If you are a one-parent family – or simply traveling without your spouse – you have special things to think about when you leave home, and you are not alone. The US Census Bureau says 27percent of households are single parent homes — and that’s from way back in 1988. We see lots of single parents struggle with their own set of fears and concerns during the vacation planning phase. Luckily we’ve been around the block a few times and can help you navigate these waters!
Based on our experience and feedback we get from our single-parent travelers, here are six important things for you to keep in mind:
When it’s just you handling the details everything takes more advance planning. If you need passports, remember for kids under 16 both parents and the child need to apply in person; though it’s acceptable to have a notarized letter from the absent parent, that might be just as time consuming. When you actually travel you’ll need documentation too, a notarized letter or other legal document giving you permission to travel without the absent parent. Passport rules can be foundfollow the same requirements for your travel and you’ll be all set.
2. About those passports
This is true for everyone, not just solo parents, but it is so important it always bears repeating; your passports have to be valid for six months beyond your return date. Check now, because if they are not you’ll need to renew them.
3. Sleep, schedule and perks
You don’t have a co-parent with you to share responsibility. You never get a break – so don’t over-fill your schedule or wear yourself out. Always plan something less active in the afternoon – or maybe pool time so the kids can be crazy while you relax! Go to bed when the kids go to bed. Maybe even splurge on a pre-arranged car service to and from the airport. It’s such a stress reducer to be treated like a VIP! The less crabby you all are, the more fun you’ll have.
4. Safety and security
Especially if you’re a mom, you’ll like the idea of traveling with others and having a local guide who knows the region; there is nothing like traveling with a gang of like-minded families. We know a common interest in the destination and experience promises a certain level of compatibility; both you and your kids will have good company, and that goes a long way towards reducing the pressure of ‘I have to do it all’.
5. Look for other solo parents but don’t exclude the rest
Family is family in our eyes. But since you’re likely worried about feeling left out of a two-parent family experience, feel free to join a family group with other single parents. Keep in mind, we don’t limit groups to JUST single-parent families because we prefer to be balanced, to be as inclusive and diverse as the real world; two-parent families with single-parent families with grandparents, and maybe even aunts or uncles. It’s all family.
Unless your kids are all grown, you’ll be the one keeping track of bags. Pack light! Ideally you’ll have one big bag and each child will have a smaller bag or backpack they can handle themselves. We have some packing tips; we’d like to add that once you’ve made your packing pile, remove half of it! You never need as much as you think.
“As a solo parent by choice, I was thrilled to find Thomson Family Adventures, a travel operator completely focused on helping families by all definitions. Over the years while traveling with Thomson, I could count on my assigned representative to be available to talk about every concern anytime I needed her: vaccinations, medications, exemptions, special documentation, weather, concerns about other families traveling with us, dietary restrictions. She and I would compare notes and if an answer was not readily available, with a little more research between the two of us, we would find what I needed so that I could rest easy. We consider Thomson a part of our extended family.” – The Blitz Family