Travel Tips

Tarrah Harnden, MA, LMFT and I were recently speaking about ways to help children and young teens gain a sense of mastery for travel. Whenever we have a chance to encourage a sense of mastery and resilience, it is a good thing. Tarrah, in her work with children and teens here at the Institute, shares this TIP LIST when kids are preparing to travel. One of the things that I really love about this list is that it is so empowering, helping kids remember their inner skills for calming, soothing and being resilient.

We need to figure out how to help our children process both their understanding and their feelings. It’s not uncommon to want to shelter our children and teens from knowing about horrific events. But they know. They hear people talking. They read the emotions and body language of the people around them. They do hear the news. Having honest conversations with family and loved ones helps greatly.  What are some things to keep in mind as you engage your child or teen in conversations about the Orlando massacre?

Tip List From Tarrah
By Tarrah Harnden, MA, LMFT

Getting ready for your trip:

  • Pack comfortable clothes to wear on your trip.
  • Be organized. Know where important items are like phone numbers, passports, or money.
  • Consider packing your outfits and toiletries in zip lock bags for easy sorting.
  • Label your clothing with your name on the tag (or have a parent help you).
  • Bring an item that brings you comfort (a journal, a stuffed animal, a stone in your pocket, a picture of a family member or pet – anything that reminds you of comfort and care).
  • Pack lightly – the more items you have to carry, the more weight you have to lug around, and the more you have to be responsible for bringing back home.
  • Make sure you eat enough, hydrate enough, and get good rest the day and morning before a big trip.

While on your trip:

  • Listen to calming music or notice pleasant noises in the environment that are calming – bird singing, the sound of the wind, etc. By picking a calm point of focus you can center yourself in the midst of new places, people, and things.
  • Remember that you always have your own space. Sometimes on a big trip it can feel like all your safe places are no longer there for you, that things are out of control, or that people are staring at you. Stop. You always are in charge of you. To help remind you, drape an article of clothing around your shoulders or fold your arms in front of you. It may make you feel more protected in an unfamiliar environment.

Some ideas were inspired by this article: Travel when You Have an Anxiety Disorder