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Travel Tips for Single Parents

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If you are a single parent, you know that even under normal, everyday circumstances single parenting comes with special challenges. I’ve had friends familiar with my daily routine as a single mom refer to my typical day as an athletic undertaking. If a regular day is an athletic event, traveling alone with children is an Olympic event. It’s not always easy, but it is possible to enjoy traveling with children alone! Here are my travel tips for single parents.

Single parent travel

Pick the Right Mode of Transportation
Selecting the right mode of transportation is an important factor in planning a vacation as a single parent. One option is to take a road trip with kids. Road trips provide the most control over pitstops and allow you to pack more luggage. Road trips, however, can be stressful in terms of keeping sibling fights to a minimum and child entertainment to a maximum, especially when the only adult in the car is busy driving. For those of you road trippers who have three young kids, I recommend purchasing a sunshine kids radian convertible car seat because you can squeeze a trio of these across a normal car’s backseat.

On several trips with my children, I’ve chosen to fly because of the distances involved and the shorter travel time. Check with the airline to see if early boarding is permitted for passengers traveling alone with children; many airlines do.

When possible, my kids and I often take the train. It takes a bit longer, but train travel offers more opportunity for mobility during the trip so my kids can work off some of their limitless energy while in transit.

Pack Wisely
It can be difficult to manage children alone while lugging a bunch of baggage. One suitcase, one carry-on, and one stroller is plenty for a single person to tote when traveling by train or plane. If you’re sure of porter service at all interim and final stops, you may be safe in bringing more luggage. If not, consider alternatives like ordering baby gear (like strollers, cribs and supplies) to be delivered to your destination.

For children age 5 and older, purchase kid-sized rolling suitcases so they can pull their own bags. Talk up the importance of this responsibility and get their buy-in by bringing the kids to the store to help pick out their suitcases.

Choose Kid-Friendly Accommodations
The degree to which you will have to manage your children depends on your vacation destination and how well you researched the amenities available. If you will be traveling to visit family or friends, your need for constant vigilance is usually over once you arrive because the extra adults will likely help with childcare demands.

If staying at a hotel, it’s important that you feel comfortable as a single parent in the company of the other guests. Some people vacation to get away from children so you’ll be happiest in a family-friendly locale. You may want to seek out hotels with kids’ camps or in-room babysitting so you can get a reprieve from childcare duties during your stay. Ask your travel agent what tours or vacation resorts have programs that cater to single parents or check with your local Parents Without Partners organization for suggestions.

Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask strangers to snap family photos unless you want to end up with a photo album without any pictures of you. Most people, especially those at the grandparent stage, are delighted to take photos of young families.

Be prepared to tip more than you would if you were traveling without children. You may need to tip porters at the airport, bellman at the hotel, or give larger tips to restaurant servers for extra service for your brood.

Splurge a Little
Splurge on room service a couple of times during your stay. The kids will love it and dining-in causes less hassle after a long day of play.

Carve out some alone time while away too. Get a well-deserved massage while your children are busy at the hotel kids’ camp or you could simply sip a tropical beverage on the balcony after the kids are in bed for the night. After all, vacations are supposed to be dedicated to relaxing and recharging, and no one needs that boost more than single parents!

Laura Cecil is a mom of three and the editor of, a place to help parents to select the right baby products and a space to share parenting stories and challenges. Connect with on Facebook.

What are your tips for traveling with children? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo by: Gretta Vosper (morgueFile Creative Commons)

About Laura Cecil, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger
  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    zwei2go – Let me know when you start blogging again. Maybe you can do a guest post for Travel Mamas sometime!

  2. I am a single parent and have been traveling with my daughter since she was 6 weeks old (she’s now 10). We’ve traveled throughout Europe and most of the US. This post is helpful to those afraid to travel alone with their kid(s).

    I completely involve my daughter when planning a trip, from picking the location, planning what we will do there and finding the hotel (I also let her order room service once or twice while there).

    I believe the best piece of advice you’ve given is “Ask for help”. The times that I have asked for help, never have I been turned down. Many times, others will offer to help before I could even ask, which was always good.

    Thank you for this post (this is confirmation that I should get back to blogging about my travel adventures as a single parent).

  3. This was a great article. I’m not a single parent, but I do travel with my 3 children with out my husband often.

  4. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Marissa – So glad you liked Laura’s tips! 🙂

  5. If I see parents with children I am more than happy to help out but I may not be aware that I could help, so don’t be shy about looking for a friendly grandmother to lend a hand.

  6. Im a single mother with a 2 month old son and this article was helpful because i cant wait to travel with him…

  7. This was really helpful for me, as a single mom I am planning to travel with my daughter (age 7) for the first time and even though we are going by train I think a lot of the same rules apply. Especially since I have very little travel experience of my own, and now I’m taking her. So thank you very much 🙂

  8. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    So glad Laura’s tips are helpful, Christina & Dena!

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