Murphy’s Laws of Family Vacations


1. The night before departure, your child will come down with a cough, cold or broken limb.

2. They will have to pee three seconds after take off, despite having gone to the bathroom directly before boarding.

3. They will refuse to eat the very same six dollar macaroni and cheese that they inhale at home, when presented with it at an overpriced restaurant.

4. You will forget to pack at least one of the following: enough diapers or Pull-Ups, your cell phone charger, toothpaste other than Sponge Bob Square Pants gel or that most special teddy bear.

5. You will be completely unable to capture a smiling picture of your children in the adorable outfits you packed for that very purpose. Ever.

6. They will be up at the crack of dawn, ready for immediate entertainment, while they sleep soundly until seven at home.

7. You will spend an hour packing everything you can think of for the beach, only to be told twenty minutes in that your child is bored and wants to leave.

8. They will miss the toys they never play with at home and the rooms they never want to spend time in. Upon returning home, they won’t have any interest in either.

9. The souvenirs you purchase will break or be lost before you even make it back home.

10. You will come back from vacation in dire need of a vacation. Without the kids.

Murphy's Laws of Family Vacations via Scary Mommy

About the writer


What started as an innocent on-line baby book to chronicle Jill Smokler’s stay-at-home days with her children, quickly transformed into a vibrant community of parents, brought together by a common theme: Parenting doesn’t have to be perfect. Welcome to Scary Mommy!


Katie 5 months ago

I know a family that has a spaiecl needs child who is still in diapers at age 10 years old. Because of his deficits, he messes up a lot of clothes. His sister/guardian has a washing machine but no dryer. She has a clothes line but neighbors’ trees prevent sun from shining on the clothes line which makes it even more difficult to get the clothes dried and keep up with the laundry. My Christmas wish is that this family be blessed with a working clothes dryer. Thank you for careing. Janice

Danielle 4 years ago

Reading this reminds me how much I need a vacation with my husband sans child.

Trisha Mckee 4 years ago

This is always happening to my kids. I think this is true.

Motherhood on the Rocks 4 years ago

Unfortunately so true!

Cassie 4 years ago

The vacation without the kids sounds good to me! I’ve been trying to convince my husband to do it before #2 arrives, but so far no dice. : (

Ashley Austrew 4 years ago

Hahaha! So true. We just took our 9-month-old on vacation because we’re gluttons for punishment. We had fun, but you can tell what a handful she was by the fact that I’ve been drinking wine every night after she goes to bed since we got back…and I don’t usually drink.

Elaine 4 years ago

Yep, Yep and Yep.

The look on your middle child’s face in that photo is priceless. :)

Lynn Kellan 4 years ago

When the kids get older, you’ll bring their friend along to the beach and that friend will a wet blanket who douses every attempt at fun.

Mel 4 years ago

I sympathize. I hate to travel with kids, always fearing what may go wrong. We took a vacation in June (the first in years) and after 3 hours there, my daughter fell off of a banister, down 6 feet onto a tile floor, breaking her arm so badly it was sticking up. The ambulance ride was an hour long because we were not near a hospital. Poor kid-what a good sport! It will be a long time before we travel again as a family!!!

Brittany 4 years ago

I know you must have one picture of all of them smiling…even if there is nudity involved. You the woman who, like me, takes 1500 pictures on a vacation. I’m so glad you got a vacation with those beautiful little people…even if you need another one when you get back. Xo 4 years ago

Sadly, It me that makes everyone have to stop to go pee! But I blame it on the three of them! All three of them spent 9 months pushing on my bladder and it has never been that same! Oh and then there is all the caffeine I have to consume to keep up with them! yep its their fault!

Amaya 4 years ago

They will also fight, whine, and complain throughout the duration of the trip back home, then will promptly fall asleep ten minutes before you pull in the driveway and will refuse to get out of the car without being carried. Standard sleepy grumpiness will follow as you try to unload all the detritus from your car.

myevil3yearold 4 years ago

My vacation exactly…

Azslyn Cole 4 years ago

It is so tough bringing kids in a vacation most especially overseas and for sure my kids would experience this one as well.

Shanan 4 years ago

My husband and I own a business so it’s been tough to try to take a vacation. We finally took a week off last May and what happened three days in? yep, the stomach flu…all five of us. Murphy sucks!

Jess 4 years ago

Spot on, as always! (And, seriously considering canceling our Aug vacation now.)

kisha 4 years ago

we’ve never attempted an actual vacation, opting for short camping trips thru the summer and visits to distant family members. but I have experienced all of those things.

so so true!

Heather 4 years ago

Yeah, Hubbs and I have pretty much conceded that we will not be going on a vacation for several years. Hell, our kids will be lucky if we even take a trip with them!

Alicia 4 years ago

I’ve already threatened them that if they say “I’m bored” or “I dont’ wanna do this” one time, they get to stay home next summer! But we usually have really great vacations. Thankfully my kids have never been sick. I always forget something, but heck, I forget something when I’m just going to town for something. So we have a budget for “forgotten items”. My hubby know me well. I’m used to getting crappy pics, that’s why I just take a couple thousand (I’m so not kidding!) and I make due with what I have. They only get $20 for souveniers, so if they break it, well it’s their loss! I have to pee more than the kids so only my hubby gets frustrated with that! I LOVE vacations! I have more fun than the kids, usually! I’m ready for next week!!!

Andie 4 years ago

Yeah, Murphy can really fuck up a vacation.

Scroogy 4 years ago

This list pretty much perfectly describes our first family “vacation” this June. I’m still tired from it.

Jack@TheJackB 4 years ago

I once spent three hours sitting right behind a rather large ‘boy’ who had some sort of GI distress. I will always remember his mother saying something to the effect of

“Vacations are good because no one remembers the bad things that happen to you.”

This was followed by her telling her husband it is not a good idea to give the child with a dairy problem ice cream before flying.

Felt badly for the kid because he was well beyond the age of diapers. Shortly thereafter I felt badly for myself and everyone who was now trapped in a flying outhouse.

The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful 4 years ago

Also they will grow a butt fungus that must be looked at in a South African witch doctor’s hut and cured with rat’s innards. Sigh.

Marc 4 years ago

Yes, yes, yes and yes! Oh, and if you’re in for a challenge… Visit our blog and try to make a Baby Hugo cocktail. The directions are in German, but we do have some nice pictures. Come, and tell us if you liked the drinks. Or if not. Or how terrible they were. No worries, we won’t bite. Your whole hand off. In one bite.

Irene 4 years ago

I feel like I have jinxed myself just by reading this!! We leave on Saturday for our first-ever trip to Europe…..I’m not worried about BEING there, but I’m certainly praying we all stay healthy while GETTING there….eesh.

Kim at notmymomsblog 4 years ago

Ah, yes, number 4. Forgetting sh*t. We did remember the DVD player AND the charger for the 5 hour plane ride. What we forgot were the DVDs. That left our then 3 year old’s primary entertainment as kicking the passenger’s seat in front of him.

Matt 4 years ago

Taking electronics on a trip is a blessing and curse. It entertains them BUT they can also be a source of great friction between multiple kids fighting over them and they will not want to put them down to go do what you’re trying to do on the trip. I say leave them at home, one less aggravation with batteries, games, adapters, etc. If they fight, let it be about something more worthwhile than those things.

Ali 4 years ago

My kids are 7-12. DH and I vacation alone!!!

LDiggitty 4 years ago

Trips = with kids. Vacations = without kids. :)

    Matt 4 years ago

    ’nuff said.

A 4 years ago

So true! I think you might like my blog. :)

Stephanie 4 years ago

You are making my eye twitch with unpleasant memories of our ill-fated Paris trip last month. We got to meet the hotel doctor at 3am the first night. So that was cool.

shannon 4 years ago

Mine also fight every time they got into the rental van. Every.single.time.

Stephanie 4 years ago

Yeesh. I’m staying home. And as for the souvenirs, I break or lose them (or go to Mexico and actually have them stolen from my bag – true story) before I even get back. Ugh. I’m mad now.

Nicole 4 years ago

The sad thing is, a lot of these apply to day trips as well. I frequently take the kids out of town to visit a zoo, park, etc….and after I pay all that money to get in (or for gas!), they are ready to go in 10 minutes. *facepalm*

June O’Hara 4 years ago

I don’t even have kids and I recognize the truth of all these.

Andrea 4 years ago

AND some weird double inverse multiplication takes place so if your vacation was 6 days it will take at least 12 to do the laundry from the vacation.

vanillasugarblog 4 years ago

LOL! so very true.
that vacation flew by…seems like you just left

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes 4 years ago

Thank you for posting this. Our very first vacation with our two diva’s is next month. Any other handy tips…

Andrea 4 years ago

Hee! I remember those days. And that’s why I used to call it a “trip” rather than a “vacation!”

    Rebecca Schorr 4 years ago

    My precise thoughts. As someone recently told me, “a vacation must be more than just a change in location.” And THAT is unlikely to happen with kids in tow.

    I usually count myself lucky that I return with the same number of kids as when I left. {Not necessarily the same kids; just the same number.}

    Welcome home.

Stacy 4 years ago

Now you scared me! We are due to leave on our first family vacation ever on Thursday night, driving to North Carolina from New Jersey (9hrs), 3 kids (6yr, 3yr and 14mo.) and stay 9 days at my fathers house! Seriously, you had to send this out TODAY! LOL!

Kim 4 years ago

Oh, so true. So sadly true!

tracy@sellabitmum 4 years ago

Oh very true – but now it’s ME that has to pee all the frick-frack time. My kids are turning into the easy ones. xoxo

Alison 4 years ago

Oh how true, especially #1! Prior to one short road trip, my toddler fell off the couch and hit his head on the coffee table (blood! There was blood!). 2 weeks later, before we were due to fly off for a week long beach vacation, he caught a stomach bug and was vomiting all over the sheets all night long. We had to leave for the airport at 6am! Surprisingly, he was such a trooper throughout what became a very long day.

Glad you had a vacation, Jill!


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