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Mommy Burnout: A Guide For Full Time Traveling Moms

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Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

Are you a mom who’s juggling the responsibilities of planning full-time travel for your family?  Or are you the main travel planner in the family?  Travel burnout can claim the best of us.  It’s surprising how tiring it can be to do something so fun!

Some moms are travel princesses and have husbands who plan everything. If you belong to this group, enjoy!  However, I definitely take on most (or all) of the planning and execution in our family.  It’s not that Chris can’t do it, but travel planning for our family comes naturally to me. I also generally find it enjoyable to plan trips, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tiring.

Full-time traveling is an exciting adventure, but it can also be overwhelming at times. Between researching destinations, booking accommodations, and coordinating activities, it’s easy to feel burned out before you even set foot on the plane. But fear not! With the right strategies, you can prevent burnout and make the planning process more manageable.

Imagine traveling with five kids! It’s a lot of luggage and planning. This was us moving to Portugal, so we had a lot!

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My Experience With Travel Burnout

We traveled full-time for nearly three years. We left when our youngest was only one year old, and our oldest was nine. Years later, the chaos of what we took on amazes us, and we realize how crazy we must have been to take this path. However, we are eternally grateful for this adventure! It was the right time for us to go, and we cherish each and every memory, including the tough ones!

Several times over our full-time travel journey, I hit a wall. I woke to a day not unlike every other day with chores, some exploration, and many mom duties. However, my heart was heavy, and my spirit very low. I cried for several hours, perhaps even a couple of days. I would then feel guilty for crying and being so sad when experiencing such an amazing thing! All my kids were healthy; I was exploring the world with them and my beloved husband, and yet I felt almost numb.

On these days, which thankfully were rare, I had to let these feelings wash over me. Chris would recognize the crisis and take over the kids. I have major FOMO and hate not joining in on whatever they are doing, but I needed to soothe my soul and overcome major burnout.

I remember being in Taiwan in a lovely natural park. The kids awoke early, as usual, and we went for breakfast. My husband had worked late (fitting the time zone as we still work US hours). The breakfast was foreign and a bit difficult. When we returned to our cabin, I suddenly was filled with loneliness so profound I began to cry. The tears came quickly and forcefully.

I went to the porch and went almost into a catatonic state. I cried and cried. The kids, alarmed by this rare sight of a mommy breakdown, woke up my husband, and he quickly took charge. He whisked off the kids for a quick walk to give me some space, and eventually, I felt better. We went on to have a wonderful day, but I had to take it slower than normal, let some things go, and just be present in my feelings.

These days came out of nowhere, without warning, and passed after I slowed down and processed appropriately. I can guarantee this time will come and that you can overcome these with some care.

Prioritize Self-Care

Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time for yourself amidst the planning chaos. Whether it’s a relaxing bubble bath, a walk in nature, or simply curling up with a good book, prioritize activities that rejuvenate your mind and body.

Also, remember that there is hidden treasure in being spontaneous during travel.  I’m so busy with our business, managing the education and social calendars of our five kids, serving actively in our church, managing our social media, YouTube, blog, and more that I rarely do a lot of travel research.  I’m here to tell you that is just fine!  I admire the amazing travel planners who have Excel sheets full of itineraries, plans, locations, etc, but I also want you to remember that the point of travel is to enjoy time together doing new things.  

Don’t stress if you don’t get to planning as much as you’d like.  If you are worried your itinerary is too tight, it might be!  Don’t be afraid to take a break from all the research and know that everything will be alright.  

  • Tip: Schedule regular self-care activities into your calendar. Treat them as non-negotiable appointments.  This can also include down-time on your trip.  Everyone needs a bit of self-care and rebooting time if you are out and about often on your trip.
  • How To: Set aside 30 minutes each day for self-care, whether it’s practicing mindful meditation, going for a jog, or indulging in a hobby you love.
  • Product Recommendations: For me, bringing along a book for pleasure adds a lot to a trip.  There will be plenty of waiting time at the airport, in taxis, restaurants, etc.  We’ve had trips with our kids where everyone dives into their current book, and we don’t mind these wait times.  
Self-care moments!

Break Tasks Into Manageable Chunks

Planning a long-term trip can feel like an enormous undertaking. Break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Create a timeline with deadlines for each task, whether it’s researching destinations, booking flights, or arranging accommodations.   We tend to book flights first, but only after having a look at what accommodations are available.  These two go hand-in-hand, and we’ve made mistakes with both.

Tackling one task at a time will prevent you from getting overwhelmed and help you stay organized.

  • Tip: Create a detailed checklist of all the tasks involved in planning your trip.
  • How to: Break down tasks into categories like research, bookings, and logistics. Allocate specific days or times to focus on each category, ensuring you make steady progress without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Product Recommendations: Daily Planner or Travel Planner Notebook – Organize your tasks and stay on top of deadlines with a dedicated planner designed for travel planning.
  • Remember to budget for your bookings.  You’ll be paying for the majority of your trip before you even go!

Delegate Responsibilities

You don’t have to do it all alone. Enlist the help of your partner, older children, or trusted family members and friends. On a recent trip to London, we had our oldest daughter come up with all the sights.  Not only did this make her more excited, but she fell in love with the city.  Most teenagers are going to be resistant to being told where to go and when.  Involving them goes a long way to enjoying the trip.

Delegate tasks such as researching activities, packing, or making travel arrangements. Not only will this lighten your load, but it will also give others a sense of involvement and ownership in the trip.

  • Tip: Hold a family meeting to discuss everyone’s strengths and interests, then assign tasks accordingly.  Of course, base this on the age of your kids.  If they are very young, they won’t have much to say about the planning, but we do like to show them fun places we might go see.
  • How To: If your partner enjoys researching activities, delegate that responsibility to them. If your kids are old enough, involve them in packing their own belongings or researching fun things to do at your destination.
  • Make packing lists way in advance as you think of it.  I always like to keep notes on my phone, and when an idea comes up, such as packing a poncho, I need to note it down right away.  I always have my phone with me.
  • Product Recommendations: Family Task Board or Chore Chart – Keep track of delegated tasks and responsibilities with a visual aid that everyone in the family can refer to.
Giving tasks to each kid has helped us a lot as a Full-Time Travel Family.

Embrace Flexibility 

While planning is essential, so is flexibility. Understand that not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay. Embrace the spontaneity of travel and be open to new experiences and opportunities that arise along the way. Allow room for adjustments and changes as needed.

  • Tip: Practice mindfulness and acceptance techniques to help you stay calm and adaptable when things don’t go as planned.
  • How To: Instead of stressing over minor setbacks like flight delays or last-minute itinerary changes, focus on finding solutions and maintaining a positive attitude.  Expect that travel days will be tough, they always are.  Expect your kids to act terribly the first day or two as they are tired and adjusting.
  • Have a budget for both “Buy It There” items (things that are better to buy on site instead of packing and risking overpacking) and travel delays. Have enough buffer for an airport hotel if needed (airlines rarely compensate for these, unfortunately, as they usually site weather delays).
  • Product Recommendations: Mindfulness Meditation Guide or Stress Relief Toys – Equip yourself with tools to manage stress and maintain a positive mindset, even in challenging situations.

Focus on the Journey, Not Just the Destination

It’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of travel planning, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey itself. Take time to savor the anticipation of your upcoming adventure, and involve your family in the planning process. Share excitement about the places you’ll visit and the memories you’ll create together.

  • Tip: Keep a travel journal or create a shared digital album where you can document and reflect on your journey.  This can be as simple as an Apple Photos folder or Google Photos folder, apps we use all the time!
  • Remember to document your journey.  While everyone gumbles about taking the pictures, these are what will bring the sweet memories back after your trip.  You won’t regret it.
  • How To: Encourage each family member to contribute photos, drawings, or written memories throughout the trip. This will not only help you cherish the experience but also strengthen family bonds.
  • Product Recommendations: Travel Journal or Instant Camera – Capture precious moments and create lasting memories with a dedicated journal or instant camera to document your adventures.

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the incredible journey of motherhood and the unique challenges and joys it brings, especially when planning full-time travel with kids. While the road may sometimes seem long and daunting, remember that you are capable of navigating it with grace and resilience.

By prioritizing self-care, breaking tasks into manageable chunks, delegating responsibilities, embracing flexibility, and focusing on the journey, you can prevent burnout and create unforgettable memories with your family. As you embark on this adventure, don’t forget to cherish the moments, both big and small, and celebrate the bond that ties your family together.

So here’s to you, dear mothers, the unsung heroes of the travel world. May your days be filled with laughter, love, and the magic of exploration. Happy Mother’s Day, and may your full-time travel journey be as extraordinary as you are.

Xoxo,

Leslie, a mom of 5 kids. 

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