If you are an anxious parent yourself or are parenting a child or children who suffer from anxiety, travelling can be a real challenge! Getting out of our comfort zones and familiar places and spaces can really throw anxiety into overdrive and cast a shadow over the entire vacation. I am sharing some tips and strategies here to help keep the anxiety during travel at bay so you can get the most out of your time away!
Plan your itinerary in advance
Many people who suffer from anxiety are also planners. If this describes you, make sure that you look at what activities there are for the whole family. Know what you will be doing each day and talk about it with your kids. This will go a long way toward calming anxious feelings.
Get over your jet lag as soon as possible
Feeling disoriented and tired helps no one, especially those who suffer from anxiety during travel. There are some little tricks to get back in control of your sleep patterns in a different time zone. Lack of sleep and tiredness can make anxiety worse. Expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible during daylight hours, and keep your room really dark at nighttime. This will help your body adjust to the time change more quickly. Sometimes keeping a room dark for little kids who go to bed before the sun can be difficult. Consider packing some garbage bags for makeshift blackout blinds!
Get into a routine
Anxiety is often fed by fear of the unknown or by being surrounded by unpredictable situations. You can avoid some of this anxiety during travel by quickly setting up a routine that is as similar to what you do at home as possible. Try getting up at a specific time every day, even on vacation. Consistency is vital for kids because they like to know what’s coming up next!
Even on vacation, I get up around 5:30, because I like to do my morning prayer and get myself ready before anyone else is awake. So by the time the kids wake up between 7 and 8 (just like at home) I have already had my me time, and then I will get them ready for the day. We usually go downstairs at the hotel for breakfast right away, or make breakfast in the room. After that we will do some kind of morning activity, usually involving going out and seeing an attraction or some kind of tourist destination. So my kids know that on the weekdays, this is what they are doing each morning. Then we do lunch at their regular time, which is noon. After lunch we read or do a quiet activity in the room. Try to have dinner at the same time every day too.
Bedtimes are such an important part of a good routine! If you’re staying somewhere for a long time, try to go to bed at the same time every night, at the same time your kids and you are used to at home. Even on vacation my kids go to bed at 7:30 or 8. If your kids nap, once they get over their jet lag the first nap can be on the go. I would plan to be back at your hotel for a second nap so your kids don’t get overtired. When kids are overtired, chaos and disaster often follow, as we have all experienced!
Now, obviously on vacation there are just going to be some days where we push all the boundaries I just suggested. For example, when we went to Disney the kids were up till midnight! But if you only do this once in a while, they can recover. The key here is to have routines with some flexibility rather than just making it up as you go every single day.
It is so easy to lose your routines and sense of control when on vacation. I hope these simple strategies for dealing with anxiety during travel will help you keep anxiety to a minimum when you are out exploring. Follow me on instagram for more mental health tips!
Our Family Trip to California!
Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo
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