Travelling with children is never easy, but travelling as a single parent is even harder. With all the responsibility placed on your shoulders, it can be hard to actually get to enjoy your holiday. Flights, hotels, travel itineraries, packing, you are responsible for it all and it can be a very daunting, stressful situation for anyone. But is possible and totally doable. In this guide, we cover our top tips for travelling as a single parent and how you can make sure you and your children get to have the holiday of their dreams.
1. Fly direct to your destination
It doesn’t matter how much money it will save you travelling by train or getting two flights to your destination, pay the extra costs and get a direct flight. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to get onto the plane and then have to get off and get onto another one? Consider how many extra hours of travelling, of planning and unnecessary stress you will put on yourself. Even if you are travelling to a long haul destination, flying direct is a better option as you will have in-flight entertainment to distract your little ones and can at least rest in the knowledge that you will be in one place for the next however many hours. Make it easier on yourself and invest in a direct flight and if you want to save yourself even more time and energy use a luggage shipping service to travel basically hands-free.
2. Remember to allow time to rest
Travelling takes it out of the best of us, but it is more exhausting for children. It’s important to schedule in time for you and your children to rest throughout the holiday. No matter how important it may seem to visit every site, you know you won’t enjoy it with a cranky child in tow. Plan in rest days and make sure that you adhere to your child’s nap time and bedtime schedule when at home.
If you are travelling to a different time zone, then you also have the added issue of jet lag. This can be hard to handle for adults, let alone children. If your baby is young enough to be carried in a sling or carrier, then let them sleep when they need to and follow the same sleep routine you have at home. It will take a little while for them to adjust to a new time zone, so take this into consideration when planning trips or your itinerary.
3. Get child-friendly travel insurance
When travelling with children it is important to not just pick travel insurance that is the cheapest option. You need to make sure you have an insurance that covers children in case of illness, accident or cancellation. Choose one which will offer cover for theft and any in case your flights are delayed or cancelled. There’s nothing worse than being stranded in a foreign airport with your kids.
4. Don’t forget the medical pack
Travelling with children means preparing for every outcome. This should also be your mantra when it comes to bringing a first aid kit and medicine for your kids. Getting sick is often something that comes hand in hand with travelling. Whether it’s the dreaded Delhi belly or just a common cold, it’s important to have planned for this in advance. Invest in a portable first aid kit that covers the basics from plasters to bandages to antiseptic. Stock up on tummy medicine, rehydration salts and accessories like a humidifier for baby. Bring some child-friendly paracetamol and some cold and flu remedies just in case. If you are travelling to a country where you need medical advice, make sure you get this in advance. Plan for your children to get any immunisations and speak with your doctor regarding malaria, zika and dengue fever risks.
5. Have an emergency plan with your children if anything should go wrong
The most important thing you can do with your children is to have a safety talk with them. It is incredibly rare that anything will go wrong or that you will find yourself separated from them at any time, but in cases of emergency, you should have a family plan. This plan could be as simple as knowing the destination’s number for emergency services, or for how to alert the reception desk at the hotel. Ensure that they are aware of what nationality they are, where they are staying and your itinerary. Similarly, as we teach them at home, make sure they know to go to a police officer if they get lost.
6. Always bring extra snacks and water
No matter where your trip takes you, make sure you always bring enough snacks and water. Travelling in another country can mean unexpected delays, cancellations or detours. So it’s a good idea to have something at hand if your children get hungry and there’s nowhere for food in sight. There’s nothing worse than a tired, hungry child, so choose small snacks that are filling and can easily fit into your bag. If you want to make sure you always have access to water, then invest in a filtered water bottle. You can purchase one of these in advance before your trip. These bottles allow you to drink tap water and filter it so it is safe to drink. They come in handy if you find yourself without bottled water and with a thirsty child.
7. If you have an older child, let them take a role in the planning
This will not only give you some well-needed rest bite but will also let your older child feel a sense of responsibility. Allow them to choose the itinerary for a day so that they can then plan it and choose what activities to do. Relax and let them take the reigns, even if they aren’t really! Get them to actively join in, in finding out train times, getting the tickets and choosing where to eat.
8. Choose hotels or resorts that cater to kids
If you need a well-earned break and want to allow yourself some time of relaxation then choose to go to a resort or hotel that caters for kids. This means that whilst your kids are being looked after a kids club, you can worry about relaxing by the pool, reading that new book or treating yourself to an indulgent massage. They’ll be having plenty of fun making new friends and you’ll have just as much fun getting some peace and quiet.