Traveling with your entire family is a truly rewarding experience. After all the frustration of planning and sorting out your finances, you make long lasting memories that you will always look back on with a smile.
While family trips are awesome, they can be a major source of stress. Trust me, I’ve planned plenty here in Singapore and over in my home town of Barcelona. So what was supposed to be a journey of a lifetime could turn out to be a major worry in your life.
If you know how to cope with this strain and pressure, you can be the rock for the rest of your family, flipping the mood from gloom and doom to sunshine and rainbows.
If you’re concerned about the stresses that come with family travel, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll learn some really insightful tips on how to manage your stress when going on a trip with your loved ones.
Understand your stressors
Knowing what makes you stressed before and during the trip is already half the battle. Worry may come from financial concerns, health issues, timing and scheduling, dietary restrictions, the list goes on and on. You may think that your fears are silly, and they very well may be, but if you don’t confront them head on, learn about and overcome them, they can grow from silly concerns into full blown sources of panic.
Start by writing down all the things that could go wrong on your journey and then pinpoint the major ones that frustrate you the most. Then try to logically map out the chance of them happening, what you could do to prevent them from happening, actions you might take if they did happen, and lastly, the worst case scenarios. This can be small like sharing a room or torrential rain (like I had when I visited the Maldives) to huge like terrorist attacks and tsunamis.
Once you have written these down, you’ll see that the chance of the worst case coming true is very minimal. You may want to research your worries a bit more, speak to a professional, chat to your partner about them, or even speak openly to your kids or parents about them. Talking always helps as your thoughts transfer from your head where they are on repeat to out in the open where they can stop (or at least start the process of ending).
If you find that you just can’t get through to your family and you need some professional guidance to prepare for the trip, you can get help by reaching out to a family therapist: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/what-family-therapist-is-right-for-us/.
Prepare by starting new habits
Preparing for a family trip can be tough. You may be working full time while planning your next adventure, all the while still combating social obligations, day-to-day administrative tasks, and running a fully functional family. These can all be stressors that bring about a whole range of emotions from depression to anxiety.
You may be so busy that you’ve forgotten about your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s important to keep yourself healthy by enforcing positive habits. Many studies have been done on how physical exercise decreases stress and anxiety, so follow the science. Starting is by far the most difficult part of creating new habits as it’s a jolt to the system which brings about feelings of discomfort as you break apart your old routine.
Yet as you repeat your newer, healthier habits, they become easier and in no time you’re as fit as a fiddle – both physically and emotionally. Remember that you don’t have to spend too much time and effort to create these new habits to get the ball rolling.
Put your alarm clock on 20 minutes earlier and get some light exercise in before you start the day. Get rid of all the junk food in the house that serves no purpose other than upping the scale so that there is no temptation. Start taking vitamins and supplements if need be. Track the time you spend on your phone or doom scrolling the news and block sites and apps that are causing anxiety. You’ll be surprised what a brisk walk around the block can do.
Then get your entire family in on the routine. Explain to them why you are doing this in a clear and loving manner and make it a fun and exciting experience. This preparation will not only make you feel better, it will get the entire family in unison which will continue onto the vacation. I started riding and hiking around Singapore and doing yoga at home to keep my fitness levels up.
Set your expectations
Time to take out that pen and paper again. Start by writing out all your expectations, including what you expect from the holiday and your family, what others expect from you and all the responsibilities you may have while on your trip. These can be actionable events or more insightful and deeper expectations.
Now, try to get rid of some of these expectations, knowing all along that you aren’t a superhuman and you may not be able to finish everything or to live up to all expectations. Get comfortable with this fact and then start to minimize some of the items from your list.
Remember that just because you’re going on vacation, it doesn’t mean that all your concerns will magically fall away. Understand yourself and how much you can handle and allocate tasks you can manage to part with to other members of your family or friends and colleagues. You’ll be amazed at how quickly others can happily take on your burdens.
Plan everything beforehand and in advance from passports and vaccinations to itineraries and travel entertainment. You don’t want to leave things to the last minute or forget something behind. Create a list and share it with your family so that everyone has their part in preplanning.
Be mindful of the little things
The stress of traveling with your family can sometimes be overwhelming. This is why it’s always a good idea to occasionally just stop, take a breath and take in the present moment. With all the packing, bickering, traveling, tours, activities and broken expectations involved in a family trip, it’s difficult to give your mind a break.
Set a reminder on your phone at various times in the day that says “Be present and smile”, which will serve as a reminder to drop all your stress and just be with your loved, no matter how irritable a situation you may be in.
Plan family activities that don’t involve the phone like a board games night, kayaking, evening strolls or sightseeing tours. Make sure to chat to your family beforehand about electronic-free times so that everyone has their expectations set.
And if you or your loved ones need it, plan some alone or free time where everyone gets to do anything they want, by themselves, for a specific amount of time. This gives everyone a nice break, but also creates agreed upon boundaries.
Remember teamwork (& don’t take things personally)
Family feuds usually break out when things don’t go the way you expect them. You may have an angsty teenager, a rebellious toddler or an uninterested partner, so getting angry at their actions and reactions will only stoke the fire. You could be at the best hotels in the world like Nihi Sumba or Manta Resort’s underwater room near Zanzibar, but things can still go wrong (like missing a flight or bad service).
Expect things not to go your way and understand how you will react when they don’t. If your teen wakes up moody, don’t take it to heart. Venture on with your day, knowing that moods fluctuate. Talking could help if they’re up to it, but don’t force your expectations on anyone.
Try to be inclusive when planning the holiday, getting the entire family together to do the research. This is not only a great time to bond and get excited for the trip ahead, it also gives time and space to see what others want to do on the holiday. Everything is a democracy and your loved ones can learn that they may need to give up certain things for the benefit of everyone. This is better to get out before going on the trip than popping up during it.
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- Search for all your transportation between destinations on the trusted travel booking platform Bookaway.
- I book all my day trips and tours via GetYourGuide, they are the best and their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance.
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