What Are Common Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling with Kids?

Recall the delightful chaos in the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen” where the Baker family sets out on a vacation that is anything but ordinary. Traveling with kids, much like in the film, can be a rewarding yet challenging experience, filled with unforeseen twists and turns. For families planning to visit child-friendly destinations like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, renowned for their scenic Smoky Mountain cabins and family-oriented attractions, the journey requires meticulous planning to ensure enjoyment and relaxation for all. In this blog, we will share essential tips and common pitfalls to avoid for a hassle-free adventure with your little ones.

Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling with Kids

Failing to Plan Activities in Advance 

A spontaneous trip might sound exciting, but when kids are involved, it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out itinerary. This ensures that each day is packed with age-appropriate activities that keep them engaged and prevent the common ‘I’m bored’ complaint. Without a clear plan, you may find yourself scrambling to find activities that are suitable for all ages, which can add unnecessary stress to your holiday. Start by researching the attractions and activities available at your destination, prioritize what you want to see and do, and perhaps even book tickets in advance to avoid long waiting lines that can try anyone’s patience, especially young children’s.

Ignoring Accommodation Needs 

Choosing the right place to stay can significantly influence your vacation experience. Children often tire easily of monotonous settings, so choosing a room with a pleasing view can significantly improve their enjoyment, especially in picturesque mountainous regions. Both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg offer numerous accommodations that fit this description. Staying in Smoky Mountain cabins with views provides an ideal space for your family to relax and unwind between outings. In addition, it’s important to think about your family’s particular needs, such as proximity to attractions, the availability of kitchen facilities, and safe areas for children to play.


Many parents tend to overpack, anticipating every possible scenario. This often leads to cumbersome luggage and a cluttered vacation space, which can add to travel stress rather than alleviate it. To avoid this, list essential items that meet the basic daily needs of your family and remember that most destinations have stores where you can purchase items you may have forgotten. Packing multi-purpose clothing and travel-sized containers can also help lighten your load. Teach older children to manage their belongings by packing their backpacks with items they’ll need and use daily.

Skipping the Nap Time 

While vacation is a break from routine, skipping naps can lead to overtired children who may not enjoy the outings as much. Scheduling downtime is crucial to keep everyone happy and energized. It’s tempting to pack as much as possible into each day, but young children especially need regular rest periods to handle the stimulation of new experiences and environments. Plan activities in the morning when children are fresher, and allow for quiet time in the afternoon. This balance helps maintain a harmonious atmosphere, letting everyone enjoy the trip more fully.

Overlooking Kid-Friendly Dining Options 

Not researching restaurants that cater to young palates can result in frustrating meal times. Look for family-friendly dining experiences that offer menus appealing to children. Many places provide special kids’ menus, play areas, and a welcoming atmosphere that can make dining out with children a pleasant part of your vacation. Also, consider the dining times; eating earlier can help you avoid crowded restaurants and long waits, which are often challenging for young diners. This preparation ensures that meal times reinforce the joyful experience of your trip, rather than detracting from it.

Neglecting Weather Preparedness 

Weather can be unpredictable. Not packing for the right weather conditions could leave your family uncomfortable and prevent you from enjoying the day’s plans. It’s essential to check the weather forecasts in advance and pack accordingly. Include layers that can be easily added or removed, waterproof items for unexpected rain, and sun protection for clear days. This level of preparation allows your family to adapt to changing conditions and continue enjoying activities without weather disruptions.

Forgetting Health and Safety Essentials 

Traveling with kids necessitates a health kit equipped with essentials such as band-aids, fever relievers, and allergy medications. Oh, and familiarizing yourself with the location of the nearest hospital or clinic is advisable. Minor accidents such as scrapes or sudden fevers are not uncommon, and being prepared can significantly reduce panic and discomfort. Ensuring you have all necessary medications and a list of emergency contacts keeps you ready for any health-related issues that might arise.

Not Setting a Budget for Souvenirs 

Kids are often drawn to souvenirs, and without a set budget, expenses can spiral. Discussing souvenir limits with your children beforehand can help manage their expectations and your budget. Explain the importance of choosing wisely and perhaps suggest that they pick one or two favorite items rather than multiple small purchases. This not only keeps your spending in check but also teaches your children the value of money and decision-making.

Losing Sight of Enjoyment Amidst Planning 

It’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of planning the perfect family vacation. However, it’s important to remember the goal of spending quality time together and creating lasting memories. And the Smoky Mountains provide ample chances for this. Allow for some flexibility in your schedule for spontaneous fun and relaxation. Sometimes the best moments arise from the unexpected adventures that happen when you’re not strictly following a plan.

Ignoring Child Safety Measures in New Environments 

In new places, see to it that your children know basic safety measures, such as staying close in crowded places and knowing what to do if they get separated from you. Teach them to recognize safe spots and individuals, such as police officers or store managers, who they can approach for help. Equipping them with a small card or wristband that includes your contact information can be a practical safety measure, especially for younger children.


Traveling with kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a family, offering both challenges and joys that contribute to lifelong memories. As you plan your trips, understanding and avoiding common pitfalls can significantly smooth the way. That said, what truly makes travel with children memorable isn’t just the places you visit but the way you adapt to the unexpected and turn it into an adventure. Preparing for the needs of your children, involving them in the process, and setting realistic expectations about what you can do that every trip enriches your family’s life, making each experience special and meaningful. 

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