I always wonder how single moms manage to do everything alone. Traveling is no exception. Thankfully, I am not a single mom, and I am blessed to have a wonderful husband. However, I have traveled as a single mom and have learned a few things. Traveling as a single mom can be easier if you remember these tips.
How to Travel as a Single Mother With Kids
1. Get your travel documents in order. There’s nothing worse than standing at the check-in counter with a crying baby and a busy two-year-old while you dig through all the places you were sure you put your passport. Have important travel documents easily accessible in your carry-on before you arrive at the airport. (I must admit that the crying baby can be advantageous sometimes, however.)
2. Book tickets on a kid-friendly airline. It’s hard to predict which airlines are kid-friendly, but it’s at least worth asking friends who have traveled with children if they have any recommendations. I’ve always enjoyed the laid back nature of many Southwest Airlines flight attendants, and they are quite helpful. However, they don’t have pre-boarding for families anymore. I recently flew on Virgin Airlines and was quite impressed by how helpful they were with getting my kiddos and carry-ons on board. (They were a little less obliging after my daughter vomited twice on the flight though.)
3. Be prepared to tip more often. When you make your travel budget, add a little extra for tips. When I flew alone with my three small children, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do everything alone. So I was prepared and more than happy to tip a few people along the way for their services.
4. Be the first one on and the last one off. If you’re flying, hopefully you’ll get to pre-board. Be at the gate early enough to take advantage of the pre-boarding (on some airlines). Also, once the plane lands, sit back and relax. Let everyone else leave before you try to get your kids and cargo down the aisle. It’s not as stressful when you know there is nobody behind you waiting impatiently for you.
5. Leave lots of extra time. Take your time and don’t get in a hurry. Being rushed just makes things more stressful. Arrive at the airport early so you’re not racing through the airport to your gate or worrying about getting through airport security with your children. If you have connecting flights, give yourself plenty of buffer time. There are lots of ways to entertain kids in airports during a layover, so don’t worry about that.
6. Use the single mom trump card when necessary. It may just be worth asking the person at the check-in counter if you can get an earlier flight, get extra help, or other such things. Don’t complain, but simply state that it’s hard since you’re alone with your children, and see if there is anything they’ll do to help. You’ll be surprised how helpful people can be when you’re traveling as a single mother.
7. Consider the schedule. If you have more than one flight option, choose the one that would be best for your child(ren)’s schedule. Your road trip may be just the right thing to take during naptime, but the flight over lunch time might not. Think about what works best for your family when you book your travel.
8. Be willing to accept and ask for help. If a kind gentleman offers to lift your heavy suitcase from the baggage carousel, let him. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, ask someone to give you a hand. From my experience, people were more than happy to help me when they realized I was alone with small children.
9. Convenience may be worth the cost. I am frugal to my very core, but when it came to traveling as a single mother, I was willing to pay more than I otherwise would. It may be easier to order a pizza or room service than to find a restaurant for dinner. Think ahead about these conveniences, and budget accordingly.
10. Minimize your luggage. My dream vacation is one in which I travel simply with a carry-on. But, until that happens, I am traveling as light as possible – especially when I’m traveling as a single mom. As a general rule, if you can live without something for a week, leave it at home. Your arms, back, and wallet will thank you.
Not a single mother traveling with kids? There are lots of great ways to help a single traveling mother.