How To Travel as a Single Mom (14 Tips for Traveling Solo)
Are you a single mom looking to embark on a solo adventure with your children? I know that the idea of traveling with kids as a single mother (or father) can sound intimidating. Especially the first time, but I promise it can also be an incredibly rewarding and exciting experience for you and your kids.
To help you navigate the planning process and ensure a stress-free trip, we put together a list of practical tips for traveling to help you prepare for your next adventure. These travel tips include staying safe, saving money, and making the most of your time. From packing efficiently to finding the best accommodations, you’ll learn everything you need to know to have a great time and make your trip a success! So let’s dive in and get ready for your next adventure!
How To Travel as a Single Mom
Even while married, I made many solo parent trips with my daughter, which taught me a lot. I can say that it definitely helped prepare me for traveling with my now four-year-old son. This was especially valuable since I’m now a single mom, and all family travel is done as a solo parent. These are all the top tips, tricks, and hacks I’ve learned over the years.
Although it’s not always an option to do so, one of the best things you can do is give yourself a lot of time to plan. Whether it’s short trips for the weekend or long family vacations, the more time, the better. Doing so will give you the time to find the best deals on flights or decide if road trips are the better way to travel solo with your kids.
When it comes to choosing accommodations for your family holiday, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, safety should be the top priority. Look for hotels or Airbnb rentals that are located in safe neighborhoods, and consider booking hotel rooms on the second floor or higher for added security. In addition to safety, consider which amenities are important to you. Do you need a kitchen to prepare meals for your kids? Is a pool or gym a must-have for your family? Make a list of your non-negotiables before booking your accommodations.
Another important factor to consider is location. Being centrally located will make accessing all the sights and attractions easy. If you’re staying in a city, look for accommodations near public transportation so you can easily get around without spending much money on taxis or rentals.
You’ll also have plenty of time to research the top sights and attractions in the area and prioritize which ones you want to see based on your interests and availability. This way, you won’t waste any precious time on activities that don’t align with your goals for the trip.
Save Money Where You Can
The cost is one of the biggest concerns while traveling as a single parent. Luckily there are plenty of ways to save money and still have new experiences and unforgettable adventures. Hotels and cruise lines are places within the travel industry where you can find single parent discounts and solo parent family vacations. All-inclusive resorts are another money-saving option.
An Airbnb is often much cheaper than hotels and will allow you to save even more by cooking your own meals instead of eating out all the time. Cooking meals with ingredients purchased from local markets or grocery stores can be a great opportunity to experience local culture.
Finally, take advantage of free activities and attractions in the cities you visit. Many museums, galleries, and parks offer free entry, and plenty of free walking tours are usually available in major cities. You can also explore the city on foot or by bike instead of spending money on taxis or public transportation.
Pack As Light As Possible
One of the most crucial aspects of solo travel as a single mom is to pack efficiently. It’s natural to want to carry everything you think you might need, but packing light is the key to a stress-free journey. When you pack, take into account the anticipated climate and activities you have planned for your trip, and bring versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. Remember to pack essential items such as a first-aid kit, snacks, and entertainment for your children during long travel days.
Another challenge you might face as the only adult is managing all the luggage, especially if traveling with multiple young children. Shared luggage can help make the task much easier and save money on baggage fees. Another good idea is to forgo hand luggage and instead let each family member carry their own backpack with snacks and entertainment.
Bring The Necessary Documentation
Before embarking on your solo travel adventure with your family, ensuring you have all the necessary documentation for your trip is crucial. You don’t want to end up stranded at the airport because you forgot an important document. Therefore, make a list of everything you’ll need for the whole family, including passports, visas, health insurance, and any other documents that may be necessary for your destination. Travel insurance is a good idea, as well as a copy of your child’s birth certificate if they are young enough to be a lap child but closing in on their 2nd birthday.
Double-check that all the documents are valid for the entire duration of your trip. This includes checking the expiration dates on your passport and visa. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of all your documents on hand, both printed and digital. You can store digital copies on your phone or email them to yourself as a backup. With your documentation in order, you’ll have the peace of mind to focus on enjoying your trip.
Traveling solo with kids can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to keeping them entertained during long flights or car rides. To ensure a smooth and stress-free journey, it’s essential to bring along some form of entertainment that will keep them occupied and happy.
One of the best ways to do that is to load up on digital content, such as movies, TV shows, and games, on tablets or smartphones. Make sure to bring headphones and a portable charger to ensure that your devices are always charged. If your kids are too young for screen time, consider bringing some books, activity packs, favorite toys, or coloring books. These items are lightweight, easy to pack, and they can provide hours of entertainment.
Invite a Friend
If being a solo parent traveler is outside your comfort zone, consider inviting your best friend or a trusted family member. This can provide additional safety and companionship while also allowing you to make new memories with someone special. Traveling together can save you money on accommodations and transportation costs. Not to mention, having a friend to help with luggage or navigate unfamiliar territories can make the trip less stressful and more enjoyable.
If you decide to invite a friend, communicate both of your expectations and plans beforehand to avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings. Together, you can plan your itinerary and make the most of your solo adventure.
Give Yourself Extra Time
To make traveling with your child a smooth and enjoyable experience, it’s important to give yourself extra time for every part of your journey. This means leaving plenty of time for packing, getting to the airport or train station, and arriving at your destination. Giving yourself extra time allows unexpected delays or mishaps, such as traffic or a lost item, to occur without causing added stress.
Giving yourself extra time also means building in some downtime during your trip. This allows you and your child to rest and recharge and gives you flexibility if you need to rearrange your itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances. Allowing yourself some breathing room allows you to make the most of your solo travel experience with your child so you all have a good time.
Pack Lots Of Snacks
When it comes to traveling with kids, it’s always a good idea to be over-prepared rather than underprepared. One of the best ways to do this is by packing plenty of snacks. Whether on a plane or in a car, there’s nothing quite like a quick snack to keep your child happy and entertained.
Not only do snacks provide a welcome distraction, but they also ensure your child stays well-fed and energized throughout the journey. In addition to packing their water bottle, consider packing healthy snacks like fruit and nuts and fun treats like candy or cookies. In addition to keeping your child happy, this can also help you save time and money. Rather than stopping for food at every rest stop or airport kiosk, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips.
Book Window Seats
I always found the biggest challenge of going on a family vacation when my kids were young to be the actual travel time, especially flying. When booking your flights, reserving window seats for the kids is a good idea. Younger children will enjoy looking out the window, which can help occupy them during your flight. Being by the window also means less chance for a small child to disturb other travelers. And if you’re in luck, they’ll be an extra seat open in your row, so you can relax and enjoy the flight experience a bit more.
Airport Lounge Access
As a single mom, traveling with your child can be stressful, especially when you’re waiting in long lines at the airport. But there is a way to make your wait more comfortable and enjoyable – airport lounge access. Many airports have lounges that offer complimentary snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and a peaceful environment.
If you’re not already a member of an airline loyalty program that includes lounge access, consider purchasing a day pass or a lounge membership. It may seem unnecessary, but it can be well worth it for added comfort and convenience. Plus, it’s a great way to escape the crowds and noise of the airport, especially if you have a long layover. In addition, some credit cards offer lounge access as a benefit, so it’s worth checking if you already have access through your card. If not, you may want to consider applying for a card that does offer this perk.
Apply For TSA PreCheck/Global Entry
When traveling solo as a single mom, time is of the essence, and the last thing you want is to get stuck in long airport security lines. That’s where TSA PreCheck and Global Entry come in. These programs allow you to bypass most airport security screening processes, saving you precious time and hassle.
TSA PreCheck is best for domestic travelers, while Global Entry is ideal for international travelers. Both programs require a background check and an application fee, but the benefits are worth it. You’ll be able to keep your shoes, belt, and light jackets on, and your laptop and liquids can stay in your carry-on bag.
Applying for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry is a simple process. You can apply online, but should do this at least a month before you plan to travel. The approval time is usually around two to three weeks. Some credit cards even offer a fee credit for the application fee when you pay with their card.
Have Flexible Plans
When traveling solo with a child, it’s important to have a plan in place to keep your trip running smoothly. However, remaining flexible with those plans is equally important, as unexpected situations can arise anytime. Your itinerary should serve as a guide, not a rigid schedule. When traveling with children, unexpected needs or interests may arise, and a tight schedule should be made more flexible so you can adjust your itinerary accordingly.
In addition, it’s essential to have backup plans in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as flight cancellations or weather conditions. Having alternative activities or destinations in mind can help you avoid frustration and disappointment when faced with unexpected changes to your itinerary.
Ask For Help When You Need It
Any time you’re traveling, you can encounter unexpected delays or bumps in the road. But you won’t have someone you can count on for help when you’re the only parent. That’s why it’s essential to remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Airline staff and flight attendants are usually more than willing to assist families, and there’s no shame in asking for help when traveling alone with kids.
Asking for help can also extend beyond the airport. If you need assistance with luggage or directions, don’t hesitate to contact hotel staff or locals. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to help, especially if you’re traveling with a baby or young children.
Safety should always be a top priority when traveling solo as a single mom. Before you start packing, it’s important to research the destination you’re heading to and educate yourself on any possible risks or safety concerns. It’s also crucial to keep your wits about you and always be aware of your surroundings. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling.
The first step is to always carry a copy of your passport and other important documents, such as your travel insurance and flight reservations, with you. Leaving a copy with a friend or family member back home is also a good idea. If your passport gets lost or stolen, having a copy on hand can make the process of getting a replacement much easier.
When out and about, avoid carrying large sums of cash and keep valuables like your phone and camera out of sight. If you’re staying in accommodation that requires a key, always keep it with you and never leave it lying around in public areas.
Regarding transportation, it’s always safer to use reputable companies rather than take risks with unlicensed taxis or other informal modes of transport. If you’re unsure about a particular driver or vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask for identification or an alternative option.
Finally, staying connected with loved ones back home is always a good idea. Tell them where you are, give them a phone number where they can reach you, and your travel plans. This provides peace of mind for them and can come in handy if you run into any unexpected issues while on the road.
Proper Planning Will Allow You To Have The Best Possible Experience
In conclusion, traveling solo with kids can be a rewarding experience for single moms and single dads alike. I know that going on single parent vacations can be intimidating but also so fulfilling. But if you want to take baby steps with starting your solo mom travels, Los Angeles Staycation Ideas can offer some inspiration for your first trip.
With the right planning and preparation, you can create unforgettable memories with your children to last a lifetime. From packing efficiently, bringing along some form of entertainment, and keeping your kids well-fed and hydrated, you can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey for you and your children. With these 14 tips, you’re ready to hit the road and embark on your next adventure!