For most single parents, the thought of traveling with kids seems like a nightmare in the making! Before I became an old pro at it, I would often cringe at the thought of traveling (in any way, shape, or form ) with my kids in tow. If you are a single parent and you are preparing for a trip with the kids, then you may be experiencing a little anxiety about managing the logistics without going crazy!
But I am here to inform you that is possible to have an fabulous trip while traveling as a single parent with kids. While I can’t guarantee you that your children will act like little angels on the trip, following a few basic rules can help everyone, including you, be on their best behavior.
1. Travel With Another Adult or Single Parent Family (If Possible)
For years, me and the woman I affectionately call my twin, have traveled together all up and down the eastern United States with our kids. Our parenting styles are almost identical. As a matter of fact, our life parallels so much that we say we have “twin” lives. She “gets” me. I “get” her. She “gets” my kids. I “get” her kids and we make very good travel buddies.
The benefits of having another adult or single parent family travel with you include:
- Splitting travel costs, such as gas, hotel, food etc…
- If you have a large enough crew, you can get the group discount rate.
- You can run into a store (or the restroom) without having to have small children in tow.
- You don’t have to do all the driving by yourself.
- Another adult can help you keep the kids rallied and in check, so that you be able to withstand the forces of the tiny terrorists..lol
- Another besides you will have another adult to talk to drink adult beverages when the kids have gone to bed for the evening. (That’s also when I pull out all the good snacks that I don’t want to share with them. 🙂 )
So find you a “twin” to make your journey just a little bit or (a whole lot) easier.
2. Take Advantage of “Bedtime” Hours.
When traveling with young children, you will find it very beneficial to plan the majority of your traveling during the hours when your children are usually in the bed sleep. This was my #1 “go-to” when my kids were toddlers. I didn’t have to listen to them fight, whine, and complain about who touch them or who won’t stop looking at them.
If you are traveling via car and your destination is a great distance away, consider departing at night, around your children’s bedtime. You, and if you’re lucky, you’re “traveling twin”can take turns driving in shifts to ensure traveling all night is possible. Then, when the kids awake in the morning, most (if not all) of your traveling will have already been done. For airplane trips, look for early flights so your kids can sleep during the plane ride.
3. Pack Way More Than You Think You Need.
This is a very important rule to remember when traveling with children. It is much better to have much more than you need, then to have to forage around a possibly unfamiliar city trying to locate it. Always pack more than you think you will need. This goes for all things, but especially clothes and toys. A toy that you think will keep your child entertained for 25-30 minutes, will probably only hold their attention for 5-10 minutes.
I have found that handheld video game systems, color books and crayons, and a large collection of movies (DVD or streamed)is the best way to go for any age. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of them to keep your child busy. Many single parents actually go and purchase a few new toys before a big trip and wait until they’re in the midst of traveling before pulling them out.
4. Allow Time for Stops.
There is no such thing as a non-stop trip with children. (Especially with my small bladdered children) It doesn’t matter how short of a trip you’re going on (or how many times I threaten my kids – in my case..lol) …kids are not going to be able to sit for hours on end without complaining. It’s important that you give your kids a few opportunities to get out, use the restroom and stretch their legs a little when traveling. An easy way to incorporate stops in your travel plans is to stop at normal meal times. Stopping to eat usually gives kids at least 30 minutes outside of the vehicle, which will do miracles for them!
5. Plan a Few Things Just For The Kids
To ensure everyone on the trip has a good time, make sure you plan a few activities that your kids will find fun. Having kid-friendly activities planned will not only give them something to look forward to while traveling, but it also gives you some something to threaten to take away from them, if they don’t comply (lol). You can do something as simple as stopping for by a local park or beach or as time-consuming as visiting a popular amusement park or arcade. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something the kids will enjoy! Tire them out and then they will be ready to fall asleep with ease!
It’s hard to imagine any single parents traveling with their kids getting excited (the actual traveling part, anyways), but if you follow these simple tips, and it should be a little less stressful. Just remember: kids will be kids. Most of them, unfortunately, do not have the patience or attention span of adults; therefore, traveling with them will require a little preparing and patience on your part.
Do you have any more single parent travel tips?
Let me know in the comment section below.