If you are following my Instagram you’ll know we had to cancel our travel plans last year because Fizz fell ill during her GCSEs. With stress eating away at her appetite, her weight dropped much too low. As her health has taken a battering, normal life is on hold. Can we find the right kind of family holiday for the whole family, to include our child with delicate mental health?
At the moment I can’t take my anxious teenager on holiday, she is far too unwell. But she will get better and we all love our family travel. We were not sure how to dream of a 2019 holiday at all, but after some thought, we have some new ideas. From this list of our 10 travel goals for 2019 we hope to find something that works for us.
I’ve made our ideas into a list of tips for travelling with anxiety. To plan a vacation for people with anxiety disorder or other mental illness is tricky. Perhaps these travel goals will help you plan a holiday with an anxious child or family member.
1. Holiday with relatives
This practical tip for travelling with anxiety means a warm welcome is guaranteed. Staying at their home, exploring their local area is easy to do. Perhaps we’ll start with a visit to relatives before moving on to other holiday accommodation, if everyone feels well enough. The other idea is to take a few extended family with us on our travels. The right relatives can be moral support, a positive distraction and practical help too.
2. Book a Private property
It should be easier for a highly sensitive person to survive a family holiday if there’s good privacy. Making sure the family has personal space will keep things calmer. A villa or cottage holiday with few neighbours is the best choice. I might manage to take my anxious teenager on holiday but then she might not be keen to leave the villa. So we should pick a comfortable one, like this cottage-style villa in France above. A garden and a view is better than an apartment near the attractions. As we like to swim, a private swimming pool is a good idea for a child with anxiety.
3. A self drive holiday
We can travel in the family car to avoid crowds in airports, planes, ferries and trains. If we can cross the channel then Eurotunnel is a preferred choice for now. That’s because there’s no mingling with crowds to test my child’s mental health. Using the tunnel, travellers can stay with the car. Whether we stay in the UK or go a little further it’s handy to have the car with us on arrival. Once we get to our destination, we can use our car to get out and see the countryside, to viewpoints and scenic drives. It means we can still have the familiar private space of the car with us, to ease anxiety.
Please follow this link – Driving Routes to France from the UK, Your Options – for an in-depth post about planning routes to the continent.
Even though I don’t fancy doing much cooking on holiday, I am used to it. Food has always been an issue for us. Thankfully my husband is around to help more when we travel as a family. An anxious person might need her most familiar food, and perhaps the chance to snack and eat at irregular times as well. Food is an important part of a steady routine. It may be best to limit disruption and keep meals as normal as possible.
5. Out of season
We’d like to take our anxious teenager on holiday in low or mid-season to avoid the crowds. In low season it is not just the prices that are better. There are fewer people around and less noise and bustle. Perhaps on a good day we might make it out to see the sights with the advantage of shorter queues and less congestion.
6. Short break
Most of us feel more relaxed as a vacation continues. An anxious teenager on holiday could easily find her worries increasing with time, because of being away from home. We can consider sticking to short trips of a few days. It will be enough to blow away the cobwebs and spend time together, without stretching things too far for our sensitive family traveller.
7. Short distance
While anxiety is in the mix, it’s not the time for an ambitious road trip around Iceland or a boat tour of Vietnam. We shouldn’t go too far. An anxious person will feel better knowing that home is short hop away, if it all becomes too much. Even if driving home early is the last thing we want to do, distance is unlikely to be something we want to gamble with.
8. Get an anxious teenager away from it all
I would prefer to take our anxious teenager on holiday somewhere rural. Destinations with few people and crowds are a good choice now. We’ll forget the city break and the theme park and instead choose the rugged coast or the misty mountain. Somewhere with a view is nice, in case going out is too hard sometimes. England and Wales alone have 13 National Parks and 38 AONBs covering hills, coasts and historic sites such as ancient standing stones and Roman remains.
9. Boating holiday
A private boating holiday has the advantage of personal space mixed with a gentle adventure. I love the idea of watching the world go by from the comfort of our private viewpoint inside the cabin or on deck. Canal boats and motor boats are good options. The Norfolk broads don’t have any locks, making the journey even simpler. Often people on boating holidays take their evening meals in waterside pubs. That might be a bit much for an anxious traveller. Meals on board are best planned ahead, as it’s a challenge to find shops with supplies and to cook in a small galley. In some ways it’s similar to a caravan holiday, but with the neighbours a lot further away and a better view.
10. Go back to old haunts
Familiarity is a good friend to an anxious teenager when on holiday. Many families like to go to the same place every year anyway, but as we have the travel bug, we prefer to explore new things. For now, we might keep those ambitions on the back burner and go back to somewhere we know a little already. We don’t want to add the pressure of new things to our child’s delicate mental health. Staying in the same accommodation is an idea, or at least a visit to the same sights.
Please follow this link – Itinerary Planning for Families; Hacks and Tips for Independent Travel – for guidance to get your own family holiday planned out.
I hope that if Fizz improves, these ideas for our 2019 family travel can give us the break we need. Have you ever taken a holiday with someone with special needs? I’d love it if you could tell me any travel tips and ideas in the comments!
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