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Family Tension: Expectations When Travelling Australia With Kids.

We get questions about this all the time. After months, or years of planning for their dream of travelling Australia with kids, the first few weeks of the journey could be described as little more than hellish. Constant fighting, tiredness, kids won’t do schoolwork, adults can’t stand to look at each other, nobody will pull their weight, men are grumpy, women feel unappreciated. Makes you want to plan your family travel around Australia right now doesn’t it?

Possible Causes of Tension for Travelling Families?

Travel Australia with Kids, Tasmania

Let’s take a look at this shall we? Your entire world has just changed, the kid’s entire world has just changed.

  • The environment is constantly changing.
  • Nobody knows what the new ‘rules’ are for this new life.
  • The accommodation is way more restrictive than a house; there’s no locking yourself away in your bedroom to escape each other.
  • There’s packing up and setting up, a stressful experience in itself.
  • Hours of driving to get to new destinations.
  • Often the family diet goes through some changes.
  • Schooling changes to something new & unknown.
  • Homesickness happens, especially during tense and stressful times.
  • There’s normally restricted ability to relax or tune out activities like watching television or playing video games, because power and electronics are much more restricted when travelling on the road.
  • You have to get to really know each other as a family; not just exist together.
  • There is NO HIDING from problems that existed before you hit the road.

Do NOT Despair, Family Travel Is Worth The Tough Times!

So, I’ve just shared the most common reasons for why there’s so much tension in your new travel lifestyle, and it may sound overwhelming. If you haven’t left to travel yet, it may be causing you to doubt heading off at all.

I promise, that although your trip around Australia may challenge you as a family; it is going to make you stronger, closer and create memories that will enhance your life in a way that isn’t possible any other way.

We get emails, and questions via our Facebook page asking if other people argue, is it normal, what can be done to fix it, and the answer is YES!

Most people we speak to have suffered the struggle of getting used to their new lifestyle. Generally at the beginning of the adventure, tempers are short, patience is thin, and it seems as though nobody will ever be happy about being on the road, but that just isn’t true.

Arguments are common, frustration is common and a feeling of uncertainty and even regret are all commonly reported by families who are starting their life on the road.

It does get better, and we’re going to take a look at what you can do to make travel as a family less stressful.

strategies travelling australia with kids

Strategies to Decrease Stress Related to Family Travel

So, now you know it’s ok to stress and feel tension, because truly, it happens to everyone; you want to know how to decrease the problem right?

Here are our top tips for keeping things stress free and happy on the road:

Allow at least 4-6 weeks to settle in to your new lifestyle. Adjustment takes time, and it’s OK if everything doesn’t feel perfect right away.

Find a nice place and stop for a while. The faster you move, the more stressful your travel is likely to be. If things are feeling tense, then find a lovely campsite and stop. What are you rushing for anyway? This time is meant to be spent bonding, getting to know each other better and enjoying your surroundings. Rushing helps no-one, so take in the surrounds, do some exploring and put some roots down for a short while; it can make all the difference.

Join in happy hour. For parents on the road, it can seem a constant battle to maintain healthy adult relationships. Get dinner sorted early, or have something easy, that way when all the child-free travellers are enjoying happy hour together (which normally happens around family dinner time in campsites) you’ll be able to join in too and share stories.

Talk it out! Unlike life at home where everyone could disappear into their own world, life in a camper or caravan doesn’t allow for dodging confronting emotions. Get things out of the way, sit down and talk honestly about what’s irritating you, how everyone else feels and make a plan to move forward feeling positive.

Have some alone time: This one can be tough, but if you like to read, make some time to do that. Like to visit the shops and there’s some handy then do a solo shopping trip. Go for a short walk, have a swim, whatever it is that will give you some inner peace, make time for it. This is really where parents need to work together to give the other time for a break. It really does make all the difference with being able to handle the more stressful events that travelling will throw at you.

Cut each other some slack: We  all go into travelling with expectations of what it will be like and how ‘it’ will look. Chances are actually being on the road may look very little like your imagined trip of a lifetime. That is OK! Breathe, relax and let everyone find their sweet spot for travelling. If your children are older they may be missing friends, cut them some slack, let them call to say hi. If school work seems to do little but spark arguments, take a couple of days off, resentment won’t achieve anything positive anyway.

Be Flexible: This is possibly the most important tip of all. Travel should be about adventures and togetherness, not strict schedules and deadlines. Learn to be flexible, if everything isn’t perfect it doesn’t matter, if you’re late it doesn’t matter, if you need to stay an extra day or three somewhere it doesn’t matter. Let go of your preconceived ideas and enjoy what is, because it will be over before you know it.

Do you have any tips for easing stress for long term travel? Did you have a bumpy start?

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Loreena Walsh

Loreena Walsh

Loreena is Founder of Little Aussie Travellers, Australia's leading blog dedicated to family travel around the country. An avid explorer, writer, photographer, nature lover, she's dedicated to inspiring through travel and stories.

2 Comments

  1. Tahlia
    October 5, 2016 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    Love all of these trips! Especially mentioning how normal homesickness is! Can’t wait to travel with kids one day, then I will be able to test some of these out for real :)

    • October 13, 2016 at 6:57 pm — Reply

      There’s such an image of this being an ‘easy and fun’ time that people sometimes forget to talk about the stresses involved. The adventure is definitely worth it though!

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