Traveling has always been a fantastic bonding activity for families. The shared time far away from all the distractions of everyday life provides you with an abundance of opportunities to talk, play, and experience new things together. The experiences teach kids to become more flexible, curious, and adventurous. It also turns the whole world into a classroom where they can learn about history, geography, and different cultures.
However, it is not free of its challenges. Especially if you’re a single mom trying to hold everything together. It’s OK to be nervous about your trip with your children – you have a lot to think about. Here are some tips that will make it easier for you.
Getting there (without too much stress)
Being on the road or in the air with kids can be difficult regardless of their age. They either need constant attention, or they’re constantly bored. So, depending on your choice of transport, here are some tips that can help.
- Prevent the need for waiting in lines at the airport. Organize the luggage in the most convenient way to avoid shuffling around trying to find things, and prepare the documents on time. Explain your kids the procedures to prevent them from being anxious. Check in online and print out the boarding passes.
- Choose a family lane when going through airport security.
- If you’re going on a long-haul flight and changing time zones, follow these tips to minimize jet lag.
- Single parents might need additional paperwork when traveling to another country, so be sure to check that out.
- If your destination is within reasonable driving distance, get organized in advance so that you can make it a fun road trip. Consider hiring a van or a car with a driver. If you’re going to drive, prepare entertainment for the kids and make sure to take a break whenever they get too distracting.
(Everyone) be comfortable on the flight/in the car and at your destination
Kids get nervous when sitting for too long. They also get nervous when walking too long. This situation becomes even worse when they’re wearing tight clothes and uncomfortable shoes. Make sure you pack a change of soft cotton clothes and durable shoes for the kids.
Don’t forget about yourself either though, because you’re definitely going to need a lot of energy to cope with the little ones and enjoy the trip at the same time. Get a pair of comfortable (but cute) walking shoes that will help you chase around your kids while zipping through the attractions. Also, feel free to wear yoga pants and a basic t-shirt. Nothing says stylish like a cute yet simple outfit you feel comfortable in.
Keep their hands full and your hands free
During the trip, the kids will become bored, and while it’s great to play with them during that time, they’ll need to have other ways to have fun if you're driving or if you don’t have the energy. Pack their favorite toys (don’t overpack, just a couple of them), some books, and save the electronic distractions for emergency situations.
If you’re traveling by car, you should have pre-packed food and snacks and plan places to stop for stretching your legs and eating.
Choose kid-friendly accommodations
While most hotels, motels, and other accommodation options claim to be kid-friendly, they’re often not quite that in reality. When choosing accommodations, look for things such as:
- Complimentary travel cot or crib that can be set up in the room.
- Mini fridge in the room.
- A separate pool for kids.
- Free breakfast.
- Children’s entertainment programs.
- Discounts for children.
Get organized beforehand
Do your research on the destination while you’re still in the comfort of your home and have stable access to the internet. First, figure out how to get from the airport to the hotel (you can rent a car or hire a driver to wait for you before you arrive). Then research the places you want to visit. See which ones are accessible by foot from your hotel and which ones require the use of public transport or taxi. If you’re taking a baby on the trip, bring a carrier with you or an umbrella stroller for a toddler. This will make getting around the place much easier.
Be safe and healthy
If there’s one thing you should overpack, it’s the first aid kit. When you’re the only adult, you don’t have the luxury of sending the other parent to the pharmacy while you’re watching over the kids. So, pack everything from injury treatment to motion-sickness pills and other medications. Also, be sure to check and get travel insurance so that you and the kids have access to medical care at your destination.
Make a plan for when things are not running as smoothly as you’ve expected
Traveling is full of risks and surprises. When traveling with kids, those risks and surprises multiply many times over. That’s why it’s best to make an emergency plan and rehearse it at home. Your children need to know exactly what to do if you get lost or separated, and if they’re too little to use a cellphone, they should have your phone number in their pocket. They should also have an “emergency kit” with snacks and some cash. You can also get a GPS tracking device designed specifically for kids if you want to be very safe and track their movements.
Finally, be sure to appreciate every moment on this incredible adventure. Spend quality time with your children. Use this opportunity to bond and create fantastic memories together. Don’t forget to take a lot of photos to have some tangible reminiscences as well.