Does the idea of traveling with your family make you or other family members anxious?
If you answered yes, rest assured, you are not alone. Travel anxiety is very common. It’s especially acute around family travel and the belief that because you have kids, you can’t travel.
To help ease your family into the idea of traveling, let’s take London as a perfect family travel destination.
Its familiar cultural and historical ties make it a low anxiety destination and an ideal way for family travelers (and non-family travelers) to experience the joy of overseas travel, especially if you’re first-time travelers.
The iconic attractions like the double-decker bus and the famous London Bobby are familiar and comforting, and London’s underground system (The Tube) is easy for families to get around on.
Here are some tips to help you plan your trip, reduce your travel anxiety and make your trip less stressful and more fun:
Planning means all members of the family do this together, which could mean collective research, or every family member has a research assignment (restaurants, money, sections of the city to see, etc.) and all come together to share.
- Be sure to schedule free time
A day in the park people watching or having a picnic can beat any tourist attraction.When there’s not sufficient free time to collect thoughts and be together with “quiet time,” anxieties increase because of sensory overload, hunger, fatigue or just plain boredom.Yes, being bored on a trip is more than acceptable. It’s inevitable. So, free time is critical to recharge and regroup. Value it!
- Select top destination for each family member
It’s very important that each member of the family gets to declare (and see) his or her “top” destination, and no other member of the family can veto or judge that choice. That member’s “must-see” attraction is sacred and has to be honored.
- Let the kids carry their own money
It give them a sense of confidence and sends a message of trust. It’s also a terrific way to build independence and get them engaged in the destination.Plus, the experience of converting dollars to pounds is a great math assignment, and builds confidence and self-esteem.
- Split up!
The parents can go in separate directions, each with a child, and come together later to share. Kids love having experiences their siblings don’t and cherish the time with a parent all to themselves.You’ll be surprised how many traveling families never think of this, or are uncomfortable trying it.
- When possible, avoid hotels
Consider renting a short-term apartment or “flat.” Sign up for Airbnb. You’ll save money on meals and “live like a native,” by shopping at the local shops.You’ll meet people more quickly, deepening the experience and feeling more secure in community. Travel is always about connecting with people, not necessarily seeing places!
Whenever fear, doubt or anxiety is expressed, always honor that, and listen to it closely.
We’ve seen that when one says things like, “Oh, that’s a silly fear,” or “Stop being afraid, nothing’s going to happen,” it only intensifies the feelings.
Let all fears, doubts, anxieties and uncertainties be welcomed and respected. Sometimes it helps to carry a photo of a pet, grandparent or even of a friend. These can be reassuring totems.
Then take a deep breath and go and have fun.
Let us know how you did.. and for some inspiration, take a look at our 1-minute Video PostCards to get you in the mood.
Feel free to start with one closer to home: the vibrant city of San Antonio in Texas, home of the Alamo!