Travelling solo with the kids can be the most enriching thing you can do. One adult doesn’t have to mean twice the work and half the fun. In fact, it can be the opposite!
Here’s how to make it work for you.
Remember, you’ll be the one lugging everything, unless you can encourage your kids to be responsible for their own bags as much as possible. Even toddlers can carry a small suitcase on wheels or a backpack filled with their own toys and snacks. Remove excess clothes, and add medicine and first aid basics. There is nothing worse than needing rehydrating drinks, painkillers, or an epipen in the middle of the night in a foreign country – or even in the middle of our country! And as a solo parent, you’ll have no one to go for supplies.
It’s worth paying the extra money to fly direct to a destination when you’re going a considerable distance or arrange a couple of nights’ stopover to break the journey. Book overnight flights where possible – hopefully you and the kids will sleep. You’ll appreciate it when you and the kids arrive ready to go at your next destination. Check in online where possible to avoid queues and the resulting tantrums you’ll have to handle alone.
Book Transfers in Advance
Try to book transportation from the airport to your hotel before you travel. It’s worth it to walk straight into a bus or hire car without having to navigate touts or wait for taxis with over-excited, tired kids. Not to mention negotiating fares whilst wrangling kids and keeping an eye on passports and wallets.
Choose Your Hotel Wisely
Often single parents are tempted to cut costs with basic hotel rooms – bad call. You’re likely to spend more time than you think in your room, especially if someone gets sick or you have young kids who need naps. Go for apartments, where you can make simple meals, and shut toddlers into a bedroom while older kids watch telly or play. It will make a huge difference to your holiday. Book self-catered apartments or rooms with mini-kitchens for the added convenience. A kettle can be used to make cups of soup and milo, or sterilize bottles, while a fridge can store milk for cereal. And mix it up with eating in some nights and eating out on others. Consider staying at only one destination at a resort with loads of conveniences rather than taking on several places at once.
Bring Favourite Music, Movies & Books
Ipods and Ipads are gold from about the age of three. Load the ipad with movies, TV shows, and games the kids love to keep them busy for hours. Failing that, a portable DVD player will do the trick. Don’t forget the headphones. A new book or a well-loved ‘comfort’ read, either in kindle or paperback, is great too.
Consider teaming up with another family. Your kids will have instant playmates and you’ll have someone to hang out with. You can even swap babysitting duties.
Maintain a Routine
Kids get cranky when they are tired, so try to stick to routines and consequences. Bedtime is still bedtime even though it’s at a different place, and healthy foods should be eaten at meal times wherever possible.
Check visa requirements
If you’re travelling overseas, be aware that some countries require Permission to Travel forms to allow minors to leave the country with one parent. Check with consulates well ahead of travelling.
Have an emergency plan. Do the kids know what to do if they get separated from you? Make sure they have your contact details, and consider a phone if they’re old enough.
Bring a sense of humour
Remember your sense of humour. As with all travel the unexpected may happen, but eventually you’ll all have tales to tell.
This blog post was written by a guest blogger Bronnie Marquardt. Bronnie has her own blog, Maid In Australia that focuses on travelling with kids.