Summer, Kids and Travel Anxiety

Photo of airplane wing through the view of an airline passenger looking out the small oval window. Photo could represent the anxiety a child might feel that far off the ground and the need for solution focused brief therapy for kids in Illinois or Florida.

Do you have kids who generally enjoy travel but sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new experiences that come with exploring the world? Do you often wonder if they could have travel anxiety?

According to a study conducted by Kidz World Travel in 2020, many parents believe their children’s anxiety levels towards travel have grown over time, with 79% of parents stating that their child’s travel anxiety is “much worse” or “worse” than it was five years ago.

The research also found that fear of flying was the top travel anxiety among all children aged 2-16 with 71% of children feeling anxious about flying. Additionally, 45% of children reported feeling anxious about staying in hotels, while 44% felt anxious about going on long car rides.

Travel anxiety can certainly affect kids just like it does adults. Thankfully there are steps you can take as a parent to help your kids cope with this normal anxiety.

In this article, we’ll discuss what travel anxiety looks like and provide tips on how you can help your kids to feel more comfortable and secure when they’re away from home.

What is Travel Anxiety?

Travel anxiety is a condition wherein a child may become excessively worried or nervous when travelling, leading to physical symptoms such as stomach pains or headaches, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and an overall feeling of unease.

These anxieties often stem from a lack of familiarity with the destination, a fear of the unknown, or a fear of being away from the comfort and routine of home.

Symptoms of Travel Anxiety in Kids

Some of the more common symptoms of travel anxiety include the following:

  • Sudden refusal to travel in the car or on planes/trains
  • Fears of specific aspects of the trip, such as flying or being away from home
  • Disrupted sleep patterns leading up to the trip
  • Irritability and/or crankiness leading up to and during the trip
  • Withdrawal from family members or friends
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the unfamiliar surroundings
  • Poor appetite and difficulty eating
  • Refusal to leave the hotel room
  • Stomachaches or headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying focused on activities/tasks

What Parents Can Do to Combat Travel Anxiety in Kids

Traveling with children can be one of the most rewarding experiences for the whole family.

However, for a lot of kids, the thought of long-distance travel can be frightening and anxiety-inducing. In some cases, the anxiety may be so severe that it becomes a major obstacle when it comes to taking family vacations.

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to help your kids overcome their travel-related anxieties. Here are some practical ways to tackle the problem:

Prepare your kids in advance

It’s important to involve your kids in the planning process as it will help them to get excited about the upcoming trip. Talk through the details of the journey with them, from the type of transportation you’ll be taking to the places you’ll be visiting and the activities you’ll be doing while away. All this information will help them to feel more comfortable and confident in the situation.

Make sure they’re comfortable

Make sure your kids have some comfort items with them such as favorite snacks, books, music, and comfortable clothing. This will help them to feel more secure when traveling, and also prevent boredom on long journeys.

Set expectations

Make sure your kids understand what is expected of them during the trip. Explain to them the importance of staying seated, following the rules, and respecting other passengers and staff on board. Knowing what’s expected of them will help to reduce any anxiety they may be feeling.

Keep them entertained

Provide your kids with some entertainment options for the journey, such as games, puzzles and books. Give them something to do while traveling and they’ll be less likely to get bored or anxious.

Talk about it

Talking about the situation with your kids will be key to their success in overcoming travel anxiety. If your child is worried about a particular part of the journey, then address it and offer reassurance. Help them understand how far you’ll be traveling, how long it takes to get there, and the safety measures in place while on the road.

Keep it positive

When talking about the trip, make sure to keep it positive. Emphasize the fun aspects of the journey and the exciting new experiences that are in store. This will help to create a positive attitude towards the journey, alleviating any negative thoughts and anxious feelings.

Distraction techniques

If your child is feeling particularly anxious, then it’s important to provide some distraction techniques such as deep-breathing exercises or mindfulness activities. This will help them to focus on something else and take their mind off their thoughts and worries.

Here are my top three mindfulness exercises for kids:

  1. Gentle Body Scan: This exercise helps children recognize and notice different parts of their body and the sensations they experience there. It encourages kids to become more aware of their body and can help children feel more connected to themselves.
  2. Sitting Quietly: This exercise encourages children to focus on their breath and sit still and be aware of their surroundings. It helps kids to observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment and helps them to become more mindful of the present moment.
  3. Mindful Walks: This exercise encourages children to walk slowly and observe the things around them such as the sounds they hear, or the smells that they smell. It helps kids practice paying attention to their thoughts without judgment and encourages them to become more aware of their environment.

Traveling with children can be tricky, but with the right preparation and planning it’s possible to make it a positive and enjoyable experience. By following these tips, you can do your part in helping your kids manage their travel-related anxieties.

Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida.

If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, including panic attacks, there is hope! Anxiety is highlyPhoto of African American father with his two daughters, all are smiling and looking at the laptop perched on the dad's lap. Photo could represent an online anxiety treatment session for kids using the solution focused brief therapy approach. treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.