10 Common Family Holiday Mishaps to Avoid

Organising a successful family holiday can be tricky if you don’t know what to look out for, and family holiday conundrums can often occur. Check out our top tips for avoiding family holiday mistakes so you can enjoy the best break possible!

1. Booking accommodation described as ‘family friendly’ without checking what that means

Many providers claim to offer ‘family friendly’ accommodation suitable for young guests, but this is a broad term that can mean anything from simply an extra sofa bed, through to a highly specialised child friendly experience that is safe and suitable for those with young children. Never simply opt for the ‘family option’ – always double check exactly what this means and be open to other accommodation options within your chosen destination, as they might actually better suit your needs.

To find out more about what ‘family friendly accommodation’ means to us and the kinds of benefits we offer to parents holidaying with under 5s, click here.

2. Thinking a pool alarm is an adequate child safety measure

Parents often think that a private pool labelled as ‘safe’ because it has a pool alarm, is enough to protect their little ones on holiday. However, this isn’t always the case. Whilst a pool alarm is certainly helpful, the frightening truth is that if your child falls into the pool then they will sink, fast. Although the pool alarm might alert you that they have fallen into the water, sadly you may not be able to come to their aid in time.

For this reason we believe the ONLY type of efficient pool safety protection is a physical barrier. All of the private pools on our site are protected by some form of physical barrier, whether it’s a gate, fence or cover, so that parents can have peace of mind as little ones run around the garden. To find out more about pool safety and children on holiday, click here.

3. Overpacking your hand luggage bag

Overpacking on a family holiday is certainly easy to do, given there is so much you need to bring. However one major mistake that parents often make is stuffing a massive hand luggage bag full of so many bits and pieces that it becomes impossible to easily get anything out, particularly if you’re also juggling your babies and your suitcase in the airport, or squeezed into the small seat aisles on the plane. Try to limit yourself in what your choose to take for the journey, or at the very least organise your content into smaller grab bags within your big bag, so you can easily access what you need. For tips on what to pack in your hand luggage as part of our flying with a baby guide, click here.

4. Not doing your research in advance

When you’re abroad, it can be more difficult to locate the family facilities you might require, like baby changing rooms or family friendly restaurants, especially if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi. It can be really helpful to do a couple of hours of research before so you know what will be available in the area that you’re visiting – a life saver for those inevitable frazzled moments when you’re struggling to keep calm.

5. Sharing a bed with your baby or toddler whist travelling

Parents quite frequently make the mistake of deciding to share a bed with their baby or toddler whilst on holiday, even though they wouldn’t normally at home any more – what harm can a few nights do, right? Well in actual fact, this can lead to a lot of difficulties. If your little one decides they prefer to sleep this way, you may have to start all over again with getting them settled in their own bed back at home. Additionally, holidaying all in one room with no extra space means you’ll struggle to enjoy your evenings as you’ll have to be quiet once your tot has gone to bed.

Try to opt for accommodation that at least has some sort of private space that’s separate from the bedroom (a balcony or separate living area for example) and check whether your accommodation offers any cots or extra beds. When you holiday with TOTS you can rest assured that you’ll always find enough comfortable high quality cots in your destination for all your babies, plus special extras like bed guards, night lights and blackout blinds. For more tips about encouraging your child to sleep soundly on holiday, click here.

6. Being inflexible in terms of routines or holiday plans

Whilst it is good to try and maintain some kind of normality in your child’s routine on holiday, do allow yourself to be flexible. It’s not the end of the world if they go to bed a little later or eat at slightly different times, and taking this pressure off can really help you to enjoy the holiday.

Also ensure that you give yourself plenty of relaxation days – whilst it can be easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement and plan to do lots of things, it can leave both you and your little ones feeling exhausted and cranky, especially in hot weather. Do go and explore and have some fabulous family days out – but factor in flexibility and downtime too.

7. Not taking many photographs

Given all the things to think about and  everything else going on around you when you travel somewhere new with a young child, it can be easy to forget to take many holiday snaps. But these pictures are a great way to preserve magical and precious memories, so definitely capture these moments where you can, so you can look back on them fondly in years to come. 

8.Being too attached to your technology

On the flip side, whilst technology can certainly enhance your holiday, don’t forget to take some time out. It’s so easy to just check one more work email or just make one quick call, and suddenly you’re not really taking a break at all. Same goes for your tots – if they see you glued to your phone, if they’re old enough to have their own tech then they’ll be glued to theirs too. Technology can definitely be handy on holiday so don’t feel that you have to rule it out completely, but do be mindful of how much screen time everyone is having and perhaps come up with some general limits that apply to everyone before you go. Check out our top tips for keeping gadgets safe on holiday by clicking here.


9. Not considering how you’re going to feed the family

It’s really important to think about how you’re going to feed everyone before you go – it can be easy to assume you’ll just cook as normal for everyone, only to arrive to find there are no nearby grocery stores or that kitchenette doesn’t actually have any proper cooking equipment. Equally, don’t just assume you’ll eat on the resort without checking whether family dining options like kid’s menus or early opening hours are available first.

Try to decide how much (if any) of your own cooking you’d like to do before you book, and use this to help guide you when choosing your holiday accommodation. For advice on holidaying with a child who has food allergies, click here.

10. Assuming the hire car or taxi will have a decent car seat

Car hire companies and taxi companies will often require you to pre-book child seats well in advance – but even if you remember to do this, do consider that there is no guarantee of the quality or suitability of the car seat that will be provided. Consider how much car travel abroad you will be embarking on before you go, and do ask the taxi/hire company if you have any questions, particularly as car seat laws in Europe do vary. If you have any doubts, consider bringing your own so that you are confident you’ll have what you need. Find out more about car seats here.

Doing your research and preparing properly for your family holiday doesn’t take much time and it really can help everything go without a hitch! If you have any other family holiday worries or questions, our experts are on hand to help so do get in touch!

Wendy Shand
Wendy Shand

Wendy Shand is the founding director of Tots To Travel, mum of three, award winning mumpreneur, traveler, business enthusiast and author of ‘The Mother of Invention’.

Find me on: Web | Twitter

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