I have always loved to travel! Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures is one of my passions. So, when I found myself adjusting to my new normal as a divorced mom of 2 kids (7yrs old and a few months old), I was afraid that my passion was about to die a premature death! How were we going to travel as a single parent family?
However, I’m stubborn. I was determined to enjoy our single parent family and figure out traveling alone with children.
Single parent family vacations can be great fun!
In the years that have passed since my divorce, we have learned how to travel as a single parent family and enjoy it! Fortunately, both of my kids love to travel as well. My son is now almost 10 years old and my daughter is 3.
Our single parent family has already been to 4 countries and traveled several thousand miles together. We’ve been on quite a few 10+hr flights and spent days commuting to see another new part of the world…we are just getting started.
Our latest single parent family trip: Summer vacation 2018…Mexico!!
We recently got back home from our summer vacation to Mexico and it was our most eventful family trip so far!
In addition to crashing our kayak on rocks at the beach (lots of bruises on our legs), my son got “swimmers ear” which kept us in our room for 2 days. Poor baby! He was in quite a bit of pain for those 2 days but got better quickly after that.
We still had a fun trip though and we’re already talking about where we’d like to go next. We got to do some fun things together like the local city tour, jet skiing and spending some time on the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen!
My 9 years old son also got to do the adrenaline-pumping stuff he likes like riding on zip lines through the jungle and going on crazy watersides that dump you into the ocean, as well as more “sane” activities like paddle boarding.
We really had a good time and I’m thankful for the blessing of time away together as we prepare for a new school year.
6 important travel tips for the single parent family
I thought I’d share my tips for traveling alone with children. Many things may have changed but you can still enjoy life and get to see the world, one spot at a time with your kids
1. Include notarized consent letter for passports and travel in your divorce decree
This is number 1 because it’s so very important!! No point in planning to enjoy travel as a single parent family if you are unable to do so legally.
- permission to obtain passports for your minor children
- notarized consent to travel with children
Your divorce decree should also include stipulations for repayment of lost travel costs if the necessary permission letters are not provided in a timely manner.
Please don’t overlook this because you and your ex-spouse are on good terms. Things change… get it in writing! I have used this template for a consent form to travel with kids and found it to be very convenient. You simply fill it out and send it to your ex-spouse. Note that it needs to be signed and notarized to be legally valid.
Traveling alone with children as a single parent may be impossible if you don’t plan ahead
Some single parents are unable to travel with kids because their ex-spouse refuses to grant consent. I sympathize if this is your situation! That must be difficult.
The airlines don’t always ask, but it’s much safer to have all the appropriate paperwork especially on international travel with children. I have been asked to show proof of authorization to travel with kids (without the other parent) during international trips.
Make sure your lawyer includes the right wording about this in your divorce decree to avoid hassles when it comes to vacation time.
If there are concerns around parental kidnapping, that’s a whole separate issue, talk to your lawyer and get the right legal protection in place.
2. Accept the fact that vacations will never be the same again when you are traveling alone with children
This is the hard, maybe painful truth. Travel and vacations will never be the same again. You will have to work hard to actually get some rest on your single parent family vacations. Accept this.
Here’s some comfort… This is true, not only for you as a single parent, but for all parents..even the married ones! Yes, once you introduce little people aka children into the equation, vacations cease to consist of lazy days on the beach, hiking in the mountains or whatever else “floats your boat”.
Especially when your kids are young, to ensure that everyone has a good vacation, you need to plan your travel with kids around the things that your children enjoy.
If you are fortunate to be able to go away solo periodically, don’t hesitate. Go for it! Those precious few days will be your time to refuel and recharge. Good luck if you expect to do a lot of “refueling” during vacations with your little ones.
3. Accept your new normal as a single parent family -It’s ok to be different
On our family vacations, we usually stay in family-type resorts. Most of the families at these places are traditional families: dad, mum, and kids. Our single parent family tends to get curious looks after a few days of showing up to meals with just one parent. But I’ve learned to shrug it off.
I even had someone ask me once where my husband was and then comment about how I must have been married to a rich man when I said that I’m divorced. Haha! The things people say!
Mama, it’s ok to be different! This is your family: mom and kids, and that’s ok! This is you…this is us.
4. Find a way to make solo time for yourself- even as you travel with kids
It’s definitely challenging to enjoy traveling alone with children if you don’t have a plan! Without some pre-planning, you might return home even more tired than when you left. So you need a plan that ensures that everyone has a good time, including you!
Some ways to do this would be
- travel with family: if you travel with family, the adults can take time watching the kids so that you actually get some “me time” and don’t end up chasing your kids around all day. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
- find a single mom travel pal: hopefully, you are working on finding a community to help you along on your single mama journey. Find someone in your single mom tribe who also loves to travel. You can either agree on where to go together or take turns choosing. This way, you have a travel companion and can get some alone time to rest or do something you enjoy
- Stay in a resort with a kids club: if your kids make friends easily, this could be an ideal option for you. The kids get to spend some time at the kids club, enjoying all the different activities with other “little people”’and you may get your solo time to do the things that the kids may not enjoy like historical tours of the city, art museums etc. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
I really like this option because you have the flexibility to spend time together as a family and also enjoy separate activities. Please, don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself! At home, you are with your kids ALL the time! It’s OK to make some time for you, and they’ll probably be having too much fun to notice that you’re gone!
5. Enjoy your solo time!
If you are able to get solo time on your family trips, don’t just endure being alone! Really enjoy it. Take the opportunity to do the things that you enjoy, meet new people, replenish your tank! Do you.
Don’t spend this precious time feeling sorry for yourself and feeling down because your family is “incomplete”. You are complete in Christ! Don’t let the enemy speak lies into your soul and ruin your alone time. Be determined to enjoy yourself.
“So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” Colossians chapter 2 verse 10
During my precious solo time when I travel with kids, you will find me taking a nap or a walk on the beach, reading a book, taking dancing lessons, getting a massage… I’m naturally an introvert, so being alone is not an issue for me. I enjoy sitting alone at lunch and just enjoying time by myself.
Learn to love and enjoy your beautiful self!
6. Include family travel in your annual budget
Hopefully, you have your single mom finances in order and have a budget! For most people, even the married, tight finances are one of the biggest obstacles to enjoying vacations.
So, put it in your budget! This way, you can make deliberate trade-offs and decide what you won’t spend on so that there’s money to enjoy guilt-free single parent family trips.
You can even open up a separate savings account for vacations and put some money away every month until you have enough for that trip you’ve been dreaming about.
I find that when I plan vacations in advance, I can enjoy them without feeling guilty and stressing about what else I could be spending the money on.
Also, don’t feel like you have to travel every year! Or that you have to go to an exotic locale. Start where you are and plan vacations that you can afford. As you grow financially, you can do more things. I am pretty certain that your kids will care more about spending time together as a family than the exact place that you go to.
Did you learn any new tips? What else has worked for you as you travel alone with children? Share your ideas below!