Thursday 10 July 2014

Top 10 Tips for Adopters Going on Holiday

Going on holiday is a big emotive subject for adopters and adoptees.  Whilst for some adoptive families, holidays are not an issue and thoroughly enjoyed, for some children it's so stressful that some families just never make it away from their house and don't even bother booking a holiday.  Yet a holiday is one thing we all need.

Will there be food?  Are you taking me with you?  Are we coming home?  Am I coming home with you? Will there be a bed for me to sleep on? Will the cats be ok?  Will we see them again?  Is where we are going horrible?  Are you sure it's a nice place?   These and many more questions may be asked by adopted children, and not necessarily out loud to their parents.

Consider a child who has been in foster care yet the foster carers go on holiday leaving the child to go into respite.  Bags are packed, flights are booked, yet the child isn't going with them.  Can you imagine how left out they feel?   And so when they go to live with their forever family, they may continue to think that it's only the adults that go on holiday and children don't go with them.

Here are my top 10 tips for making holiday time as anxiety-free and as stress-free as possible:-

1.    Prepare, prepare, prepare - preparation is key and needs to start as soon as possible after the holiday is booked no matter how far in advance you book it.  Show photos of where you are going, when, how and why and give as much detail about the place as you can.

2.   Talk about what you are ALL going to do once you arrive there.  For example, say how you are ALL going to have fun in the pool, or you are ALL going to enjoy playing on the beach or at the campsite.

3.   Talk about what you are ALL going to once you get home.  Your child may still believe they are not living with you forever so it's vital to reinforce this message.  Plan an activity for a few days after you get home that you can all look forward to and repeat this often before you go and whilst you are on holiday.

4.  If you are flying, talk about planes in the air flying over your house, wondering where they are going and what it might be like there.  Talk about the journey to the airport, check-in, boarding, on the plane, explain that the luggage doesn't stay with us but goes elsewhere on the plane to be collected at the other end, talk about the cabin crew, their safety briefing, the toilets, sitting altogether, the seatbelts that must be worn.  For our first flight with Missy we got a great lift-the-flap book called Busy Airport, that we read a lot before we went.  We've started reading it again too.  It really helped last year and she was fine with flying.

5.  Talk about food.  Food is high on the anxiety list for Missy, often a tantrum trigger, possibly wondering if she will actually be fed.  We are talking about breakfast, what we will do for lunch, where we might eat out in the evening. As much as possible, we will keep to the same eating times as at home. Missy and I cooked some Greek food earlier this week and we'll probably eat out at the local Greek before we go.

6.  Pack familiar things that remind them of home.  Most young children will pack their favourite toy anyway but in addition to toys, books and colouring we will also pack her pillowcase and put it on the bed when we get there, together with her Leaf and her Hello Kitty cushion, so that she has familiar smells around her.

7.  Kids clubs - probably not a good idea!

8.  Ensure you have all the necessary paperwork. If you're child is pre-adoption order, make sure you have all necessary paperwork and make sure your child goes through passport control with the parent who has the paperwork in their bag!   Even post adoption order it's worth taking some paperwork just in case as some countries will question any parent who has a different surname from that of their child whether birth or adopted (Missy has Daddy's surname as we aren't married...yet )

9.   Try to stick to routine.  Ok, you're on holiday so routine is going to change slightly and I know Missy will be going to bed a lot later, nevertheless we try to stick to a routine as much as possible - aim for meals at the same time, same time for bedtime, and limit the amount of activities you do.

10.  Relax.  You're on holiday, you're allowed to.  As much as you can, have a great time wherever you go.  If you're not relaxed your children will pick up on this.

I hope this list has given you some useful tips, particularly if you haven't been on a holiday before with your  child(ren).

If you have any other tips you'd like to share and that you've found helpful then I'd love to hear them.


  1. Always so useful to have a reminder of how best to go about taking a holiday. I'm bad at talking about where we are going and what we will do, it's easy to think that your child knows what you'll be doing. Great post and thanks for linking to #WASO

  2. Really great advice. We travel abroad at least twice each year to visit family and I've found that preparation is key - such good tips here.

  3. We've found that our eldest misses home, so this time we'll be taking photos of every room in the house with us, maybe just to look at on my phone. We've also been talking about which flavour of ice cream they're going to choose at the beach (accompanied by slurping sounds). That one is working wonders!

  4. Sounds like sensible advice for anyone taking children on holiday!


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