Air mattress Air B&B? Check. Police escort to find a rental car? Check. Wardrobe replacement from the Bayonne, NJ Walmart? Check. Anyone can do a “best of” list. We here at Traveling Mom thought it would be more helpful to share our most epic travel fails. Well, if not more helpful, at least more fun! Let’s raise a glass and toast to a fail free 2017.

TravelingMom's tagline says, "We've been there." But "there" doesn't always turn out as we planned. Read about our most epic travel fails of 2016.

What you don’t want to find three hours after returning your rental car. Photo via Pixabay.

Travel is rewarding, fulfilling, and usually a whole lot of fun. But let’s get real: from time to time we’re bound to encounter a travel fail. In true “we’ve been there” fashion- we’ve done that.  Even Traveling Moms are subject to the occasional travel fail.

Some are self inflicted. For instance, I booked a rental car in Charleston, West Virginia a few years ago when I needed one in Charleston, South Carolina. Others are a perfect storm of events- sometimes involving an actual storm- that just make your travel day miserable.  Either way, at the end you’ve got a travel fail – and a tale to tell.

Traveling Mom’s 14 Most Epic Travel Fails of 2016

Detail Fails

  • Sarah Pittard, Solo Traveling Mom: I booked the starting leg of a connecting flight the day AFTER the connecting flight.
  • Deb Steenhagen, Traveling Mom with Daughters: I booked the return flight from a different DC airport than we’d flown into…and didn’t realize until we showed up at the wrong airport. Did I mention that we had two toddlers? And that it was my husband’s first flight?
  • Tonya Prater, Ohio Traveling Mom:  I took my mom and dad on vacation and bought tickets for a Sight & Sound performance in Branson and booked a resort (and paid in advance) for the wrong dates. I didn’t even notice until we were on our way to Branson.
  • Raphael Ocampo, Traveling Dad: I trusted that I could find a hotel room available during a busy conference and instead got stuck booking an air mattress in a sketchy Silicon Valley Air B&B at the last second.
  • Leslie Harvey, Frequent Flyer Traveling Mom: I planned a trip with my family to Orlando. I was going to fly with my husband and kids from the West Coast, and my parents who lived about 7 hours away from Orlando in Alabama were going to drive to Orlando and meet us at the airport. Exactly one week before our trip, I got a call from my father: “Have you landed?” My parents had mixed up the dates and driven all the way to Orlando to pick us up at the airport a full week early!

Fails under lock and key

  • Dia Adams, Travel Hack Traveling Mom:I drove to the train station, returned my car to Avis, boarded my 6 a.m. train in Nice, and was 1/2 way to Paris before I realized the rental car keys were still in my purse.
  •  Cathy Bennett Kopf, Optimism Traveling Mom: I misplaced my rental car on the streets of Savannah. How’d I find it? Drove around with a police officer.
  • Rebecca Darling, Texas Traveling Mom: I lost my keys on a trip to LA and didn’t realize it until I was dropped off at my car in the Austin airport parking lot at 9 at night,with no backup keys at home. Very expensive mistake. Like “Hamilton-ticket” expensive.

Packing fails: or excuses to go shopping, as we like to call them

  • Karen Heffren, Desert Traveling Mom: I assumed our hotel in San Diego would have a laundry room so only packed 1/2 as many clothes for our trip as we needed. I did NOT expect to spend a day of vacation at the laundromat.
  • Hannah Rinaldi, Fabulously Frugal Traveling MomWe live in South Florida and tend to forget that it gets cold in other ares of the US. We went to north Florida this fall and completely failed to have enough cool weather clothes for the kids. The poor kids wore the same dirty long sleeved shirts and pants all week long. (Guilty- my kids have more than one Disney World sweatshirt for the same reason.)
  • Mary Dixon Lebeau, East Coast Traveling Mom: Drove my daughter to NYC for a weekend dance competition. I had every tap shoe, every pair of tights, every Bobby pin that she needed….but I left all my own clothes in a suitcase on the couch at home. And where better than NYC to replace them, right? Except all the stores were closed when I discovered my mistake so I ended up in an all-night Walmart in Bayonne NJ.

Murphy’s law of travel: whatever can fail, will

  • Kendra Pierson, Long Weekend Traveling Mom: Do bed bugs count? (Heck, yeah!) It was at hotel we’d stayed at previously and is a 4-star property but yeah, bed bug infections and an ER visit.
  • Jana Seitzer, Geek Traveling Mom: My 8-year-old daughter got food poisoning at a buffet at an indoor water park/hotel in WA this spring. We’ll just say we had to change rooms in the middle of the night and leave it at that.

Drum roll…it seemed like a good idea at the time

Teronya Holmes, Storytelling Traveling Mom: Beach trip with the in-laws. ‘Nuff said.

Share your travel fails in the comments – this is a safe space.


TravelingMom's tagline says, "We've been there." But "there" doesn't always turn out as we planned. Read about our most epic travel fails of 2016.