7 Reasons Why Traveling Isn’t Always Fun

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We all seem to love traveling. And what’s not to love about it?

You can take a break from our daily stress, pressure, and routines.

You get to see beautiful places, try different foods, meet new people, and even make long-lasting friendships.

Your knowledge and understanding of the world is broadened, and you feel like you are on cloud nine.

In the personal finance community, many great bloggers, such as Millennial Revolution and Steve at Think Save Retire, even retired early to travel the world and have been loving it.

Traveling to exotic and beautiful places is something many of us have dreamed of while toiling away in front of our computer every day.

At least, traveling is what Mr. FAF and I have been planning to do when we retire early.

However, a recent domestic trip with our family opened my eyes to the reality of traveling with other people.

I loved that our family got to spend time with each other and bonded over the experience.

Together with all the wonderful things that happened during the trip, however, there were some downsides that I would be remiss not to mention.

In writing this post, I really hope that I won’t discourage any of you from traveling alone or with your family.

I just want to document our experiences to remind myself that I will need to learn how to address all the potential problems that can arise during a long trip with family.

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1. Inconvenience

The first thing that struck me during our travel was the inconvenience due to the lack of kitchenware in our hotel room. Although we had a small fridge, there was no kettle or microwave in our room.

We like drinking warm water since hot or warm water is better for our digestive system than cold water, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Heating up the food on the 1st floor and eating it on the 5th floor

With no microwave, Mr. FAF or I would take to take the elevator from the 5th floor to the 1st floor to heat up the water in the hotel kitchen and bring it back to our room. We did that multiple times a day for four days straight. It was a task we didn’t have to do at home and found a bit annoying.

Although we ate out every day, we usually had leftovers from lunch that we wanted to finish at dinner. However, we had to microwave everything on the first floor and bring them back to the 5th floor to eat.

Not having any silverware also meant using a lot of disposable cups, bowls, spoons, and chopsticks. It made me feel so environmentally unfriendly that I started to feel guilty throughout the trip.

2. Tension

The second thing that dampened the mood of the trip was the tension that arises when family members spend too much time with each other.

Just pick a member of your family and imagine spending four days with them from dust till dawn in a tiny hotel room/studio or a small car. Now multiply your feelings towards them by three, and you will see what I mean.

I love my family and want to spend time with them. But I believe too much of anything is never good.

3. Baby FAF’s tantrums

I had never seen Baby FAF throw so many tantrums in a day until the trip. I don’t know if it’s because he was tired or if he knew he could get his way in public. But boy, I had never dealt with so much crying, screaming, and staring in my life.

He must had thrown a tantrum every 30 minutes or so except for when he was sleeping. It ranged from not wanting to seat-belted in the car and on the plane to wanting to be held everywhere when we went sightseeing.

If we were at home, I would just put him in a room and wait until he stops crying. I learned that trick from my best friend, who has two boys just one year apart from each other.

But when we were in public, there was no room to put him in, and no explanation or comforting would do the trick. People would just stare at us. Some gave us looks like “Why aren’t you doing something about it?”

The fact is that we tried, but sometimes I just felt so powerless in dealing with my own child. Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience and opened my eyes to a whole new world of parenthood.

I started to doubt if I wanted more than one kid. During the trip, Baby FAF really tested my patience as a new mother and as a person. I accepted defeats at many points on the trip.

4. Exhaustion

Sightseeing was fun yet exhausting.

Traveling is exhausting. The last time I hopped on the plane was in February of this year, so I totally forgot about that until this trip. We were out and about pretty much the whole day.

Our hotel was about a 15-20 minute drive from downtown, so we would decide to take a break and nap in a midsize SUV.

With Baby FAF not wanting to sleep, none of us could take even a 5-minute nap.

It was my first hands-on experience of “living” in a tiny space, something I had been wanting to try.

I can see how it works with two people (Mr. FAF and me), but probably not for a family of four.

By the time we came back to DC, all of us were exhausted and so happy we had returned to our endearing home. Sometimes you just have to travel to love your home more.

5. Lack of healthy food

I was happy that we didn’t have to cook or do the dishes the whole trip. In order to save money, we went to an Asian food court Mr. FAF used to frequent.

The food there was cheaper than at a restaurant, and the quality wasn’t too bad either. We could order $30 worth of food and have it for both lunch and dinner. We also bought some fruit from the grocery store.

The food, though delicious, was greasy and wasn’t as healthy as what we usually have at home. We ordered mostly meat dishes and not a lot of veggies since we wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck (not sure if it was a good move either).

Overall, I felt like I consumed a ton of greasy food and undercooked rice during the trip.

6. Mr. FAF’s forgetfulness

Traveling with Mr. FAF can be really stressful sometimes. One question I got from Mr. FAF everyday and multiple times a day was “Where is/are my [__]?”

You can fill into the blank anything you can think of whether it’s his credit card, wallet, car keys, graduation gown, glasses, clothes, shoes, or socks.

Prior to the trip, Mr. FAF informed me that he hadn’t been able to find his credit card for almost two weeks. I was so used to him losing his stuff and just told him to cancel that card and get a new one, which he didn’t do.

I think he was hoping that the card would someone show up like most of his stuff did. Then Mr. FAF magically found the card in his wallet while checking out a rental car and ended up losing it two days later (?!).

I finally found it under the room phone at the hotel. It was wrapped in a receipt and was only discovered when I was double-checking everything before we left the hotel.

It’s not to mention how Mr. FAF forgot to take his wallet, car keys, and boarding pass when we went through the security check. The security officer had to chase after us to return those items. If it’s not stressful, then I don’t know what is.

Related: How To Find A Frugal Husband

7. Temper

With all of those downsides combined, I sometimes found myself super moody, stressed, and irritable. I’m sure the rest of the family didn’t find me pleasant at times either.

When we are at home, I can take a break from home by going to work. But interacting with two other adults (husband and the MIL) and one toddler in a tiny space every day trained me to be patient with myself and with others. I even tried to think of them as my co-workers so that I wouldn’t lose my temper.

Suppressing my anxiety and frustration was something I tried to do during the trip, which sometimes simply didn’t work.

Related: A Free Article That Helped Our Marriage


Traveling with family can be a wonderful experience. It can bring a family together and create lasting memories.

However, as with everything else in life, there are also downsides to traveling, especially with the people you are so close to.

I heard that many couples break up after a long trip. My ex-roommate told me that you need to go on a long trip with your significant other to know if they are the one.

Exhaustion, confusion, and frustration can create and magnify tension in a relationship.

If you survive a long trip with your (extended) family like I did, you know you love them well enough to put up with all the hassles that can arise when you spend too much time with them.


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22 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why Traveling Isn’t Always Fun”

  • Some insightful points. Travelling requires a lot of organisation when it’s more than a couple of people.

    Ah children, children require a tonne of patience, mix it with unfamiliar places and it adds another factor to the mix. The trick your friend taught is a good one, although difficult to do many times the child will have to be “ignored” so they will understand that mom and dad will not stand for that type of behaviour. Don’t respond (unless super serious) and they’ll figure out they can’t get attention that way, using a method that results in positive reinforcement. Kids are not dumb even at 1/2 years old!

  • I feel ya on the tension thing. Did you notice all those bloggers you mentioned didn’t have to take their in law’s or parents with them? That just might have something to do with it 🙂 Same goes for not traveling with toddlers.

    • I did! I’m glad you can relate. Traveling with parents and toddlers does require a certain level of patience IMO :p

  • I can only give you one ray of hope, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Especially with young kids. You lean coping mechanisms and the kids get use to it.

    That being said I will add this warning. The worst travel comes when they just learn to walk. To old to want to sit still, too young to hold their attention with tv or books.

  • i’ can give you a number 8. anything related to any airport sucks. drains the life out of me, robbing me of my will to continue.

    i can’t speak to the in-law or kid issues but over time we have developed a kind of travel kit which includes some silverware, a couple of plastic wine glasses, corkscrew, napkins, etc. that being saId, the best we have found was an airbnb vs. a hotel room. find a grocery store on day one and you’ve usually got those conveniences of at least a small kitchen and not having to eat out for every single meal. oh, and something like tripadvisor can help you find decent places to eat in your neighborhood for the price you want to spend. that’s all i got.

    • A travel kit sounds like a great idea! We were too reliant on the restaurants and the hotel this time. Will need to change that on our next trip!

  • Kristin and I went to Portland for four days when we just started dating – that was the real test for us. We both knew, though didn’t say it, that if we could travel together then it was meant to be. 🙂 We both admitted after the fact that we used it as a sort of ‘filter mechanism’ hahah.

    Vacations can be stressful for sure, and I think that as you do them more you get better at traveling. It’s not something you just ‘know’, it takes practice.

    did you consider an AirBNB? It seems like it’d have alleviated, at least a bit, some of the pain points. TBD on cost of course though…

    • Aww that sounds really sweet. I’m glad you and Kristin had a great trip 😉

      We did consider AirBnB, but Mr. FAF said he didn’t find anything good for $60 for the four of us, so he opted for the hotel.

  • Traveling will get easier. It’s no fun to travel with a little kid. That’s whey we waited until our kid was 3 to travel. He’s pretty good now and isn’t any more difficult than at home.
    Sorry to hear about forgetfulness. My dad is like that too. AirBNB sounds like a better choice for you guys. 🙂

  • My husband and I are pretty frugal (others make fun and say “that’s a nice way of saying ‘cheap'”) and find ourselves taking a vacation maybe every 3-4 years…or longer. When we tell our friends that, they look at us with pity. One friend told me she doesn’t know how I do it! She HAS to take at LEAST one vacation a year (even if she can’t afford it).
    Our reasons are simple: vacation feels like WORK! While it can be exciting anticipating an upcoming trip, the packing, traveling and ultimately the depression that sets in towards the end of the trip doesn’t seem to warrant regular vacations worth it to us.
    It could be that I grew up that way so I don’t feel entitled like others do. I know one woman who insists she and her family go to Disney World EVERY YEAR. And her kids are nearly teenagers now. To us, that seems like a complete waste of an experience! Why not explore the rest of the country and see something you’ve never seen before (if you MUST go every year)?!

    In any case, you’re certainly not alone in the travel stress!

    • I have many friends like that – every year go to the same place or even multiple times a year. I get that New Orleans is awesome but haven’t you gone there like 20 times by now? After all, French quarter is pretty small. It’s not about experience in this case, it’s just excuse to get away to guaranteed joy that familiar place brings. I still wouldn’t go to the same place again and again like that unless I have a close friend or family there to visit.

  • I’m a big fan of traveling, but no matter how short/long or great/bad the trip was, I’m always also REALLY excited to come home. Traveling can bring some exotic excitement, but it’s also a great reminder why most of us favor living in a house most of the time 🙂

    • Totally agree with this sentiment. Going places and seeing the world is fun and exciting, but nothing beats the comfort of being home, especially the first night in your own bed. 🙂

  • Yeah, you definitely just listed some of the major downsides to travel. BUT I would argue that these are minor points compared to the highlights: new experiences, beautiful new scenery, new friends, amazing food and more.

    Sure, it can get a little stressful sometimes, but I’ll deal with that for all the other amazing aspects of travel any day 🙂

  • Yes Yes and Yes to all the things! As an introvert travelling with my family is exhausting, even travelling with my husband is tiring because of fatigue I’m sure he gets annoyed I can’t do as much as he would like. Hope your next trip is better!

  • I find travelling with family so much more stressful than when it’s just me and my partner. I like to think I’m close with my family but when we spend too much time together there is always some drama.

    When it’s just the two of us we’re much happier and less stressed. I’m never great on long plane rides (can’t sleep) so I can get cranky on the actual travel days but once we’re there I always love it.

  • I think a lot of things are connected to mindset. If we think we’re going to be frustrated by something, then most likely we will be.
    During my working life, I was lucky enough to travel business class. The problem was that it changed my then mindset of what was normal, and so travelling economy was a real let down in comparison.
    Now that I’ve retired early, I travel more, and look after the pennies/cents. So I’m now at the back of the plane, and using indirect flights to lower the cost. Hotels are budget, AirBnB or hostels. Fortunately, I’ve changed my mindset in early retirement, so these things aren’t a problem. I have the time for layovers, and know that a bit of money saved on accommodation lets me do something else exciting with the money. I think we can choose (mostly) whether we let things annoy us. At least I hope that’s true – I have a four month trip booked to Australia and Asia for later this year 😉

  • Oh, the exhaustion. I couldn’t agree more!

    When we were travelling long term, I got so tired of packing and unpacking stuff, but most of all, just the constant PLANNING – where were we going next, booking accommodation, deciding how we would get there, checking timetables, organising tickets. Always thinking ahead and planning for just the basics of ‘where will we be staying and how are we getting there’? that you don’t have in everyday life.

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