Traveling as a single mother with 3 young children can be quite an adventure! At the beginning of this month, I took a trip from Alotau, Papua New Guinea (PNG) to Port Moresby, PNG. After staying overnight there, we flew from Port Moresby to Brisbane then on to Sydney, Australia. I did these three flight segments alone – with 3 children ages 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and 11 months. Some might say I’m crazy.
It was actually easier than I expected. If my 4 year old wasn’t vomiting for one of the travel days, it would’ve been a piece of cake. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.
The reason I made it so easily is because of the help of many kind-hearted people along the way.
Ways to Help a Traveling Single Mother
1. Talk to her. It seemed like more people went out of their way to talk to me when I was traveling alone than when Craig is with me. Having adult conversations made it easier, less stressful, and not so lonely.
2. Compliment her on her children’s behavior. At the end of my 3+ hour flight from Port Moresby to Brisbane, a gentleman said, “Your children are so well behaved.” It made me feel great, and it gave me (and my kids) more confidence for the next flight.
3. Help her get luggage from the baggage carousel. One kind man waited in the baggage claim area with me so he could lift my luggage off the carousel. Sure, I could have done it alone. But it definitely made it easier for me because he was willing to help.
4. Help her on the escalator. My children have lived in PNG for basically their entire lives. Before our trip, I prepared them for the flight, but I neglected to mention details about escalators and other such first world experiences. After witnessing my 4-year-old nearly do the splits on our first escalator ride, I decided to teach them before the next one.
I was standing at the bottom of the escalator in the Brisbane airport coaching my 4-year-old and 2-year-old on how to get on the escalator safely when a kind woman stopped and asked if she could help take one of the kids up. I was so thankful for her offer. She helped my oldest daughter to the top. I thanked her, and she replied, “Anything to make it easier for you.”
That added less than 5 minutes to her schedule, but it sure meant a lot to me!
5. Carry her bags on to the airport bus. I had one (heavy) suitcase and a really light duffle that had car seats in it. I was doing fine getting my luggage around. But when it came time to get on a bus to transfer to another terminal, I was wondering how I’d do it alone.
Thankfully, a nice man (a Papua New Guinean, actually!) offered to carry my bags onto the bus. And when it was time to get off, I had two other guys offer to unload them for me.
6. Offer an extra hand or two. The flight attendants were especially good at this. It was nice to have others offer to hold something (or someone) for me as I boarded the plane. During the trip, more than once I thought, if I had 2 more hands, this would be much easier.
7. Smile and don’t act annoyed. Instead of being bothered that a mother with 3 young children is seated across from you on the plane, smile at her and offer to help. You just might be surprised by how well-behaved her children can be, and she could probably use some encouragement.
8. Allow her to go ahead of you in line. If you can tell that a single mother is struggling with the kids or looks exhausted, offer to let her check in before you.
9. Offer her an earlier flight. Thanks to the customer service rep at Qantas airlines who offered to put me on an earlier flight which got me into Sydney an hour earlier. I was so excited because I got to the hotel by about 9:15 pm, when originally I was supposed to arrive at the airport at 9:30 pm. With young children, that made a significant difference.
10. Keep an eye on her bags. Before I left, I didn’t think about the fact that everywhere I went in the airport, I’d have to take the whole crew of kids and bags. When Craig is with me, one of us can guard the bags while the other uses the restroom.
I was glad to meet another traveling single mother in Port Moresby who was kind enough to keep an eye on our carryons while I took the kids to the bathroom. (I felt like I could trust another mother who had 2 young children herself.)
All of these things seem so simple. Yet they made a huge difference on my travel experience. If any of you helpful people are reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you for going out of your way to help a single mother!
I was thankful to have Craig with me on our return trip. That’s the best way to travel!