Mai is a mom to three children in Surrey, British Columbia, where she blogs about her life as a single mom, developmental activities for young kids, and her travels. Mai shares her top tips for traveling with kids as a single parent.
Traveling as a family is always a huge ordeal, but traveling as a single parent with children is a whole different ball game. I’ll be sharing some tips I’ve learned that have helped tremendously while traveling solo with children.
Choose your destination carefully
If you’re thinking of traveling, the biggest concern is safety. Do your research and ask potential HomeExchange partners to see if the area is safe to travel to alone with children. Another great resource is asking friends of places they’ve traveled to that are safe.
Another factor, think of the amenities that the HomeExchange you'll be staying in offers. Many have toys, games, books, swing sets, pools, and other kid-friendly activities included, which is a huge plus for parents traveling alone with kids.
Speaking of amenities, since they have kitchens, being in a HomeExchange is a huge lifesaver for families. You're able to store food in the kitchen and cook for meals, because let’s be honest, kids snack all day! Instead of having to go out and buy food or get room service, you save time and money by staying somewhere with all the comforts of home.
Don't forget your documentation
This is a very important one to remember. Make sure you have all your documents needed for travels. This means not only your passports, flight tickets, birth certificates, but when traveling alone with kids some countries require a notarized letter signed by the other parent stating that you have permission to travel with your children.
Make sure to make copies of all your documents, just in case you lose something. Make sure you have a backup of all important information (have an extra set with you and a set at home just in case). Hopefully you won’t get into an emergency situation, but giving family/friends a copy of your travels and schedules is also another safety measure to put in place.
Research the weather of your destination so you won’t overpack. Using packing cubes are a great way to pack lightly and efficiently. Having a checklist can be a great tool so you can pack everything you need or perhaps leave room for items you buy during your travels.
Also, don’t forget to pack fun little items to keep the kiddos entertained while on the plane. I’ve made fun "busy boxes" that are just for the plane with something new they haven’t seen or played with before.
A foldable stroller is also huge for traveling throughout the airport, or if you’re like me, I brought my handy baby carrier instead. Ask your HomeExchange host first to see if they have a stroller you can borrow during your stay! If you have older kids, give them each scooter to ride on for traveling within the airport. Trust me, this will save you from the kids complaining about how far they have to walk to get to the checkin point for the plane.
Consider traveling in the evening
Traveling late at night (for road trips) or taking red eye flights is so huge for younger kids. Put the kiddos in their warm jammies, hand them their blanket and favorite stuffy, and they can sleep through the flight or car ride. When you get to your destination, the kiddos are all refreshed and ready for the adventure!