10 Things Kids Hate About Travel

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My kids are big now. Bigger than me. Young people with minds and opinions of their own. I think it’s time to ask them, honestly, what they hated about travel and travelling for 6 full years as a digital nomad family. There must be something, surely? All those long hours on planes, vomit-inducing bus rides, dodgy food, and cheap guest houses, what did they really dislike? We have many posts on travel with kids, travel with teens, and as a family. We have one on the problems of travelling with kids too. This our first post on what the kids didn’t enjoy, and it’s honest.

travel with kids what my kids hated

We hope our post helps you, as future travellers, keep your kids happy! As luxury travellers, vacation travellers or as a backpacking family.

We travelled full-time from 2013 until COVID grounded us. The kids were just 6 and 8 years old when they left home.

They visited 50 or so countries, most of them many times. We were backpacking with kids, rather than slow travellers, but we did put in some long stints in London, Romania and Vietnam.

We rented homes in all of those places, using them as bases more than full-time residences. Most of the time we stayed in hotels, some expensive, some budget. We adored the nomadic lifestyle, mostly.

The boys were homeschooled while travelling, AKA “worldschooling” throughout these years and for a few years prior to departure. It worked out very well.

I am a travel blogger. This business can be lucrative if you know how to make money travel blogging and our family travel blog is our income source.

Our first year of travel was ultra-budget as we tried to stretch our savings as long as possible. We discuss saving, and how families afford to travel here to help you.

Once the blog took off we got more wealthy year by year, but we were never luxury travellers. We like to spend our money on the things we love to do and that usually means trekking, skiing, or a scuba trip. We rarely splurge on fancy hotels.

Things Kids Hate About Travel

After interviewing my kids, this is what my kids disliked about travel. The top 10 things they don’t like are in the list below. The kids answered these questions at 16 and 14 years old. Today they are happy young adults, there are updates in this post from them today.

travel with kids hotel rooms
It seems that accommodation is a big factor in how much your kids enjoy travel. My kids’ biggest dislike is bad internet. We mostly used hotels with family rooms such as this one. When they were small we’d share beds with them and they have never slept in a separate room. The kids don’t like dirty rooms, nor do they like rooms that were too hot. This room was super budget, under $20. It was in Cambodia and this is a fairly typical example of the rooms we’d book.
  • Dirty accommodation
  • Being hot
  • Having to look around for accommodation – lack of certainty
  • Bad wi-fi
  • Bad food
  • Bad bathrooms
  • Long journeys but only if there were multiple connections – stress.
  • Minibuses or vehicles causing car-sickness
  • Dirty trains, buses, and planes
  • Shared bathrooms in cheaper hotels and hostels

If you read the more in-depth Q&As below, they explain this more.

Places The Kids Hated To Go?

There was no one country, city, or place that the kids hated to go. All travel destinations can be fun or interesting if you do it right as a family. As you read these answers you’ll see that they only disliked severe discomfort, in being too hot, carsick, or experiencing bad accommodation. And camping, one of the kids dislikes camping. I’m not too keen on it either.

Did They, and Do They, Hate Travelling With Their Parents?

Making travel with parents fun
A recent mum and son trip. This is the child with no issues with camping. He had a ball hiking and learning hunting and spear fishing with the Iban in Borneo. Travel with a parent – no sweat! Just do things the kids enjoy. There is no way I would have taken my other son on this trip, he would have hated parts of it.

No, absolutely not. My kids love travel with their parents. Even today, as young adults they still love to travel with mum, dad, or both. It’s their normal and they’re always up for adventure. I must admit, I didn’t like going “on holiday” with my parents when I was a teen, but they never took us up mountains, scuba diving, or to the places nobody goes. A beach vacation was never going to make me excited.

Sitting on a beach is something I dislike to do on holiday, my kids, and my husband, share that opinion. We feel the same about pools! When the kids were small we had a pool at home, they were “over it” by the time they were young teens. No matter how much we played with them, pools just got tired.

Incidentally, “play with them” is my #1 best tip for travel with younger kids. I know a lot of parents hate it, I do to an extent, particularly football and bored games (deliberate typo!) But you just have to do it.

Now they’d much rather be snorkelling or scuba diving than in any pool, and we do that on The Great Barrier Reef or with the manta rays in Bali, the more adventurous the better!

Q and A With The Kids, What They Hated and Loved

Let’s find out what the kids thought about growing up on the road. There is a little more insight from D at age 20 in our post “Worldschooling Mistakes“.

Some of these answers contradict the answers they gave when they were younger and I think their early memories have blurred over time.

One has no major objections, the other is more picky. A lot of how kids cope with travel comes down to personality.

Boo (14) answers first, D (16) answers second. Boo still wants to give the shortest answer possible.

Was there anything you hated about travelling?

travel with kids hostel room family
This is a family room in a hostel in Bangkok. The kids always loved staying here and we’ve used this place often. It has bunk beds, they love bunk beds, good wi-fi and aircon. Unfortunately, it has shared toilets and showers. It seems one of my kids really doesn’t like shared bathroom facilities. It was very rare that we stayed in a hostel, let alone one without a private bathroom. These days most hostels have family rooms and rooms with en-suites.

I disliked the shoddy hotels and motels we sometimes stayed in particularly if there was no internet or the connection was garbage. Sometimes the temperature was too hot or too cold but I like cold, sometimes. Getting to places was tedious if we had to take loads of buses and trains. I also hated the process of finding hotels on foot but we only did that a few times.

No, there were a few minor dislikes and discomfort from some situations but I never hated anything while traveling. An example of a minor dislike or discomfort would be if we were to stay in a low-quality hotel or be served bad food.

What’s your one favourite memory from the full-time travel lifestyle?

Sticky rice.

I always love trying new food, trying unique and exciting local cuisines is my favourite activity. I love doing fun stuff like going to Everest Base Camp, but eating is what I love most.

Do you think you missed out by not being around other kids or not going to school?

No, I did not.

No. Occasionally I would wonder what it would be like but I would always come to the realisation that I preferred travel. I did go to school when I was little but I don’t remember it.

What’s your favourite travel destination?

Vietnam, because of its uniqueness. The food, the people, the sights, the food, I really loved the food

Greece. Greece had everything, history, culture, good food, and beautiful countryside.

What’s your worst memory from travelling?

The horrible toilets in Tibet.

Nothing sticks out.

Do you think you’ll continue to travel once you’re old enough to go without your parents?

Yes I would probably go back to Romania to see what’s changed and also Vietnam for the same reason

Most likely, I doubt I will ever really give up travelling completely.

Did you ever crave a stable family home and your own bedroom?

Sometimes when we were staying in cruddy hotels or walking. I hate any kind of physical exertion. But I am really proud of myself for getting to Everest Base Camp and back.

Not really. It could be uncomfortable sometimes but in the end, it never really mattered to me. I got my own bedroom when I was 14 and that was about the right time.

If we go trekking again, would you want to go?

Depends where, how far, how dangerous, the quality of the road/path.

Yes, I love trekking and would always be up for it.

Is there anywhere you’d still like to go?

Yes, I’d like to go to Mexico for tacos, Belgium again for waffles, France again for crepes, and somewhere with really good sticky rice.

Wherever the food is good. There are no real destinations I want to go in particular, I always sort of went with the flow.

Where do you want to live?

I don’t really mind, probably in Britain or Romania. I don’t like being too hot, and I like skiing.

Having a permanent base has never really been something I thought seriously about, as I always expect that we will eventually start travelling again. If I had to choose one place to be it would most likely be somewhere in Europe. The continent has a large amount of different cultures, good foods, and a great climate.

Did you kids hate long flights, bus rides, train rides, and the actual getting around of travel?

kids do not like bus travel
We spent a full day on this bus in Nepal. Everyone was motiion sick, except my family, we had good meds. The small boy in the doorway has a job. He taps and whistles to let the driver know that the weels are on the track, not plummeting over the edge into the valley hundreds of feet below.

It depends on the quality. Trains were normally fine. I didn’t like some of the sleeper trains in India but I didn’t hate them. I only hate minibuses if they’re shabby and make me car sick.

No, flights can be a bit uncomfortable on budget airlines, but it’s good when they have movies. I don’t like dirty planes or dirty trains and buses. And when people throw up out of the windows or into bags it’s pretty gross. There was that bus in Nepal where everyone except us threw up, I was asleep most of the way though.

What did you not like about budget hotels?

Travel in Tibet with kids
Admittedly, there was one terrible hotel in Tibet, but the other 7 hotels were lovely. It was such an experience. The kids have been inside The Potala Palace, seen Tibetan Monks debate and eaten their fill of yak sizzlers. A single grotty hotel is very worth it.

I just hate anything dirty, with bugs, shared toilets and showers, and worst of all, bad internet. I hate it if it’s too hot too. And I hate camping. Never take me camping.

There were only a few dodgy ones but some of the tea houses when we were trekking were really dirty and I remember once there was somewhere with damp and mould, but I can’t remember a specific hotel that was mouldy. There was one in Lhasa Tibet that was really bad, we had to get them to come and change the sheets and sweep the floor. I didn’t hate it, this is still just a minor dislike for me.

Did you hate long waits at airports?

airporst with kids
The incredible “Jewel” at Changi Airport Singapore. The most spectacular airport in the world with loads to keep kids happy. Tiny airports, like those in Nepal, are something altogether different, but also an experience.

Only if there was no food or no wifi.

No, not at all. Airports are usually fun.

Shared Bathrooms and Dirty Hotels, With Kids

dirty indian sleeper train with kids
This train in India wasn’t too bad but on long journeys, they just get dirtier as people consume food and visit the toilets. Facilities can be bad on buses or trains in any country. We had clean sheets on some Indian sleeper trains and they were spotless. There are usually cockroaches. The only places where we saw dirty bedding were China (Lhasa, Tibet) and Nepal, in trekking lodges on the Everest Base Camp trek.

I was surprised both mentioned dirt, shabbiness, and shared bathrooms as things they didn’t enjoy. I always believed neither of them was picky. I’m the family clean freak.

Two of our favourite places to stay, Back Home Kuala Lumpur, and Mile Map Bangkok, have shared bathrooms. The kids look forward to staying.

I’m not fond of shared bathrooms, they’re inconvenient, but those two are spotlessly clean, pleasant places. It’s rare for us to use accommodation with shared washrooms.

A lot depends on how much you choose to pay. Buses and trains have been filthy in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Egypt, and Laos. In some countries, you expect some grime, in others, a dirty room is rare.

Things are improving constantly around the world. That said, travelling with kids made us spend a lot more on hotels than we normally would

It’s hard to avoid dirt in some countries. The trekking lodges that Boo mentions are basic.

It’s interesting that they both mention bad hotels and being too hot. I asked them if they could remember any hotels that were bad, they couldn’t.

I can’t think of any, other than that one in Tibet, but they have that memory. Being too hot is something I dislike too.

On our first RTW as a young couple, we found rooms on foot, we tried it with the kids and it didn’t work. We stopped doing it fast. We always book accommodation for arrival now.

Kids Hate Bad Wi-Fi

travel with kids wifi
Free wi-fi, you find it in all sorts of interesting places.

Bad wi-fi is worse than no wi-fi and we would never, ever, book a hotel without in-room wi-fi. We ended up in one in Malaysia recently and it was a horrible hole of a place.

No wi-fi is just a deal-breaker for us, unless our desire to go somewhere is stronger than our connectivity needs. If we’re trekking in the Himalayas we know we’ll be offline for weeks, and that’s cool.

Most hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and cafes have wi-fi so in the early years we didn’t bother buying local SIM cards.

As the kids got older and we started using our smartphones more, a set of SIM cards became the first thing to buy on arrival in a country. We rarely travel without buying a local SIM now.

Countries with terrible wi-fi have included India, Sri Lanka, Nepal (although it’s got much better recently) Cambodia, and Laos. The best wi-fi we’ve seen has been in Vietnam and Romania.

Don’t forget cruise ships, you’ll really struggle to get a signal in the middle of the Atlantic and it will probably cost you a fortune.

Trekking in Nepal we had some connectivity, which was a bonus, but not enough for me to work or for the kids to use happily.

Wrap-Up On Successful Travel With Kids

travel with kids bus train with kids
Travel with kids, by bus. Buses come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. This one was in Nepal. My kids don’t hate travel by bus unless the vehicle makes them car-sick. Minibuses are the worst for this.

You can see that the boys are very different people. Boo is much harder to please and likes his comforts and security far more than D. There’s a very strong display of nature over nurture with my two boys.

They are united by their love of food, which is good, they try everything and like most cuisines. D particularly liked trying civet, jellyfish, and frog when we were staying in the Iban longhouse in Sarawak Borneo.

He loved that trip, again, it involved trekking and roughing it a bit. We even camped out in the rainforest and washed in a stream.

Boo wouldn’t have coped with the bathrooms there nor sleeping in the jungle. Everything was pretty clean, just rustic.

In Bhutan there was trekking and camping, again, I took D, not Boo. Also, D likes scuba diving, Boo doesn’t want to learn. They are so different, as all kids are.

More Information on Travel With Kids

We have a huge volume of information on travel with kids on our website. From flying to food to trekking to education, socialisation and parenting on the road. We have dedicated “with kids” posts for many travel destinations and travel styles too. Helping you plan your future family gap year is what we love best.

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what do kids hate about travel

The Key to Travel with Kids

When you travel with your kids you just have to know them. You quickly figure out what you can get away with and what you can’t. Everyone is different, and kids have just as much right to their likes and dislikes as we adults. You just have to honour that. You can’t expect, nor force, your kids to like the same things, destinations, and styles of travel as their parents. Unless, of course, you do as we do sometimes, and bribe them. So no, the kids really didn’t hate much about travel. Did you think they would?

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

4 thoughts on “10 Things Kids Hate About Travel”

  1. Hi guys! This was so fun to read! I am happy to have found you since I am myself from Romania and it will be interesting to read about that on your blog.


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