Any parent knows that traveling with young children isn’t the easiest of the things. At times, it can be outright challenging, especially if you’re a single parent. But most parents are known to be resourceful which is why we know they would love any tip or suggestion that would make traveling with children easier and much more fun!
Don’t Forget the Medicine at Home!
This is very important and something a lot of parents overlook. Do not forget medicine at home, whatever you do! Bring medicine for pain, upset tummies, fevers, allergies, and anything else (prescription or not) that your child might require, but make sure that it’s medicine you can travel with. A feverish child is something nobody wants!
Book Transportation in Advance
When leaving on vacation with your child, it is important to think ahead of all the steps needed to be taken from the time you take your first step out your front door, until you put your bags down in your hotel room. Which is why transportation is so important. Don’t just rely on the fact that you will find a taxi when you get off the airplane! Because if you don’t, then you’ll be stuck with a tired child outside an airport and that has got to be a horrible situation to find yourself in. Call ahead, reserve a car, ask around; whatever you do, make sure there’s a car waiting for you when you guys land.
We know it can be hard to leave the house early when going on vacation with a small child, but if you do make out the door early, you’ll have only benefits to reap. Some airlines will allow parents with children to board just after the first class passengers, so if you make it early, you’re in luck. Boarding early will also release tension and stress, and you and your child will be able to relax on the journey.
Mind the Toys
No matter where you go and for how long you’re staying, you need to bring some toys! Now, it is advisable that you always travel light, so make sure you scale it down when it comes to toys. Hopefully, that can be done without tears being shed, if not, there are so many great travel toys out there that your little one can enjoy.
Avoid Sugar on the Road
Try as much as possible to avoid giving your child sugar before going on a trip. The last thing you want is for your child to have all the energy in the world kick in when you’re taking off. If they do want something sweet, fruit is always a nice choice, or home made granola. Make the treats small and make sure they eat real food before they have their treats.
Don’t Be Afraid of Your Stroller
Some parents can be so apologetic of the stroller. Some avoid it altogether because it’s too heavy or too hard to carry around on vacations, but we advise against that. A stroller can be a huge help, especially on vacations and in airports, when you have to do a lot of walking. You also need to know that strollers don’t count hand luggage.
Do a Little Training Before You Leave
If your child is old enough to remember tasks, then it is wise to do a little training with them before you leave on your vacation. Explain to them what to expect and what is expected from them. Make it short, because we all know kids aren’t too good at paying attention for long periods of time.
Invest in a Child Tracker
The thought that you might lose your child is enough to make any parent break out in a cold sweat, which is why we highly recommend that when you’re on vacation, you get a child tracker for them. Here is a list of some of the most popular child trackers. There are trackers that can be worn as a bracelet, be attached on clothes, just pick the one you think is best for your kid!
Do Your Check In Online
Online check in has improved airports so much! You can now avoid massive lines by simply checking in online a day in advance from the comfort of your home. I mean, how amazing is that?! If you’re not doing it, we urge you to start checking in online and you’ll see how wonderful it feels to simply breeze through the airport in no time!
Flight Attendants are Your Friends
Flight attendants are there to help you and you! As a single parent traveling with a small child, you should take advantage of that as much as you can. We’re not saying that you should pester them with non-stop requests, but you shouldn’t feel guilty every time you need them for something. Let’s say you need to use the bathroom and you can’t take your child with you. Instead of asking the person sitting next to you to keep an eye out on them, ask one of the flight attendants. They’d be more than happy to help!
Avoid the Back of the Plane
If you can choose your seats on an airplane, then we recommend you stay away from the back of the plane. It is undoubtedly the loudest spot in the whole airplane. It’s where there is always a line for the lavatory, where the flight attendants are chatting and getting the serving trays ready and where pretty much all the action happens. A child will surely get distracted by all the commotion and that is something nobody on the plane wants.
Research, Research, Research
Researching a hotel is one of the best things a traveler can do before booking a vacation. And this is valid for any traveler, especially for single parents travelling with their children where so many more things can go wrong. You need to know if a hotel offers babysitting, or if they have a playpen or a laundry service. Everything you need to have a great vacation! Websites such as Hotels or TripAdvisor are awesome for finding out this type of information. Finding accommodation that is tailored to bringing children, from kid-friendly vacation rentals which usually have stocked kitchens (great for picky kids who want mum’s food) and playgrounds nearby to resorts that have daycare on site to offer mum a little alone time, you are sure to find an option that works for you and your little one.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
A pair of good noise cancelling headphones can really make a difference when traveling with a young child. In airports or anywhere there are loud announcements, on the road or in city centers, your small child needs to be shielded from loud noises. Or use them when your child is napping in an airplane or train and you don’t want them to be easily startled. Just make sure that you choose a pair that fits, if there’s one teeny tiny spot that doesn’t around your child’s ear, then everything is in vain!
Announce in Advance You Have Kids
Another great tip that will surely make a huge difference in your stay at any hotel is to announce in advance that you have kids. This way, you get all the information about what that particular hotel can offer and you’ll be able to schedule accordingly. These days, many hotels offer great kids programs that can give you some much needed time off, so make sure you let them know about it!
Create a Routine
Parents know very well that children thrive on routine, so we highly suggest that you create one for your child while on vacation. It may seem counterproductive to fun, but it’s really not. If your child learns on the first few days how things are going to be, they’ll start relaxing and be more manageable, which will only make your life easier!
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
When on vacation with a small child, it is very important that they go to bed early, for their sake for also for yours. They will be tired and there’s no point mentioning how tired children behave. Besides, if they go to bed early, you get a little time to yourself, to unwind, relax and plan out the schedule for your next day.
Stay As Close to the City Attractions as Possible
When booking a hotel, do your best to choose a hotel that is as close as possible to the city attractions. Even though these hotels tend to be a bit pricier, you will save money on transportation and your child will be a tiny bit happier, because they won’t be forced to walk or be transported too much. Also, you save a lot of time and you can be in and out of things such as museums, in no time!
Expect the Best, Plan for the Worst, and Prepare to be Surprised
Alright, so your vacation probably won’t really be the worst, but you do need to plan accordingly. Just make sure that a few days before you leave, you make a list of things that could go wrong and think how you can counteract that. For example, in case you lose an item that is really important, then make sure you pack a spare one. Trips with small children tend to be filled with surprises, so just make sure you do your best to foresee them, as much as you can.
Alright, now that you’ve planned for the worst and you’re prepared to be surprised, how about you relax? Anxiety is your worst nightmare when leaving on a vacation with your small one, because it produces nothing helpful, just horrible thoughts of things that can go wrong, worrying and stress. We know it’s hard to relax, especially when planning for a vacation when you’re a single parent, which is why we suggest you look into meditation. If you’re already familiar with it, why not go on a Yoga retreat.
Go on Single Parent and Kids Retreats
Going on retreats that are aimed at single parents with kids is a great way to unwind and also bond with your child. The absolute best thing about single parents and kids vacations is the support system you will discover there. Meeting single parents will undoubtedly open up your eyes to a whole new world and make you feel like you’re not alone in this, even though, at times, it might seem so. You get to see new and exciting locations, meet like-minded people, bond with your child, relax, have fun and also learn new things. What can be more appealing than that?
Written for Single Mum Travels on behalf of Cristina Costea.