I divorced about a year ago. It was an extremely difficult time. However, a year out, I am happy to report that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was the right decision for all parties involved, including our children. Thinking back to those early days makes me feel sad, but also powerful because of how far we have come. Among the many, many things that kept me up at night during that time was the fear that our family would have fewer travel adventures. We had always been a family that loved to travel and we embraced opportunities to get out of town and explore new things. However, the thought of traveling alone with my kids was daunting. Even scarier? Traveling solo. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t give up on travel with my kids and, in some ways, enjoy the freedom of travel as the sole adult.
Throughout the coming year, I will share some secrets I’ve learned traveling as a single mom. I’d love to hear your tips, experiences, and questions too! Please send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether you find yourself newly-single post divorce, break-up, or death, or are beginning a family as a single parent from the get-go, here are some tips for getting started:
Ease into traveling as a single parent. You may wish to travel first with another family or two. That way families can share the burdens and the fun. Or, invite one of your family members along for your family vacation—your mom or sister, a cousin who enjoys kids but doesn’t have any of her own, or even consider your family babysitter. Having an extra set of hands and pair of eyes can be most helpful. Just be sure you invite someone that you have a good relationship with and you know will be helpful instead of creating more work.
Keep things simple—at least at first
Keep travel simple at first. A weekend getaway is more manageable than a week-long trip, for instance. Plan a getaway close to home or for a destination you’ve been to—and enjoyed—prior. These are good options as they will have familiarity and a sense of security. Once you’ve done a trip or two closer to home or you are ready to venture out for a longer stay, consider an all-inclusive vacation or destinations with a robust kids’ club. Most all-inclusive packages offer not only food and often beverages included. but also activities for kids (and ways for them to connect with other kids and make friends). This can provide a single parent with some much-needed downtime on vacation.
Enlist help from the littles
I am a firm believer that travel planning should be a full-family affair. Enlist the kids’ help with planning activities they want to do, putting together packing lists or being responsible for certain aspects of the trip. Older kids can help create an itinerary, gather activities and download movies and games for long rides, pack their own bags, prep for pet care and more. Kids of all ages can help create a countdown and do chores to save money for their own for souvenirs. Even the littlest of kids should have a say in the activities the family will do on vacation. Not only can enlisting the kids’ help save you some time and effort, it will help them feel invested in the trip.
Find a home away from home
One of the hardest things about traveling—especially if you are the sole adult—can be not having the comforts and conveniences of home. Search for apartments or homes to stay in when you travel with the kids. HomeAway and Airbandb are both good options. Rentals are often less expensive than hotel stays and offer the convenience of cooking at the rental (also a money-saver), laundry facilities, more space, free parking, wifi, and more.
Just do it
As with anything you must do as a single parent for the first time, travel should be approached with a “just do it” attitude. The more you travel solo or as a single parent, the more comfortable you will become. I have personally found freedom in being the primary person planning travel for our family. A new world awaits!