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Being a single mom doesn’t mean you sacrifice all your vacation time. You’re just going to do it all one your own. Here are my top tips for traveling alone with the kids.
When my ex-husband first told me of his affair, I immediately walked out. I wasn’t staying with him. It was only after that I started to think of everything that I was going to lose. One of those I thought of was traveling with my children.
I quickly made sure there was something that would allow for the two of us to take our children on vacations when we wanted. After all, we both have family in another country, and that meant international travel was a must. But it wasn’t just about that. I also wanted to make sure I could take them away for random weekend getaways.
Traveling alone with the kids isn’t easy. For me, it is a little easier than it was with my ex-husband. My kids are sooooo much better without him around, and I don’t have him as a third child causing problems for me along the way. However, it still isn’t easy, and there is a lot to plan. Here are my top tips for traveling with the children as a single mom.
Try to go out of season
The first time I took my children away on their own, it was just for a weekend. It was the first summer after the split, and I wanted to give them something fun to look forward to. The problem was I couldn’t make things fit in with the summer schedule, so I opted for just outside the main season.
Going off-season was the best way to deal with traveling alone with the kids for the first time. There were fewer people at the attractions, getting dinner each night wasn’t that difficult, and we were able to save some money on parking, hotels, and more.
This isn’t always going to be possible. I’m taking the children to Disney this summer and it’s at a popular time to go. The more practice you get off-season, the easier the popular season will be.
Consider all-inclusive resorts when traveling alone with the kids
You likely opted to book hotels, plane rides, and more separately when you traveled with a partner. Or maybe you’ve never had to think about traveling with your children. You just don’t know where to start, and suddenly there is a lot to do.
Make it easier on yourself. Opt for all-inclusive resorts to start with. This is a great plan if you’re looking at international travel for the first time.
The benefit of all-inclusive is that food, packages, and rooms are all included together. You may even find that flights are included depending on who you book through. The fewer things you have to worry about as a single mom, the better.
If you can’t find all-inclusive, consider opting for places where you have a kitchen. You can take your own food, and you have a little more space for the whole family. Things aren’t always going to go to plan, so having the extra space can often be better for everyone.
One activity for everyone while there
One of the rules I immediately set for traveling alone with the kids was that everyone got one activity while there. This activity was the one big thing each person wanted to do. Nobody else could veto that choice. It didn’t matter if others didn’t want to do it. The only way it would be vetoed is if there just wasn’t the money for it—a trip to those $1000 restaurants was off the table.
This worked out really well as everyone got to do something they were excited to do. My children didn’t need to choose before they got there. While one already knew what she wanted to do, the other needed to see all the activities and assess what was available for her. It was the last day when she finally made up her mind. That was okay.
All other activities had to be agreed upon by everyone. If one person really didn’t want to do it, then we wouldn’t do it. Of course, there were a few limitations to the veto. If one person was just in a bad mood and making it difficult for everyone, we would take a time out, grab something to eat or drink, and then reassess once everyone was in a better mood. If it was for a reason like a fear (my youngest couldn’t deal with the haunted houses), then the veto was in place.
Allow for some downtime to do nothing
When traveling alone with kids, it’s tempting to plan every little bit of the day. You want to make the most out of it, and you want everyone to have fun. The problem is plans don’t always work out, and people do need some time off.
I go in with a general plan. We have an idea of when we’ll eat and the activities that we’ll do. That doesn’t mean every single second of the day is planned out. We need some time when we can just relax, and sometimes, we need time away from each other.
That nothing could be a run around a park somewhere to allow children to burn off some energy. It could be time in the hotel room for an hour to recharge. It could be going to grab a coffee to just sit down with a much-needed drink.
Have a budget when traveling alone with the kids
As a single mom, you want to give your children everything possible. You want to say yes to it all, but you don’t have unlimited funds. As I said, while everyone gets one thing they want to do, there is a budget in mind. You should always have a budget.
I look at setting a food budget and an activity budget. This ensures that we have money to be able to enjoy meals while we’re there, as well as do the things that we want.
Having a budget isn’t a bad thing. Saying no because of money isn’t a bad thing. In fact, helping children understand that there are limited funds will help them in the future. They learn from us, so when they see us budgeting but still having fun, they know what they can do in the future. The more they learn this, the easier it is saying no to some things because of funds.
I give my children spending money for each day, too. They’re allowed to use this money anyway they want, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. This helps them learn more about budgeting their own money.
MORE: Why children need to see you have a work-life balance
What are you struggling with when it comes to being a single mom? Where are you planning on traveling to with the kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below.