This post is sponsored by  Rescue. All opinions are mine.

Traveling with kids? Here's how to stress less!

For the past year or so, my family has done WAY more traveling together than we ever have before. It’s wonderful, exciting, and fun to visit new places and see new things. But it’s NOT a vacation, most of the time.

Not in the relax-and-read-a-book-and-maybe-doze-off sort of way.

Not in the stress-free, just-had-a-massage, sipping-my-favorite-thing, strolling-at-a-leisurely-pace sort of way.

I’ve done three trips recently (which I totally need to post about on the blog!) – Legoland with the whole family in San Diego, the ABC Kids Expo with just me and Henry in Las Vegas, and the LA Zoo with the whole family.

How to lower stress while traveling with family

During this last trip to Los Angeles, while we were having “bedtime snack” (evening reception) in the hotel, three separate people complimented me on my children. One lady told me how wonderful and amazing it was that they were eating big plates full of vegetables and behaving so well. A man came up to me and told me my children are beautiful and so pleasant. And another man told me that my family was wonderful and that he noticed how sweet the kids were being to each other.

I was beaming! My kids ARE wonderful, and it’s GREAT to be with them.

Still, those complimenters weren’t there while they were asking for snack in the car, chanting my name. While we were getting ready for bed, bumping into each other, knocking the baby down, fussing about medicine, waking up in the middle of the night screaming because the other kid won’t stay on THEIR SIDE OF THE BED…

And they’re not there when Henry is squeezing baby food all over himself in the stroller, Joey is running through mud trying to get an animatronic dinosaur to spray them with its spit, and Anneliese is trying to school all of the other children at the zoo about the proper way to be a paleontologist.

How to lower anxiety and stress while traveling with kids

Oh, and unrelated to the kids – how about when you’re just trying to drive home from Las Vegas with your baby, but the police have blocked off all the entrances to the highway you need to get on, because of the presidential debate? NOOOOOO!!!!!

You know, the daily life stuff. The regular stresses of having a family and doing fun things.

But how can you stress less while traveling with family?

1. Pack without a rush.

I try to plan ahead, to start packing before it’s a frantic last-minute sort of thing. It helps if my husband can wrangle the kids while I’m getting everything together for our trip. That way, I can double-check and triple-check that I didn’t forget anything important, then ask my husband if he can think of anything else we need.

How to lower stress when you're traveling with kids

2. Pack light, but not too light.

I try to travel on the lighter side of things, keeping in mind that there are stores everywhere in case we suddenly need something or forgot something at home. Remembering the stores’ existence really helps keep me calm. BUT, since we are usually traveling by car and not by air, knowing we have a little bit of flexibility to bring “extras” keeps me comfortable too. If we can throw something we might need into the car, sometimes that’s helpful.

Traveling with kids? Here's how to travel with less stress.

3. Use Rescue Products, like Rescue Remedy spray or drops, or Rescue pastilles.

These products use natural flower essences, formulated to help us take the edge off of our anxiety, panic, and stress. When I can feel my shoulders tightening or I’m beginning to get “snappy” or super Type-A while preparing to go on a trip (that’s usually when it happens – eek), popping a pastille into my mouth and letting it dissolve really helps me to stress less.

I’ve used the pastilles, drops, and spray in other situations, like for “white coat” anxiety at the doctor’s office, in traffic, or before an outing where I know I’ll be chasing the kids all over. I barely notice any difference (it doesn’t make you feel weird in ANY way) until I look back on the situation and realize I was FAR calmer, and much more present than I would have been without Rescue.

It’s a good idea to keep some Rescue Remedy in your purse, in the car, and in the diaper bag or stroller. Because it helps to just take everything down a notch when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Rescue products are totally affordable – just a few dollars – and available in tons of stores and online.

Ways to stress less during family travel

4. Keep Meals Simple

OK, you guys might think this is nuts, but we don’t take advantage of all the local fare when we travel these days. We eat breakfast at the hotel (free and delicious!), have lunch usually at a Red Robin (I’m not even kidding. We don’t have one at home and we all love their burgers), and then “bedtime snack” at the hotel for dinner, since we fill up at lunchtime. Yep. In LA, we went to Red Robin for lunch two days in a row. We know what we want to order, we know the kids will eat their meals and be full, and they have coupons. Easy.

How to stress less during family travel.

5. Preserve Your Routine

This might not be necessary for all families, but our kids do bedtime like clockwork. At home, once dinner is over, they get into their pajamas, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, have bedtime stories, and get tucked in. Every night. Smooth routine, no issues.

So on the road, we preserve the routine. After “bedtime snack,” we go up to our room, do jammies/teeth/toilet, read them stories from home, and tuck them into bed. They have NO issues falling asleep in hotels because of this. It’s sanity-saving.

6 Ways to Stress Less while traveling with your family

6. Have Fun

Remember, all of these stressors will melt away once you’re back home, and what will remain are the wonderful memories you made with your family. Try to relax, don’t sweat the small stuff, and have a great time together.

How to stress less when you're traveling with your family.

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