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  • Writer's pictureLeslie

The Trick to a Low-Stress Family Trip? Try The Rule of 12!

Updated: Jul 3

Allgau Germany with Kids Rule of 12 Traveling with Kids Low-Stress Travel
Our rainy trip to the mountains would have been even better had we known about the "Rule of 12" beforehand

Staying calm on a family trip. It's an art… 

Does the mere thought of traveling with kids stress you out? I completely get it — traveling with kids is a lot (and it's why so many influencers always say traveling with kids is a "trip" and not a "vacation"). You're still parenting when you're traveling (and parenting can be hard!). On top of that, you have so many other factors thrown in, whether that's a new schedule, different food, all new activities — you name it.

That's why when I heard about this mental trick to help you better handle the challenges of traveling, it clicked — this hack can help so many parents who want to travel with kids, but aren't sure if they're up for it. Here's the backstory:

I was listening to the @biglittlefeelings "After Bedtime" podcast a few nights ago, and they were interviewing Dr. Daniel Amen, a renowned child psychiatrist and author of Raising Mentally Strong Kids.

At one particular point in the podcast, he started talking about how to keep your stress levels down, and he shared an anecdote about how he and his wife were planning a birthday trip to Paris. They really wanted to have a relaxed time, so they agreed to accept that things can go wrong on trips, and to wait until 12 things went awry before they actually got upset about it.

Turns out some things did go wrong on their trip (as you'd predict when traveling) but they were able to better handle them because they had made this “Rule of 12” agreement... and they were mentally prepared for things not to always play out perfectly.

When I heard his advice, I realized how easily the “Rule of 12” can transfer over to traveling with kids. 

Because there are bound to be rainy days or maybe even meltdowns when you're visiting that one museum you were most excited to check out. But most of us dream of a low-stress family trip. So how do we mentally manage? Enter: the Rule of 12!

When we first started traveling with our daughter, for example, our airport experiences weren't breezy. We didn't have a "smooth" airport security routine, and our daughter hated going through the security scanner. And I remember thinking, "Well, this trip was a bad idea" even before we arrived at our gate.

Rule of 12 Travel with Kids Airports with kids
Airports aren't always the easiest when traveling with kids, but the Rule of 12 can help you stay calm

But, had I known about the "Rule of 12" earlier, I wouldn't have felt so down even before we boarded the plane. Thankfully, we had an amazing time on the trip, and it was so worth it — but this hack could have helped my earlier mental state!

On one other trip we were headed to the Allgäu region in Germany for some mountain hikes with our toddler and baby. Well, the day before we left we realized the forecast called for rain, and wow, did it pour. The first night at our hotel, my husband and I looked at each other and said — should we just go home? Had we known the rule, this thought wouldn't have even crossed our minds, considering the hotel had amazing indoor pools, and the rain did stop for a couple of hours each day to let us get in a few "mini hikes."

So, consider this Rule of 12 before going on your next family trip. Chances are you’ll have a much happier vacation (not to mention your kids will be in a better mood if you're not stressing out about each little thing that isn't going "right").

And I know, sometimes it's easier said than done. A canceled flight can make the most seasoned travelers overcome with rage. But if you do have a frustrated moment or feel like crying in the airport bathroom, that's completely fine. It's happened to all of us! Just try to remember this Rule of 12 to help you rebound faster.

Have you tried this mental trick before — or something like it? What’s your strategy to stay as low stress as possible on a family trip? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, check out my reel on Instagram @bigworld_littletravelers on this very topic (and be sure to follow me, too!).

As an FYI: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.


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