Everyone needs a break every once in a while. A time to step away from routines, work pressures and getting immersed in a different perspective or culture are all food for the soul. Taking the whole family in tow might not sound like a stress-free trip away, but the experiences you share will stick with you for years.
Running for flights, keeping everyone in their seats and making sure there are enough snacks can make travelling stressful. Throw in all the “are we there yet” and I need the toilet” moments and you know you’re in for it.
Want to reduce travel stress? Here are 6 family vacation ideas for you to feast your eyes on:
Prepare, prepare, prepare
The first rule of stress-free travel is being prepared. By now, you’ve chosen your destination, but do you know what to expect when you get there? What facilities are available? Are there activities for the kids to get involved in? What’s the check-in process? What’s the climate like?
There’s a lot to think about. So break it down into chunks:
- Passports – is everyone in the family accounted for? Children’s passports tend to come through within three weeks via an online application
- Travel arrangements – boarding information, shuttle services, check-ins etc
- What to pack? Sunny shores or winter slopes – pack accordingly
- Onboard entertainment – you may want to think about books, magazines and activities to pass the time. Bringing your own headphones will ensure you can plug-in to any inflight entertainment if available too
- Snacks, drinks & inflight meals – check with your airline to see what food and beverages are available onboard. Once through the security gate, you can make use of your pre-flight time by buying some snacks
One of the best ways to keep your children happy while travelling is to keep them in the loop. So that means communicate! Talk through the boarding process, what to expect at the airport from check-in to the security gate and set some ground rules before boarding the plane.
Even if you are embarking on a staycation, your children may want to know about travel time, service stops and what they can bring along for the ride.
Any concern your child may have needs to be discussed before you go away together. So open up the conversation. Talk about where you are going, how long it will take to get there and what you might see along the way. The more confident your child is in the process will help them to feel more at ease as you travel.
Leave with time to spare
Rushing around an airport, train or bus station will shatter any levels of calm you have managed to keep up to this point. Stress breeds conflict, and for anyone working with a deadline, we all know how challenging that can get.
So make sure you allow for traffic, toilet stops and pre-flight boarding expectations. Whatever happens, you and the whole family need to make it on time. No-one wants to recreate a real-life Home Alone situation!
Keeping up some of the routines
The trappings of travelling come with time differences, accommodating curious minds and missing out on some of your child’s most fundamental daily routines. Anyone who has experienced a grizzly newborn to the classic teenage tantrum knows that most of these problems are avoided with enough shut-eye.
Sleep is an essential part of everyone’s day. We simply can’t function without it, and when you’re a child, it’s one of the most crucial ways for your mind to grow and develop. Travelling comes with many disruptions, but there are some things you can do to keep your babe’s day as normal as possible:
- Imitate their nighttime routine: everything from brushing your baby’s teeth to reading a bedtime story are all possible while travelling. Yes, aeroplane bathrooms are cramped, but a basic wash, nappy change or last toilet stop is possible!
- Book a seat for everyone: space can be a massive issue when travelling, so buying an extra seat even for the freebie babies will make life much more comfortable. Then you can make a cosy nest for your little one to sleep in, and you can rest too
- Familiar bedtime items: everything from your little one’s fluffy bunny to their blanket all have a part in their sleep routine. So bring them with you! If you think settling your young child or baby will be an issue, consider a weighted blanket. Warm, comforting and keeping your babe grounded, weighted blankets are quickly gaining popularity amongst parents for a reason!
If your children behave a certain way at home, travelling isn’t going to be a magical cure for their misbehaviour. So don’t set your expectations too high and be realistic with your circumstances, no one is perfect after all!
You know what makes your child tick more than anyone, so use that to your advantage. If they like to listen to music, bring along some headphones to plug into your phone or the inflight entertainment. Like an activity? Bring a few magazines along or a colouring book.
Don’t make too many plans
Overplanning your vacation has the trappings of stress all over it! Your time away needs to include one or two activities a day at most. Any more than that and your fun time away can suddenly become your worst nightmare.
Better yet, plan three must-see activities with the whole family. That way if something else catches your eye along the way, there is more room for spontaneity!
The vacation mindset tends to include relaxation, adventure or a thirst for getting lost in a different culture. Stress doesn’t need to join in the party! So get ready for your next family holiday, and keep it stress-free. You’ll thank us later.