|Managing Travel Stress
By Beth Blancher, MA
In part three of our stress series of managing stress when traveling we are going to cover financial stress and Disney travel. A Disney vacation can be expensive can put a strain on many budgets. Planning again is a vital part of reducing financial stress when traveling. Dedicate part of your budget to a "Disney Fund" plan extra income events or dedicate your tax refund to your "Disney Savings". Many of us use a Disney Visa here that earns Disney dollars throughout the year.
Often despite of what we save once at Disney there are many unexpected expenses or a variety of souvenirs that just must follow you home. Plan a budget before you leave. If your children are old enough make sure they understand that budget and the challenge of staying within that budget can help develop an understanding of the value of a dollar and help a child to develop "delay of gratification" which research shows is key in developing a child's future goals. Don't think that you have to purchase everything for a child either. There is always something for next trip and you can also plan to purchase things later for birthdays or holidays.
How about Disney without kids? Those traveling on a budget without children can find it just as expensive. There is always a fantastic place to dine or a tour that is calling your name. Depending on your vacation style there are many ways to save.
Please join us in our forum and share the ways you save to help reduce financial stress when traveling to WDW.
Continuing our feature on stress and travel we are going to discuss stressing others, an how to avoid it. Communication is vital in asking for what we need and in doing so we have to be sure to ask in a manner that is not offensive. Times when we stress others can lead to travel melt down especially when everyone is eager to get to the park and see the attractions. One form of communication that I find invaluable when traveling is the I message The I message helps us communicate in a non-threatening, non-offensive fashion. For example, if you plan to see the three o' clock parade and your child says I want to go ride space mountain; but, the parade starts in 15 minutes.A very poor response would be: "Are you (fill in any label here, stupid, crazy etc) we have to go wait for the parade". Now using I messages the less offensive response and one more likely to avoid a meltdown especially with a teenager would be: We talked about seeing the parade and it starts soon, I think we need to head to Main Street to get a space. Let's gets some fast passes and ride Space Mountain later. Do you see how the I message states your need and helps to keep tensions at bay (unless they are older and really didn't want to go to the parade; but this is an example assuming you had already agreed to see the parade). If teens for example and they don't want to see the parade then you have options. If you want to keep the group together then your statement would be : I wish you would come help me with your younger brother, (help take pictures, keep together it's almost dinner time etc.) The point is to avoid saying YOU are..... but expressing your needs.
Some people do fall into false I messages such as I think you are an idiot. The you is the pitfall here, the I message has been changed back to a YOU message with the "I" in front to disguise it. This does take practice and once you start using it at home its easier when you travel because you don't have to think about saying the right thing it becomes habit, a good habit.
This works well with strangers too, even more so. As mentioned in the stress post, some people go to the parks with the idea that they are the only ones there trying to enjoy the trip. We run into the occasional person who is appears stressed and offensive. For example, when someone pushes in front of you after you have been waiting to see a parade, possibly hoping for some great shots, you have been waiting for 20 minutes to get that good spot. Now someone pushes through with a stroller and screams you're in my child's way. First I would use some active listening and state my observation of their feelings and needs and say: looks like you are afraid your child won't be able to see. Then follow with my I statement informing the person that I have planned ahead (without stating it). I would acknowledge their mood and state my needs by saying something like this: I understand your frustration, that's why I got here 20 minutes ago so I could be in the front to take pictures. Of course it's not a problem if you want to place the stroller in front of me.
Mouse-aid is featuring a stress and travel series. Every other week we will feature a different travel stressor. So often when people are stressed the first thing they think is to take a vacation to get away; but, as the saying goes wherever you go there you are… your stress follows and most important travel adds new stress. Stress is very fluid meaning it changes as our lives and situations change. Feel free to join us in the forums to discuss your travel stressors.
I realize this is not the easiest thing to learn without practice so I invite everyone to discuss your experiences and learn how to say things differently or to share your own experience on how you changed the tone of your experiences with just a few simple words... JOIN US!
The first stressor and one that seems appropriate at this time is holiday stress and how it impacts your vacation. So many avid Disney fans love to head to Disney World or Disneyland for the holidays… so how does this affect our visit and lives and those around us? Some of the stressors include budget, breaking traditions, missing other family members, actual travel stress, illness, time and grieving the loss of loved ones.
Budget stress can be felt long before and after the trip. In addition, holidays can be stressful on a budget as there is so much to buy whether it’s for a special dinner, traveling to see friends and relatives, gifts and more. When you throw a Disney trip in the mix then budgets strain. So what can we do to help ease the stress? Well planning is helpful. The earlier you start saving the easier it is for a budget and then sticking to that budget. Trade-offs, for example, if you are traveling during Thanksgiving you may want to just skip the big meal at home or even in the park… Many families try to do it all with a big family meal before leavingor when returning. Enjoy the fact that you are there and make a new tradition or travel alternative. At Christmas you can substitute many gifts for a Disney gift. From Disney tours and other souvenirs that may ordinarily stretch or be out of a budget, working as a gift provides a unique gift loaded with holiday memories. Don’t forget that photopass can double as a wonderful family photo for the grandparents or other relatives. Start planning as early as possible because the easiest way to help a budget is to save throughout the year.
Breaking traditions is another factor that can contribute to stress. Talk about it with your family in advance. Don’t wait until the morning of and tears or anger pops up over missing a family tradition. Plan the temporary changes and plan accordingly. For example, many families visit extended family over the holidays. One of the best ways to deal with loss is to feel that you are doing something. If the grandparents are home then send a video with a loving message, a phone call or video chat from the room. Postcards and emails from rides work well too. Spaceship Earth and Image works offer places to send an email to family with a picture or video and don't forget that smart phone. Many of our holiday traditions include a big meal. Sometimes large meals can be pricey or reservations are not available; but, there are many fun alternatives. Several buffets have turkey and ham and are easier on the budget. When trying to save look for the buffets without characters, we love them; but sometimes we have to make the hard choices. Resorts dining options are more readily available and easier on the budget than many park venues. The Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney offers a holiday sandwich where you can enjoy a traditional feast on a toasted sandwich, not only is it delicious; but it’s budget friendly too. Then you can get a little more creative by making it a fun game for the family to find Disney substitutes for your traditional holiday meal, turn the traditional Disney foods like a turkey leg and popcorn into your new holiday substitute meal (away from home).
As mentioned, travel is stressful. So often we get so involved in packing and planning our communication tends to drop off and people fail to let others know when and where the extra help is needed. Pay special attention to letting others know help is needed to pack their own suitcase, cleaning clothes, packing the car and especially when you are at WDW. Many times families feel frustration when the burden is not shared. Whether it's mom packing, dad hauling suitcases, big brother watching little brother, sitting out for a ride with a younger member or running for a take out breakfast for all in enjoy. Remember to spread the responsibility so no one feels overburdened with tasks while others are having fun. It’s a good time to remind others that everyone will have the chance to do many of their favorites. My family uses a list of rides and everyone checks off the rides that mean the most to them before a visit. We all had a good laugh at the rides that we thought we were doing for other members of the family when really no one wanted to visit several attractions. Again communication is vital here, if you feel that you are getting frustrated don’t hesitate to speak up about your needs.
Illness is difficult when we are planning the perfect trip and it’s not uncommon to have a long anticipated vacation marred by illness. Rushing with the holidays, flu season, stress, exposure to thousands can result in illness at the worst times. So have a plan for illness. This is also a good time to think about members of the party who have compromised immune systems from illness or an illness that is effected by travel and stress. Eat right, get plenty of rest, careful what you touch or share and bring over the counter meds from home because they are not always easy to find at the parks. Check with your doctor before leaving and remember that much of the holiday season in Florida is filled with a variable weather patterns that include cold mornings and nights, warmer days, and often rain and humidity. Layers work best.
The last stressor I will mention is grief. Loss is inevitable and the holiday season makes it harder when we miss our family members who are no longer with us. Often families like to keep the pain to themselves to avoid reminding others of the sadness. A great way to deal with grief is to talk about it and share your loving memories. Our family makes a point to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. It was one of my dad’s favorites and when we think trips past we think of him and the pirate ride. Just the discussion and the group activity to ride this for paw paw gives us the opportunity to remember him in a loving way and feel good about enjoying ourselves though he is dearly missed. We have headed to the ride with tears in our eyes but come out with a closer bond knowing he is loved and not forgotten.
Stress will vary from family to family and year to year circumstances change. Each family and trip is unique sort of like that holiday snowflake. Just remember communication and planning are major keys in helping keep your stress at a minimum on your next vacation. Please join us in our forums with questions or advice. We all learn from the experience of others.