Stress-Free Family Trips

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Use these easy strategies for a memorable family trip. Learn to calm your children and enjoy the destination.

A pleasant trip can become a nightmare when children are nervous or anxious. We show you how to manage this so you enjoy your holidays.

Where are you planning to spend your vacation? Many families have already packed their bags and others are on the road.
Even though the idea is to rest and have a good time, family trips can have undesirable side effects: kids who are grumpy, bored or irritated, and frustrated, tired parents who are about to explode.
You can take some precautions to avoid those bad moments. The following strategies will make your next trip much less stressful, and you will always remember it!

1. Tell them about the destination.
To prepare your children to adapt to an unfamiliar place, it's a good idea to tell them where you're going, so they know what to expect. If you're going to visit your sister and she has three dogs and two cats, make sure to mention this, for example: "Aunt Roxy's house is a little noisy because she has a lot of animals; it's great fun!".
Children adapt much better to this kind of changes when they know about them ahead of time and this way, you will avoid any surprises.

In addition, you need to always have a positive attitude. If going to your in-laws causes some stress (but you're going nonetheless), you must never complain in front of your children. It's better to talk about subjects that help create positive memories, for example, how much the kids enjoy playing with grandfather and grandmother.

2. Change the time gradually.
If their grandparents' house or the vacation destination is in another time zone, move bedtime back (or forward) by 10 to 15 minutes a week. This gradual change will avoid exhaustion during the trip. Don't forget to use the same plan a week before returning.

3. Plan Activities
Take a lot of toys and games to keep the children busy and entertained. Ask your children what they would like to do in the back seat of the car or during the flight; you can take a portable videogame and books or give them a new notebook for drawing.

If they are bored by everything, try games from your own childhood. Some
family favorites: "I spy" or song games.

4. Take Something Familiar
Children feel comfortable with familiar things. When their normal routine is changed, you need to help them ease the bad feelings caused by unfamiliar situations and new places. Take 5 small objects that your child uses every day: a favorite spoon for breakfast; a toy train or stuffed bear; a plastic toy for the bathtub; a favorite book; and his/her own pillow. These items will make your children feel they are not so far from home and that there is nothing to fear.

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