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By Sue White (@suewhitewriter)     3 Jun 2016

While we think of vacations as our dedicated de-stress time, traveling itself can be a hassle. There are planes to miss, passports to forget and airports full of impatient passengers to contend with—so when you bring a kid into the mix, things get messy. Here are 33 typical travel moments that every parent will know

1. When you discover the new essentials


When you’re trying to zip up your bulging suitcase and have to choose between ditching the sexy swimwear or the slip-proof bathmat—and the answer is so obvious that you can’t believe some travelers consider this an actual decision.

2. When reading time is over


Instead of deciding how many books to take for that relaxing downtime by the pool, you debate whether it’s even worth taking one.

3. When you pack plastic


You are not the only person in your social circle who travels with his or her own shower curtain (so you don’t spend your vacation cleaning food thrown from a highchair off a floor that is not your own). A tip for newbies: while it’s invaluable, this prop is best wheeled out at the house of a friend, rather than in a nice restaurant.

4. When art dies

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That moment when you trade in your treasured twin-lens SLR for a point-and-shoot because, really, who has two hands free long enough to take photos that require anything more time-intensive than autofocus?

5. When you dress for mess

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Every mealtime represents a unique opportunity for your child to ruin the only remaining clean outfit in your suitcase. Note: The Law of Foolhardy Parenting means that if you do have clean outfits, but they’re in the hold of a plane you’re currently trapped in for another seven hours, the chances of this happening increase exponentially.

6. When you stare at the back of a seat for 12 hours

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iPad? Well, you’ll get to use it when the kids are asleep, I guess.

7. When you come prepared

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You’re always prepared and travel with a box of cereal and a tin of powdered milk—because, toddlers.

8. When you don’t

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Despite your pre-trip calculations on how much cereal you’d need, the supply runs out and you realize you’re not home for another four days.

9. When you pray you’ve charged your iPad

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When they say at the start of a long flight, ‘Sorry, the in-flight entertainment system isn’t working,’ and you immediately get heart palpitations.

10. When you eat mush (and like it)

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Your baby refuses to finish off so many of those little squeezy sachets that you end up acquiring a taste for them yourself. (Who knew pear and pumpkin worked together so well?)

11. When you get the need for speed

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When dining in restaurants, healthy is important, but only if it’s also fast. Let’s be honest, fast kicks ambience, price and nutritional benefits to the curb quicker than you can say, ‘Do you have a buffet?’

12. When you can’t take them anywhere

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Whatever restaurant you choose, you know the meal will first involve at least one member of your party licking the salt container and dumping sugar sachets on the floor.

13. When you almost try it

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When you realize that a condition of utilizing the resort’s kids’ club is that all children must be toilet trained, and you spend the first 48 hours of your vacation internally debating whether lying about this would really be as bad as it sounds.

14. When they just don’t understand

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When ordering the set three-course lunch menu, waiters are so perplexed by your zany request to ‘serve us all three courses at once’ that they insist on delivering it in the traditional order—one long languid course at a time, as the kids slowly self-combust.

15. When you need a lot of towels

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You know that any visit to a beach will end up in every member of the family being soaking wet, regardless of the season.

16. When you get an early night

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You decided you’d be fine with the whole family sleeping in one room, until you remembered your child goes to bed at 6pm and wakes at the slightest movement.

17. When they pick their time

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Five minutes from the front of the very long line for a ride at a theme park? Bathroom request.

18. When they really pick their time

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Three minutes after leaving hotel room, where bathroom facilities are both clean and accessible? Bathroom request.

19. When you think about ignoring them

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One minute before the curtain rises on a famous Broadway theater production? Bathroom request.

20. When you sing yourself to sleep

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You have a ‘go-to’ song for those middle-of-the-night wake-ups with your jet-lagged baby. After awhile, you deliriously start to hum it to yourself during daylight hours.

21. When you get a bit emotional

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When the guy next to you on the plane complains about your crying child and you launch into a full-on, 10-minute rant about the stresses of parenthood. And then you start crying too. Awkward.

22. When every day becomes a sick day

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You miss the family reunion/your grandmother’s 80th lunch/your best friend’s wedding because your seven-year-old threw up every 30 minutes on the windy country road in route. The upside? Plenty of opportunities to admire the view in an effort to look at something—anything—other than vomit.

23. When you laugh in the face of death

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On check-in, your toddler instantly transforms into a highly skilled security guard and heads directly towards an open power point with a fork in his hand. (Seriously, where did the fork come from?)

24. When you cry in the face of death

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If the power points are actually childproof, said toddler simply decides now would be a good time to develop his flight skills and launches over the back of the highest chair in the room.

25. When sitting is boring

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When the waiter says, ‘Just take a seat,’ you refuse and ask for directions to the nearest playground for a quick ‘play’ while waiting for the meals to arrive.

26. When you throw away your guidebook

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The end of your day is not accompanied by the sounds of the city’s most famous orchestra, but by the cries of your child, who has decided she wants a bath, but has discovered there’s only a shower available. If there’s nothing but a shower, only a bath will do. Obviously.

27. When free babysitting means everything

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You’re so excited about the idea of a vacation with your parents that you pull out your credit card before they even mention where you’ll be going.

28. When you think the sky hates you

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When the only day it doesn’t rain is the one time you’ve promised that you’ll spend the whole afternoon at the cultural icon that is also known as the local trampoline center.

29. When you develop incredibly strong forearms

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Your enjoyment of a city is inversely proportionate to the steps required to get a pram in and out of its train stations. (London, Paris, Sydney—there are these great things called elevators. Check them out!)

30. When you realise you’re that person

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When you sit down in a restaurant with the kids in tow and spot the young, sexy couple at the next table doing the ‘Couldn’t they sit somewhere else?’ eye roll.

31. When bribery doesn’t work

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When the new toy you’ve cannily unveiled at the start of your vacation is deemed by your child to be too hard/too easy and tantrums ensue.

32. When bribery does work

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When the new toy is finally deemed a hit, but somehow gets lost just a few days in, making the earlier tantrums look like a the work of a novice.

33. When everyone else wants you to stay at home

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On your return, friends ask how your trip was, and you launch into an enthusiastic commentary on perfect parks, safe poolsides and playgrounds, rather than gorgeous galleries and great nights out.


Share your experiences of taking the little ones on vacation—send a tweet using #momentumtravel to share your anecdotes or any tips you have for making it easier.

Photos: Getty

Sue White
Sue White (@suewhitewriter)

Sue White is an Australia-based travel writer and founder of She’s often found traveling the world with a toddler in tow, and feels it’s only sensible to blame him for the occasionally disheveled travel outfit.


  1. Aneh

  2. I dont travel with my kid

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