My Best Tips On How To Survive Travel As Single Parent

Tips for traveling as single parent

 How To Survive Travel As Single Parent

Well, surviving travel as a single parent might seem a bit over the top, doesn’t it? But to be honest, traveling with children can be challenging. Traveling on your own can be even more difficult. There is just one pair of eyes to watch the kiddies, just two arms to hold the luggage and maybe the hand of your toddler.

What do you need to keep in mind before you head off on your holiday? What are the things you should expect? What travel documents do you need to bring?  Ever heard of the single parent consent form?

In this post, I will share my best tips on how to survive travel as a single parent to make your journey a breeze.

My Kids And I Travel the Globe – My Experience

Let me tell you when I started traveling with my children I often had to learn by mistake. I didn’t do a lot of research simply because I wasn’t aware of certain issues that could arise.

Looking back,  I was quite lucky on how our trips turned out. No one ever asked me for my children’s birth certificates or a travel consent form from my husband. Even though I have a different passport and surname as my kids, I never got questioned.

To be honest, I wouldn’t take the risk again.

my children in Paris, August 2015
My Children in Paris, August 2015

Times have changed, and I am preparing myself for as many eventualities as possible. The old saying goes ‘Better be safe than sorry’ and ‘expect the unexpected’.

Here is a little story:
When I  traveled with my children to Paris last summer, I booked us a lovely apartment close to the city center. From the airport, we took the public transport since it is a lot cheaper than using a Taxi. We just had to change the subway once.

Before we hopped on the train, I asked another passenger if this train goes to our destination. “Yes, he says, and I tell my kids to go on the train. But then the guy changed his mind and said:  “No, it’s the other direction.” So I step back and tell my kids to stay.

At this moment, the doors of the subway are closing, and my 9-year-old son is still on the train! Long Story short, we got him back in no time with the help of the friendly Parisian. Happy Ending, yeah!!!

What did I learn from this Experience?

Firstly, it is important to stay calm. Ask for help. You can’t deal with certain situations on your own.

Secondly, talk to your children about situations like that and make plans, what to do ( depends on their age as well) e.g. get off at the next station and wait until the rest of the family arrives.

Also, it is an excellent idea to organize an Emergency bracelet that your children wear all the time. It should have their names, contact details and phone numbers on them. I wouldn’t travel without one anymore.

Here is a great company that offers customized bracelets for your child but also for you. They can also pick out the color they love most.

To see more and to order your Emergency bracelet please visit www.Roadid.com.

And thirdly, have your legal documents like passport, insurance papers, birth certificate, etc. close by. It helps to keep them handy. Keep a copy of your documents in your travel luggage just in case your handbag gets lost.

Single Parent Consent to Travel Form

Wow, what a long word it is. In my opinion,  the single parent consent to travel form is one of the most important documents, when you travel alone with your child/children. It simplifies the process when entering or leaving a foreign country. I found a website, where you can find printable templates which will save you a lot of time in getting this form sorted. Please click here to get your template for the single parent consent form.

In addition to this form I recommend you to have the birth certificate for your children handy as well. I would laminate the documents.  Keep a copy at home and put the other one in your carry-on luggage together with your travel insurance, passport and flight tickets.

Getting OrganizedHow to survive travel as a single parent

I find it very helpful to have a checklist prepared. As you go along, you can tick the boxes and check if you got everything organized. You can find a suggestion for a list on my Travel planning guide.  As I mentioned before, the key lies in the preparation.

While you are getting organized, don’t forget your kids. It’s a great idea getting them involved as well. For instance, they could choose their Travel Luggage. Let them pack their clothing, books, and certain toys they would like to bring. If your child is still quite young, say two or three years old,  then pack their favorite blanket or cuddly bear. Something, that is familiar and comforts them. Here you can find a printable travel pack list for your little munchkin. It is a great learning experience. You just do a few touch-ups here and there. Easy, right?

Look up your destination on a map and gather information about the culture, food, and language. It is always lots of fun to learn a few phrases like” Hello” or “How are you?” in a new language. Make up a game. Whatever you do, it is about getting everyone excited. Another great way of involving your kids is a program called Little Passports. It is aimed at children three to twelves year old and provides them with monthly exciting World Themes or Countries.  The package includes activity booklets, Souvenirs, access to online games and so much more. Give the Gift of Adventure!

little passports banner

Going by Plane

Always make sure you arrive early at the airport. Before you check in your luggage, check your hand luggage one more time. Have you got wet wipes, nappies (if necessary), a first-aid kit and documents packed? Your carry-on bag should also contain changing clothes for everyone, just in case… Everything there? Great! Now you can check in your luggage and explore, what the airport has to offer. This way it is a breeze to settle your children.

If you have a baby or toddler, I highly recommend using a Baby Sling or Baby Carrier.

Read more in my buying guide for recommended baby carriers.

If your kids are older than two years, it might be a good idea to take a stroller that folds down to the size of an umbrella.  You can even take it on board the airplane as carry-on luggage. How fantastic is that!

Here is my list of favorite strollers that meet the airline’s requirements.

Once you are on board, it is just a matter of getting your kids into the seats, and if they are old enough, they will be happily watching a movie (on long-haul flights) or play with their toys. Most airlines provide little activity packs for children that will keep them entertained for a while.

With babies and toddlers, it can be a bit trickier. Have a drink or a little snack ready for them. Get the blanket and favorite toy out. Hold Baby in the sling for as long as possible so baby feels secure. Be prepared that they might cry and have difficulties going to sleep. But with the sling/carrier, you can easily walk around and settle them.

For more tips on air travel with kids, please read here.

Very helpful and part of my first aid kit is Bach Rescue Remedy. It is suitable and safe to use for the whole family and works wonders when you or your child feel stressed, tired, have a sore tummy or even suffer from Jet lag. We are using it often, and even my six-year-old daughter takes it herself when she feels unwell.

Stopovers

The idea of a stop might seem a bit daunting. Checking out and checking in again and all the rest of it… But if you go on a long trip, planning a stopover is a marvelous idea. Why may you ask?

A) With one flight ticket, you see more from the world. You make better use of your ticket, and you might even visit a city, you always wanted to see. And most cities are child-friendly too.

B) Stretch your legs, and get some sleep before you go on the next flight. And to have a hot shower makes all the difference!

C) In my opinion, the break in between flights helps to prevent a severe jet lag. You will arrive more relaxed at your destination.

Welcome To Your Destination

Yay, you guys made it. And it wasn’t too bad, after all, was it? You may feel a bit tired, so it is a good idea to take a taxi or to hire a car to get to your hotel or apartment you have booked in advance. Checking regulations for car seats are important. Most car rental companies offer them with their service.

Now, settle at your accommodation and enjoy your holiday! Have a great time!

Summing it all up

Here are my best tips on how to survive as a single parent at a glance

  1. Get your Travel Documents sorted: Passport for you and your kids, drivers license, travel insurance.
  2. Most important: pack a copy of the Single Parent Travel Consent Form plus a Birth certificate for your children.
  3. Get your Luggage organized. Get your kids involved. They could even choose their own Luggage.
  4.  Organize an Emergency Bracelet for your kids to wear at all times: it should contain your name, your child’s name, phone number, and your destination
  5. Arrive early at the airport to allow for hassle-free check-in and enough time to explore the airport.
  6. Check, if your hand luggage contains all necessities like wet wipes, nappies, first aid kit, your documents and a change of clothes for everyone.
  7. Take a baby sling or baby carrier; if your child is older than two years, use a lightweight stroller. You can take it on board of the airplane.
  8. Be prepared that your baby or toddler might be a bit restless during the flight.
  9. Plan a Stopover to stretch your legs, have a hot shower, catch up on some sleep and maybe explore a new city.
  10. Take a taxi or hire car to get to your Accommodation.
  11. Settle at your Destination and most of all Have a fantastic Vacation!

 

I would love to hear from you. What are your tips for surviving travel as a single parent? What are your experiences? Please share in the comment box below.

Have Fun and Safe Travels!

Anke
Founder of funtravelingwithkids.com

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10 Comments

  • Baby carriers are great for travel, it allows you to free your hands from pushing a stroller and trying to get through the crowds and worrying if the child wants to slowly walk. Where I came into the problem was, I wanted to use the carrier through the airport, it helped to get documents out easier, it helped let the baby nap while keeping the other children entertained waiting for the flight. But once we got on the plane they need to be in car seat or your arms for take off. He had enough with the carrier so would not go for it while on the plane to try to comfort him. So looking back it is about being perpared but also about timing what you do. And making sure you use the items you worked so hard on preparing at the right time. That is key with kids, timing!

    Thank you for all your points, sometimes you feel crazy travelling with kids and wondering if you should do it, but in the end it is so worth it. So hopefully you help more people do it.

    • Hi there Michael, great points you are mentioning here. I agree, Baby carriers are fantastic for babies. It is so easy to carry them around and comforting them at the same them. Being prepared is the key especially when things don’t go according to plan.

      And as you say, it is all worth it. Even though it seems a little bit crazy at times. 🙂

      All the best from Anke

  • What a much needed website you have! As I haven’t had to travel alone with my daughter, I can see there is so much to consider. I had never heard of the Single Parent Travel Consent Form, however I can see it would be a valuable document to have on hand. I like the way you’ve itemized what you deem necessary from your travel experiences with your children. Keep up the good work on your site!

    • Hi there Kym, thank you so much for your comment. The single parent travel consent form is such an important document to have. I am glad you found my information helpful. All the best from Anke

  • One more tip:

    Scan a copy of your documents for a cloud like box.net or your google docs. It’s good to have it in a worst case scenario. You can get it in a hotel or an internet café and let it print out for you.

  • I too have no plans to ever travel with small children on an airplane… but serious kudos to those who do, particularly by themselves!

    I’ve seen baby carriers recommended time and time again as an absolute lifesaver for traversing airports. Though they’re actually great for all kinds of travel and settling the little ones in unfamiliar surroundings.

    Preparation is key 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

    • Thank you, Tanaquillo, for taking the time to comment on my post. I am glad you find the tips helpful.

      Best regards Anke

  • You are truly brave. When my kids were little we went out but we didn’t go on any vacations. I’m not sure we would’ve survived. But when we went out I carried a huge purse full of stuff for the kids. There was a small coloring book, blank paper, crayons, a deck of cards, a couple small electronic toys, some cars, wipes and tissues, snacks, and some juice boxes. I was loaded for bear, and I kept my kids busy however I could, so that we didn’t have problems when we went out. I can’t even imagine a long road trip because one of them was a sleeper and the other one wasn’t and he couldn’t sit still if he didn’t have something to do. You truly are a brave single parent, braver than me, that’s for sure.

    • Thank you so much for commenting on my post. I do hope that my article helps and encourages parents to take their children for trips to explore the world or even to discover their own backyard. It takes some courage but with the right preparation and mindset it is achievable. If I can do it, you can too. Thank’s again for your feedback.

      Best regards Anke

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