Travel can be an exciting adventure. It can also be a stressful struggle. In many cases, the difference between these two experiences is simply our mindset.
While we certainly cannot control everything, and children have their own way of creating chaos, we can control ourselves. The way we plan for and approach our travels can help ensure things run as smoothly as possible, with the minimum amount of stress.
I am very fortunate to have travelled a lot with a toddler so I know the stress that can come before setting off on a big journey. I also know the anxiety that comes from imagining the worst-case scenario and the relief when you realise all the worry was unfounded.
When my little one was 18 months old my family went on a European adventure. We flew from Australia (2 flights, 23 hours in the air) to France and road-tripped through six countries. In that time I spent 5 days travelling alone with my son, driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road through non-English speaking countries and …. I had a blast!
I look back and think of all the time I spent worrying about what could potentially go wrong and seriously regret all the unnecessary stress I caused myself.
I worried about:
- My child crying throughout the flights and disturbing everyone
- None of us sleeping on the aeroplane
- Not being able to communicate with locals
- Not finding places to park or being able to read road signs
- Having an accident in the hire car
None of those things, which I’d spent so much energy worrying about, actually eventuated. Not one!
- My little one was wonderfully behaved and we all slept in the flights.
- There are many English speakers in Europe plus loads of translation apps you can use to communicate.
- The GPS worked wonderfully, so reading road signs was a non-issue and finding car parks was easy.
- We handed the hire car back without so much as a scratch.
They say ‘live with no regrets’ but I’ll tell you what, I seriously regret the time I worried about all the things that would never even happen!
The only benefit that came from worrying about what could go wrong, was an increased motivation to through plan our trip; good places to stay, activities to keep a toddler amused, apps that make travel easier etc. Good planning meant everything that could go right did!
It was an amazing learning experience and I am so proud of what we achieved. We made memories that will last us a lifetime, I discovered abilities I didn’t know I had but most notably, I learnt that worry is a serious misuse of my imagination and there is no need to worry about what may or may not happen in the future because, that only takes away from the present.
Disclaimer: The worst we experienced was 2 days of seriously grumpy teething in 35 degree heat without air conditioning. But hey, plenty of cuddles, gelato and taking things a little slower was all we needed to get through that!