Thursday, May 16, 2024
HomeUK TravelTips for travelling solo with kids

Tips for travelling solo with kids

Travelling solo with kids can feel daunting – especially the first time you set off on a trip together, or face a first flight. But after a string of trips with my daughter, including the Eurostar to Paris and a long-haul flight to Florida as a toddler plus long-haul holidays exploring Cambodia and Oman when she was five (and a whole lot more), I can vouch for the fact it’s definitely possible.

Woman with a suitcase and a boy next to her in a field - my tips for travelling solo with kids

contains affiliate links*

As with any other family travel, a lot of it comes down to planning and practice – as well as choosing a holiday that’s right for you. While some people are ready to start travelling as a solo parent from almost day one, most of us prefer to take it slower – a day out locally first, before building up to a long-haul flight and packed itinerary. I certainly did!

So whether you’re considering travelling alone with kids for the first time or considering a new solo travel challenge, here are my solo parent travel tips before you book.

Choosing a single parent holiday

There are around two million single parents with dependent children in the UK alone these days – not to mention plenty more who may be married or in relationships but are also travelling solo.

Although I’m married, my husband can take time off less easily than I can, so it’s usually just me and my daughter heading off together.

And more travel companies are starting to realise the demand. Just because you’re travelling alone with kids, you aren’t restricted to holidays designed for single parents only – depending on the age of your kids, a twin room or one with a bed and a sofa bed can work just as well with a single adult, while self-catering options tend to give even more space.

Which holiday is right for you?

Start by considering what you want from the trip? Is it a holiday with plenty of facilities, such as a kids’ club where they can make friends? Is it a hotel with babysitting or baby listening so you can have some time to yourself while they’re sleeping? Is it simply a relaxed escape by the beach so you can have some time together as a family?

If you’ve got a holiday in mind, it’s worth researching who it’s aimed at – you can even call the company to find out details of families who usually sign up (or are already signed up on a group tour, for example).

If you’re hoping your kids are going to enjoy a trip with new friends for company, there’s nothing worse than discovering the only other children are five years older or younger once you arrive.

Plan in some space

Travelling solo with kids can be intense – so whatever holiday you choose, it’s a good plan to add in some extra flexibility and down-time.

Having that time together makes for some amazing memories and helps build a fantastic bond, but it doesn’t mean all the stresses of parenthood vanish (alas) – and with no other adult on hand to help, a bit of space to recover your patience is always good.

The occasional session at a kids’ club can be a welcome break, or it could be as simple as booking accommodation with some extra space so you get to relax properly in the evening after their bedtime. That goes double if you have a baby or are travelling alone with a toddler, when sleep isn’t guaranteed!

Hotels like the Sands Resort in Cornwall has baby listening and childcare, as well as a kids’ club and creche, not to mention spacious rooms. And as well as lots of facilities for kids, including soft play and a toddler playground, plus a baby splash pool in the indoor pool, there’s also a spa and an adults’ dining section in the restaurant so you get a chance to indulge too.

Check out my review of staying at the Sands Resort & Spa in Cornwall when my daughter was a toddler.

Mother and daughter near the Colosseum in Rome eating pizza- my tips for travelling solo with kids

You’re not just limited to the UK either – the Sani resort in Greece, on the Halkidiki peninsula has activities galore with older kids, but also Babe Watch nannies to watch babies and toddlers on the beach as you swim, and an Ofsted-standard creche from age four months.

If your kids are a little older, there’s no reason you can’t explore and sightsee if you want more than a beach break, but it’s still worth considering ways to wind down at the end of the day. Even booking a hotel with a pool after a day out and about is great.

Sometimes a hotel isn’t the best option – when my daughter was younger, self-catering was definitely our preferred way to stay, whether it’s a villa for a beach break or an apartment for a city break.

I’m a big fan of i-escape which has a special kids collection with options in European cities, which you can tailor to suit your kids (and the child-friendly essentials you might need for your stay).

Or Jet2Villas has collections of child-friendly villas for different age groups, with options for babies and toddlers up, and properties which sleep four for smaller families. The destinations vary from Spain and Portugal to Croatia, Greece and Turkey too.

What’s your budget?

You can find UK camping that’s perfect with kids or five-star hotels that welcome families, so there’s no need to be restricted by budget. But it does pay to doublecheck if free child places apply when there’s only one parent travelling – some will always consider the second person on the booking as an adult.

The same goes for single supplements: some places won’t charge outside school holidays, but you can find the discounts vanish if it isn’t term time.

Self-catering can be a great way to get away without splashing out, and guarantees you the extra space too.

All-inclusives can work unexpectedly well too. Although they’re not the cheapest choice, knowing that you won’t have to put your hand in your pocket for ice creams, childcare, a holiday cocktail or two, makes it easier to plan.

If you’re travelling with fussy eaters, the sheer variety and choice (plus the ability to pick and choose at buffets) can often make all-inclusives a good bet as well. And there are options in Europe if you don’t fancy long-haul.

Check out our review of Ikos Dassia in Corfu – the all-inclusive resort in Greece is part of a small group with sister resorts on the mainland and another in Kos.

For a proper escape, Beachcomber Hotels in Mauritius has free kids’ clubs for age three to 12 – one hotel on the island has a family village within the resort, including spacious apartments, another includes champagne by the glass in its price as well as family-friendly facilities.

Or in the Caribbean, Beaches resorts have one-bed family suites, kids clubs and a whopping 20 restaurants at Beaches Turks & Caicos where we stayed – not to mention Sesame Street.

A girl looks out to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean - my tips for travelling alone with kids

When to book with a single parent specialist?

Although it’s certainly not your only choice, picking a trip with a tour operator that specialises in holidays for solo parents is a great option if you’re new to travelling alone with kids. Some even have an online forum to chat before you go, to get tips and reassurance (not to mention staying in touch afterwards).

If you’re newly divorced or bereaved, it can also be helpful to know you won’t be surrounded by happy nuclear families – at least for the first holiday solo – and for adults with younger kids, there’s always the option of adults to talk to after littler ones are in bed.

Others will also organise activities and excursions, such as Single Parents on Holiday, but you’ve got the flexibility of your own time together as well.

When to book with a group?

Joining a group holiday can be a great solution when you’re travelling as a solo parent – with escorted tours aimed at families, it’s easy to remove one stress by handing over the planning to someone else, finding a more active or adventurous option with teens in particular, and ensuring that there’ll be other kids for company.

And while little ones might be happy spending every day at the beach, tweens and teens want more from their trips: with the added bonus that there should be no cries of ‘I’m bored’ or stubborn refusals to venture away from the WiFi (hopefully).

Tour companies like Intrepid Travel run group tours suitable for kids aged 5+ (some for 10+, with the majority aged 8 or above). And Explore has its own small group family tours as well, suitable for 7+. I am seriously tempted by this trip to Belize.

On The Go Tours also have departures aimed at teens – Pharaoh’s Adventure for teens in Egypt, for example, is for 12 plus. There are also group tours to suit younger kids, such as the Egyptian Family Adventure for age five plus which has a triple-share option.

Surviving a solo parent holiday with kids

Get your kids involved

While you’re not going to involve babies in planning out an itinerary, it’s worth talking to your kids about the trip before you go. With older children, they’ll want to be involved in the planning and choosing – and picking a trip that suits everyone (or at least compromises on what everyone wants) is always going to be more fun.

But even with younger kids, talk through everything from the journey – what will happen at the airport, explanations that there are times they will simply need to do certain things (whether it’s X-ray machines or showing their face at immigration) – to what you’re planning once you arrive. If they feel less stressed by the unknown, you’re also likely to.

Kids tend to be very adaptable but knowing that if they endure the security queue quietly, there’s airport soft play goes a long way to avoiding meltdown.

Mother an two children walking through an airport - my tips for travelling solo with kids

Make life easy on yourself

Work out how to reduce any potentially stressful situations along the way – there’s enough to consider without making life any harder. It could be meet and greet parking at airports so you’re not hanging around with tired children waiting for a shuttle bus, or splashing out on private transfers to get to your accommodation faster.

Consider what time you’re flying too. Very early or late flights might well be cheaper, but if everyone’s exhausted and tetchy from lack of sleep, it’s not going to get things off to a good start.

Equally, a night flight can be ideal if your kids tend to sleep on planes, versus than a long stretch trying to entertain them, or picking flights that arrive in time for bedtime.

Some airports and airlines will have special assistance for families with parents travelling solo too – I’ve always found cabin crew keep an extra eye out when they know you’re flying alone, and have always been more than happy to help hold or watch my daughter if I needed to go to the toilet during the flight, for example. Or Eurostar has family-friendly carriages, and can help solo parents travelling with young kids.

Having your own car means you don’t have to rely on public transport, especially if you’re planning a solo family holiday away from a city. But equally, if you’re a nervous driver, deciding to set off on a complicated road trip solo with kids doesn’t make for a relaxing getaway.

Pack light

Packing light is always a good plan. It’s reassuring too to know that you can manage everything without a helping hand, whether that’s using a baby carrier to keep your hands free or being able to manoeuvre a case and a buggy.

In my experience, people are always ready to help though – everyone from a besuited businessman watching me approach an escalator with suitcase and stroller, to a woman at airport security who held Minnie as I tried to collapse the buggy, have stepped in when they suspected I might struggle.

There’s usually more than enough to tote around when you’re travelling with kids, so avoid carrying too much beyond the essentials when you don’t have to as well – secure bag storage like Luggage Hero and Radical Storage have locations around the world, so it’s easy to drop baggage off and squeeze in a little more exploring.

Don’t forget the paperwork

When you’re travelling solo with kids, it’s not just the passport, tickets, money that you’d normally have to remember – depending on the destination you’re visiting, you may well need specific paperwork to show you are the parent (especially if your last name is different from your child’s) and permission to take them overseas.

That’s as true whether their other parent is at home or out of the picture, so it’s worth looking at whether you might need a birth certificate and any other authorised documents if you’re travelling alone with a child.


Tips for travelling solo with kids - from choosing a single parent holiday to surviving the trip, solo parent travel creates wonderful memories... but here's how to avoid some of the stresses

Disclosure:This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission

Caribbean image copyright MummyTravels, all others Depositphotos


Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments