Avoid This Recipe For Disaster – The Ultimate Travel Day

We’ve all had them and after 3 years of travel I can tell you we have had more than our fair share.  Yep it is the dreaded Travel Day!  These can go smooth as silk or they can be a complete nightmare.  We will share one of our recipes for disaster with you and then we will share some what we have learned along the way with our 7 Tips For A Pleasant Travel Day.

Recipe for Disaster or 7 Tips For a Pleasant Travel Day with kids

Recipe For Disaster – The Ultimate Travel Day

Preparation time: 1 day

Cook time: 8 hour

Serves: The entire Family


  • Kep Cambodia Travel Day - Recipe for disaster the Ultimate travel day. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com1  Teen
    (unfed and forced out of bed early)
  • 1  Bored Tween
  • 1  Grumpy Dad
  • 1  Snippy, Stressed Mom
    (Receiver of all travel related questions asked, which are unanswerable.  “How long will it take?, How much longer?, When will we stop for the restroom?, Will we have wifi?, etc.”)
  • 4  Large bags or suitcases
  • 4  Small laptop bags
  • Several modes of Public Transportation
  • 1 layer of dust


  1. Preheat the day until about 3pm to 35’C (95’F) with 95% humidity.
  2. Mix 1 hungry tween and 1 tired teen, with a dash of Grumpy Dad and a pinch of Snippy Mom.  (Please be sure you do not let any of them have a good sleep the night prior).
  3. Allow them to get very sweaty, pack all of their bags and then make their way outside to add a layer of dust.
  4. Allow the ingredients to mix well in the heat to ensure they are extra irritable.  Deprive them of food if needed and ensure breakfast is only found at the nearest 7-11 or gas station.  Limit the number of snacks to be carried, as there isn’t any more room in the luggage.
  5. Wait for the public transportation along side the curb, no more than 15 mins, before increasing the frustrations levels.
  6. When transportation arrives, cram all of the ingredients in with all 8 pieces of luggage on top or under each person.  Allow transportation to drive like there is no tomorrow and sway from side to side.
  7. At this point check irritations levels, if not high enough.  Let them stew a bit longer and delay the next mode of transportation.  Throw in some bad odors and more dirt for extra seasoning.
  8. Check to make sure none of the transportation options have a toilet.  When you do finally stop at a rest area, be sure the only option is a hole in the ground, with many bugs around.  Food options shall remain unappetizing and covered with flies or a bag of chips.
  9. Arrive at destination and discover your room is no longer available or it is not ready.
    Koh Tao Thailand waiting for our room to be available.  Waiting on our Travel Day
  10. Continue this process for at least 8 hours to a destination which appears to only be 4 hours on Google Maps.  Repeat the entire process again every 4-8 days for a minimum of 11 months.
  11. At some point along the way you should have a few explosions and tiffs.  If you do this correctly, it should happen every time!


  • Top with a foreign language and unfamiliar food.
  • Add heavy rains to the mix if the ingredients aren’t reacting to each other.
    A Monsoon can really put a damper on a travel day
  • Serve with only having dirty clothes to wear, as it rained for 5 days and you couldn’t hang the clothes out to dry.
  • Add on a cancelled mode of transportation and a last-minute walk in the area to find accommodation.
  • Garnish with additional luggage or people.  Remember when Gma Bev Scolded me? In fact the more travelers you have, the spicier the stewing becomes.  Check out our series on traveling with
    3 Generations for 3 Months in 3 Countries – Adventure333
    Cambodia to Thailand January 2015  Taxi, Bus and Train Travel Day


You see we have been traveling since August of 2012, so we know a little about traveling.  I would like to say we have it down to a science after spending over 10 months being nomadic in Southeast Asia, but the universe often has a special unexpected treat for us.  Of course we do what we can to prevent following the above recipe and aim for having the ultimate, peaceful, and pleasant travel day.  Here are some tips we use to take preventative measures and often keeps the smiles on our faces.

7 Tips For a Pleasant Travel Day with kids.  Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

7 Tips For A Pleasant Travel Day

  1. Pack plenty of snacks – We like to make sure each person in our group has their own private snack bag.  Usually a ziploc bag of some kind works well for this.  It also helps prevent the irritant of “you ate the last one!”.  The types of snacks that seem to travel well are cereals, nuts and dried fruits.  I don’t recommend the chocolate treats, if you are traveling on a hot day.  Don’t ask me how I know!
  2. Get plenty of rest –  Usually with all of the excitement of an upcoming trip or move, the family doesn’t sleep as well.  Try to ensure everyone, including yourself is well rested.  This helps stretch the patience limit a bit.
  3. Make new friends! Get to know the others traveling with you.  This is a great way to pass time and really connect.  It is amazing how time flies when you are having fun.  We loved our boat journey on Nagi of Mekong.  It was a 2 day slow boat from Thailand to Laos.  Also the 15 hour Train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
     Nagi of Mekong 2 day slow boat from Thailand to Laos - Making new friends and playing games
  4. Fudge a bit on the travel duration – Review the travel day with the entire traveling party.  This should help limit the day of loaded questions.  I know you aren’t supposed to lie, but lie!  If the entire travel day is supposed to take 4 hours, add a 25% padding to that!  This will account for the inevitable unknown thing that will delay you.  Your kids will not call you on it, when you arrive after 5 hours rather than for by saying “Mom, you promised it was 4 hours!”  Provide everyone with the information up front and then the questions should be fewer about “are we there yet?”
  5. Wear comfortable clothes & shoes – Depending on where you are going or what you need to do when you arrive at your destination, try to wear comfortable clothes.  Gone are the days when you need to actually dress up to be on a plane for travel.  Keep the entire family happy by allowing them to be comfortable, especially if they are to be sitting for hours on end.  Oh and for extensive travel, set aside an outfit and use it for travel days.  We typically had “travel day clothes”, so the grime would just accent the already ruined clothing.
    Sleeper Train Bangkok to Chumphon
  6. Bring Water! – I know if you are flying, you can’t bring that water past security.  However, you can bring an empty water bottle with you and fill it up on the other side.  We have used this trick for the past 13 years and it works out very well.  The kids each have their own type of bottle so they won’t get confused.  Anya always has a water bottle and Lars usually has a Gatorade bottle.  When we lived in the US, they had their own sports bottles instead.
  7. Get creative with your travel games –  No matter what age your children are, they will love travel games.  They really like the time with you and your attention.  Bring a deck of cards, dice or just a creative mind with you.  Read our post on some of our favorite games for travel days.  These games are still used today and have been great on all modes of transportation, not just road trips.  Playing with the camera on the Airplane, Ferry, Train, Bus, Tuk Tuk, Taxi, is also a great activity to entertain the family.
    Trying to take selfies flying from Krabi Thailand to Penang Malaysia

Okay, so there you have it.  You make your choice if you would like to follow the recipe for disaster or our 7 great tips for a pleasant travel day.  Just so you know, we aren’t perfect and sometimes get a good mix of both.  We do our best to plan and prevent the disaster, but sometimes I am just not in the mood!

Once you arrive at your destination, all is forgotten, forgiven and the new place is embraced.

Langkawi Malaysia - Sky Cab Selfie

What are your tips and tricks for the family travel day?

10 thoughts on “Avoid This Recipe For Disaster – The Ultimate Travel Day”

  1. Carolann & Macrae - One Modern Couple

    Haha, love this!! So clever! We’ve got a similar recipe going for the two of us – just a few less ingredients!! Great tips too – snacks are key! We learned that one and fast!! The only other thing we learned to do is have our luggage as compact and organized as possible so we’re not having to rifle through to find stuff or readjust anything which adds frustration to the mix!

  2. Hi Heidi,

    A hearty LOL on this one.

    SUPER clever read.

    The sleep note is oh so key; once you’re well rested many travel problems disappear.

    Thanks for the laugh!


  3. Heidi, your recipe for disaster was one of the cleverest blog posts I have read anywhere. I was laughing just beginning with the ingredients list and then it just got funnier! By step #7, I was so tickled I almost woke Randy up from his nap. Love how you all roll with it and thanks for reminding us that the glamorous life of travel is not always so. Randy and I get along great~with the exception of the dreaded travel day. He likes to wait until we are ALMOST at the airport before asking me in a semi-panicked/snippy tone, “Did you remember the e-tickets/passports/diamond watch I had in the drawer?!” Gets my heart racing every time and no matter how many times I remind him, he still can’t seem to go over the checklist with me BEFORE we leave the hotel. Jeez!

    1. Oh Lori, you are too funny and Thank you! These are the types of posts that wake me up in the middle of the night. I must have the creative process going on in my sleep. I actually woke up about 4 am and had to write it, before I lost the thought. I am so glad you enjoyed it. It isn’t always glamorous, but so worth it! I think Randy and Alan are similar with that last- minute question. 🙂

  4. I remember those travel trials well. I travelled as a single mom with my three sons, sometimes altogether and sometimes with just one, to such far-flung places from our home in California to Africa, Australia, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and more. Plenty of challenges especially during the actual transportation legs. But now that I have retired and moved to Spain, (for further travelling, now mostly solo, but also with my now adult sons when they visit), but I relish the memories of our family trips, as well as looking at the photos and videos of them.

    1. Yes Dawn, after nearly a year of nomdic travel for us, it is good to be back in Spain for sure. Where do you live in Spain? We are in Almunecar.

  5. Nancy Bourguignon

    Great article and very pertinent advice. Although I’ve never travelled with kids, most of what you mention rings soooo true with me, ’cause you know sometimes us adults will behave, well, in an immature way. Ha!. I’ve been following your adventures for the last 6 months or so and I am quite impressed with the lot of you. Your kids are just the bomb so you must be doing a lot of things right.

    1. Well Nancy, I think we are going to like you just fine! 🙂 Thank you so much and thanks for taking the time to comment. Are you a traveler or dreaming about it? Are you interested in Spain or other destinations. We are so thrilled to have you along.

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