16 Powerful tips to conquer fear and overcome family vacation anxiety[/caption]Is travel anxiety holding you or your loved ones back from taking a family vacation?  We don’t want your family to miss out on the opportunity to travel together.

Be bold, take control of your mind and silence your family vacation anxiety.

This guide will help you overcome your fear of traveling so you can experience exciting trips together.


How to overcome family vacation anxiety and enjoy family travel

I admit I still get anxious before a family trip and have an increasing fear of flying.  I don’t want that to stop my family from experiencing travel together though.  And I definitely don’t want to pass that anxiety on to my children.  

Experts agree on two things. First,  focusing on fears and trauma can actually heighten anxiety.  And second, a good way to overcome any fear is through repeated exposure in successful situations.   This is known as desensitization and conditioning. 

So focusing on the feeling of anxiety and avoiding travel can actually heighten the fear of traveling.  On the other hand, following these tips and heading out on a family trip will reduce your fear of family vacations.

So I say, travel with your family more!   Use these tools to increase your strength and confidence in traveling together.


How to Manage Your Vacation Anxiety Naturally

You can successfully manage anxiety and the different fears associated with family vacations with the following tools and tips.  Make sure to practice and become successful at these methods before you leave home.

Then, over time these habits will be life-changing on the road and at home.


1. Take deep breaths 

You can consciously counteract shallow fast breast during anxious times with deep breathing.  Deep breaths increase the flow of oxygen in your body and brain.  Then you function better and think more clearly.

2. Confront irrational thoughts and correct them

Fears are actually associated with your rational thoughts but they become a runaway train inside our own brain.

You need to stop that train and recognize it’s running away.   Then those thoughts must be corrected through education and logical thinking.   For example, you can educate yourself on flying to overcome this fear (see tips below)

3. Practice relaxing

Spend time listening to music, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and thinking calming thoughts.   Relaxation not only benefits you at that moment but also in the future.  The more you practice the more you will be able to become relaxed quickly.

4. Visualize success

Dwelling on disastrous results and anxious thoughts only increases our fears and can lead to phobias.  Counteract this cycle buy creating mental scenes of calm and positive situations.


5. Celebrate bravery

Sometimes facing one large fear is just too much to face.  So take small brave actions.  For example, instead of facing flying on an airplane, just get yourself research the plane tickets.   Each small step that you complete will give you more confidence in your own strength and courage.

6. Focus on the positive

Experts say that we experience trauma even when thinking about it or seeing things such as watching upsetting news coverage (source).  (Even reading this article with all the discussion of travel anxiety could increase your fears.)

So make sure to counteract every negative word or thought with the positive equivalent.  The positive such as strength courage and bravery are the antidote to fear.


How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying

I hate to admit that I am a nervous flyer, but it’s true.  I get preflight anxiety and very nervous when we take off.  Oh, and turbulence scares me too.  Fortunately, I am not the only person with this challenge.  

This is the most common and most irrational fear during traveling.  The following steps will help you to feel more safe and comfortable on an airplane while flying with your family.


7. Educate yourself with the facts

Learn about the physics of how airplanes work.  NASA is a great resource for learning the dynamics of flight.  Know that airplanes are the safest mode of transportation and that turbulence is normal.   

8. Get caught up in the excitement and curiosity

Flying together as a family can help you by joining in on your kid’s excitement.  If your child is a nervous traveler they can catch the excitement from you and their siblings.

In our family, we talk about how funny it is to take off and we countdown the plane has down the runway.  In the air, the kids talk about how the turbulence tickles their tummies.

9. Make yourself comfortable

Transform your environment to feel safe and comfortable.   You can use blankets, pillows, headphones, and touch.  I like to hold my husband’s hand or my kid’s hands and pretend I am not scared.  My son who struggles with anxiety, wears headphones throughout our vacations.  


10. Distract yourself

Of course, if all else fails, distraction is the best tool.  Get control of your wondering mind by focusing on something enjoyable.  Listen to music, play a game, or talk to your kids about what they look forward to during the trip.  Just try to think of something totally different and interesting.


 How to Face Your Fear of the Unknown

 11. Counteract your fear with preparation

Acknowledge that the fear of the unknown is totally normal.   Research shows that it is a fundamental fear that underlies many anxieties.  Because you do not know the outcome of our next travel adventure,  you will likely feel some anxiety.    

The antidote here is to be confident in your travel preparations and commit to a positive attitude no matter the outcome.

12. Set yourself up for success

Spend time planning your vacation to make it as smooth as possible. You can use the ultimate travel planning guide to help

Travel at optimal times for your family rhythm and build a realistic itinerary for kids.  Make sure to leave plenty of down time to head off tired overstimulated parents and kids.  

Be ready for changes and delays by packing extra food, snacks and, activities.   You will be so thankful to if you’re stuck in a car in traffic or a tarmac in an airplane.

Practice at things with your kids at home.  Behaviors that are essential during travel should be discussed an practiced at home.  For example, I forgot to tell my kids what to do if we were separated on the subway in Washinton DC.  I had to stop on the platform and tell them what to do.  This would have gone much better at home.

Another tip for keeping track of the kids in busy places is to dress the kids in matching bright colors.  We look like a school group of florescent yellow when we travel but I feel safer.

How to Deal with the Fear of Disappointment?

The ironic part of planning an exciting family vacation is the fear of disappointment.  After all the planning and preparing for a perfect trip you maybe worried that you might be disappointed.  This is actually a natural fear.

13. Let go of your expectations for the trip.

Especially when traveling with children, things will go wrong.  Plans will change.  You might miss an event due to a nap.  Your family will stress you out. 

Commit to being positive and living in the moment.  You will have wonderful memories of your trip if you decide to focus on all the things that are going right.


14. Don’t over plan

I know I said previously to do your research and pre-plan to head off anxiety.   I find that when I have over planned I feel unsatisfied, though. 

I mean,  I have research all the good and bad hotels, activities and meals.  I  worked hard to pick everything perfect for our family. If things aren’t as I expected I sometimes feel more disappointed.

So leave space in your plans and in your mind for changes and some spontaneity.   Focus on the thrill of discovering new things.

For example, I carefully planned the best places to visit on the Oregon coast based on the characteristics of those beaches. I chose Agate Beach because it was known for agate hunting.  There were none of these beautiful rocks to be found.   What we did discover were small rolling sand dunes we’re so much fun to play in!


How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

Many people, especially parents, have the anxiety of not being good enough.  I admit, when I am out with the kids I am anxious about public humiliation.  Fear of your own weakness can manifest itself in questions of your competence and strength.  

Will the kids act up in front of at everyone?  Can I do this with my kids?  Can I discipline properly?  Am I a good enough parent?  What if I lose a kid?

These questions need to be taken head-on with strength and courage.  

15. Ignore the haters and negative nancy’s

There will be people that are put off by your family even when the kids are well behaved.  This is a funny post from Dan at Points with the Crew about this when a passenger told him they shouldn’t have kids. 

I had a storekeeper in Ireland scold me for the kids running around. He said to me “mam, please keep your kids under control”

Another time I was traveling by myself with four kids. We were already settled in on the plane and the kids were busy with activities.  A lady sat down in the aisle across from us.  She loudly started complaining to herself – “Oh great, I got seated next to all those kids”.  That was even in a rare moment that all the kids were on their best behavior.


 16.  Appreciate the joyful people

Get past these negative people and focus on the positive people.  Kids are grandparent magnets.  I try to catch a grandma smiling at the baby an engage with her. She will lighten right up and help me remember to be joyful too.

For every negative person, there are so many more people that are kind and generous.  Find people who are grateful to interact with the kids.

You might even find businessperson in suit looking weary but will brighten up seeing the kids because they miss their own family.


Kids supply an unending source of curiosity and thrill of discovery.  Focus on the excitement and joy of traveling together as a family. 

The good news is that drawing on your inner strength and courage builds more strength.  Travel is a growing experience.   You will become stronger as a person and a family. 

OK – so now that you are ready to take on your next family trip – we have some resources for you:

Family vacation anxiety is a real thing but don’t let it stop you from enjoying a family trip.   You are now armed with 16 tips to overcome travel anxiety and fears that you face.  

Which tips helped you the most? 

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