Summer travel season is upon us, and you’re planning something exciting for the family. Previous experiences suggest that the best laid vacation plans can’t necessarily prevent a little family drama or tantrums that mar the memories. Mental wellness is a passion at the Healthy365 Connection Center, and we have some tips for skipping the stress and focusing on the fun this summer.
Pick an appropriate vacation destination
When it comes to traveling with children, some places are better than others. A museum vacation, for instance, might be more stressful than it’s worth if you have little ones who want to touch everything they see. On the other hand, your teens may lose their patience if every vacation activity is tailored to their preschool siblings. Do a little research to find vacation locations with activities for all ages.
Plan the vacation together
Let every family member weigh in on vacation plans. You may not be able to fulfill every wish, but you can use this planning time to find out what each person is hoping to do during the family trip. You don’t have to do everything, though. Help your family understand ahead of time that you’ll be focusing on only one or two activities each day. When you try to cram in every wish, you run the risk of overwhelming everyone.
Be ready for “I’m bored”
What parent hasn’t heard this phrase? If your family vacation plans include lengthy car trips, counter the boredom with fun road trip games. Consider packing surprise gifts – small games or toys – that can magically appear in the car each morning. Stick with things that are self-contained though. You don’t want someone to have a meltdown over a game piece that has fallen under the seat.
Arrive early to the airport
Flying with kids can be a challenge. Take a little pressure off yourselves by arriving early at the airport. Pack a carry-on goodie bag for each child with travel-appropriate snacks, books and games to amuse them while you wait for your number to be called. Download a few movies on phones or tablets before you arrive so you won’t be held hostage by the airport Wi-Fi.
Encourage physical activity during your vacation
Many adults envision an ideal vacation that involves sitting on the beach with a good book and the sound of the ocean waves crashing in the background. Younger family members don’t necessarily subscribe to the same mindset. If both parents are traveling, consider sending one of them with the kids to find a local park or playground where they can burn off their energy. Look into renting bicycles at your destination so the family can pedal their way to vacation adventures and enjoy some exercise as well.
Stick to scheduled meals
Between travel snacks and late nights, it’s easy to deviate from your normal meal schedule during a vacation. However, skipping meals and filling up on junk food can affect your overall mental health as well as your physical health. Try to stick to the same meal schedule you follow at home. Have some prepackaged protein-rich snacks available for mid-afternoon munchies, and stock your vacation condo kitchen with fresh fruit and vegetables to encourage healthy eating.
Leave your work behind
Today’s office environment can make it too easy to bring work on vacation. Talk to your coworkers ahead of time to let them know you’re going to be unreachable for the week – and stick to it. If you have to periodically check emails or voice mails, set aside a time each morning for the task. This is your vacation too. Let your focus be on the family.
Be ready to be flexible
You may be the consummate planner, but plans change, especially when you’re on vacation. Someone can wake up with a fever and need a trip to the nearest urgent care center. Flights can be delayed. Vacation accommodations may not resemble what you saw on the website. Take a step back and acknowledge that everything is going to be OK. You’re together, and that’s what counts in the end.
Moderate your alcohol intake
It may be tempting to throw away moderation and spend your vacation days in a party mode. Substance misuse, however, can ruin a good time. Consider moderate or limited alcohol consumption during your vacation. Splurge on a few tropical drinks during dinner but lay off the alcohol during the daytime.
Make mental health a priority
Mental health concerns don’t take a vacation. While mood swings and anxiety are often associated with winter months, they can occur during the summer months as well. If mental health concerns are threatening to ruin your vacation time, reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center. Our support navigators will offer a non-judgmental listening ear and connect you to appropriate available resources. Call us today at 317-468-4231 or visit the Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield.