Traveling with Kids – Mishaps and Disasters!


The other day a friend told me that I definitely paint a pretty picture of family travel but that it truly can’t be as full of singing birds and perfect sunny days as I make it seem. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I guess I want to share the happy side of traveling with your kids because we are such advocates of it.  I am always honest but usually if we have an awful experience, I just choose not to write about it.  I try to be an optimistic person in my every day life so naturally that is going to come out in my blog.  That being said I realize that I have left out a major part of traveling with kids…the mishaps and disasters!  I give you my (and my husband’s favorite) traveling with kids mishaps and disasters (in no particular order of miserable-ness!)!!

  • I am pretty sure that if I googled “screaming toddler in a puffy pink jacket” that I will find a video of me trying to jam my temper tantrum throwing, screaming, flailing, red-faced two year old into a backpack stroller in front of a hundred laughing tourists (all of whom were taping the entire process with cell phones or video cameras) on the Hofburg Palace grounds in Vienna, Austria.  I eventually got her strapped in and we were able to run in the opposite direction but those ten minutes truly haunt me everytime she starts to act up in public. This probably falls into the top ten embarrassing moments of my whole life…well, most of these probably fall into that category.  If you have seen the video, please email me the link…on second thought, never mind.
  • In the summer of 2008, we flew to Colorado, rented a car and in the time span of one week drove from Denver, Colorado to Casper, WY and then to Jackson Hole, WY through Yellowstone to Cody, WY, back to Casper and then to Denver to fly home. It was this trip where we learned that a minivan is a must when we travel. We only have two children so we were trying to save money by renting a compact. Our children saw nothing but the inside of the car for the entire trip because they couldn’t see out the windows. I think my daughter cried the entire week we were there and my son had me take pictures out the window and show him the camera screen so he could see what he was missing. And to top it all off, I had stopped to buy a bottle of wine halfway through the exhausting trip only to have the thing shatter into a million pieces on the front step of the store.  That was my breaking point and I cried.  Some kind woman handed me a wet one from her perfectly behaved child’s stroller to mop up my tears and the blood from my fingers.
  • When my son was two (I am sensing a two year old theme here) I took a red eye flight leaving California around 8 at night and arriving in Atlanta, Georgia at 4:30am with a connecting flight to Pensacola, FL at 6:30.  You might ask why I remember these details so vividly.  This goes down as the worst. flight. of. my. life (next only to the one where Little S screamed the entire time because of a busted ear drum).  Big S had a night terror thirty minutes after taking off.  He screamed at the top of his lungs for two hours (if you have ever seen a child experience a night terror, you know what I mean…yikes!) and sobbed for the rest of the flight while I took turns taking up space in the bathroom and standing in the galley.  Thank goodness for amazing and sympathetic flight attendants.
  • While we were in Amsterdam, we had just arrived by train from Brussels.  We hurried out of the station to grab the GVB tram (the local public transportation) that we thought was correct.  The doors closed on our stroller so while my husband and I were inside the tram, my son was on the outside.  I had a moment of panic before someone got the driver’s attention so he could stop the tram and open the doors so we could get the stroller inside.  After all this, we found out we weren’t even going in the right direction. 
  • When my son was 10 months old we attended a family vacation on my husband’s side at Disneyworld.  Big S got incredibly sick with explosive diapers while we were at the Animal Kingdom.  By 10 in the morning, we had gone through all of the changes of clothes and every single diaper in the diaper bag.  On the Disney bus back to the hotel no one would sit near me (including my family) because I was covered in poop and vomit holding a baby that was covered in poop and vomit.  Everytime I see a picture of the T-Rex near the dinosaur ride I think about those miserable diaper changes.
  • During a layover in Atlanta my son knocked a brand new 32 ounce soda over.  Unfortunately the soda was sitting on the ground at the top of one of the many ramps that are found in the airport so instead of creating a small pool that would have made cleanup easy, the soda rolled about 12 feet down the ramp spreading all over and then pooled. 

So there you have it…some of our favorite disasters!  There have been many more and I will continue to share them.  These mishaps could have kept us from our next vacation but we wouldn’t have as many great stories to tell! 

What is your favorite family travel disaster moment?  Do share!


  1. 1

    I loved these stories. You’re human. It happens and I love that you can always find the positive side of life. You are a truly an inspiration. The puffy pink jacket episode would have sent me to the looney bin. 🙂

  2. 2

    You are truly wonderful. Not only for reliving some undoubtedly awful moments, but for sharing them, too. Helps us know we’re all in this together. My worst family travel disaster moment isn’t even worth sharing in comparison! 🙂

  3. 3

    I think I’ve seen the video…kidding. Those stories are hard to beat.
    I think it’s always good to share the good, bad, and ugly because most families that travel encounter the whole spectrum.
    Readers can relate and see that you can still travel despite it all.

  4. 4

    You are one BRAVE woman and truly a hero of mine! I fret sometimes just taking mine out to the grocery store and local eateries. I can’t imagine traveling to another country! But you’re an inspiration to me and I hope to get out and do more things now! Keep sharing these stories — they were great (and horrific) in a “I’m totally feeling sorry for you kind of way” – lol. 🙂

  5. 5

    There is a reason our travels are with teens and tweens. It is all coming back to me why we went to Disney for years – and stayed on property so we could go back to the hotel for naps and snacks. Even then we had our moments! Once they get to be six or seven it gets so much easier — and then they will remember all the exotic places you take them. Keep the faith!

  6. 6

    Wow! You are one brave mommy alright. Thanks for the laughs. One of worst travel moments was our flight from San Francisco to Scotland. It was 11 hours non-stop to London. We arrived at the airport only to discover at check in that my husband’s passport was expired! We decided that I should continue on my own with our 15 month old and hubby would join us a few days later. I figured, we’re experienced travelers, how bad can this be? Well, let me just say that my lap child slept for just 1 our of the entire 11 hour flight partly because the 5 year old sitting next to us spent pretty much the whole flight playing video games and accidentally hitting us the whole flight. His mom didn’t even notice because she was flying by herself with her 5 year old and 6 month old baby all the way from San Francisco to some place in Africa. I couldn’t possibly complain seeing her poor frazzled face. When we finally arrived in London, I was totally exhausted and so was my son who promptly decided to fall asleep as we were getting off the airplane. They wouldn’t give me my stroller and I had to walk all the way across Heathrow airport with a dead weight toddler in a sling (didn’t know about the Ergo at that time), diaper bag and rolling suitcase. Why I didn’t ask for assistance is beyond me. I was ready by the time I got to the waiting area for our next flight. But I was just too exhausted.

  7. 7

    I know at the time these moments were horrific but I couldn’t stop laughing because I’ve been in a couple of those same situations and some of my own. I’m on my iPhone so I can’t go into detail. But I’ll share some of my mishaps soon! Thanks for sharing those not so fun moments. Because traveling is hard work for a mom and you sound like your doing very well at it!!

  8. 8

    Amen. We have had our share of disasters, and plenty of days where we’ve said, NEVER AGAIN. But we forget about the hassles and the tantrums and keep on traveling. I guess it’s a little bit like childbirth that way: we conveniently forget.

  9. 9

    Wow, you’ve had some doozies. Most of our horror stories have involved exhausted children and vomiting too…but the cool thing about travel? It’s almost like childbirth–in the wake of good memories, you forget the horrors. 🙂 Thanks for letting us all know we’re not alone.

  10. 10

    OMG – the poop and vomit story had me laughing so hard!! You’ve definitely had your share.