The whining voice of my son at the precise decibel of annoying and crankiness was enough to throw me over the edge. We’d just finished up a hike on our most recent weekend getaway and after a night of not great sleep and too many fun vacation treats, I wasn’t functioning at optimal Mom level.
So when his complaints and muttering started about how hot and hungry and tired and miserable he was, I simmered to a boil and prepared to unleash my usual steam of frustration to match his bad attitude.
How could he not be enjoying these breath-taking views? Didn’t he appreciate that I’d found this hidden gem of a trail after months of research? When would he realize that I was doing all this work for him, so he could have these spectacular memories and learning experiences?
Most of all, I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just love traveling as much as I do. Was it my fault as a parent that my kid hated traveling?
(No, rational thought is not my strong suit in these moments)
I took a few deep breaths and realized that we all just needed some shade and a snack but it did get me thinking about why kids don’t always love to travel and how I’m frequently forgetting to consider things from their perspective.
Why Your Kids Hate Traveling
If you’re a curious family you’re probably out traveling quite a bit, as a way to show your kids just how interesting the world can be. But sometimes our kids don’t embrace that sense of wonderlust like we do. In fact, they downright hate traveling (or at least utter some snide remarks along those lines).
I think there’s lots of reasons kids don’t like traveling but it usually boils down to a few key factors.
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They Feel Out of Control
Imagine if someone else told you where to sit, strapped you in, and then took you to a place you’d never been. There’s a lot about traveling or being in a new situation that makes kids feel out of control. Suddenly, they don’t know all the rules or how to find the things they need and it can feel scary to loose that sense of autonomy.
Travel requires that we give up some control even as adults. Things like how much traffic there will be or what kind of mattress we’ll sleep on are variables during a vacation that don’t typically exist at home. For some kids, that loss of control can be a really hard thing to overcome, especially if they’re not prepared for it.
Their Routine is Disrupted
Kids love routines. I can’t turn down a different street on the way to school or change up the kind of snacks I offer to my boys without there being a total freakout. And that’s completely normal. Again, routines are predictable and give kids a sense of stability, so when those routines get messed with it tends to cause problems.
While the lack of routine is one of the best perks of vacations for us adults (hello, no working!), it can be hard on kids, especially those who really thrive on have a set schedule. Sometimes it helps to keep a couple of routine anchor points for kids who are struggling on a trip. The good thing is that the more kids travel, the better they get at being flexible.
They Get Overstimulated
Planes are loud, new places smell different, crowds can be pushy, and new foods taste unfamiliar. Even if all of those are exciting and fun experiences, they are still very overstimulating to kids (and plenty of adults). When our senses are being asked to take in a lot of new information it can be hard to not feel overwhelmed.
Kids haven’t fulled developed those coping skills for dealing with feeling overwhelmed and can sometimes melt down when it’s just too much. It helps to remember that our kids aren’t as accustomed to all the things we are asking them to do on a trip and might need a bit more time to adjust.
What to Do When Your Kids Hate Traveling
I was so ready to blow all of my own frustrations and inadequacies at my son in those moments after he started complaining.
But then I paused for second and did what I should do more often…consider his perspective.
I could see that from his point of view, we had been pushing hard through our itinerary and it was a hot day and yup, it was pretty close to lunch time. So his feelings weren’t exactly invalid and I needed to consider how my perfect vacation planning might be impacting him differently than it was impacting me.
Taking a few minutes to shift your perspective might just be the key in getting your kids through those rough moments of vacation…and also, lots of snacks.
Tips for Making Traveling with Kids Go More Smoothly
I’m not kidding when I say that snacks can save the day almost every time. It’s one of my favorite tips for making travel with kids go more smoothly. I’ve put together a list of my 7 favorite tips for traveling with kids and it’s available as a FREE resource in my resource library.
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What’s your best tip for traveling with kids? What have you learned from your kids as you’ve traveled as a family? Leave a comment below to share your great advice!