The 3 most difficult things about traveling with 3 small kids

Camille Hanson

Camille Hanson

We have traveled a lot, but our European trip in 2020 was our first time to do it with 3 kids. We KNEW there would be hard moments before setting out. In the first 3 months, our kids slept in 17 beds! It was a lot of movement and change and not always so wonderful.

We now try to travel more “sustainably” as a family from experiences like this. At the time, we just went and learned on the road—many times the hard way! Here are the 3 most difficult things about traveling with 3 small kids that we have come across in our travel:


#1 Lack of Sleep.

This one gets me every time. When we left on this trip our kids were 9 months, 2.5 years, and 5.5 years old. They were sleeping okay. Not great, maybe we had 4 nights of the week where they slept all the way through at home. But oh my goodness when we came to Europe I think there were 3 nights in the first three months were all of our kids slept all the night. We knew it wasn’t their fault. It was us moving them around so much.

The lack of sleep definitely wore on us over time. We would do our best to try to go sleep early or take naps in the afternoon and drink coffee. Lots of coffee! We also got through it by saying, it’s not going to be forever! And we did our best to get in kids in bed at the same time every night with the same routine which marginally helped.

There are many good times along the way! like our time in Gijon Spain.

#2 The constant changing of place.

We should have counted our miles, because there were a lot of them. We rented a car in both Spain where we stayed 6 weeks and Italy were we stayed a month. We literally drove ALL over Spain, from the west to the north to the south and to the north again but this time in the east. It went better than we could have imagined.

We had a lot of grace in the car but it was still super hard at times. We basically lived out of our 2 suitcases the whole time and like I mentioned there were 17 different places we stayed, which is a lot, especially when you aren’t sleeping very well at night.

We also took a flight from Barcelona to Milan and then one other flight from Milan to Tirana. Even though they were both less than 2 hour flights, both times were full travel days when it was all said and done. Though we packed light, we still had the 3 kids, 2 suitcases, a double stroller and 2 carseats, a hiking backpack and a diaper bag to carry around.

Packing Light is always a challenge with kids in tow

#3 Sickness.

This was my biggest fear before we even left for the trip. Since being pregnant with Kairo my immune system has been lower and I have been more prone to sickness. I even had my doctor give me an antibiotic before traveling just in case, which I ended up taking in Italy.

We stayed super healthy until the day we left Spain. I am pretty sure our kids caught a cold from some friends that we were staying with at the end of our time in Spain. Then I caught it…we all had it, except Calvin. It was this thing that would never go away, runny noses, cough, fevers. We ended up taking all 3 kids to the doctors in Italy and they all needed to go on antibiotics.

It was a l o n g time of wiping snotty noses especially considering it lasted almost 3 of the 4 weeks while we were in Italy! Honestly the stunning beauty of the land and some dear friends we met along the journey helped us get through. I can still say we loved our time in Italy!

Then here in Tirana we caught a virus that involved throwing up and diarrhea. Calvin first had it, so we assumed it was food poisoning because it came on hard and sudden and was over after 24 hours. But then Maddox got it 3 days later, puking all over at a restaurant.

Luckily it was outdoors, but oh goodness, not a favorite moment. Calvin’s sister who had come to help with the kids also got it as well as Kairo, on the way to Greece, throwing up in the car, three times. NOT our best days to say the least. There is nothing like sickness that makes you long for the comfort of your own home and your own bed! BUT, we survived, we got through it. We are okay.

ivory sick - Family Travel - Slow Travel - Hansons Travels

I wanted to share these moments with you because sometimes as an outsider looking in, global travel as a family can seem glamorous. I don’t regret this trip, not even for one second but not every moment has been an Instagram moment. We have had our hard days. At the end of the day, the good moments outweigh the hard and the passion and love for travel and cultures outweigh the fear and anxieties that want to sometimes take over.

Travel is full of surprises and unknowns, even more so with small children but in the midst there is also such growth and beauty that comes from it. We can never know what new doors will open or friendships that will blossom unless we say yes to facing these unknowns.

When we started traveling as a family we thought we could keep the same pace as when we were a couple, but now we realized slow travel is the best for kids and adults! We still do quick trips here and there but try to rent for at least 1 month if possible.

What about you, have you traveled with small children? What are some of your hardest moments you faced? I would love to hear from you!


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