4 Ways To Avoid "Burn Out" When Traveling With Kids
I get a lot of emails from families looking to travel to NYC wanting tips on where to go, what to do, where to eat, and what to see all in the period of time they plan to spend in the city. Before I respond, I like to ask what the age of their children are, and how many they will be traveling with.
I asked because I learned, the hard way at first, that kids will shape your entire travel experience, from the minute you leave till the minute you come home again.
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Oftentimes, parents get so caught up in the amount of money that they invested on a trip that they think only to “make the most of it” by trying to do everything. This is usually what is happening when I walk down the streets to the sounds of crying little ones, is that we just have to get our money’s worth. Families have saved long and hard for that family vacation, and they want to make sure they do as much as they can during it.
But, kids and adults can get travel burnout, and it can really make the trip more stressful and frustrating than it needs to be.
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My kids are now past the bottle and napping age, but at 5 and 7, and even 14, they still get tired and irritable and cranky if we don’t allot time to rest. This is especially important if your summer trips are going to be extended ones, more than one or two weeks long.
Here are some tips for avoiding travel burnout and truly making the most of your family journey:
Find a hotel that offers the comforts of home – Finding a hotel chain that provides you and your family with amenities such as a kitchenette, separate bedrooms, and/or a living room space, and laundry room service, can really help in not only incorporating rest time, but also save on food and other expenses which can add up quickly when traveling with kids. I am a huge fan of Residence Inn hotels and others like them for catering in this way to traveling families.
Realizing that quality far outweighs quantity when planning your daily itinerary will help in being ok with the reality that you might just get to one museum on that particular day, or you might not make it through an entire event. Your kids won’t really remember that they saw the whole thing of any one place or any one performance. But they will hold on to how much they laughed, or how much you played with them, or how much fun they had – things that can only happen when they are alert, awake and in the mood. Pushing them through it even while they are cranky and miserable? Yeah, doesn’t make for too many joyful moments, for anyone involved.
You paid the bills to get there, but really, it’s not about you when traveling with kids. Really. It’s not. Granted, I am not at all saying that we should succumb all our vacation experiences to the whims of a child, but when choosing to travel with your kids you have to be willing to forgo being able to partake in some personal pleasures some of the time. So you might not get to see the latest Man Ray exhibit, or even have that awesome hotel sex, because when it comes to kids in travel, and in life, they just have a way of taking over and really, the sacrifices we have to make are so short lived, but so meaningful in building those memories with them.
Time spent watching television in a hotel room is not always time wasted. Those who follow my travel blog (http://www.nycitymama.com) know that I am always on the go when I travel with or without my kids in tow. But, the moments I don’t always blog about, but I really enjoy, are the times we are sitting back taking in some ‘toons after a long day hiking, or museum hopping, or amusement park venturing. It’s our time, during travel, where we talk about our day, take in all we’ve experienced, wine down, bond, and re-energize for the next day’s adventures.
I travel a lot with my family and my kids look forward to our trips. I give credit to our conscious efforts to avoid travel burnout and really dedicating time to do nothing, even in the midst of being somewhere amazing.
As you plan your vacations this summer, remember to not overbook your days, to listen to your children when they say they want a break, and to appreciate the value in doing nothing, together.
I promise you, it will make for a wonderful trip!