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The 5 Biggest Travel Mistakes Families Make and How to Avoid Them

The 5 Biggest Travel Mistakes Families Make and How to Avoid Them

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Want to feel like a total pro on your next family vacation? Find out how to avoid these common travel mistakes that families make all the time!
This list of family travel mistakes was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Traveling with your family can be one of the most rewarding experiences you share together—new places, new cultures, and new memories to be made.

However, it can also be a source of stress and unexpected challenges.

As a mom who has navigated airports, hotels, and foreign cities with two young boys in tow, I’ve learned quite a bit about what to do—and what not to do.

Today, I want to share the five biggest travel mistakes families often make and provide practical tips on how to avoid them, ensuring an enjoyable vacation.

Common Mistakes Most Families Make When Traveling

Mistake #1: Overpacking

The Problem

It’s tempting to bring everything you think you might need to cover all bases, especially when traveling with kids.

Image of Young woman packing suitcase at home
It’s easy to keep throwing things into a suitcase.

However, lugging heavy bags through airports, onto trains, and up hotel stairs is a surefire way to start your trip off on the wrong note.

How to Avoid It

Pack smart, not hard. Make a list of essentials, and stick to it. Remember, most destinations have stores in case you forget something vital.

Pack versatile clothing that can be layered and is suitable for various weather conditions. For every item you think you need, ask yourself if it’s worth the extra weight. I’ve got a list of 9 of the Worst Packing Mistakes You Need to Avoid that might help.

Halfway through our trip, we try to book a hotel or vacation rental that has a washer/dryer. If there isn’t one, we tend to do sink laundry so we can re-wear clothes.

Also, consider using packing cubes—they are fantastic for keeping things organized and compact.

Mistake #2: Over-scheduling

The Problem

It’s understandable to want to maximize your time away by packing your itinerary with back-to-back activities. I’m usually guilty of this.

Find out if you should visit Italy or Spain for your next family vacation with tips by top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of a dad carrying a boy on the streets of Italy. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung of Marcie in Mommyland
My kids get tired quickly! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

However, an over-scheduled vacation can leave everyone feeling rushed and exhausted, especially kids.

How to Avoid It

Build downtime into your schedule. Vacations are about relaxation and enjoyment, not just sightseeing.

Allow for lazy mornings, unplanned afternoons, and leisurely evenings. Sometimes, the best memories come from the spontaneous moments that happen when you’re not rushing from one place to another.

Here are our actual itineraries for Paris, London, Italy, NYC, and Amsterdam, which have a great mix of activities and downtime.

Mistake #3: Not Factoring in Kids’ Needs

The Problem

Travel destinations and activities that might interest adults aren’t always fun or feasible for younger travelers. Dragging tired, bored kids to art galleries or historic sites can lead to meltdowns and frustration.

My kids love sailing toy boats every time we visit Paris! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

How to Avoid It

Choose kid-friendly destinations. Include activities in your itinerary that you know your children will enjoy. Places with interactive museums, parks, and nature reserves often keep children engaged.

Don’t forget to involve your kids in the planning process; they’ll be more cooperative and excited about what’s to come.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Safety Concerns

The Problem

In the excitement of exploring a new place, it’s easy to overlook basic safety precautions, which can lead to dangerous situations or health issues.

How to Avoid It

Always do your research before you travel. Learn about the local environment, including any travel advisories, weather conditions, and safety norms.

Make sure to pack a first-aid kit, prepare for the climate, and keep important documents and emergency contacts handy. Discuss safety rules with your kids, like staying close and what to do if they get lost.

Mistake #5: Skipping Travel Insurance

The Problem

Many families skip buying travel insurance to save money, thinking “it won’t happen to us.” However, unexpected events like illnesses, accidents, or lost luggage can turn a dream vacation into a nightmare, both emotionally and financially.

We always get travel insurance because you just never know what could happen.

How to Avoid It

Always purchase travel insurance. It’s a small investment compared to the potential costs of medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or other unforeseen events.

Make sure the policy covers everyone in your family and suits the type of activities you plan to engage in.

Bonus Tip: Embrace the Experience

No matter how well you plan, unexpected things can happen. Flights get delayed, kids get sick, weather changes plans.

Flexibility and maintaining a positive attitude are the key to a successful family vacation. Embrace the unexpected as part of the adventure.

After all, the real joy of traveling comes from experiencing new things together, learning to adapt, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Biggest Family Travel Mistakes Wrap-Up

Traveling as a family doesn’t have to be stressful. By learning from the common mistakes and planning wisely, you can ensure that your vacation is remembered for all the right reasons.

Happy travels, everyone! Here’s to smooth seas and sunny skies on all your family adventures.

Looking for more family travel tips? Check out How to Prepare Your Kids for the Realities of Travel, 10 Mom-Approved Travel Hacks That Will Change Your Family Vacations, Surviving Family Travel: Essential Tips for Traveling with Kids, The Secret to Creating a Bulletproof Family Travel Itinerary (That Everyone Will Love!), Avoid These Money Drains on Your Next Family Trip, Surviving Multi-Generational Travel, How to Save on Summer Travel This Year, and The Ultimate Checklist for Traveling Abroad with Kids (What NOT to Forget)!

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