Linda Lewis Griffith

7 tips for stress-free travel with family and friends

Kate Kendrick, 12, right, shares a laugh with Joan Tober after the Kendrick family arrives in Frisco, Texas, during a 2016 road trip. Traveling with family members can be fun if you follow a few simple guidelines, San Luis Obispo therapist Linda Lewis Griffith says.
Kate Kendrick, 12, right, shares a laugh with Joan Tober after the Kendrick family arrives in Frisco, Texas, during a 2016 road trip. Traveling with family members can be fun if you follow a few simple guidelines, San Luis Obispo therapist Linda Lewis Griffith says. Dallas Morning News/TNS

Summer vacations are a great time for family fun. But they can also be the source of stress and emotional meltdowns.

Here are seven suggestions for making sure travel is memorable for all the right reasons.

Gear travel to the stages and abilities of the participants. Consider who’s traveling with you and develop an itinerary that meets everybody’s needs. Never attempt to do more than the weakest member can comfortably manage. If traveling with a baby or an elderly or disabled family member, either design the trip specifically for them, or break the family into subgroups that can divert and reconnect throughout the vacation.

Keep travel plans realistic. The biggest stressor in family travel is trying to do too much. When road trips are overly long or days are too crowded, exhaustion takes over and tempers invariably flare. It’s far smarter to do less and be relaxed than to be in overdrive and at everyone’s throats.

Keep tummies full. Most problems occur when travelers are hungry and overtired. Avoid hangry tantrums by stopping for regular meals and keeping snacks within easy reach.

Be on your best behavior. Travel is already stressful, so wise travelers take deep breaths and keep their mouths shut in lieu of making a scene. They also try to anticipate problems before they happen. If someone’s feelings do get stepped on, a quick, sincere mea culpa sets the stage for tempers to cool. And, if you’re the injured party, recover and rejoin the group ASAP. Pouting on vacation is a major no-no.

Allow for mishaps. The unexpected always crops up on vacation. So it’s smart to add extra time into the schedule to accommodate detours, cancelled flights or a bad case of food poisoning.

Encourage children to be responsible for their own entertainment. Grade-school kids can pack backpacks with devices, books and games to keep them occupied. Let children know that you expect them to get along with their siblings and be helpful in any ways they can.

Pick travel companions carefully. While it can be fun to vacation with other couples and families, it vastly increases the odds of something going wrong. Each extra person adds their own needs, drama and preferences, and people who are terrific at home may be holy terrors at a resort. If you do decide to join forces, make sure each added member understands the itinerary and expectations. Also, allow ample time for couples to be by themselves; too much togetherness is a surefire way to derail an outing.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com
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