35 answers

Family Vacation Disappointment

My husband and I bailed on our family vacation this week. We wanted to spend the week at a cabin in the mountains. This is something we used to do every summer before we had our son, and thought it would be a lot of fun for him.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn out so well and we decided to come home. I feel like a big loser for bailing, but I just couldn't take another day.

Here are my questions. Has anyone else every ended a vacation early because it just wasn't fun? (I know - I'm trying to feel better about the decision and not beat myself up). And, we have plans to return to the cabin for three nights over Labor Day weekend. I'm already dreading it. What can we do to make our time more enjoyable?

Our 14-month old didn't seem to have any fun. He was fussy, wouldn't drink his bottle, and had difficulty with naps. He seemed to need constant attention - wouldn't play independently at all. Any thoughts on what he might have been going through? He wasn't sick, although we thought the altitude might have been making him uncomfortable? We brought a large bin of toys for him, but he really wasn't interested in playing at all.

My husband and I were so ready for this week off together as a family (we both work almost full time and don't have much family time as we work weekends and odd hours to keep day care to a minimum), but now I am almost anxious to go back to work! And I feel terrible for thinking this way. Were our expectations too high for a week alone with a one year old?

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Been there done that. Different atmosphere will throw off his emotions. Give it another try. This time it might be better.
Take anything that will help keep him in his routine but find new things for him to do at the cabin. Start a tradition. Let him find something that you will leave at the cabin, a pretty rock or a unique stick that will be there the next time you visit.

New places are hard on little ones. We have family back east and visit then every summer (and a few Christmases). I think because each of my boys started traveling when they were 2-3 mos. old they became adjusted to being in different places, especially because we consistently went to the same few houses (my folks, my in-laws, etc). Although I remember when my oldests was 1-2, the first night in a new place he would throw up. This was hard because we'd be in Boston, then NY, then CT and each time we stayed somewhere new - YUCK! He grew out of it. Just takes time.

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hi J.,

well lots of "been there did that" responses! yes, travelling with little ones is tough for awhile. i'll spare you my own details, but i did want to add one point to these talks. it's a shocker to the marriage when we first become parents. no doubt we LOVE LOVE LOVE our little ones- but still, it's quite the adjustment with them in our lives 24/7. my husband and i learned early on to take some trips (as fit our budget and time constraints) that did not include our little one(s). at first it was extremely difficult for me because i felt like such a bad mom when i'd go off for a 4 day weekend with my husband and leave my little guy home with grandparents. but, remember that you are more than Mom. you are also your Self and you are a Wife...and all these other people inside you need to be nutured and provided for as well. my advice is to continue with some family vacation time, but also do whatever it takes to have a bit of nonfamily vacation time as well during these first few years as you and your husband adjust to 24/7parenthood.

best to you,


2 moms found this helpful

wow i am sorry but you sound like you were babysitting someone elses child and the they were completely intruding on you and your husbands vacation. if you and your husband both work full time, it sounds like you don't have to take care of your child very often, and that when things get hard you want to pass him off to someone else.
that is how babies are. my little girl drinks tons of bottles some days and others, she doesn't drink as much. kids/babies are just like us. we have days when our moods are different and we might not be as hungry.
you need to buck up and deal with your child. He is yours, you had him. I worked before i had my baby and working was way easier. Go on vacations with him, go out to dinner with him. your life isn't going to be the same, i don't agree with you for bailing out, I know it is hard, but make the most of everything. you said you are already dreading your upcoming trip to the cabin, well then you probably won't like it if you have that attitude. you should be excited and just know that if your son acts different, you are going to have to do what you can so that you, your husband and your baby have a good time.
sorry if this sounds harsh. just make the decision to be happy, no matter what life throws at you.

Yes, I have had to bail before - being alone for a long period of time with my child caught me off-guard - she was 3 and after a few days of 24x7 I realized how hard it was all on my own. When she was 5 I discovered the delight of going on a cruise with her, where we were vacationing together but she could go to the kids' program during the day which she loved... and I could sit and read a ood book for hours without feeling guilty! We both got the vacation we wanted. Don't feel too bad, just know that kids are people too with preferneces, and at the young age of yours it's going to be very hard to tell what he considers a "vacation"! Hang in there...

Boy have I been there. I now have a (just) 2 year old and a 4 1/2 year old. We have been on a lot of trips. It seems they get sick coming or going many times. What I am learning (and sorry if it is a repeat) but, it is work to travel with kids. I am learning to take new things for them. We have always respected their nap times and enjoyed the quiet time when we got them down for a nap. Or when the younger one is napping one goes out with the older for one on one time and the other gets some quiet time.
I hate the idea of plugging my kids in front of the tv (which is what my sister and brother in law do) but, I will say when we went on vacation and I let my son watch a little more I did enjoy the quiet time. We also did many new adventures so I knew he was learning and exploring as well as creating some memories. I am learning to let go of controling it all and to sit back and enjoy more.
Expectations are key. We do want to relax on vacation and it is hard with kids but, just try to go with them....where they are and know you are learning something to make the next time easier.

Your son might have issues with new, strange environments and can't get used to them in just a couple of days. Any place new can throw kids for a loop and cause them to be much different than at home. I know many kids who do this. I'd say give your trip another try over labor day. Your son will probably remember the place this time, and perhaps give him some extra care when you first get there. Hold him and tell him where he'll sleep, where he can play with toys, every little thing. It might make him feel more secure.

Hope it works out for you. Don't give up on vacations just yet. I took my son to Mexico for two weeks when he was 1 year old, so talk about adjustment.

I have traveled with all of my children, and I have found that when I let them "navigate" (when we eat, when they play...) and keep the routine similar to what the are used to they adjust pretty well. Babies are creatures of habit and routine. Next time try taking his favorite toys and blankies. Give him time to adjust to new surroundings- was he allowed to explore or is the cabin not childproof? don't try leaving him alone- let him always be able to see/hear you until he feels comfortable. Try to keep his routine (naps, eating...) the same or as close to it as possible. Talk about your trip with him before hand- he's young yes, but it does give him words to the new place (cabin). He's insecure with the new surroundings and just needs time to adjust. Also if you continue to go to the cabin he will come to know it and do much better each time.

This sounds like me last September. We took our then 18 month old daughter to Vancouver as my hubby had business meetings. It was so different for her to have to be quiet in a new environment (a hotel). She also had ear infections, so she was crabby. The travel there (we flew from Denver to Seattle, then drove across the border) was too much for her. My hubby had no patience for her and he and I ended up fighting.
Aside from being sick, I think it was pretty overwhelming for her and she did not know how to react to the situation. We are taking her and her little bro to San Fransisco for the same set of meetings this year, and I am dreading it too.
You hear of people taking their very small children for extended trips or camping and they think it should be so easy for everyone. Not in my case!! Sorry this was rough for you!

Been there done that. Different atmosphere will throw off his emotions. Give it another try. This time it might be better.
Take anything that will help keep him in his routine but find new things for him to do at the cabin. Start a tradition. Let him find something that you will leave at the cabin, a pretty rock or a unique stick that will be there the next time you visit.

Don't beat yourself up. My husband and I took our children camping over the 4th of July weekend, and planned on staying for 3 days, but we came home the next day. Our older children were a bit disappointed, but understood. Our 20 month old was just too much to handle, eating dirt, wanting to throw things in the fire constantly, wanting to play in the stream when it was too cold, not taking a nap,etc. It was a nightmare, not to mention it rained the majority of the time.

Your son was just out of his comfort zone, it sounds like. My little one was very social at 14 months, if he was comfortable with his surroundings. If you took him out of his comfort zone, however, he would be clingy and whiny.

I don't exactly have any advice for you as how to make a trip more manageable, but I will be reading other ladies responses, as I could use some help in this area as well. I just wanted to let you know you weren't the only one with a good trip gone bad!!!

Don't beat yourself up. It probably wasn't that fun for your one year old. It might have been kind of scary for him being in totally different surroundings. It seems like they become more clingy. When he is around four he will really enjoy being on vacation. Right now any kind of unfamiliarity is hard on those little guys.It took my girls several days to get comfortable in new enviornments. My advice to you is to find a great overnight sitter or wait a couple of years to bring him on short trips. Remember this to shall pass. It really does become so much easier. I promise! Enjoy babyhood it is a wonderful time but remember that they change so much so fast. By the time you know it he will be so independent and you will miss the baby "clingyness" stage. Good luck!

Hi J. H,
I did not read the other responses so I apologize if I am repeating things. You actually had a perfectly normal vacation with a 1 year old. Children are rarely excited or even comfortable being away from home. I have two children ages 9 and 12 and even at their ages they need a lot more attention when we are on vacation. We also have a family cabin that we visit about 6 times a year and have done that for my kids' entire lives. They still need me to sleep in the same room as them at the cabin and they have to have lights on in the halls etc. I came to the realization that vacations with kids are really just about the new adventure of it and not at all about relaxing.
Go on Labor Day, but be prepared for that extra work with your son and enlist your husband in some turn-taking so you each can enjoy some time out on the porch doing nothing!!!
Take care,

New places are hard on little ones. We have family back east and visit then every summer (and a few Christmases). I think because each of my boys started traveling when they were 2-3 mos. old they became adjusted to being in different places, especially because we consistently went to the same few houses (my folks, my in-laws, etc). Although I remember when my oldests was 1-2, the first night in a new place he would throw up. This was hard because we'd be in Boston, then NY, then CT and each time we stayed somewhere new - YUCK! He grew out of it. Just takes time.

OF course you were right to cut it short if it wasn't fun -why be there if it isn't? A couple points/questions; how often do you have more than two consecutive days with your little one, how about the three of you? You may need to adjust your expectations of being with your child 24/7. Most little ones like routine, keeping their nap and meal times can be important, others don't seem to be bothered by changes. I found being really enthusiastic and explain what happening ahead of time can help, even with a really little one - they pick up your mood and expectations.

The altitude may have been a factor, dispite being born here to a mom raised here, my kids got altitude sick a couple times when they were little. Maybe some mountain day trips would be a better plan. Your family time should be fun and enjoyable to all, so maybe for a few years the cabin thing should be a special get away for you and your hubby?

I am the mother of four boys, all grown now, and can tell you what happened with your baby is typical. Any child who is used to a certain routine will react the same way when placed in a different environment. Your son also probably sensed that you were trying SO hard to have a good time and were stressed by that. Babies react strongly to stress in their mothers. We took our boys on loads of trips, camping, picnicing, etc. and some times were wonderful -- some were horrible. DON'T give up -- he will do better when he has some experience with traveling -- and someday you will have wonderful memories like we have!!!

Yep, your expectations were more in line for a school age kid : ). What about Colorado Springs instead? You could visit "The North Pole", the zoo, the cave, etc. Do something with a lot more action for him and he will probably nap and sleep better if he gets to run around all day : ) Good luck!

Kids can be very unpredictable. We went to the beach with ours and it was great! We also took him to see his grandpas and he was very unhappy with the warm weather. Don't get discouraged.

At 14 mos his world revolves around consistent secure and predictable surroundings it is very normal for him to be off a lot when that changes. Exposing him continually is a good thing though. I think it was okay for you to end it, expectations were high and it is normal to feel let down. However until children are older it isn't easy nor is it any fun for them. Why would it be? You cannot even begin to predict how a vacation is going to go for kids, even when they are older.
Part of the process with kids, they just aren't as into things we are just yet and we kind of have to plan our vacations and life around them to a degree. With that said, letting them know change can be fun and good and taking him fun places is a huge bonus to him too.
Takes time, hang in there and sorry it was a bummer for you both.

It very well could have been altitude. I live at 7,000 ft. in Utah and have friends that are fireman here. They say they have more calls for what turns out to be altitude sickness and have to take people down to Salt Lake. Keeping him hydrated is the really big thing.

Come up with some outdoor games for your son to participate in, at one they don't need to be complex but if they include you and your husband your son may enjoy the time more, do you have a (can't think of the right word)-backpack? your son can ride in on hikes, my son always loved to ride up high on my back on journeys through the woods. If you both work full time he is probably used to daycare and having a lot of interaction so have things to do that you and your husband enjoy and add an activity that your son would like so he can participate.

Don't stress about your next trip, you'll end up making it difficult before it happens. Just relax, know things happen and some trips are better than others, that's ok.

Have fun,

Dear J.,

When my children were about the same age as your son; we had a similar thing happen. We drove from Dallas Texas to Estes Park Colorado for a two week vacation. My daughter was 18 months and my son was 4. They didn't want to cooperate at all. We ended out trip sooner and lost some money on the cabin that we rented. The next trip was a whole lot better and I would say go again. Especially if you don't have to pay for the use of the cabin. The altitude does affect the kids more than we realize. Take his favorite blanky or whatever and lower your expectations of the trip. Look at this as your son's training to learn how to adapt to different environments. He will learn that he is okay with being somewhere else. Our future trips to Estes were wonderful. Now we live in Colorado and my grown children have great memories of being here for vacations.


I remember spending those vacations with one-year-olds missing out on everything because I had to supervise my child in a strange place, without our normal routines. Yeah, no fun.

Life is completely different now, forever. The infant/toddler thing is something you'll endure -- sooo high maintenance -- and then things get easier again.

Did you put to high of expections on the vacation? Relax and realize that you don't always get to spend time with your family like this. We used to go to a cabin and I still cooked and did all the work. Remember this is different than before you had a kid. It will be work but different.

Look at it as an adventure in life. Rethink things and see what you could do differently and you might need to take turns entertaining your son but in the long run you will treasure the time together. Kids grow so fast. Too fast!
C. B

Dbeat yourself up. My husband a I left a Florida vacation early because we were not having much fun (it was even at his brothers house over thanksgiving! and we didn't have any kids at the time). Not only did we leave early, we had to rearrange flights and pay extra just to leave! It happens. Move on and try to forget about it.
My husband & I didn't take vacations with our little ones until they were a little older, around 2 yrs. We would take quick weekends to Vegas or something like that.
Like everyone else said...little ones are very unpredictable. Just give it some time and try again. Good Luck. It only gets better!

This just might not be the year for trips to the cabin. I would not go on Labor Day either. I just think that you aren't there enough days for your son to adjust and relax. If they aren't sleeping right on vacation, then they are cranky and off the whole time. Try again when he is older.

We have a family vacation that for 2 or 3 years, we simply endured. The year that our 18 month old started throwing up because my SIL brought her kids puking, I was actually grateful because it meant we could leave without feeling guilty. We have learned to go with no expectations at all. Good or bad. This year was actually pretty fun. It can be pretty hard for such a young child to be away from home. Just realize you may have to spend more time with him than usual. Lower your expectations as to how much "fun" you'll have on vacation with a toddler, and you might enjoy it a little more because you won't be so disappointed.

did the other relatives try to play with him? sometimes a change in environment disrupts a child's comfort zone. i would say next time, focus on having fun with him. if he's clingy, enjoy him and help him know everything's ok.

I know exactly what you went thru. We travel alot with our kids and until they were about 4 it just wasn't fun at all. What you described is exactly what we went thru. When you are at home your child has more freedom and so do you because you know the environment. You know it's safe. When not at home you have to be on your constant guard. When kids aren't in their normal environment they get out of sorts. It happens and actually I think you were smart for leaving. Why force yourself to do something that isn't fun.
When my oldest turned 14 months old it was rough until he was 3.
My tips are give him a new toy, something he has never seen before and give it to him when you get there. The box is also a great toy so keep it. Take percautions to child proof so you can relax. Take drives if you can during nap time so he'll fall asleep. Make sure he drinks lots of water and eats as healthy as possible. When traveling we as adults tend to eat unhealthy. My kids little systems can't handle it so I have to make sure they eat right when we travel.
I hope you have fun over Labor Day but if you just don't want to go I say don't. There have been so many trips I just wanted to go home and couldn't because we were seeing family.

I have come to realize through a hard series of events that when my kids need me, they need me and they take precedence over everything else. When kids are out of thier routien they feel insecure. If your baby felt insecure and wanted to be held or played with, you should do it, no matter how much or how little time you have spent with your husband. A week in the mountains can be such fun for a 1 year old but your plans need to revolve around them. Don't plan too many activities and don't be disapointed if you do nothing else but hold your baby all week. They are only little for such a short time, take advantage of that cuddling. Good Luck

It is quite possible your baby had altitude sickness. Did he get better right away when you went home? Or it could be that a totally new environment made him a bit insecure. Not only a new environment, but his whole routine was different. After 3 years with my energetic boy I am learing that a predictable routine is really important to kids.
For labor day -- you could start talking about the trip to him now (kids that age understand more than you think!) Let him know what to expect and how he'll need to behave, and what fun things you'll get to do.
Have fun!

Hi J.,

I wonder if your little one was experience altitude sickness.

Vacations, just aren't the same with little ones. Not that is bad now, it's just different. We bring a "mom's helper" with us. She's 11 and does a great job with our son!

This gives me a little break and us some one on one time so we can enjoy our vacation with a toddler.


Totally normal. I have 5 kids and when we go on vacation, I plan to not sleep too well and get up super early in the morning. No matter what the time zone difference, even my older kids don't sleep in because of the new surroundings and excitement. We are talking 6:00 am. It helped me to just realize that it is about the adventure and being together 24/7 that makes our family vacations fun. When we go to a cabin with my siblings and their kids, there are 20 kids 13 and under so it is chaos but fun. When you want a TRUE vacation, you probably need to go without your husband or just you and he get away. I don't mean to sound discouraging, it's just a different phase in life. It's all good.

Yes, I have ended a vacation because it wasn't fun. We went to the mountains to go sledding and there was no snow, just lots and lots of bitter cold strong winds. I beat myself up for not being able to find ways have fun with my 2yo and husband indoors.

Now that I read your question, I would say give yourself a pat on the back for being flexible!

Ahh, yes. I did this exact same thing this summer, but I didn't feel guilty. Our daughter was the exact same way, and I just couldn't take it anymore. We cut our trip to Oregon short, and drove home. I didn't feel guilty because it is what our daughter needed. She was uncomfortable - think about it, it must be so strange to be a little child and suddenly be "living" in a new environment. I'm sure this is just what your little one was doing. Don't feel guilty. Once your son is older things will be different, and everyone will enjoy it more. Now that you have a little one, everything will be different, but that doesn't mean it will be bad. You'll just have to find new ways to adjust your traditions, but you can still have a lot of fun !


Hang in there - it is only going to get better with time.I agree with the rest of the posters - it's understandable that you are disappointed, especially after taking time off from work, but small children are not always the best travel companions. Everything is different, they are overly stimulated by the new sights, sounds, schedules,etc. I have been miserable the last two years traveling with our youngest. My husband and 3 year old would be snoring away in the hotel room, while the baby and I were up all night. He wouldn't sleep in the Pack and Play, wouldn't sleep in the bed, etc. Finally, he turned two in May, we took a family trip to Salt Lake City to celebrate his birthday and he was a dream. He loved the pool, loved his room service dinner, snuggled in and fell right to sleep next to me, and slept fitfully. I'm excited about future trips now, but I have been more than content to stay at home for the last two years. I wish you the best if you go back up for Labor Day!

The unfamiliar surroundings might have made your son need more attention from you, because he felt a little uncertain about this new place. But hey, if that's the case, then he'll be more familiar with the place the next time you go.

Were your expectations that you would have the same kind of time there that you used to have before you had a baby? I mean, obviously you consciously knew it would be different, but if some subconscious part of you was disappointed at how different it was being there now that your lives have changed, then you might honestly be better off spending the next few vacations in a new locale that you don't have pre-existing expectations of.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your time away, though. I hope next time is much better, no matter what you decide to do.

Children are very happy with routine and habits. Most of them love their own beds and don't sleep well (if at all) in a bed they aren't familiar with. Add to that a whole new environment and a different routine and that spells disaster. One week may have been too long for him also.
My suggestion would be to find someone (grandma, aunt, etc.) to take care of him at your home while you and your husband get away on Labor Day weekend. He will be ready for vacations at around 2 years old. Some kids to okay earlier and some don't.

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