I Travel Alone With My 4 Kids All The Time. Here Are My 8 Tried And True Tips.

Business Insider May 24, 2024

Lifestyle

I Travel Alone With My 4 Kids All The Time. Here Are My 8 Tried And True Tips.

Traveling with kids can be daunting, even under the best of circumstances. Many parents are more confident traveling with another adult as a backup to help manage logistics, temper tantrums, carrying luggage, and getting around in a new place.

However, some families don't have the luxury of always taking two adults along on trips, including my family. I knew if I wanted to travel with my kids, I would have to find a way to do it on my own. I've been traveling solo with my kids for more than 15 years and have a system that works.

 
I have no screen time rules

When I first started traveling alone with my kids I had grand visions that they would read for hours and play games. While it is possible to keep kids off of screens, it takes a lot of effort on my part and is stressful.

For my own sanity, I significantly relax screen time rules when I travel alone with them. I'm OK with that because my children often have little to no screen time once we reach our destination. Plus, rules should be relaxed on vacation and I think vacation starts as soon as you leave home.

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I also give them all the snacks

Before most trips, I take my kids to choose snacks for our trip. Even if we have a long day of travel, some special treats give them something to look forward to. Having an abundance of snacks also helps my kids from getting hangry on long flights or needing to stop for food on long car rides.

I also get snacks for myself since it's easy to overlook my own needs while traveling solo with kids. Plus, it's always nice to have some American or regional snacks to share with people we meet at our destination.

 
I order meals ahead of time

When I need to order food when traveling, I try to order in advance on an app. At the airport, I can order from Starbucks as we are going through the TSA line. On road trips, I pass my phone to my kids to allow them to find the closest Taco Bell or Burger King and place their order.

Cutting down on waiting for food helps travel run more smoothly. Apps are a lifesaver without a second adult along to manage orders while keeping an eye on the kids and luggage and making bathroom trips.

 
We travel lightly

I've always been committed to traveling carry-on-only and doubled down on this commitment when traveling solo with kids. Keeping track of kids is hard enough. I don't want to keep track of lots of stuff too.

I often find myself washing socks and undies in hotel sinks on longer trips, but it's worth the trade-off. To make travel even easier, I insist that my kids bring no more than they can carry themselves. I've invested in some gear, including packing cubes and wrinkle-resistant merino wool clothing to make this work. As a bonus, I have a great excuse for not buying souvenirs since we simply don't have room.

The older my kids get, the easier it is to travel even more lightly since I no longer need to pack strollers and car seats.

 
I have to be flexible to their interests

Before kids, I had very clear ideas of what I wanted to do when I traveled. When traveling with kids, I'm open to making adjustments to keep them happy and engaged.

On a road trip, we made several stops at kitschy kid-friendly roadside attractions, which wound up being a highlight of the trip. This summer, I adjusted plans for a trip to Europe to take a pizza-making class and go to Gladiator School at my son's request.

Letting my children plan some activities helps get buy-in when going to attractions they aren't as excited about seeing. When traveling solo with kids, it's not possible to hand off the kids while I explore something on my own, so this is essential.

 
I'm always keeping an eye out for perks

When traveling alone with kids, the small things make travel easier and less stressful. I now have a credit card that gives me access to airport lounges that are quiet, and comfortable and give us unlimited access to food. I've also joined loyalty programs that get us perks like early boarding and free breakfast at hotels.

 
I carry a signed and notarized letter to travel alone with them

When traveling abroad, I always bring a notarized letter stating that I have my husband's permission to travel with our children. I create a new letter for every trip stating exactly where we are going and when. I also bring my children's birth certificates to establish that I am their mother. I've been asked for all of these documents multiple times. While gathering these documents can be annoying, I remind myself that it's ultimately for my children's protection.

 
I always find time for myself

Traveling solo with kids is an incredible privilege, but it can be draining. I try to find time for myself on each trip.

A couple of times I booked a massage at a hotel that allowed my children to wait in the lobby for me. Other times, I am content reading a book in silence after the kids have fallen asleep.


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