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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.