4 Guaranteed Stress-Busters when Traveling with Kids

Posted Travel Tips by Janice Sakata-Schultze on December 15, 2015

As we were leaving the horse stable in St. Maarten, my two daughters decided to start a full-scale argument. What this mini-war was about, I couldn’t even tell you. It may have been about not sharing their post-ride smoothies with each other, or it could’ve been about a certain Pokemon card one had that the other wanted.

Maybe because I was overheated from the tour and a bit stressed about getting back to the cruise ship, I was a little more touchy than usual.  We booked this activity and the rental car independently from the cruise line, so if we missed getting back onboard, we’d be on our own.  My mood was not conducive to a calm, rational intervention to stop them.  So I let them know my displeasure, quite vocally, once we were in the rental car.

The roar in my voice likely scared my older daughter enough to make her stop, but my younger one was ready to melt into tears. If I had these four following ways to combat my increasing stress, we probably would have enjoyed our time in St. Maarten a little more. Try these the next time you feel a little more frazzled than you’d like on your next vacation.

1) Take time out for yourself

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This is the most essential strategy to take, no matter if you’re traveling on your own with your kids or how old they are. If you’re with a spouse, partner or other adults, make sure that each one of you gets your personal time.

Should you be on your own, consider your comfort level regarding your kids alone.  With younger children, allow them to watch a favorite video or play a board game while you take a nap, watch a TV program or play some music on a personal device. Older children, those 12 and older, can likely be alone for short time periods in a hotel room or rental. If you need to go outside for a workout, remind them of your safety precautions, then enjoy your time away.

2) Journal it out

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Sometimes you have frustrations that can’t be easily expressed. That’s why it’s useful to keep a journal close by. It doesn’t have to be a fancy book with fabric covers and gold-leaf pages. A regular office supply notebook will be more than sufficient.

When you feel that stress is taking over, write about it. Don’t censor yourself. If you feel that what you write is potentially hurtful to your kids or spouse, then take the page and tear it up before throwing it away. Getting your thoughts out of your head and expressed on paper is therapeutic, safe and better than yelling at your family. Just check out this recent article in the New York Times on writing your way to happiness.

3) Have a good laugh

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If you can share something funny with your kids, this one simple action can go a long way to diffusing tension related to travel. Watch a family-friendly comedy, play a laugh-inducing game or have a joke-telling contest.  

With the last strategy, be sure to set some rules before starting so that teasing and joking around aren’t taken too far.

4) Remember to breathe

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In the moment of a stressful situation with your kids, you certainly can’t run away. So simply recall one simple word to remind you to take a deep breath or several. Just taking some time for healthy inhaling and exhaling will do wonders for your stress level…and enjoyment you have with your family.