Tips to Reduce Stress on a Family Trip

July 28, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Tips and Resources


By Gillian McBain

Everyone loves a family trip; a break from the old routine, spending time with those nearest and dearest  – But what if the reality does not meet the expectations?  What if when you get away everything that can go wrong does and all you can think about is getting home?   Find out my top 3 tips on how to reduce stress on a family trip and hear from other seasoned family travellers as they give their recommendations for smooth travel.

1)  Go slow.  I remember taking my family to NYC from Scotland for 3 nights……….3 nights!  When I think about this now it sounds totally insane.  We spent more time getting to and from airports, hanging around waiting for our flights and filling out lost bag forms, than we actually got to spend soaking up the atmosphere of the city.  When we did eventually get there the jet lag was terrible.   We were awake walking the streets at 4 am – not ideal in NYC in February when it is still dark outside and absolutely freezing.  Then, by evening, when it was time to watch a broadway performance at Times Square – we fell asleep in the theatre and missed most of the show.  Needless to say, it didn’t make for a great trip.  Tempers were frayed and everyone was tired and grumpy.  I have learned from making these types of mistakes over the years these short city breaks can often end up requiring a vacation to recover from them.  Now that we travel with children, we don’t even consider a transatlantic trip unless we have at least 14 days available to enjoy the whole experience, relax, get over the journey and get used to the time difference.

2)  Be prepared.  Like the boy scouts say be prepared, and when it comes to family travel this is essential.   If you are planning a long trip whether it be on a flight or in the car, it is essential to bring along things to keep the kids busy and food to keep them well fed.   Books, colouring books & puzzles, card games, maps and probably our most go to solution to make these long travel days feel not so long  – an audio book we can all listen to together. Rediscover and share the old classics from your childhood that you once loved.  You can now introduce them to your kids on audio.  For us, nothing beats a good old Roald Dahl book, the BFG or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being our firm favourites. 

Taking lots of snacks and stopping for rest breaks is also required.  We find Ice cream a great bribe!

3)  Roll with it.  Things often don’t turn out as planned. If you get lost, turn it into an adventure – go with the flow and find out where the road takes you. This of course only works if you are travelling slow.  Some of our most memorable family adventures ended up being completely different than we planned. The trip may not have turned out the way you had expected it to,  but at the end of the day, it most certainly will be an experience.  Half the battle will be your attitude and how you deal with the situation with when the reality doesn’t meet your expectations.

“The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude about the problem.”  Captain Jack Sparrow

Sound positive and pretend it is all part of the adventure.  Sometimes the most spectacular waterfalls or the best restaurant can be found when you get lost and the road takes you on an unexpected detour. 

Want more tips on reducing stress on family trips?  Check out these other posts from family travellers who give you more time tested solutions to making travel easier with kids.

Travel with Jess

Magnets from Everywhere

Lots of Planets have a North

Going Where the Wind Blows

Adventures in Family Travel

Meldrums on The Move

Border Free Adventures

The Travelling Page Family






  1. MagnetsFromEverywhere said on July 28, 2017 10:34 pm:

    Great tips! We still do short/crazy trips like your NYC trip (we’ve got a 3.5-day stay in London coming in October, flying from CA eek!) but we calibrate our expectations waaay differently than a 2-week trip and it ends up OK! Definitely planning stops and taking it slow is a big part of that! We won’t see anywhere close to what you “could” see in London in 3.5 days, but we’ll see enough to make some memories and have a great trip!