Hello SOTGC community,
I recently went on my first vacation with my husband and our new son, and l have to say it was harder than I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it was a blast, but it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies either.
I later read that, according to one study of 1500 adults, there was no happiness gain after vacation if there was moderate to high travel-related stress.
I think that we often think about the destination instead of the journey, and you have probably heard that it is all about the journey and not the destination, right? Well when you travel with kids, the journey isn’t always easy and it can test your patience and your willpower. And I don’t just mean with your children, I also mean with your spouse or significant other.
I thought I would pass on the top 8 things I learned about getting along while traveling with a child. I think a few of these might help save some relationships and make traveling a whole lot more tolerable.
1. Pack early: If you tend to wait until the day before to pack you will probably find that you are stressed out before you even get to the airport or on the road. I like to start a list, nothing formal, a week early and just add to it throughout the week. That way I am not running around trying to remember everything. Make sure your list indicates where you will need this item. Sounds silly, but If you need something that happens to be at the bottom of your suitcase, then it doesn’t really help you right? Keep a running list and pack early so that you can keep your stress levels down. Staying stress free will help keep arguments or harsh words at bay.
2. Hydrate: Studies have shown that, staying hydrated can actually help keep your stress levels down. Being dehydrated often makes you feel tired and can give you a headache. Make sure to bring a large bottle of water when you travel. When in doubt, check your pee….yep I said pee….if it’s not fairly clear, you need more water.
3. Move: From my experience, when I stay in the same position for too long, it becomes hard to see the world from a different perspective. So when you are frustrated, or upset, move around. Not only do you help get the blood flowing and muscles moving, you help yourself see the world from a different point of view. Seeing the world from a different vantage point can help let the frustration pass.
4. Don’t play the blame game: I remember turning to my husband and saying something like, “well if you had…” That’s right, I was pretty much saying that if he had done something differently our child would not have misbehaved. Don’t let the stress of travel be the cause of unneeded blame. The words you use now might not be easy to forget later, and that can put a damper on the rest of the trip.
5. Acknowledge the frustration: It’s ok to be frustrated.What you don’t want to do is let it turn you into someone you are not. Instead of pushing your child over to your travel partner in anger, which I have done before, take a deep breath and say, “I’m frustrated, can I take a minute to myself?” Acknowledging your frustration to your partner lets them know that you are being proactive about regaining your calm. It also lets them know that you appreciate their help.
6. Say thank you: Say it often and say it sincerely. Not everyone has children and not everyone understands that you can’t always make a child stop crying on demand. Let those around you know that you appreciate their patience. When you feel like people appreciate that you are trying, you feel less stressed and guilty, which means getting along better with your travel companions.
7. Make eye contact with others: As a mother I understand it’s hard to see everything else going on around you when you have a crying child, but the more you acknowledge the world the more the world acknowledges you. Making eye contact helps you feel not so alone and you will be amazed at how others will engage with you and your children. During our flight one of the flight attendants offered to hold our son for a few minutes so we could both stretch and take a breath, it wasn’t the time that mattered, it was the kindness that was important, and it all started with eye contact.
8. Compliment your travel partner: When you are a parent your kids tend to take over your life. I know that when we travel, it is hard not to let my son dominate my world, but it is so important to acknowledge how lucky I am to have someone there to help. Not everyone gets to have a travel partner, so when you do, compliment them…and not just about how great they are with the kids. Any compliment will do the trick, just let them know they are pretty awesome, because making someone feel valued helps every relationship.
In the end, how we feel internally and how we act to the outside world can really affect our close relationships. So next time you head out on a big adventure with kids, try out these 8 tips and let me know if they helped you get along while traveling.