‘All Hell Broke Loose’: 5 Stories About Traveling With Kids


Jan 4, 2016


Traveling with children can be a lot of things – boring isn’t one of them. Have you had a travel disaster recently? Commiserate with these five moms, as they remember family trips that went awry despite best-laid plans.


When Radhika preparing for a recent flight with her 3-year-old son, Veer, she didn’t think to pack any snacks.

“It was only an hour-long flight and I truly didn’t expect him to be hungry before dinner,” she said.

As they queued to check in, much to her embarrassment, the usually well-behaved Veer proceeded to throw the tantrum of his life, plastering himself to the floor with loud, wild sobs.

“I couldn’t make him see reason,” she said. “I just didn’t have time for this. They’d announced my flight and I needed to check in fast.”

So Radhika gave in and pacified Veer with a box of chocolates. Distracted while she checked in, it wasn’t until they reached security that Radhika realized Veer had emptied the entire box on top of the full meal he’d eaten only shortly before.

“The only option I had at that point was to make sure I had the air sickness bags handy once I was in the plane. I collected several extra, just in case,” she said.

Sure enough, at the first hint of turbulence, Veer began to vomit terribly.

Travel takeaway? If you have to give into airport junk food, make sure you take some extra to-go bags that can double as air-sickness bags.


Anju, 38, is a seasoned traveler who prides herself in travelling light.

“I usually take just one small suitcase even for a 10-day trip,” she said.

When friends told her this would no longer be possible now that she was taking her baby along, she was determined to prove them wrong. She packed the bare minimum, just like she’d always done – only to run out of diapers at the airport.

“I had packed three in my hand baggage, but soon realized that it was woefully inadequate for a 12-hour flight,” she said. “It was a very stressful few hours until the cabin crew onboard managed to secure some more.”

Travel takeaway? When you think you have enough diapers, double that.


On a flight from Mauritius to Chennai, Ann was travelling with her 1-year-old son, Kunal.

“I remember asking the doctor to prescribe some mild sedatives, so that he (Kunal) would sleep for a while and I could get some rest too,” she said. “I followed his prescription carefully and even booked myself into first class, confident that I could relax and enjoy the flight.”

When Kunal fell asleep, Ann tucked him in his bassinet and prepared to kick back herself. But, minutes later, Kunal,  a light sleeper, woke up.

“All hell broke loose,” said Ann. Kunal proceeded to cry throughout the entire flight.

“I had to walk the aisles to calm him. So much for my first class seat,” she laughed.

A wide-awake Kunal kept the entire crew and first class passengers entertained, and Ann made fast friends with the air hostess that day.

“She’s a good friend now, and we still keep in touch,” Ann said.

Travel takeaway? Forget sedatives for the kids – pack an extra thick skin for deflecting the glares of other irate passengers.


Sunanda*, 27, was apprehensive about travelling from California to Bangalore with two kids under 3 in tow. But she couldn’t miss her brother’s wedding, so she booked a flight with a long layover in Dubai. When the airline offered to book her into a hotel free of cost, she grabbed it.

“I didn’t plan on doing any sightseeing and I thought this would be a great way to shake off the jetlag and to relax,” she said.

And relax she did – a little too much. Exhausted from the first leg of the journey, she and the kids slept through two wake up calls.

“When I did eventually wake up, I was horrified,” she said. “I had to make a mad dash to the airport. I very nearly missed the flight and it left me feeling very stressed and upset.”

Travel takeaway? Take direct flights when possible, and when it’s not, find a foolproof alarm clock.


Ranjini*, 47, and her family love to take action-packed vacations, but one recent trip got a bit too adventurous.

“My husband took our kids, then 9 and 12, on a hike up the Triund [a mountain peak in the Himalayas],” she said. “The round trip should have been 9 kilometers. But my husband is, to put it kindly, a little directionally challenged.”

On the way up, Ranjini said, the group followed a steady stream of hikers. When they arrived, the sight of a man making fresh Maggi noodles proved irresistible to the tired, hungry hikers.
By the time their meal was over, however, there was no sign of the group they had trekked with. Everyone else had disappeared. They started back down the mountain, assuming that was the direction of their hotel – only to find themselves on an unfamiliar, uphill path.

“The kids kept saying something wasn’t [right], but my clueless husband kept pushing forward,” Ranjini said.

They ended up off-track — by six kilometers. Local shepherds eventually put them back on course, but it was late at night before the weary band returned.

“The trip has been conversation fodder in our household for a long time,” she says.

Travel takeaway? Always carry a map… and a person who can read it.

*Names changed to protect the late-sleeping and directionally challenged.


Written By Kamala Thiagarajan

Kamala Thiagarajan is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the International New York Times, The Reader’s Digest (Indian edition), National Geographic Traveller, American Health & Fitness, Firstpost.com and more. She has written articles on the subjects of health, fitness, gender issues, travel and lifestyle for a global audience and has been published in newspapers and magazines in over ten countries. Visit her virtual home at kamala-thiagarajan.com or follow her @Kamal_t


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