Single parent travel can be very challenging. Being the only adult on any trip can be daunting and lonely. Equally, not going on any holiday at all can be depressing. While the main goal of your trip is to spend quality time together as a family, you also want to relax and have some time to yourself.
The key to a successful family vacation is first and foremost, to be prepared. Being a single parent who wishes to go on vacation can sometimes prove to be more troublesome than a two parent family who wish to travel.
Here are some tips to consider while planning your single parent travel experience:
- Involve your children in the planning: ask where they want to go and what experiences they want to have. Sometimes the simplest things become more exciting when it’s “their idea.”
- Choose a destination where your child can make friends: Single parent travel can often become exhausting entertaining your children the whole time. It will not only develop their social skills, but will make it more enjoyable for your children if they have other kids to play with, and this will allow you some down time.
- Consider all – inclusive packages: Cruises or resorts often cater specifically for children; keeping them busy with fun activities and games while making new friends. Taking a trip with fellow single parents is also a great way to balance time with your child. The kids can bond, and the adults can share responsibilities.
- Look for activities to do together: Holiday means quality time with your child and make sure it is an enjoyable experience for you and your children.
- Schedule some down time: Children have a lot of energy, but you also want to make sure they do not over do it. Scheduling in some down time will allow the children to rest and take a nap, lie by the pool for a few hours and recharge for the next activity.
- Three Major things to pack when traveling as a single parent: An emergency kit, plenty of games and snacks. There is nothing worse than facing airport or airplane food that is not child – friendly or driving, long – ending stretches only to realize the next stop is 60 miles away. Games will keep the children engaged and occupied while standing in queues to check – in luggage or for those long drives.
- Get the kids involved: Have the children participate in the logistics, like finding the right boarding gate at the airport or learning to read a map. Not only does it keep them engaged but it also helps them develop necessary skills.
- Have an Emergency Plan: always make sure you have discussed an emergency plan with your children. If they are too young to have their own cell phone, make sure they either know your number off by heart or they know the name of the hotel you are staying in. Also agree on a central spot to meet up in case one of the children gets lost.
What to bring during single parent travel trips
The downfall to single parent travel is that you do not have someone else to share driving responsibilities or to lend an extra hand when the kids are having meltdowns because they are tired or hungry. If you are prepared in advance, these pitfalls can easily be avoided.
Some tips for a single parent road trip:
- Make sure the car has been serviced in advance. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road with tired screaming children.
- Get your children involved by showing them the route you are taking on the map. This will not only boost their self – esteem and help them develop the map reading skills, but will make your life easier should you need directions.
- Provide a variety of CD’s and audio books the whole family will enjoy listening to. Put the kids in charge of the music selection.
- Play games involving the kids’ imaginations. “I spy with my little eyes” is always a favourite; otherwise play license plate games; counting to see how many different states you can find, or trying to make words with the letters in a passing car’s license plate.
- Explain how important it is that you focus on driving. Ask kids for ideas on conflict resolution in advance. Let them know you won’t forget about the arguments and you will listen to them—but not while driving.
- Make sure the kids are comfortable in the backseat. Don’t pack in too much stuff as this is a sure way to make kids uncomfortable. If it’s a choice between crowding children and leaving something at home, leave it.
- Dress your children in layers so they can adjust to changes in temperature without your help.
- Make the drive informative and interesting. Read about your route ahead of time and find things for kids to look for as you drive. Print out information about sights you’ll pass or bring a guidebook. Allow everyone in the family to choose at least one place they would like to stop en route.
- As a single mother, take extra precautions at roadside lodgings. Look for motels with interior corridors rather than doors accessed from a dark parking lot if possible.
- Keep the driving distances short each day, leaving time for fun with your kids in the afternoons.
Tips for Single Parent Flying
Single parent travel means you do not have an extra pair of arms to help carry the luggage. The idea of flying can be a little daunting; however, planning ahead will make it somewhat easier and less stressful for you.
If you want to check-in luggage, which makes negotiating airports and security lines with kids easier, pack so that each child handles one bag, plus a backpack of personal items, which should include a small blanket and travel pillow.
Keep in mind that infants without their own seat and ticket do not get a baggage allowance, but many airlines allow parents to check strollers and car seats at no additional fee. Diaper bags often count as one of the two permitted carry-on bags.
If you are going to a single destination on an airline that charges for even the first checked bag, make navigating through airports as a single mother easier by shipping some luggage in advance. It will cost less than fees for checked luggage.
Some airlines have decent on-board entertainment for kids, which can help keep everyone happy during a flight. It might be useful to find out in advance about on – board entertainment so you know whether or not to pack in toys to keep the kids busy.
Vacation Ideas for Single Parent Travel
There is a cruise liner to fit any lifestyle or budget, and more importantly, a cruise will often specifically cater for children so you do not have to spend all your time supervising the kids.
All the major cruise liners cater for different age groups and each program is not only staffed by well qualified counsellors but is strictly supervised. This is a great source of relief for single parents who can also relax and have some alone time while on holiday.
The advantages of taking a cruise geared towards children is that children can have their fun with others their age, while you can have some private time just a deck or two away with no worries. On some cruises, the parents will even be given a pager that the youth staff can call in case of an emergency.
Cruise liners provide endless possibilities for single parents to do things either together as a family or on their own. With many different dining and entertainment options you can also enjoy a night out without the children.
ClubMed has about 75 resorts worldwide, of which 80% of their business comes from families. These resorts offer amenities for children spanning from 4 months old to 17 years old. These include face painting, puppet shows, tennis, pyjama parties, trampolines and circus workshops to name a few.
ClubMed offers individualized attention for infants and toddlers, surfing and snorkelling for older children, group activities where children get to know other children, and stage shows where children rehearse and then perform for the parents in the evenings. For the most part, you can spend the day lounging by the pool, the reunite with your children during meals and in the evening.
If you are on a tight budget, camping is a fun experience and a great chance to really bond with your children. Camping offers fun, educational opportunities as well as great adventure. From pitching the tent together, to chatting and laughing around the camp fire, it is a much cheaper form of holiday which can be just as much fun as going on a cruise.
Make sure you are comfortable with the camping equipment that you have. The basics should include a tent for the whole family to sleep in, sleeping bags, food, a cooler, first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, camp stove, cookware, utensils and plates.
You can search the internet for suitable camp sites. Alternatively, if you are an AAA Club member, you can get books that list campsites and their amenities. These may include a playground for the children, a pool or a lake to swim in and restroom facilities.
Traveling as a single Parent
As a single parent, traveling with your children does not have to feel over whelming and daunting. If you have planned it well in advance, travel with your family can provide plenty of quality time together and wonderful memories. These shared single parent travel experiences will enhance your lives in many ways. Your children may not remember everything about every trip, but your travels as a whole shape you as individuals and as a family. Traveling as a single parent helps build the relationship by forging new memories and an appreciation for individual differences.