Being a single parent to your kids at home and keeping them in a routine is no less than a challenge, but traveling with kids and that, too, alone? It is enough to make you nervous, even if you are the most confident parent. After all, traveling with kids as their sole guardians can be a challenging proposition. With a long list of preparations and unpredictable schedules, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Still, traveling with kids isn’t any more overwhelming than midnight awakenings for feedings and teenage temper tantrums. If you have successfully made it out of these, you can do anything! So whether you want a vacation to a fun and scenic place like the Smoky Mountains, or have to travel for work, do not hesitate to book a flight and hop right in with your little ones. Here are some tips to ensure that your trip as a single parent is memorable and stress-free.
1. Choose a Children-Friendly Destination:
While you are on the task of choosing a destination, do not forget to see it from your kids’ eyes. A place that appeals to you might not be as fun for your children. For instance, you might be keen on visiting cultural and historical attractions, but your kids may end up bored. So, before you finalize your itinerary, ensure that it satisfies you and your children. For instance, you can head up to Pigeon Forge to have some cultural and historical insights with the taste of adventures and the solace of nature that will leave everyone sated. To have a sneak peek of the past with breathtaking surroundings that will keep your kids engaged, you can visit The Old Mill on a river in Pigeon Forge that dates more than a century back.
Likewise, ensure that your chosen destination is safe before embarking on your journey. As a single parent, safety will be your biggest concern since no one will be there to share the responsibility of looking after the kids. Research to see if the place is safe enough to travel alone. You can also ask your family and friends who might have traveled there before and get valuable feedback.
2. Do not Forget the Paperwork:
When packing your essential items, do not forget to keep the necessary documents with you. As a solo parent traveling with minors, you will need more than just passports for your trip. You should carry a letter of consent from the other parent who is not traveling. However, if you are divorced or separated and have full custody of the kids, you may sign the letter of authorization yourself and carry the custody documents. If your spouse is deceased, you may keep a copy of the death certificate. You will not need consent from the other parent if you are flying on a domestic flight, but it is better to play safe. Moreover, if you do not share the last name with your child, you may need to prove your relationship through your child’s birth certificate.
3. Pack Light:
Are you also tempted to throw every other item in the suitcase? If it is your first time traveling alone with kids, that might be the case for you. Try to avoid that since, after all, you have one set of hands. Apart from the luggage, you will also have to carry a toddler if you have one. You would not want to get into the nightmare of carrying heavy suitcases and looking after your children all at once. So save yourself the stress and pack light.
While packing, ask yourself what items you truly need and what you feel the need to carry, and toss the latter away. For international travel, you can have a medium-sized suitcase and a duffel. For domestic ones, try not to get past a duffel and a backpack with essentials for your kids. Try ditching the shoulder bag since it is not convenient to carry and settle for a backpack. You can also secure your walking toddler on a safety harness to avoid falls. Moreover, leave your baby gear, such as car seats, strollers, and cribs, at home. You can rent them at the airport or hotel once you reach your destination.
4. Do not Hesitate to Ask for Help:
When traveling as a solo parent, everything takes a little bit longer. Whether carrying your bags from the taxi to the check-in counter or reading maps and figuring out directions without a second opinion, everything will take extra time. So instead of handling everything single-handedly, try asking for help. You might even find people to be more helpful to a single parent! It will be convenient if you have someone carry the bags for you or look after the children if you have traveled for work and have a meeting to attend. Leaning on others will take much stress off your shoulders.
5. Make Prior Arrangements for Managing Sickness:
It is not uncommon for children to get sick during travel. They might catch a stomach bug or get a bruise or cut while playing around. So before you depart for your destination, ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit with the necessary medications, antiseptic solutions, bandages, tweezers, scissors, and cotton pads. Also, ensure you and your kids have medical insurance to cover the treatment costs if some unpleasant event occurs. If you are traveling to foreign lands and do not speak the local language of your destination, a phrasebook or translation app can come in handy in a medical emergency. With proper arrangements, you will be well-equipped to handle unfortunate situations instead of freaking out.
Traveling is the time of growth and enlightenment that children of all ages need for grooming. There is a new surrounding to breathe in, new people to interact with, and different foods to taste. So do not let the fear of getting things wrong hold you back. You might not get things perfectly done the first time, but you will learn from experience, and things will become easier. So when the opportunity presents itself, grab it and strengthen your bond with your children. You will realize how rewarding a trip can be with your little travel partners.