Close this search box.

Traveling with kids can be a joyous experience, but let’s face it, it can also be challenging. We’ve encountered numerous situations that can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. To help you avoid or better handle these scenarios, we’ve compiled our top 5 family vacation nightmares and how to navigate them.

1. Dealing with Crying Kids or Tantrums on a Flight

Every parent planning a long-haul flight has probably asked themselves: How do I entertain my child on board? How do I ensure they won’t cry or experience ear pain? Our advice is simple: loosen up the rules. Remember, you’re the one who wants to explore the world, and your child is along for the ride. Allow them some leeway. Our kids love to fly because they can watch their iPads as long as they want and eat as many crackers as they desire. If you relax, they’ll relax too. And since you’re only loosening the rules during the flight, the impact on your parenting will be minimal.

2. Handling Kids Who Don’t Want to Eat Abroad

Our kids are notoriously picky eaters. Despite reading numerous parenting books and implementing various strategies, meal times can still be a struggle. So, how do we ensure they eat a nutritious meal while on vacation? The truth is, we don’t always succeed.

After spending hours searching for peanut butter in Thailand, we now always pack a jar when we travel abroad. Our son, Floris, survived on peanut butter, bananas, and cucumbers for three weeks in Thailand. Not exactly the nutritious meal we had in mind, but we supplemented his diet with multivitamin supplements to ensure he didn’t miss out on essential nutrients.

While traveling in the USA, the kids also struggled with eating dinner. However, as we were traveling in a camper with a fully equipped kitchen, I was able to prepare them a home-cooked “Dutch meal” several times a week.

3. Managing Jetlag in Kids

Jetlag can be a real challenge when traveling with kids, especially when flying west. While flying east might result in them going to bed and waking up a bit later, flying west can have them waking up as early as 04:00 AM for about a week. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about this.

One strategy is to start adjusting to the new timezone while still at home or on the plane. Upon arrival, immediately switch to the new timezone. If your kids struggle to sleep at night, encourage them to stay in bed and rest. Occasionally, we let our kids use the iPad at night, hoping they’ll eventually doze off. After all, we could all use that extra hour of sleep.

4. Dealing with Kids Who Refuse to Walk

It might sound amusing, but it’s a real issue we’ve faced numerous times. Whether it’s due to jetlag, a new environment, or something else entirely, our kids have often refused to walk upon arriving at a destination. So, what’s the solution? We usually opt for two strategies:

  • A. Don’t give in! Remember, it’s your holiday, and you want to explore, not sit on the floor next to your stubborn child.
  • B. If you’re in a hurry (like catching a plane or boat), always have a stroller or kids carrier on hand to avoid a standoff with your little one.

This usually only lasts a day or two. After that, they’re usually more than happy to run around on their own.

5. Handling Illness During Travel

Unfortunately, our kids have fallen ill on many of our family vacations, and we’ve had our fair share of hospital visits abroad. From our experience, the hospitals in Bangkok, Las Vegas, Cairns, and Koh Samui are excellent, while the hospital in Vietnam left much to be desired.

Preparing for Potential Health Issues During Family Vacations

No one wants to think about visiting a hospital during a family vacation. However, it’s always wise to check your health and/or travel insurance coverage for medical costs abroad before you leave. During our last trip to the USA, we had to visit the ER in Vegas with our daughter, Lotte. After only 5 minutes, we were charged €1,500.

Choosing the Right Hospital Abroad

If you ever have to visit a hospital abroad, especially in countries that are not considered “first world”, make sure you choose a private clinic with, preferably, English-speaking doctors. If language happens to be a barrier, use Google translate or call your doctor back home as most medicines have universal Latin names.

Overcoming Vacation Nightmares

We hope you will never experience one of the “nightmares” in our TOP 5 on your family vacation. If you unfortunately do, we hope our experiences and tips can help you. Despite the experiences mentioned above, we still had and continue to have amazing family vacations with our kids!

We Want to Hear Your Stories

Do you recognize our TOP 5 “nightmares”? Or did you run into totally different things? Let us know, we love to hear them.


Follow us: