Anyone who travels with their family will tell you, the most memorable part is how incredibly rewarding it is! The next thing they will probably tell you is that sometimes, it can also be pretty stressful. While every trip will have some big highlights that stick out the most, the height of your blood pressure shouldn’t be one of them. To help avoid anxiety filled vacations (so you can focus on the fun stuff) I’ve put together a list of tips to help you reduce stress while on a family trip! And BONUS! I’ve worked with some of my favourite family travel bloggers to include for you tips from their time on the road!
Tips to Reduce Stress on a Family Trip
- Determine ahead of time what is important to you on your trip. Is it having time to sleep in and relax? Are there certain locations you need to see? Once you know what your priorities are, the easier it will be to plan the trip accordingly.
- Booking lodgings, car rentals and tours ahead of time will also help reduce stress. It is never fun to tell a child the activity they were excited about has sold out; And when you don’t have to wonder where you will be sleeping that night, you can relax and enjoy the moment.
There are so many ways you can organize yourself to help you feel prepared to take on the world!
- Make a folder with a print out of your itinerary
- Add booking confirmations (with addresses and contact info)
- Include any maps you may need while on the road
I do this every time I travel and it has saved the day more than once. You can’t always rely on WIFI, as it can be unreliable. Handing over a physical copy of a confirmation email has easily resolved booking issues.
- Make a packing list (one for each family member)
- Check your itinerary for any special equipment you may need for the bookings you’ve made
- Do this early – you will have more time to add items as they pop into your head
- Use this as a checklist when it is time to fill your suitcase
When I travel, I am always on the go. Sleeping in too late or relaxing at the hotel feels like a wasted opportunity. (That is the way I travel. I know it isn’t for everyone). That pace changes when the kids are along. I learned the hard way that you can’t expect kids to keep up with an adults speed. They tire out more easily.
- Only book approx. half of the activities you would generally plan for each day
- Focus more time on exploring each attraction or activity more deeply
- Take the time to get to know the town you are visiting as opposed to location hopping
Be Flexible and Go with the Flow
Some parts of your trip won’t go your way. You can’t fix every issue, but you can choose how you respond to it.
- Understand that it is all part of the adventure
- Don’t let it (“it” being a cancelled booking, delayed flight or whatever else snags your plans) ruin your entire day.
- Flexibility is important for helping the kids manage the changes in their new day-to-day. A child who needs a nap at home is still going to need their sleep while abroad. Know when to take a break, slow down or stop for an extra snack.
Read my article on Flying with Kids for tips to make flying easy!
How to Reduce Stress – Tips from Fellow Family Travel Bloggers
Jessica Covington from Magnets from Everywhere says:
Stress is more often about control than about actual circumstances. Preparing in advance and calibrating your expectations can go a long way towards reducing stress when you are actually on the road. Winging it can be great fun, but after a red-eye flight or a night of no sleep with a jet lagged toddler, you’ll be glad to rely on a plan. Especially if the plan includes some downtime and a nap!
ArgeyMum from Lots of Planets Have a North adds:
I find stress recurs in similar situations, so I take note and remember it for next time. I can pretty much guarantee if we’ve been on a long haul flight stress hits us all when we are walking through the airport, getting to the passport control area. Now that I know there’s a few things I can do to help. I make sure we’ve got full water bottles before we get off the plane. If it’s been a really long flight my husband will fill out the landing cards after we get off the flight, so the kids can have a play and a stretch – there’s nothing that causes stress more than time pressure. If you decide there’s no rush, it’ll be less stress. I take off jumpers and sweaters and put them in day packs – airports are generally warm and you realise how sticky and gross you feel when you start walking around. Identifying stress points and being prepared makes a lot of difference.
Check out these articles for more great tips to reduce stress on family trips!