Travel Tips for Single Parents
Traveling with kids can be stressful for any family, but traveling as a single parent presents additional challenges. Vacations are a wonderful part of family life, not to be missed just because there’s one parent instead of two. A little creativity, flexibility and preparation go a long way toward making traveling as the solo adult with little ones a manageable and memorable experience.
Here are 12 travel tips for single parents:
- Plan well. As the only adult, it is especially important to be prepared. There is no one to run out in the middle of the night to get something – you’re it!
- Have all emergency numbers in your cell phone and take your charger with you.
- Make sure you have all medications. This includes things you might possibly need such as children’s Tylenol, Pepto Bismol and a first aid kit.
- Check your divorce/custody papers. Make sure there is no problem taking the children out of state or country.
- If you are leaving the country, make sure passports are updated. Unless you have sole legal custody, have a signed and notarized letter from the other parent giving permission to travel and treat for medical emergencies. If you are widowed, bring your spouse’s death certificate.
- For safety, look for a hotel that has indoor room entrances.
- Consider a hotel or resort that has children’s activities and/or babysitting services so you can have a break from childcare.
- If going on a road trip, invest in AAA.
- Pack the extra car key in something you always have with you.
- Bring plenty of kid-friendly snacks for the car/plane and hotel.
- If you will be renting a car, bring a car seat if you have a child who should be using one.
- Make sure someone else has your complete itinerary.
Additional Factors to Consider
Once you have considered the 12 basic tips involving solo parent travel with children, there are additional factors that must go into making your vacation plans. While a vacation to Jamaica may sound exotic, it may not be the best option for your family. So before you get swept up in the photos of tropical resorts, take an honest look at a few factors that can make or break your time together. Some important considerations include the ages and interests of your children, your budget, your tolerance for chaos, your comfort level for traveling and your family’s legal custody specifications.
After you’ve taken a cold, hard look at what you and your children can and cannot tolerate, pull up the spreadsheet and review your budget, the primary determining factor for most families when choosing a vacation destination. Whether your expense account is frugal or frilly, you can find fun things to do.
Your children will take their cue from your attitude, so whether you’re visiting your own city through the eyes of a tourist, or taking an expensive trip, remember that it’s all about spending quality time together. Here are some suggestions for every budget:
If your budget is really tight, consider a staycation. There are fabulous places to visit and great activities right here in Tulsa: The Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma Aquarium, Safari Joe’s H2O water park, and (my nieces’ favorite), Discovery Lab. For older kids, there is Sky Zone Trampoline Park, ziplining at Postoak Lodge or a Drillers game. Download the TulsaKids Summer Family Fun Guide online for a plethora of things to do all summer.
A Road Trip
Road trips are a great opportunity to have uninterrupted family time. play old-fashioned car games, sing silly songs and talk. Save screen time for when you really need a break.
The main lesson I learned during my first trip as a single parent was to keep it simple. Don’t schedule too much activity, and plan some down time just hanging out at the hotel pool. When choosing a hotel, consider spending a little more to get amenities that will make your trip easier. Look for a hotel with a pool, breakfast included in the price, a mini frig and a microwave.
The chain that I’ve had the best success with is Embassy Suites. Although amenities may vary by location, most of the Embassy Suites have all the aforementioned plus the bonus of having a sitting room attached to the bedroom so you can stay up a little later after the kids are asleep.
My first trip as a single parent was the summer my kids were ages 2 and 3, so I played it safe and cheap, going to Oklahoma City for two nights. One day was spent at the Oklahoma City Zoo and the other was at the Science Museum of Oklahoma, both great options for almost any age child.
Going All Out
If you have a larger budget, consider a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. Both of these options are great for single parents. Some cruise lines and resorts will waive the single supplement fee for single parents traveling with children. Make sure you select a cruise or resort that offers entertainment and activities that appeal to you and your kids. Most also offer kids’ clubs or babysitting services so you can have some free time without the kids. Consult with a travel agent to find the ones that best suit your needs and interests.
Traveling with Others
If you are not comfortable traveling alone with your kids, enlist the camaraderie and/or help of others. Team up with other single parents and travel together. This works best if you have similar parenting styles and your kids get along well.
Family is a great option, too. If you have family members that are able to travel with you, that can take some stress off of you. Communication is key to making it work. Make sure your expectations are in line with how much they are willing to help.
Whatever vacation you choose, the most important thing is to spend time together as a family and make memories that last a lifetime!