Travelling long term with kids is not all plain sailing folks. It requires MENTAL RESILIENCE and unfortunately you can’t buy that on amazon before you leave.
The only information I read before leaving London for our ten-month world tour was along the lines of…don’t worry about the kids they are more resilient and adaptable than you think. That is certainly true but what about the parents?
We learned the hard way and - as those of you who have been following our world adventures for a while will know - we navigated our fair share of rough waters along the way.
Mental health and travelling
So, in celebration of mental health awareness week, here are my top tips for keeping your shit together when travelling long term with kids.
Lower all expectations of a perfect family holiday. Your kids will moan. Your kids will have public meltdowns. Your kids will be bored. Your kids won’t want to get on the train. Your kids will spend too much time on their electronics some days. It’s all fine. Breathe. Learn to move on from a set-back. See point three.
If you start feeling anxious, stop looking at perfect travelling families on Instagram. Instagram is not real – everyone is no doubt losing their shit behind the scenes. My most honest and vulnerable accounts of our lows always received high engagement. I got lots of messages from travelling families feeling the same pain. But you wouldn’t have thought they were having anything but a fantastic time based on their feed.
Start using meditation or hypnotherapy apps NOW to practice forms of mindfulness so you learn how not to lose your shit when you are sweating like a pig in 40 degrees heat, in a remote railway station in Vietnam, trying to tame your tsunami toddler. I discovered Clementine App along the way, a pocket therapy app aimed at women. I still use it now.
Split up…not literally obviously. If you are travelling with more than one kid, don’t be afraid to split into teams. One parent and a child do one thing, the other parent and your other kid(s) do something else and you all meet back up at the end of the day. We spent many a happy day not being all together.
Uplifting podcasts are your friend. Subscribe and download some uplifting or brain numbing (whatever floats your boat) podcasts. They are a great way to get perspective. I listened to Rachel Nielson’s 3 in 30 podcast religiously along the way to alleviate the mum guilt. Podcasts are free and downloadable. They also have many children’s podcasts, a great alternative to screens.
But there are also real friends. Call them. It’s not because you are doing something amazing that you will be on top of the world every day. Your trip is not a failure because you are not enjoying every minute of it. Travelling 24/7 with your family can narrow your perspective on things. Talking to someone living in the real world back home really helps.
Spend some time alone. The wholly grail of travelling with kids but hard to come by. Organise some me time. An hour, a morning or hell a whole day. You will be a better parent for it. Take it in turns, weave it into your schedule. Plan your budget so you can check in to a few hotels with kids’ clubs along the way to give both parents a break TOGETHER.
Learn how to plan your dream world trip with kids
Talking about mental health and travelling…my new online course: How to travel the world with kids includes a whole section about preparing for the mental challenge of travelling long term with your children. Set yourself up for success. Pre-book your spot now.