Photo Friday: Breaking Family Travel Rules

Ready to roll for our Spring Break road trip

I write about traveling with kids, yet I too still break the rules. Sometimes it works out, but on not this year’s Spring Break vacation to New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

Now I know that four hotels in six nights is not a good idea. I also know that starting off exhausted before touring three of the USA’s largest cities is not a good idea. I realize that staying in not a single hotel with a pool is bad idea. So, it’s not surprising when I shamefully admit, our trip this year was unpleasant.

Ok, so that’s putting it mildly. It was exhausting. My kids fought the whole time and my youngest ended the trip throwing up all over the car. So there you have it. It was horrible. Of course there were great moments and great photos, but I’m chalking this trip up as a lesson on what NOT to do while traveling with kids.

Hotel room freeze dancing

What NOT to do when traveling with kids:

1) Limit the number of location changes. Stay at least three nights per destination.

2) Stay at a hotel with a pool at some point in longer trips.

3) Plan the mornings ahead of time when in big cities. We woke up like deer in the headlights debating what we were going to do — my kids were pummeling each other (see my cities with kids tips post for more ways to keep things fun).

4) Forgo adult plans to see more sophisticated galleries and stick with kid-friendly activities.

A visit to FAO Schwarz keeps everyone happy

Things that help make things better:

1) Bring toys for the hotel room. My kids love Magna-Tiles and Bananagrams.

2) Freeze Dance in the hotel room. Brightens everyone’s mood — including mine.

3) Curl up and rent a movie at the hotel. Grown-up movie in one room and kids movie in the other.

4) Visit friends where possible. My kids loved seeing our friends that live on a farm outside of DC. Time in a home is a perfect break after being on the go.

For more Photo Friday fun, visit Delicious Baby

Relevant Links:

How to pick family vacation destinations

Family trip preparation – read, read, read

Toddler travel, road trip tips

Cities with kids, family travel tips

Entertaining kids on planes


  1. Hear hear!
    We just got back from Ireland and I’m a little ashamed to confess that the pace of our 2nd week there was nothing short of crazy. Dublin-Bushmills-Sligo-Doolin in 3 days. My kids were killing each other by the time we got to Doolin. My poor 4yr-old nephew was literally falling apart.
    Lesson learned.

  2. I guess it’s easy to think – once the kids are older and good travelers – that you can forego those tried and true family travel guidelines.

    Thanks for the refresher!

  3. Even with teens and tweens these are great rules to remember – a 13-year old girl breaking into tears is just as unpleasant as a toddler!

  4. It’s so refreshing to have someone admit that a trip went haywire, so thank you! Great tips that should become basic rules for anyone traveling with kids.

  5. I would have to agree with this. Changing rooms every day or even every couple of days can make everyone grumpy. We just discovered Redbox. It allows you to rent at a super cheap price and it doesn’t matter if you are from that city. plus you can return them to any location.

  6. We follow a couple of your “rules” most trips, and we don’t have kids!
    We like to stay most places at least three nights, and I like to have at least a couple of nights somewhere with a pool. We don’t heavily plan our days if we can help it, but we usually do pick one or two “have-to-do” things we don’t want to miss so we have some idea of what we’re doing in a particular city.

  7. This sounds just like our Wyoming trip two years ago…too fast paced, too many hotel changes, too many hours in the car. It was miserable at times! Great tried and true tips!

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