If you are a newly single parent, the idea of taking your children away for a vacation might be a little scary. Going on vacation should be fun and exciting, not stressful and tiring. The last thing you want is to come back from vacation feeling worse than you did when you left. Traveling with your children as a single parent is never easy, but there are ways you can make the experience run smoothly. Here is a single parent’s guide to traveling with children.
Traveling with children as a single parent is a very special experience, however, without meticulous preparation, even the most exciting (on paper) journey can easily turn into a mess, you need to take into consideration many things like making a packing list for a family vacation and that stuff. It doesn’t matter whether you embark on an engaging journey with an infant, toddler, teenager- or all together – you need a good plan and a couple of tricks to make it a reality smoothly.
Related Read: Tips for Traveling Internationally with Kids
Useful Tips for Single Parents Traveling with Children
Whether you’re taking a road trip to the other side of the country or you’re making a journey across international waters, traveling with children as a single parent in tow can be a challenge. There are many travel tips all single parents should know in order to survive a trip with youngsters.
Traveling with kids as a single parent can be difficult at times, however, by taking some of these simple tips into consideration you might feel more prepared for your next family trip.
If you have infants or really small kids, avoid making first travel an exhaustive two-week trip to some faraway exotic destination. Long-haul flights are exhaustive even for seasoned globetrotters, not to mention such a “great” thing as breaks at the airports and hours of waiting. Before taking your children on a lengthy vacation, consider a weekend away in your area, so you can put to the test your strategy and see how things are going in real life. Even a one-day trip to the Zoo on the other side of the city can serve as a trial run and show you the level of your readiness for a big adventure. Did you pass the test in terms of packing and food choices? Were you successful in keeping the kid’s routine? Finally and most importantly, did you enjoy yourself?
Believe it or not, most parents make the mistake of not booking ahead and this includes booking a hotel, transport, and even activities. It really gives you a strong advantage to book ahead of time, especially since it gives you the ability to retain the spontaneity of traveling. For instance, you wanted to book a transfer company at the airport when you land. Unfortunately for you, you will have to wait for several hours before the next availability arrives. It would have been so much better if you booked ahead, so you and your family could go straight to the hotel or something.
Talk to your children about flying
One of the biggest problems you will find when you are traveling with children is that they fear flying. Before you go on vacation, it is important that you talk to your children about traveling. Let your children ask any questions they want to. You have to be ready to answer their questions. The point is you need to make them feel calm about flying. Tell them that there is nothing to worry about and that they will be fine.
Always Research Your Destination
When people travel with kids, they are not so flexible and have to plan the majority of activities in advance. You may love the idea of spending the whole day sightseeing, but do your children think it’s a lot of fun? If you have a toddler, make sure to leave enough time for their “free” activities, so they can release their vast energy by running in the local park or hitting the playground. That’s why you need to research your dream destination in advance, to know exactly where the nearest park or a shopping mall with a decent playground is. It’s also a good idea to scan the neighborhood for family-friendly restaurants and other facilities where kids can also have fun.
Bring toys and distractions
It is important that you have small games, toys, and distractions with you on the plane. That way, you can use the toys to distract your children when you are in the air. On some airlines, there will be a movie showing while you fly. If there is a movie, you have a perfect distraction for your children. If there is not, you might need to play some games, like block games or tell stories to entertain your kids. Occupying your children will mean that they don’t have time to worry about flying.
Be selective when deciding what to pack for your trip, especially if you’re traveling via air. If you’re guilty of cramming as much stuff as you can into your carry-on bag, perhaps write a checklist including only the items you cannot go without, such as baby food if you have an infant with you. It’s challenging enough to keep an eye on excitable kids without the added burden of having to carry heavy luggage. It might also be a good idea for each of your children to have their own backpacks. This provides extra space for necessities and lightens the load for you but also gives your kids an element of responsibility in looking after their own belongings.
Consider traveling with another family
When you travel alone with your children, it can be a huge stress. If you know another family, with kids the same age as yours, you should consider traveling with them. If you travel as a group, you will have other adults to talk to during the vacation. It also means that there are more adults to help with childcare, than there would be if it were just you. You can take turns looking after all the children so that everybody gets a chance to relax.
Plan activities for each day
When you travel with children, you need to plan just a few things each day. If you plan to go sightseeing, you should not plan to see too many different attractions. You might want to pack a million things into one day, but trying to do so will be a nightmare. When you are out with children, all manner of things can happen. Children move at a slower pace than adults. That means that they take longer to overlook things and explore their environment. You need to allow some time for your children to explore.
It is your duty to ensure your child is safe at all times.
This should hold true regardless of the means you are using to travel. If you are driving, for example, make sure your babies are in child car seats, and everyone else has their seat belts on. Appropriate safety precautions should be strictly followed whether you are flying or traveling by bus or train.
It is a good safety practice to register with your embassy or state department when traveling to a foreign nation. The embassy might come to your aid should you find yourself in a spot of bother or should an emergency situation arise.
Check your children for allergies
Before you go on vacation, you need to know whether your children have any allergies. If your children are allergic to something, and you don’t know about it, it could be a disaster. Take your children to the doctor before you go on your break and get him or her to test them for allergies. In doing so, you ensure that your children will be safe when they are on vacation. You will also need to make sure that you and your little ones have vacation insurance. That way, you can cover the cost of medical bills if one of you gets ill abroad.
Make sure everybody gets vaccines
Make sure that both you and your children get any vaccinations you need before you travel. If you are traveling in certain regions, you will need exotic vaccinations to ensure that you don’t get diseases. Many parents forget about vaccinations when they are traveling. Small children have a low immune system. That means that young kids are susceptible to contracting diseases. It is your duty as a parent to protect your children. Your doctor will be able to tell you what vaccinations you need for your vacation. He or she can also give you some advice about traveling with children and how to keep them safe.
Think about the food
If your children are fussy eaters, you need to think about what they will eat on vacation. Check out the menu at your hotel and see whether your children will enjoy the food that is on offer. Many hotels offer a children’s menu of simple food, such as fish and chips or pasta. If your hotel does not offer this service, you still have options. You can order takeaway food no matter where you are in the world. Pizza delivery in Dubai, for example, is quick and easy, especially if you are ordering food at a hotel.
Take Things Slow
Kids can walk as fast as you plus they also get tired much faster than we do. So my suggestion is to reduce to half the amount of things to do and places to visit that you normally plan in one day. This will allow everyone to enjoy the experiences a lot more, plus you won’t feel stressed or like you are missing something if you don’t get to do everything on the itinerary.
What you plan for a day should always be set to what your youngest child can handle.
Keep sunscreen on you at all times
Children have sensitive skin. Your skin can likely sustain a lot of heat and sunlight. Your children’s skin is much more delicate than yours. If you are going to a country where it is hot most of the time, you need to make sure that you pack some sunscreen. Carry a bottle of high SPF sunscreen in your bag at all times. You should apply sunscreen to your children’s skin every hour or so. If your children go swimming, ensure that you cover them with sunscreen straight away when they get out of the pool. If the sun damages your children’s skin, it can be awful. Make sure you protect your children throughout the day.
Dress your children for the weather
In the same respect, you need to make sure that your children have appropriate clothing for hot weather. Sun hats and appropriate shoes are a must. You need to make sure that your children’s shoulders are never bare, except when they are swimming. Shoulders are always in direct sunlight. That means that if you don’t cover your children’s shoulders, they are likely to burn and even blister in the heat. Adults sometimes forget how sensitive children’s skin is, but you should not make that mistake.
Hotel vs. Apartment Rental
Even though a hotel may seem like an obvious choice because it offers a wide range of services while traveling with kids as a single parent, think of renting an apartment able to cater directly to your current needs. It’s no secret, not only the majority of hotel rooms are not built with families with children in mind in terms of space, but they also don’t have such must-haves as a full-size refrigerator and a microwave.
Things are getting less convenient when it comes to a sleeping place for your kid, especially if an infant or toddler is in question. Well, some hotels provide beds for babies, but too often their saggy mattresses and the absence of shields just do not let those beds serve the purpose. Of course, wise parents can always take the portable one with them but, again, not every hotel room will have enough space for an additional bed.
On the other hand, an apartment will solve all the aforementioned problems with space and kitchen appliances. In addition to that, you can get a comfy bathroom to give your kid a nice bath. Back to a sleeping place for your baby, a quality product can become a real game-changer, and not only for travel.
Another important moment, with an apartment, you won’t have to worry about thin walls and the fact that people in the room next door can hear your every single word or baby crying at night. Plus, you will have far more options to keep your child’s routine and diet – all this at a significantly lower price.
Keep Infants On Their Routine
Although kids up to two years old are considered the least complicated to travel with, it is essential to keep their established routine, so they feel safe and comfortable in the usual environment. Sticking to the schedule they have at home will help keep them happy, meaning that parents also can have their piece and enjoy the vacation.
Traveling with kids as a single parent is not only a fun thing to do, but it is also the perfect moment to spend some quality time together, bonding time that will bring a lot of benefits for you and your kid in the long run. However, it can still be a daunting experience regardless of how many times you have done this before. It could be anything from which places to visit what clothes to pack, all of which can result in a deluge of worries.
Hope this guide for single parents is helpful for you and your kids! Now it doesn’t have to be hard!