Are you dreaming of holidays, but you worry it’s impossible to make it as a single parent? It’s all doable; you just need a bit of organizing. Here’s a list of useful tips for single parents taking their children on vacation.
Use a stroller
If you travel with a small child or an on-the-move toddler, you need a stroller to keep your baby under control, especially at the airport. Airports are crowded, fascinating and full of different stuff, which means a potential disaster. When you’re alone, leaving your bag and chasing the child when it runs around the terminal is a risky business. If you do it, you’ll have a problem because of unattended bag, if you don’t, then obviously you’ll have a problem with finding the child. That’s where the stroller comes to rescue you. Just use the stroller and keep the child at sight until you enter the plane. Besides, remember to take the right stroller, choose something light and compact. It might happen you’ll have to carry it by yourself, so it’s going to be much easier if it’s not terribly heavy. Another good thing about strollers is s storage under a seat. It comes in handy when you have more stuff to carry stuff.
Use the chance to board early
Many airlines allow parents with little children board right after the first class. Pay attention to the announcements and, if it’s possible, get on the plane earlier. This way you’re going to get on the plane when it’s nearly empty and find your seat quickly, without pushing through the crowd which is a great help for someone with lots of carry-ons and a child.
Ask for help when you need it
Flight attendants are there to help you out and they’ll willingly do so if you ask. If you need to use the bathroom during the flight, press the call button and ask the flight attendant to stay with your child for a little while. They’ll probably be glad you asked for help instead of leaving the child alone.
Choose the right hotel
When you travel with a child, it’s doubly important to choose the right property. You should check the hotel carefully before booking a room. Luckily, with all the info available online, it’s not so hard nowadays. Read reviews, especially coming from other parents, check what kind of amenities the hotel offers, its exact location and so on. Asking your friends for suggestions is a good idea too, perhaps someone have just came back from an ideal single parent vacation and has a place to recommend.
Inform the hotel you’re coming with children
Some hotels have special programs for children, so it’s definitely worth mentioning you’re bringing a child when you make a reservation; this way your child might get a chance to enjoy plentiful amenities offered by the hotel, like games, books and toys available in the room. There’s an obvious advantage for you as well. As the child gets busy playing, you can have a moment for yourself to unpack, get dressed or take a shower.
Don’t waste too much money on eating out
It really doesn’t make much sense to eat out in the restaurants every single day, especially if your budget is limited. A fridge in the room is useful, so request it when you make the booking. This way you can always keep some food in the room and when your child doesn’t feel like to head to the restaurant, simply stay in the hotel. For most children it’s hard to behave well in the restaurants day after day. Besides, you can both get tired at some point and a simple dinner in the hotel room will be just fine.
Get the child involved
If you have an older child, then you can get it involved in planning the vacation and, later on, the process of managing the vacation. You can give some proposals; ask the child what’s a better option: a swimming pool, a zoo or ice-cream and walks? The same applies with moving around and finding the right spots. Make your child familiar with maps, discuss the next steps and make it in a fun way. Not only the kid will feel proud and needed, he or she will also gain some extremely useful skills. Getting involved keeps children occupied, they don’t get bored so easily plus they learn responsibility.
Be prepared for an emergency
Have a backup plan. Teach the child what to do in case of getting lost. Choose a meeting spot (something easy to find) where you’d both go in case you get separated. Explain the child how and who to ask for help. A good trick is telling your child that in case of getting lost he/she should find a mommy with children, or a family, and tell them what happened. It’s always safer to approach families with kids. Besides, pack a medicine bag. When you travel with a child, sometimes it’s better to take too many things and be prepared, so take all the toiletries and pills you might need.
Request the right room
It’s great to have a balcony or a terrace with a lovely view. This way, when your child takes a nap, you can spend some time by yourself, with a book or a magazine, enjoying the sunny weather and pretty surroundings. You’re also on holidays and even though it might be impossible to go partying like crazy or spend two days in a spa, you can always find some little ways to relax. Single parent vacations might be tiring at times, yet still, remember you’re doing it for fun. Take care of yourself, because you too deserve some downtime.
Use a babysitter
Yes, it’s really hard to leave your child with a stranger, but just consider it and decide whether you think it’s a good idea or not. Many places now have great nurseries, with qualified caregivers. Before you leave your child in a kids club or a sitter service, look around carefully, check if they’ve got good security, talk to the caregivers, provide them with all the important info about your child (especially when it comes to dietary needs). If you feel the place is fine, you can leave your child for a little while. You’ll have some time for yourself, which is going to bring benefits both to you and the little one. After all, a few hours on your own, meeting up with a friend, getting a massage or surfing, is going to make you a nicer person and probably a nicer, more energetic mommy or daddy.