I love to travel and experience new parts of our country and visit other countries, but as a single mom of two special needs boys, traveling can be extremely difficult! I have learned there are some things I need to do to make traveling as a single mom a little less challenging — and a little more enjoyable. Here are some tips for traveling with your children as a single parent:
Research Travel Destinations
I had to learn that there are some travel destinations that just wouldn't work out. Just because I absolutely loved my trip to Australia didn't mean it would be an enjoyable trip to attempt with my kids. For us, the flight to Australia from New York and back is simply too long for my children at this time. Also, any destination that requires a lot of "roughing it" and living on the land is not going to work for our little family — camping in a tent in a public campground is one thing, but harvesting our own food from the woods is another!
When you are thinking about traveling with your kids, spend some time researching travel destinations and thinking about your own children's personalities and challenges. Be realistic about what you can do while still maintaining your sanity and getting some enjoyment out of the trip!
For us, a small beach cottage in Cape Cod was the perfect relaxing vacation, while a week at Disney in Orlando was our always-on-the-go vacation.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
When you find a destination that should work out for your family, do everything you absolutely can to prepare for the journey. This means getting things together for the road trip, flight, or train to get to your destination — as well as items you will need when you actually arrive to your destination. For my family, if I'm going to be driving a long distance or expecting my kids to sit on a plane or train for hours, I need to prepare entertainment to help occupy them. Most kids have difficulty sitting still for long periods of time; for my children, this is almost impossible!
We have a portable DVD player with two screens so they can watch their favorite movies. This is good for about two hours or more if you can find the right movies! Coloring books will keep my younger child busy for a while, as will anything new from the dollar store. For some reason, even though the toys and games from the dollar store are mostly junk, the fact that they are new is enough to keep the kids occupied for quite a while if given to them during the journey! I like to fill a bag with a bunch of inexpensive new items when going on a long trip and just hand them one or two things at a time when they start getting fidgety. If you are driving, just remember it needs to be something your kids can operate themselves.
Having snacks and drinks available can also keep kids from acting out due to hunger. Choosing healthier snacks while in the confinement of a car or plane is probably a good idea!
Don't Miss Out on Traveling
If you're new to traveling as a single parent, start with a few day trips until you gain confidence. Single parent families can still experience all of the joys of traveling with a little preparation and research — and a lot of patience!