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The Hood Magazine

Stress-Free Family Vacations

Feb 19, 2014 03:12PM ● By Hood Magazine

Photo courtesy of Kristi Shanks

By Ashley Sandborn, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center  

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Family vacations can often be stressful and overwhelming, especially if family members have different interests. However, you can reduce stress as well as turn vacations into a restful, worthwhile and great bonding experience by simply taking a few precautionary measures.

Benjamin Kohls, outpatient therapist with Avera McKennan Behavioral Health Outpatient Services, says, “The best tip starts with the selection and planning of a family vacations. Include the whole family in the decision-making process when choosing a destination. This way, parents and kids have agreed and can then work together to plan what they want to do. The more everyone can feel a part of the family vacation, the most positive and excited everyone can be.”

Benjamin suggests a few other tips to keep in mind while planning your vacation: 

  • When planning day-to-day activities, parents need to avoid over-planning and also take the lead in terms of when things happen. Also, try and be flexible and spontaneous with plans.
  • Be willing to cut something. There are always unforeseen issues that can arise. Know the most important activities for your vacation, and scale back if needed.
  • Select destinations that offer family-friendly options as well as a good mix of activities, so everyone is able to enjoy some aspect of the trip.


How to avoid temper tantrums on the plane and/or during day-to-day activities:

  • Make sure kids are not overly tired or hungry. Pack extra food and toys to keep children happy and content.
  • Pay attention to cues your children may be giving that signify they are reaching their limit, such as: an increase in whining and complaining; becoming hyperactive; trouble following directions, etc.
  • Set limits your children can easily follow and do not threaten them or lose your cool. It only escalates the situation.
  • Do your best to ignore dirty looks and/or body language from other passengers. Know that you are doing the best you can.


With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can turn your family vacation into an amazing and memorable experience. A good game plan? Keep realistic expectations and try to be as flexible as possible.