10 Tips For The Solo Traveling Parent
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
Traveling with a toddler or baby is a daunting task that can leave many parents putting off travel all together. Doing it alone can be even scarier. Since we know the kids run the show, the best we can do is feel as prepared as possible going into the unknown. Here are some tips to boost your confidence.
Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to rely on the kindness of strangers. Whether it’s boarding your flight with an armful of carry-ons and a sleeping toddler or it’s trying to manage a restaurant tantrum, it’s OK to ask for help. Chances are, the parent next to you has been there before and will gladly provide you a little relief.
Book An Earlier Flight
Although some people prefer red-eye flights to ensure their kids sleep for the majority of the ride, this can mean a painful first vacation day for you. If it’s a short flight, and your toddler is a light sleeper, it can also mean that they don’t get enough sleep on the plane. Booking earlier flights provides the possibility of fewer airport delays and also means you will be fresh and ready for the long haul ahead.
Take The Stroller
Yes, it’s heavy, bulky, and nearly impossible to get it through security without at least a few eye rolls from the passengers behind you, but the stroller is a necessary evil for airport travel. Not only can you use it to store all of your toddler travel necessities, but those long treks through the airport will be much easier if you are not dragging or carrying a child. They may even fall asleep within the comforts and familiarity of their stroller. A win we all dream of.
Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Whether its a flight, bus, train ride, or a reservation at a restaurant, the added stress of being late is not worth it. Get an early start and bring an activity or two in case you have some time to kill when you arrive.
This can seem like an impossible task when traveling with a baby or toddler, but take a minute to decide what is really needed, and what you could possible grab on the airplane or when you get to your destination. Pack enough diapers, wipes, formula, etc, for the flight and consider shipping extras to your hotel room or Airbnb prior to your arrival. With so many restrictions and extra baggage fees, it’s not worth it to pack a week’s worth of diapers when they can be waiting in your room when you arrive.
Before heading to the airport it’s worth taking a moment to make sure your carry-on luggage is organized with easy access to the items you know you will be reaching for the most. Prioritize the items you use frequently or need quickly like pacifiers or baby’s favorite blanket to avoid having to frantically unpack everything while midway through a meltdown.
Slow Down & Be Flexible
Traveling with kids is never going to be the same as without them. It’s best to understand that you probably won’t make it to all of the landmarks, museums, and destinations on your list, so it’s important to be flexible. Plans will change frequently and the best thing you can do is slow down, knowing that some of the items on your list may be better for the second visit.
Bring Comforts From Home
Travel can be overwhelming and disorienting for toddlers at times. It’s always good to bring a few comforts that remind them of home such as a favorite blanket, book, or toy.
Do The Free Stuff
Traveling with kids is expensive and it can be frustrating to spend money for a museum only to spend 10 minutes there because your child is bored and wants to leave, or throws an epic tantrum. Stick with the free activities like parks, beaches, hiking, or outdoor landmarks and monuments.
Pack Your Own Food
Depending on where you are going, you may not be able to purchase your child’s favorite snacks. Packing a few for the plane ride and trip to ease a stressful situation can be a life saver. Though bribery may not be what the professionals recommend, it works just about every time.