There are many reasons that a parent would be the solo adult when traveling with children. Single parents obviously fall into this category, but there are also times when a grandparent takes a child on a special excursion or a parent brings kids along on a business trip. A wonderful tradition in some families is for one parent to take each child on a vacation alone for some bonding time. This can be a rite of passage to celebrate a certain birthday, the start of middle school or completion of high school, etc.
In our family, I take each child on a special trip after the first year of middle school. This is an age when it’s important to keep the relationship strong, as pre-teens begin exercising their independence and may spend more time with friends than with their parents. Getting out of town with just the two of you is a great way to reconnect and find things you enjoy together. I did a trip to Northern California with my oldest son, Seattle with my middle son and I am planning a visit to San Francisco with my youngest. We’re lucky that there are lots of low-cost airlines flying out of the Eugene Airport that make it affordable to take a quick solo parent vacation. The rewards from this type of travel can last a lifetime. When planning your trip, some of the important issues include logistics, safety and costs.
If your travel plans will take you outside of the United States, every person is required to carry a passport. To obtain a passport for a child, both parents must apply in-person along with the child. This is one of the measures taken to try and prevent disputing parents from taking a child out of the country unlawfully. If you’re traveling with a child out of the US and both parents are not present, you should bring a notarized letter from the non-present parent(s) giving you permission, including dates of travel and contact information for all parties.
When you are the only adult, travel as light as possible with luggage you can manage by yourself. Take the most efficient route to and from your destination and have your transportation arranged ahead of time.
A great option for travel to places you are not familiar with is a guided family tour. These specially designed tours are perfect for a solo parent, as all the details are taken care of and you are traveling with other families. It’s an ideal way to experience international destinations as well as visits to historic areas of the US such as the Deep South, New England or national parks. Transportation, hotels and sightseeing have been planned to maximize your time and money while enjoying the local attractions that will appeal to kids and adults. A family tour also allows you to focus on enjoying an adventure with your children while the tour guide takes care of all the important details.
As a parent, you’re always concerned with your child’s safety. Make sure children have your cell phone number at all times in case you get separated. Remind them that if they lose you to look for a mom with a stroller and ask her to call you. You can also point out what employees and police officers look like wherever you happen to be. Do this at each point during your travels — at the airport, the hotel, the amusement park, etc.
Personal safety is especially important for single moms. All-inclusive family resorts such as Club Med, Dreams or Beaches offer a great vacation in a protected environment. These resorts have high security and non-guests are not allowed on the grounds. Cruises are also a fun way for mom (or grandma) and the kids to have a great vacation together. Staying in an on-site hotel when visiting Disneyland or Walt Disney World will make you feel more secure and make transportation easy.
Single parents are usually concerned with keeping down costs when they travel. Many family resorts offer special “single parent” rates during their less busy times. Check the school calendar for no-school days so a long weekend can be turned into a memorable trip. A good travel agent can advise you of the best options and make your travel hassle-free.
Consider making a special “mom and son” or “dad and daughter” trip a tradition in your family. It can be as simple as an overnight at the coast or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Costa Rica. If your child is learning a foreign language, a visit to another country where they can practice their skill would be a great incentive for them to study. Think about doing something that is connected to their skills or interests such as a visit to a special museum, a cultural festival or a sporting event. If you have never taken your kids on a solo parent vacation, now is the time to make it happen. The experiences you share will be priceless.
Great destinations for solo parent vacations:
Disneyland or Walt Disney World
All-Inclusive Family Resorts in the Caribbean or Mexico
Escorted Family Tours all over the world
Meet Vacation MOM
Donnita Bassinger has been a travel agent for three decades and enjoys sending families on vacations around the world. She lives in Oregon with her husband and three boys, is the owner of VIP Vacations and is an active volunteer with local organizations.
Contact Donnita at 541-913-5272 or on facebook @VacationMOM