5 Easy Tips to Travel as a Single Mom with Kids
Is there such a thing as single parents on holiday? I’m here to tell you that it is not only possible, you can do it with confidence.
But, as I’m writing, I feel like I should clarify something. I am not talking about single parents vacationing without their kids. While that is also possible, this is about feeling confident in traveling with your kids, by yourself. I hope that’s not disappointing.
Let me start by saying, this mama needs a vacation! I’m sure all parents feel the same way.
But, it’s not that easy. Finances aside, I’ve become more anxious all around since becoming a mom. It can feel so overwhelming, trying to navigate the world. It helped that the world was shut down when she was a young toddler.
The isolation didn’t really faze me.
Now that we’ve been out amongst the people for the last 2 years, I am working on trying to embrace adventure, experience and opportunity. More for her sake than mine.
I had to think about how I will tackle this so that we can get out into the world. I didn’t grow up traveling much. Just a couple of trips to Florida where my dad was from. And, by a couple, I mean 2. And, never the whole family because of the cost.
In considering traveling now, I believe there are some single mom, travel hacks that could make the process easier.
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Traveling as a Single Parent Concerns
I admit, that I have not excelled traveling as a single mom.
For me, the idea of traveling with my child on a plane far from home, is a little overwhelming. Not only do you have to deal with all of the “stuff” associated with being away from home, but also the unknown of your final destination.
In my mind, all of those thoughts just roll in on each other and raise my worry meter. Let’s face it, I’m naturally prone to worry anyway. It’s in my DNA, passed down through the generations, so the thoughts are well-seasoned.
I think it would be different if I were already well-traveled, but I’m not. I have some solo travel experience, but not much at all.
What exactly am I worried about? Nothing. Everything. Losing track of my child! Being in an unfamiliar place. Safety. Getting Lost. Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted far from home, without support.
I know I’m not alone in these feelings. In fact, I’m sure my concerns are quite common. I want to be confident and self-assured, especially in her eyes.
There are ways to resolve or at least, diminish most of my worries. As a mom, you don’t worry about what is happening, but what might happen. Strangely, if something was happening, in the moment, you just act.
I know from How Can Fear Control a Person that I need to face my fears in order to move past them. And I’m trying my best to do that.
Related Article: Why Staycations are Better for Families
How Do Single Moms Travel with Children
How does she do it? I am in awe of the moms I used to see maneuvering their way through the airport with multiple kids in tow. Back then, I cringed when ending up behind them going through security. Because, not only do they need to go through, but so does all of the stuff.
During that childfree time of my life, I never thought I could be on the other end — parent with child and stuff. But, here I am. I suppose you make do, don’t you.
As much as I would like one, I have yet to be thrown a parade for being a single mom. So, you just get on with it.
Like most things, you start with a plan and a budget. By organizing as much as you can ahead of time, you may be able to eliminate a lot of the unknowns.
Before we get too far down the road, let’s talk about paperwork. There are two reminders here. Keep your travel documents handy. You don’t want to waste time and energy looking everywhere for what you need on your trip.
And, be sure you have required documentation from the other parent, outlining your authorization to travel with your child on your own. In many instances, this is a legal requirement. You may not be asked to produce it, but better safe than sorry.
Word of warning! Beware of all-inclusive resorts/ cruises charging double-occupancy rates even if you are the only adult. Few places adjust pricing to reflect that status. Their pricing structure is based on two adults so expect that pricing.
Tips for Single Parents on Holiday
- Plan Ahead: Where are you going? What do you want to do when you get there? Schedule or map out as much of that as you can in advance. If you’re staying in a hotel with a concierge, they will take care of entertainment and travel for you.
Don’t worry though, you can do it on your own as well. Sign up for tours and buy tickets for your entertainment and activities online. There really isn’t too much that can’t be done before you leave the house.
- While you’re at it, look into renting the things you need for really little ones (car seats, pack-n-play, etc.) No need to carry it onto the plane if you don’t need to. It’s also possible that there will be something readily available where you’re staying.
- Entertainment: Pack (or have the kids do it), small backpack just for them. Don’t overpack toys, just include what they can carry.
- Do yourself a favor and plan for a recovery day upon your return home. Trust me – you will need it.
- Travel Companions: If you’re open to the idea, partner with other parents! Why? Help with costs (car, accommodations, groceries). You benefit from an extra set of eyes and pair of hands and adult companionship.
- Location, Location, Location: Remember who you’re traveling with. Things will go a lot smoother if you visit kid-friendly places. (ex. beach, all-inclusive resorts, theme parks and some museums)
- Book a Home Share (Airbnb, VRBO): A great choice for budgeting families, especially for extended stay. Kitchen and laundry access is a game changer!
- Know Your Limits: Know your kids. Consider the temperament of your child in a unfamiliar environment and how they might behave. Don’t pack too much into the day for young ones. Make time for naps and leisure.
Useful Apps, Tools Resources for Traveling as a Single Parent
Apps are the way in which we navigate through our lives. What’s the first thing you do when looking to add convenience to your life? Yep! You check the app store. So, where do you think you’ll check first when planning for travel?
I share a number of app and resources in Road Trip Hacks. Be sure to check it out for ideas that you can use on your vacation. It is especially useful if traveling by car. The activity ideas may be of particular interest for your kids travel entertainment.
- Roadtrippers: Traveling by car? Get organized right from the start! This trusty little planner will help plan your itinerary, including stops, traffic information and areas of interest. Save $5 by using the promo code BTR5QTP. (Available on IOS and Android)
- Gowhee: Provides safe, fun and unique, kid-friendly, worldwide travel locations. (Available on: IOS and Android)
- LugLess.Com: Imagine the freedom of traveling without the hassle of dragging your luggage around? That’s LugLess. Instead of checking your bags, or carrying them on, ship them in advance. This would take a bit of trust, but for a price comparable to checking your bags, this could be the answer for some families.
- GPS Tracker: There are lots to choose from. Find one that fits your needs, looks and budget before you get on your way.
- Footprints: Traveling with older kids with smartphones? This app allows a little freedom and independence… within reason. Track where they are and where they’ve been.
- Single Parent Travel Groups: Leave the planning and organization to someone else! Travel companies have programs designed just for you! A bonus to making joining a group is the chance to travel with other families, providing socialization for you and the kids! Check out Intrepid Travel and Trafalgar for starters.
In Summary: Single Parents on Holiday
As you can see from above, there are solutions to help anxious parents like me travel with confidence. Does it mean that I still might be a little uncertain? Knowing me? Definitely. With time, by incorporating some of these suggestions, I will feel more self-assured and able to venture out… just the two of us.
For single parents on holiday, it’s about being able to enjoy time with your kids as well as having a good time yourself. Make a plan or join a group to do the planning for you. No matter what, be flexible. Things will just take longer traveling with your kids.
Think of the memories you’re making. Stay positive! Yes, it may have it’s challenges, but traveling as a single parent is not meant to be miserable.
Unfortunately, I am not in a position to get any practice in on a flight. I am, however, getting out more. It’s been great seeing my kiddo experience new things. The anxiety I feel before leaving the house dissipates when we get to our destination.
From then on, I’m there, immersed in the experience.
Single mom travel is in my future. For now, finances are tied to essentials. But when I have some mad money to spend, we will either go to an all-inclusive resort or join one of those single parent travel groups. Baby steps.
Single parents, I want to hear from you! Share your tips/ experiences traveling with your children in the comments below.