Family Holiday A to Z: Anxiety

Welcome to my A to Z series on surviving, enjoying and making the most of family holidays. As you read this I am on my own 24 day odyssey to the USA with my husband and three little bears – so I am truly living what I am preaching right now! Each post in this series is designed to cover a specific aspect of family travel and provide 5 tips for making your next family holiday more special, fun and memorable. I would love to hear your stories and suggestions too, so feel free to hit me with them in the comments. I look forward to conversing with you on my return!

A to Z (1)

Anxiety possibly does not immediately come to mind when you are thinking about a holiday. You may be focusing instead on relaxation or exhilaration or romance or fun. But when you are holidaying with the family, anxiety can rear its ugly head in a few ways.

As a parent, you may be anxious about travelling with your children, particularly when it comes to flights or sailing. Will they behave themselves? Will they be sick? Will they be able to sleep? Will anyone else be able to sleep?

You may worry about the holiday itself – will the entire family enjoy it? Will you have the chance to breathe and relax yourself? Will it be worth the expense? Have you packed everything? Have you got everything in place, ready to go?

Kids can also feel anxiety too. If very young, they may not completely understand what is going on. They may be scared about flying. They may be worried about being away from home and the comfort of their own room, bed and toys.

Some children may be reluctant to try new things or have new experiences. Others may miss their friends and their technology at home. Whatever the source of concern, nearly every child will feel some moment of anxiety when contemplating or embarking on a major family holiday.

We have two children on the autism spectrum so we are used to dealing with their day-to-day anxieties but we are still feeling our way when it comes to managing anxiety and family travel. After a successful trip to New Zealand last year we are focusing on many of the strategies that worked then, hoping they will also work this time around too.

5 tips to manage family holiday anxiety

1. Develop an itinerary for the kids

Consider developing an itinerary for the kids. It can be a simple word document which can be printed out and stapled for everyday use or it can also be saved into pdf format so it can be read on an iPad or other mobile device. If you are interested in finding out what I mean by developing an itinerary just for kids check out the one we put together for our NZ trip – NZ Holiday Book-final. It really does make the world of difference in preparing your kids for the trip to come.

2. Seek their input

To minimise stress and anxiety and to ensure everyone has a fantastic time, it’s important to seek your kids input when planning a holiday. This gives them the chance to have their say and for you to also put forward what YOU would like to do too. The kids become more invested in the holiday and you get a glimpse into what they are wanting to get out of it as well. It really makes a lot of sense. You can also follow this up by showing YouTube videos or looking at relevant websites to help your kids know what to expect – this also assists in helping them decide what they would prefer to do.

3. Build rest time into each day

It is so important to build rest time into your itinerary. It can be hard to justify slowing down when you have limited time in a particular place but taking it slowly and not pushing too hard will definitely make the holiday a greater success and minimise anxiety. Even if you have a punishing schedule, it pays to carve out opportunities to just splash about by the pool or have lazy mornings to recover when it all gets too much. And it will – so it’s better to be prepared for the overwhelm rather than have it consume the entire holiday.

4. Take a backpack with activities & favourite belongings

Depending on their age, get the kids to carry their own backpacks with activities for the trip and their favourite belongings for a sense of comfort. The backpacks can be used during the holiday also carry water, jumpers and headphones while you are tripping about during the day. Just make sure you put a tag on the bag with your child’s name, your contact number and a little bit about them, in case they get lost or separated. That way you should be quickly and easily reunited should the worst happen on your travels.

5. Make time to talk about the holiday everyday

Each night at dinner (or another time in the day that you are all together as a family) talk about the holiday. Talking about your plans can help ease most fears and can also give your kids insight into what might happen while you are away. These conversations will give you the chance to discuss the behaviours you expect from them and the fun they will be sure to have. Talking about the holiday will help increase levels of excitement and will allow you to find out what they are most excited about and better plan the activities you will be enjoying as a family.

Bonus Tip – 6. Plan to have fun!

A holiday can be stressful – as I write this I’m quite tense at the moment just thinking about everything we need to do before we leave! It’s easy to be caught up in the planning and in the stress of everything that has to be done and inevitably you can lose sight of the reason you are going – to have fun. So ensure you plan to have fun too! Build things in that YOU want to do as well. Book the kids into kids clubs for certain periods during the trip so you can do things as a couple and have a restorative break yourselves.  Make sure you sound excited when you talk to the kids about the trip and emphasise that this is going to be fun – this will help ease any fears and gee everyone up to have a great trip!

Do you have any suggestions about managing family holiday anxiety to add to the list?

Linking with Grace, Ann and Bron for the last time before jetting off Stateside…

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14 Responses

  1. What a fantastic rundown! Have a wonderful holiday! X
    Jody at Six Little Hearts recently posted..Jazslings Baby Slings Review and Giveaway #SLHFeaturedThursdays

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Jody – it’s all systems go now. We’ve done all we can – we just have to trust in ourselves and in our planning and try to relax!

  2. Some great tips here. I find anxiety naturally occurs whilst traveling with kids although we do tend to push ourselves a bit and not allow for the fact that we’re parents with little people in tow. I definitely think rest time is important, have flexible expectations – go with what you have to, kids needs are ever changing, and be prepared to go at a slower pace so all can enjoy it! Bit jealo of your trip! Hope you’re having a marvelous time!
    Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad recently posted..The Nameless Vick

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Vicki – we fly out Sunday morning (tomorrow!) so in the last throes of preparation now. I have find writing these posts have helped me so much in getting ready and thinking more about what we need (and what we don’t) so hoping it can help others too.

  3. All good tips Kirsty. I know that even if you know a lot about travel with kids the type of anxiety continually changes each time you travel. All you can do is plan well, stay calm and (as you said) remember to have fun.
    Sally@Toddlers on Tour recently posted..The Divine Devdan Show

    • Kirsty says:

      That’s such a good point Sally – anxiety can present differently each time you travel. I’m not so worried about the flight this time around as the kids have done that before but I am worried about the cruise portion (who knows who will be sick or not?) and the craziness of the theme parks. But we have planned as well as we can so we just have to go with the flow now and think positive!

  4. I love this list. We hope to start going on some more adventures soon. Epilepsy (My baby has it) certainly makes the anxiety levels raise.
    Kaz @ Melting Moments recently posted..WWU – Birthdays and stuff…

    • Kirsty says:

      I hear you Kaz. Our kids’ autism and my son’s vision impairment does give us added things to worry about. But I’m hopeful we’ll be okay as we have done this before, just not on as big a scale. Hope this series might help you plan for those future adventures with your kids x

  5. We are big holiday goers. LOVE the USA.
    These are great tips. I think you night have nailed it.
    Happy jetsetting!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Leanne – if you have any other tips in some of the other posts I have scheduled feel free to leave a comment. We will be learning more as we go so hoping we will be experts by the end of it!!!!

  6. Grace says:

    I had so much anxiety before a holiday once that I left my wallet at Sydney airport before we checked in. Luckily they hung onto it until we got back. Phew!
    Having dinner conversations about the holiday is a great idea. I’m sure you guys will have a blast!
    Grace recently posted..FYBF – With Every Season

    • Kirsty says:

      Let’s hope my anxiety doesn’t cause me to forget something like that! Glad they were able to hang onto it for you – that’s awesome!

  7. Have an amazing holiday .. Looking forward to
    Hosting #imustconfess on Monday
    Natalie @ our parallel comnection recently posted..Domestic violence in Australia – honour our women

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