Family travel stories are often filled with wonderful memories, experiences along with adventures. However, Traveling with young children isn’t always the puppies and sunshine portrayed on social media.
A pleasant trip can turn into scorched earth and hellfire within minutes of you kindly asking your child to take a dirty rock out of their mouth. We are huge advocates of traveling with little ones, but it is never without hardship. While many have seen our great trips, experiences and vacation memories, the family travel stories you don’t see that is the hard reality when traveling with young children.
We are in no way immune to epic toddler meltdowns, spiking temperatures, and bedtime horrors while on the road. That is why we wanted to bring to you the first edition of our untold stories of traveling with a toddler.
Take Them To A Hotel They Said, It Will Be Fun They Said
You have never truly experienced the “joy” of traveling with a toddler until you try to get them to sleep in a tiny hotel room. While every child is different, mine will not fall asleep if I am in the same room as her. This poses quite the debacle in small hotel rooms. Especially when the bathroom is too tiny to fit the pack-n-play in.
After a half-hour of rocking my cherub-faced daughter to sleep the second, her little body was put in the pack in play, the devil himself arrived.
She instantly popped up, saw I was in the room and the hysterical wailing began. Like any good human, I immediately grabbed her to keep the crying at bay. After numerous attempts, I finally resorted to staying awake with her because the hotel walls were paper thin.
That wouldn’t be fair to other guests to hear a crying baby all night. She eventually exhausted herself and slept for three hours, but my friends this was not fun.
After that trip, I immediately had to come up with a way to never let that happen again. As much as that cute boutique hotel looks, be warned that they often are not family-friendly. You will miss amenities such as thicker walls, free breakfast, a pool, and a large room. Check out a few of my hotel tips for toddlers. The newest hack I am trying out this upcoming trip is a pressure mounted shower rod with curtains to makeshift a wall. Wish me luck!
For The Love Of All Things Holy, Can You Please Look At The Camera?!
I often times get asked how I manage to get great photos of my daughter on vacation. Quite honestly, it is a miracle. We have all been there, you see the ideal spot to take the perfect photo, but your children are having none of it. For every hundred photos I take, I get one that is frame-worthy.
Distraction is key in how I manage to get the perfect photo. Having her point out things in the direction I want her to face tends to help. We try all the usual things to get her to laugh, stuffed animals, etc. Honestly, it is us “accidentally” dropping something that will get her belly laughing. After what feels like a thousand years and a million photos later I find the one that I love. The funny thing is, it is never the photo I am seeking that perfectly captures the moment.
You Have An Early Morning Flight? How about a 105 Degree Temperature
We have not eluded sickness during our travels, on the contrary, it loves to find us. It will often hit when it is most inconvenient, like right before you have to be up for an early morning flight.
On the final evening of a wonderful beach vacation, my daughter woke up at midnight screaming in pain. Her temperature was 105 degrees (yes, 105, not 100.5) and our flight was set to leave in eight hours. We immediately got the medicine in her and started our long night of ensuring her temperature came down.
You never want to be home more than when your child is sick. After pulling an all-nighter full of worry, we had to put our sick little love into the car to start the journey home. Her fever had come down, but she was still under the weather. This was hell on earth. We went back and forth on whether to stay another day but after trying to find a hotel, reschedule flights, and all the logistics, we decided getting home as soon as possible was the best.
At The Airport With A Sick Child: A Sad Family Travel Story
Managing the airport with a sick child is no easy task. In the event, you have to fly with a sick child try to keep them as isolated as you can to keep others from getting sick.
Push fluids and keep them medicated if need be. A stroller or carrier will work wonders as they will be in no mood to walk. I found that walking around with her in my arms was the best way to keep her distracted at the airport and we did screen time on the plane.
You go into survival mode and do what needs to be in done until you can get home. My only tidbit would be to make sure you taking care of yourself as well. Don’t pass out because you didn’t eat or get dehydrated.
Travel Tip: Always travel with a sick kit. This should include a thermometer, children’s medicine, medicine for you and the first kit at a minimum.
Family Travel Stories: Montezuma’s Revenge Waits For No One
When this GI beast hits, it is merciless. Your entire travel plans come to an abrupt halt. The family rushes to the nearest pharmacy to get medication and tons of disinfecting wipes.
The bad thing about getting sick as an adult is that we are often expected to power through because vacation is waiting. Many of us only get two precious weeks away from the stresses of everyday life a year and to spend them with a GI bug is disheartening.
The best advice I can give is to let the sick person stay behind to rest while the family ventures out for the day. If it is a child, then naturally a parent will have to stay behind as well.
This is threefold: It keeps your small child entertained, reduces the risk of sharing a GI bug and gives those sick time to rest so that they might be able to recover quicker. Use disinfecting wipes, enforce excessive handwashing, and use clean towels/linens.
Often times medication can help tame the symptoms, but it really dampens your vacation experience when the only attraction you are visiting is the local restroom. This we know from experience because it will always hit when you have an important meal or activity scheduled.
A Meltdown of Biblical Portions
As with all toddlers, ours is not without her award-winning drama tantrums. She really enjoys throwing them on dirty airport floors, in a bathroom stall or just about anywhere there is an audience. They are invoked by things like, don’t touch that piece of chewed up gum, don’t rip up the nice book I JUST bought you as a souvenir and my favorite, no you can’t run into the busy street.
Once the dreaded, “No” has been heard, cue meltdown. She throws herself on the floor, there is lots of unnecessary screaming and she is nominated for an Emmy at the end.
However, tantrums can be stressful especially when they decide to go full donkey right as you need to board your aircraft or disrupt an entire restaurant full of patrons trying to enjoy their meals. Yup, we have been there.
Overcoming the Tantrum
Depending on the situation parents need to do what needs to be done. I oftentimes resort to the art of distraction when I need her to get out of meltdown mode quickly.
A few of my favorites are, “I am pretty sure I just saw a princess over there! (use the child’s favorite character) Let’s go see. ” “That little baby over there is watching you, he/she needs you to show them how to act like a big girl.” I often have to get creative and utilize what is around me. Unless she needs to be physically picked up and removed from the situation. One of the many joys of traveling with a toddler.
This is just a glance at the lovely family travel stories behind the scenes of traveling with a toddler in tow. We still have lots to learn so any tips or advice are always welcome in the comments. We have many other great tales not included in our post. Such as the great blowout of 2018, The Lost Lovie, and Name That Stain.
Don’t get discouraged, because watching them explore, discover and be amazed makes everything worth it. If you are looking for a few more tips for traveling with a toddler, we have you covered! Need more tips? Check out the latest Toddler Tips from Parents Magazine.
Looking for more great travel stories? We loved reading this collection of fun travel stories from The Magic of Traveling.