4 Tips for Traveling With Kids to Keep Them (and You) Calm
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Travel, no matter how near or far, has many benefits for children. Families leave the comfort of home to explore new and different people, cultures, environments, and experiences. Not only do family trips create opportunities for families to bond through shared experiences, they also provide situations that require children to take risks, and try something new, which can result in courage and greater confidence. However, traveling with kids isn’t always easy and can sometimes be a tumultuous experience.
How Can I Make Traveling with Kids Less Stressful?
Incorporating mindfulness into your travel adventures is a great way to enhance your family’s experience and teach your children how to appreciate not only the destination, but also the journey.
Here are some quick tips to help make traveling with kids easier:
Tip #1. Visualize the Journey and Destination Ahead of Time
Family travel should be fun from the start, but it can easily get derailed when kids are fearful or anxious about flying or driving in a car for long periods of time. For some children, traveling can be a thrill, and for others it’s intense, uncomfortable, and stressful. You can help your child by discussing the details of what to expect during the journey ahead of time.
Practice visualization: Go through a visualization of the sights, sounds, and experiences that can happen during the journey. If your child is worried or anxious, validate and address their feelings by coming up with a plan together.
Use breathing techniques: Help your children relax either before or during travel with breathing techniques and mindfulness to help keep their bodies calm and relaxed. Mind Yeti’s audio session Slow Breathing 2 teaches a foundational breathing technique using a simple visual metaphor children can easily remember ̶̶̶̶ smelling a bowl of hot soup and blowing out slowly to cool it down. If they’re feeling anxious, Sticky Hubbubble helps kids notice their thoughts and practice letting them go.
Tip #2. Make Sleep a Priority
Before you travel, make sure your children have had plenty of sleep and maintain their routine sleep schedules while traveling. Children who are well rested tend to do better adapting to new time zones and sleep schedules.
Plan travel with kids around sleep schedules: Try to travel after naps since travel can excite and stimulate children. If possible, plan to arrive at your destination right before bedtime. Getting restful sleep during your trip will also ensure that everyone will be energized and ready for each day’s events.
Add mindfulness to bedtime routines: Using mindfulness during consistent and predictable bedtime routines will teach kids to relax at the end of each day and will help you avoid bedtime battles. Mind Yeti’s Bedtime Gratitude and Goodnight Body sessions can help little ones quickly drift into a peaceful slumber at the end of an action-packed day.
Tip #3. Help Kids Stay Calm While Traveling in Small Spaces
If you plan for the journey and invest in making it a fun experience, it will be easier to avoid backseat bickering and the constant “Are we there yet?” questions. For children, sometimes the journey is the most memorable part of the entire trip.
Prepare a travel toolbox with play-based distractions: When planning your travel time, you might consider incorporating playlists, audiobooks, books, and classic car games, such as the license plate game or I spy.
Plan mindful “wiggle” sessions: Planning stops along the way when driving, or regular walks or stretches on an airplane, can help get the wiggles out and keep the mood positive. Things may start off fine, but after children have been confined to small spaces for an extended period of time, they can get restless and agitated, which often leads to whining or bickering. These are the moments when a Mind Yeti session might come in handy, such as Growing Kindness or Cool The Volcano. The key to making your travel time a peaceful experience is to plan, be prepared, and expect the unexpected.
Tip #4. Start the Day Right with a Fun, Quick and Easy Meditation
Once you’ve made it to your destination, the hope is that your family will enjoy their time together and that you’ll make lasting memories. Many families put a lot of time and energy into planning their itinerary and vacation activities. Creating these memorable moments requires that everyone, including children, is a present and willing participant. One way to help children enjoy and notice their surroundings is to start the day with a meditation.
Listen to meditations: Mind Yeti sessions such as Sound Change or Check In & Notice can help children become more present in each moment and experience things with greater focus. By listening, children can enhance their moment-to-moment awareness of feelings, thoughts, body sensations, and the surrounding environment.
Traveling with kids should be a fun and memorable bonding experience. Get the most out of your time together by planning not just for the destination, but the travel time that’s required to get there. Incorporating mindfulness during your travels will not only help kids feel calm and relaxed, it can counteract any potential stress and help kids feel more positive toward others.
Mindfulness can help your kids maintain healthy sleep schedules and be present and focused during your time together. So, how will you incorporate mindfulness into your family’s travel plans?
Melissa is a parent coach, speaker, and author in the Seattle area. She is the co-founder of ChildProof Parenting and Mommy Matters. Melissa provides parents with the tools and support they need to raise healthy children and find more joy in parenting.