Say that again? DE-STRESS your vacation? That’s right, vacations, although intended to help us relax and take a break from the daily grind, often create a significant amount of stress.  This is especially true when it comes to creating stress around our relationship with our significant other or other family members.   Think about it, you are essentially uprooting your life and moving it to another region of the country or state for a short period of time.  If you have children, and young children at that, you will be packing the car for days.  We mustn’t forget the music boxes, the sound machines, the toys, the bottles, the stuffed animals, blankets, night lights… and the list goes on.

Typically, it is during the preparation phase that stress is at a high point.  This is the time when you are making sure to get everything together for yourself and your family.  It is often a lot to remember, and much of it may not be able to get done until the last minute… “don’t forget the phone charger!”   Once on your way, whether it be by car or plane, there is more stress involved.  Again, children certainly make travel more difficult… “are we there yet” “I have to go to the bathroom” “I’m bored” “I’m hungry” and don’t forget the tears and more tears when dealing with young ones on long trips.

So how do we better manage our stress so that we are able to more fully enjoy our vacations, families, and our partners?

  1. Delegate tasks and ask for help

Often what I have seen in many relationships, is the one partner taking the lead on packing for her or himself, the children, as well as their significant other.   Trying to keep track of everyone is difficult.  Ask your partner for help and delegate tasks to both your partner and your children.

  1. Make lists in preparation

Make lists of the items that are needed for your upcoming vacation.   I make several lists for my family and I tend to start them a week prior to the vacation.  These lists include a grocery list, medication/first aid list, pool/beach list, children’s list, mine and my husband’s list, and a list of things that will not be packed until that morning.  Furthermore, checking things off the list and revamping lists as necessary can also be helpful.  Lastly, double check the lists and have your partner check them as well.

  1. Buy extra toiletries that you can pack early

I like to purchase new toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shampoo, conditioner, etcetera, to pack in my bag so that you will not forget those last-minute things you use daily.  These are items that are non-perishables and therefore it will not be of waste.

  1. Pack up the car the night before

Whether you are driving or flying, being able to put what is packed and ready to go in the car the night before can be helpful.  Typically, I reserve a separate bag for items that I will not be able to pack until the day we leave for vacation.

  1. Be flexible

Things often do not go as planned on vacations.  You plan to leave at 8am, but do not get on the road until 9am.  Once on vacation, try to continue to remain flexible, as weather and travel related issues such as car troubles, flight delays, and traffic jams can cause unforeseen frustrations.

  1. Make travel time useful

Often, we are anxious to get to our destination to start our vacation and relaxation time.  Try to utilize the travel time to accomplish things that will make your time on your vacation less stressful. Finish that book you have had on your nightstand for too long or get caught up on cleaning up your email. Or purposefully try to enjoy your travel time by playing a game with your children or talking with your partner.  Travel time can be bonding time.

Once on vacation, you may also encounter other stressors such as your accommodations, finances, or how to navigate differences in vacation expectations between you and your partner or family members.  It is helpful to have these conversations as a part of the planning process in order that you and your significant other or family members work toward a compromise that you can all be satisfied with.   Vacationing can be difficult, however with the right preparation and communication, you can have a more enjoyable time at your destination and with your significant other/family.

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