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my mindset prep before family travel

June 15, 2021

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So you’re feeling ready to travel? ME TOO. I’m preparing for a few trips in the coming months and while I am thrilled to be making pack lists, planning, shopping, etc. I am also present to the stress and anxiety that comes with traveling with Jack.

When Jack was an infant I remember how nervous I was for that first flight. It makes me laugh thinking how much simpler that was knowing what I know now about what it’s like traveling with a toddler. Traveling with an infant is little league compared to the major leagues of navigating an airport, flight, or road trip with a toddler. Can you relate?

You might be thinking ‘Try traveling with two kids! Three kids! Four kids!’ You’re right. It only gets more complex and planning and preparation are crucial. Don’t even get me started on all the crap stuff you have to bring when you travel with your kids. We’ll save that for another blog!

Traveling with kids is not the same type of vacation as an adult-only trip. Honestly, you may not even call it a vacation at all. Oftentimes it’s more work traveling with your tiny humans than it is to just stay home.

However, some of the most significant moments in Jack’s little life have occurred while on vacation. The first time he rolled over, his first word, his first dip in the ocean, his first Christmas, and so many more special moments happened while we were away from home. It’s never easy getting him and all his gear to our destination, but it is always worth it.

What I’d really like to dig into is the mental and emotional preparation that I do before I travel. It’s the work I do to prepare my mental state so I can handle the inevitabilities of travelling with Jack no matter how perfect my planning may be. When I am in the right frame of mind, I can navigate anything. I am better for myself, my husband, and Jack.

Let’s get to it! My mindset prep list!

  • I acknowledge I cannot control every element of the trip, no matter how perfectly I plan. Say it again. I cannot control everything.
    • I may forget something. Jack may not be interested in the 15 toys/books I brought on the flight, so I have to let him watch Frozen for the 400th time. I might mix up a reservation date. Despite keeping Jack’s sleep routine, he may not nap the entire trip. Shit happens. I let it go now to avoid stress later.
  •  I acknowledge when things go well or better than expected.
    • If Jack sleeps well in a new place, I celebrate him. I like to tell him how proud I am that he slept peacefully in a new place. I ask him how good he feels. I thank him for trusting me to create a safe place away from home.
    • Lastly, give yourself and your partner a freakin’ pat on the back when something goes well. You deserve those small victories, too!
  • I release the expectation that Jack will be “himself” on vacation. It’s very likely he will have an off day (or more) and it’s even more likely he may have the best time ever.
    • I wish everyone could experience Jack when he’s at his best but when he’s out of his normal routine, sometimes he’s not. I have to adjust my parenting to meet him where he’s at and sometimes that means not holding him to the same standards as when he’s at home.
  • I ask for help. I don’t wait for someone to ask.
    • There’s no award for being the mom that does it all, so why I am so insistent on doing so much myself? Shifting my brain to be proactive in asking for help keeps me calm and relaxed. It also allows others (who really do want to help!) to step in and support. This is especially important if I am traveling alone with Jack.
  • This is my vacation, too. I create time to unwind.
    • Whether it’s a glass (or three) of wine with my mom after Jack goes to bed or planning an outing that matters to me, I create the time to unwind and relax. It’s no one else’s responsibility but my own to ensure I get what I need when I’m on vacation. There’s nothing heroic about creating an amazing vacation that everyone else enjoyed while you ran yourself ragged to make it all happen. You matter, too!

What else would you add to this list? Do you do any type of mental prep before you travel with your kids? I would love to hear what works for you and your little ones!

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