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Family Travel A to Z: Unexpected Events

Let’s get real. Things are not always going to go to plan and there is a point in every holiday when you’re going to have to deal with the unexpected. It doesn’t matter how much time and effort you put into planning and preparation, the truth is, things can still go wrong – and they probably will.

The hardest moment of all our travels was during our first 24 hours in Auckland, on our NZ adventure. Everything we had worried about (e.g. the flight) worked out beautifully. However, everything else seemed to go wrong, the minute we landed. We lost one of our bags, we were forced to purchase a booster seat for the hire car, we needed to buy the kids new clothes (as their bag was the one lost) and then the tour operator didn’t have our booking!

After a day of high emotions and many meltdowns, all I wanted to do was get on the first flight back to Sydney. All the unexpected events coming at us was too much and I felt helpless to deal with all the stress and strain (let alone help my kids through one of the most challenging experiences of their lives).

We learned that day that we needed a plan to deal with unexpected events. We needed perseverance to get through the hard times and new ways to cope with the stress of things going wrong when we were far from home. Here are some of the ways we’ve learned to deal with unexpected events when on holidays as a family.

Family Travel A to Z: Unexpected Events (Featured) -




Work on your perseverance

To persevere, you need to be in tune with your own needs.  As a starting point, give yourself permission to prioritize you in the lead up to your holiday. I know this is not easy but it’s important to take time out for you. Practice self-care, lead by example and build up your reserves of resilience and perseverance before you head off on your family adventure. If you are physically and mentally exhausted in the lead up to the holiday, you will have nothing left in the tank to help you deal with unexpected events when away from home. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to relax and recharge before you set off.


Practise flexible thinking

We can get so caught up in our own expectations, that we find ourselves thinking as rigidly as our kids. So, when things go wrong, we find it very difficult to see a way through or come up with a resolution. That’s why it’s worth working on positive thought processes and concentrating on practical ways to get through the tough stuff. Practising flexible thinking can help you overcome your doubts and fears and identify ways to make the holiday work for you and your family. If you practise this before you leave in your everyday life, you’ll be able to use these valuable skills when they are most needed, dealing with unexpected events.


Learn to find the positives

Once you’ve begun to think more flexibly, it’s time to embrace the positives. Being able to identify and appreciate the positives in life is such an important skill, whether you’re planning on travelling or not. Positivity is all about being honest with yourself and with your situation. I’ve learned over the years that you can only find the positives after you’ve faced up to your fears, identified the facts you know, put aside the unknowns, challenged your expectations and let go of your assumptions. Only then can you search for and embrace the positives in your situation. This is a vital skill to cultivate before embarking on any holiday!


Stay rational

When you’re on holiday, it’s important to take a deep breath and look at the facts of the situation before being consumed by all your worries. This is where rational thinking comes into play. Thinking rationally means looking at the likelihood of something happening and how serious the consequence would be should it occur. Practising rational thinking will help you put your worries into context and assist in prioritising your energy and time. Try not to waste your energies on potential issues that may not even occur. Save your energy for dealing with real issues and being prepared to deal with unexpected events.


Adjust your expectations

Another way to work on perseverance is to acknowledge the impact expectations have on our mindset. Expectations are powerful and they often control how we react to events around us. It’s important to be aware of your expectations as a parent. If you become more flexible in your own expectations, you will experience less disappointment if things go wrong. This is vital when it comes to holidaying as an autism family. It IS possible to have a great time and for everyone to enjoy themselves, even your spectrum kids. However, an autism family holiday may not resemble the traditional family holiday you have always imagined. That’s why, in the lead up to travel, it’s important to recognise and let go of unrealistic expectations so you are in a position to deal with the unexpected.


Believe in yourself

You need to believe in yourself and in the preparation you’ve undertaken for your holiday. By now you have completed your planning, preparation and packing. You have done all you can to make this trip work. It will be okay. Believe that you are ready – because you are! Concentrate on all the awesome plans you’ve made and be positive about the adventure ahead of you. Life is never predictable and things are bound to go awry. But, look at them as opportunities instead of challenges. Have confidence in the plans you’ve already made. Remember the preparation you’ve already put in place and use it!


What are your tips for dealing with, and preparing for, unexpected events when on holiday?


A to Z Guide to Family Travel -


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