on my bucket list for years! Sure, a more challenging destination for families, especially with 3 kids under 6.  Other than a bag snatching incident in Phnom Penh, we thought we’d have a relaxing few days at the beach while hubby recovered from the virus and nasty rash he picked up in Vietnam.  All was going well until the day we checked out from our Sihanoukville hotel, ready to fly to Siem Reap in the evening – why is it always check out day? 

I got the wobbly belly first so we headed to the safety of a bar we could eat and ugh, use the facilities at until our flight.  Then Miss 5 started to feel unwell. Then we were fighting it out for the one and only loo, each of us from both ends. We made it through to the time our taxi was driving us to the airport.  An immensely brave Miss 5 held on to her next explosion until arrival at the airport, much to our drivers relief! A quiet nap at the airport and we knew it would be a difficult flight. Then just before boarding our tiny plane, Master 3 started decorating hubby from head to toe with his lunch.  A quick bathroom hose down we had the prospect of changing to a 12 hour bus journey the following day, or damn it, we would make it through that 45 minute flight!   

You wouldn’t think it was physically possible between the 3 of us unwell to fill that many aeroplane vomit bags but I think we set a new family record, just thankful the one year old was still holding his lunch.  We’d arrive in Siem Reap to be met by vintage open top cars, taking us to a beautiful resort hotel where I was to be a guest reviewer that week. We made the car journey intact, only to discover something soggy on my feet at the check in desk. Master 1 was clearly having FOMO and joined the vomit party.  Many sincere apologies to our hosts later, we were finally at our destination and locked in our own room again.  I don’t think I need to describe the situation that happens once kids are through the vomit phase. Thankful to the ever gracious staff we had at our hotel who readily bought us new bed sheets at all hours of the night.  Ironically, within 24 hours we were all completely OK, but a travel experience we will not forget in a hurry!   Travel with kids certainly ain’t all glamorous! (and yes, we gave the resort a resoundingly positive review!!)

Missed TV opportunity!

Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations

On a flight with my daughter, Anne, who was about three years old, I started chatting with the woman next to us. She turned out to be a casting agent, choosing children for a long-running cereal commercial. Seeing my sweet daughter, she told me I should call her when Anne turned four.

I was thrilled. Anne had already done some baby modelling, but the real money is in commercials. One commercial could pay a year or more of college!

Anne decided, once the seatbelt sign was off, that she wanted a walk. I followed along behind her to make sure she didn’t bother anyone.

When she’d had enough of walking, we returned to our seats. Anne turned, faced the woman, who was at the window seat, and threw up all over the middle seat.

I was, as you can imagine, horrified. The woman covered her nose and mouth with a napkin, obviously disgusted by the smell. I frantically tried to wipe it up, calling a flight attendant over, and trying to keep Anne from touching it. Even once it was cleaned up, it still smelled, and I told the woman that I wouldn’t be offended if she wanted to go sit somewhere else. She looked positively grateful, gathering up her things and disappearing down the aisle.

I never saw her again, much as I searched the faces as we left the plane. I never got her number and my daughter never did that commercial.

Stuck, All Alone

Jessy Lipperts from Planet Pilgrims

Going on a road trip to a beautiful ‘off the beaten’ track destination as a single mom with small child, is not always wise.

A few years back I went with my daughter to the Cederberg Wilderness area, about a 5 hour drive from Cape Town. It is beautifully peaceful but also far away from any help and cell phone reception.

So when we arrived after a long drive, where I had looked after my daughter but not so much after myself, I was hit with severe dehydration. There was no way to get help as we were staying in a cottage a few hundred meters away from the reception. I couldn’t walk anymore, could only lie down. I was so happy that I had a cooler box full of snacks so that I only needed to hand this down to my daughter who of course didn’t understand while mommy was completely exhausted and not being able to move. While I worked on my water intake for the next day, I slowly recovered but I realized, NEVER again on my own should I undertake an adventurous drive like this.

Arrival at Enjo Nature Farm - Cederberg Collab post from Hill Tribe Travels on when things don't go to plan when traveling with kids

Arrival at Enjo Nature Farm – Cederberg

Walking or flying?!

David from Travel with Little One

As his parents are from opposite ends of the globe, our Little Man was always going to travel a lot. He got his first taste of long-haul flying when he was four months old, just after he had picked up a cold.

We had to fly London to Sydney via Dubai. In his baby days he was a very light sleeper, and getting up six or seven times a night was routine.

The change of environment had a big effect, so he spent most of the journey in our arms. It was much easier to carry him around than sit down, so I spent most of both legs of the journey walking him around. At one point it took me from Sri Lanka to Malaysia to walk him to sleep. Having succeeded, I placed him in the bassinet, fast asleep. About a minute later we hit turbulence, so I had to take him for another walk. We also covered the Australian continent soon afterwards.

I look back on it now as a wonderful experience, but I came off that flight looking and smelling like I had just traversed the entire Australian continent on foot. That day I slept 1 to 8pm Australian time, then spent the next five nights up with him.

Vomit and tears on a train

Emma from Money Can Buy Me Happiness

Our travel nightmare started after disembarkation from our cruise ship in Barcelona took hours. We missed our 11.03 train, so we killed time eating McD’s and breastfeeding on the floor whilst sitting next to a rubbish bin.

We finally managed to squeeze onto a packed train towards our final destination. It was hot and we were packed in like sardines. My toddler grew fussier and eventually lost it. I was given a seat but it was too late. By this time the toddler had lost it and was convulsing and wouldn’t feed so there was not much I could do except strip him down and try to keep him coolish.

After a particularly nasty bout of screaming, his eyes started to roll back into his head and he then projectile vomited. In a packed train. He spewed on the legs of a teen stood in front of me and the kids mum. At this point I freaked the out thinking he was having a seizure and handed him to my husband as he was in an air pocket that was much cooler than where I was.

I burst into tears and started to mop up his vomit with my cardigan and the wet wipes a kind lady kept handing to me. As the tears ran down my face, people kept telling me it was ok and not to worry (in both Spanish and English) and one woman cleaned the vomit off my back, arms and face with wipes.

All of these lovely people were on their holiday too, and not one person chastised us or made us feel bad. We got off the train at the first stop as it seemed safer for everyone, and ended up paying 140 euros to get a taxi to our final destination.

Air BnB nightmare

Natalie from Home Health Living

How your children behave at home is how they will behave when you’re travelling.

While travelling in Europe, we stayed in Airbnb accommodation. This was the best value option for our family of 5, who would have otherwise had to book two hotel rooms.

We stayed in an apartment in Split, Croatia, in a residential building.

My kids are generally well-behaved but my youngest daughter, who was 5 years old at the time, had a habit of jumping off her bunk bed. She also liked to run in the apartment rather than walk. She was an excited and happy kid.

The neighbour downstairs wasn’t happy.

She complained to the apartment owner about our “loud behaviour”. Since I am fluent in the Croatian language, the apartment owners suggested that the neighbour come and visit us and have a friendly chat with me.

The neighbour did come to see me- but it wasn’t a friendly chat. I was lectured about how to raise kids properly! In the evening, the neighbour used a steel pole to bang on our balcony whenever she heard us. It was a stressful and unpleasant experience!

We decided to forfeit our remaining nights in the apartment and found somewhere else that was more child-friendly. And lucky for us, it was across from the marina with picture-perfect views!

The view from the new Airbnb - Hill Tribe Travels collab post on when things don't go to plan when travelling with kids

The view from the new Airbnb

Broken Treasures

Lan from The Practical Saver

When my family visited the Philippines, my wife and I took our daughter (who was 1 year old back then) to a kid’s museum. She loved it and was playing with the other kids. All of the sudden, she ran towards a statue, and it fell. We were glad it wasn’t made of breakable material like glass.

While the statue was made of wood, the wood’s paint chipped off (part of it and it’s very noticeable). In short, the statue didn’t look good after that.

We were embarrassed, to say the least. All we could do was to say sorry.


So there you have it! A fantastic round up of when things really don’t go to plan when travelling with kids! Do you have any stories to add? Please leave me a comment below.

If you would like to keep in touch via email you can quickly sign up here. We don’t send out many emails but it’s a really nice way to keep in touch xx

By | 2019-07-12T08:31:56+10:00 July 12th, 2019|Categories: Other Travel Tips and Posts|9 Comments

About the Author:

I love travelling with my family! When we are not travelling I am researching all things travel!


  1. Rachel Heller December 4, 2018 at 6:28 am - Reply

    Thanks for including my contribution. I laughed out loud at some of these!

    • Amber December 4, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rachel! I know…there are some great stories in here. We (obviously) love traveling with the kids but it is so nice to know there are people who are willing to share that it is not always great!

  2. Keri December 5, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Not to be read in a public place! some burst out loud funny stories here (and makes me appreciate so much more when things actually go right!!)

    • Amber December 5, 2018 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Hi Keri, thanks for your contribution. I agree….laugh out loud and also a couple of scary stories. I am glad we could all share the other side of travel with kids x

  3. Rachel December 5, 2018 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Such a great article to read as a parent – it reassures me we are completely normal!! The train one is the most scary for me – it almost happened to us on a train in Taiwan. It was a terrifying experience and we too now board trains and buses with adult-child holding hands..

    • Amber December 5, 2018 at 12:58 pm - Reply


  4. Fatin June 13, 2019 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    I feel you! I’ve experienced some of these every time traveling with my nephews. After reading this, I think I should face the situation calmly & candid a few photos so I can show them when they grow up!

    • Amber June 13, 2019 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Haha! Yes, very true. This was a good post to put together. As I realise that we all have our funny and scary moments but it’s all part of the adventure!

  5. Adventure in sharjah December 23, 2019 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Nice post! The information you provided is very helpful if someone is planning to enjoy the holidays. I think ALNoorIsland is a better way to spend the joyful vacations.

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