Traveling Alone with Kids


Traveling Alone with Kids

Parents do weird things, and possibly one of the strangest is spending lots of money on trips that kids most likely will only remember a few moments. My parents took my sister and me to Disney World when I was in kindergarten. I remember riding my bike into the ditch at the campground, eating sandwiches in the car, and absolutely nothing of Disney World. There is a picture sitting on my Dad’s desk of him making a goofy face to get me to smile while I had the meanest scowl right before the fireworks show in the park. What a grateful kid I was!

So why do we do it? Why do we travel with kids?

For experience! Growing their world in the season that they are in at the moment. I might not remember specifics of that kindergarten trip to Disney World, but my sister who is six years older remembers a lot more. I do know that I felt happy and loved, and the picture of me being a punk kid is now hilarious as a mother to three.

Taking kids out of town alone is apparently even stranger, I found out this past spring break. On Instagram, I shared highlights of a trip to Savannah with my five-, six- and 11-year-olds. Some commenters said I was “brave” or “super woman.” More accurately, I would describe that trip as “I’m not staying home for nine days straight!” After homeschooling for three years, I like to take advantage of every break even if it doesn’t work out for both parents to go.

I’m not here to tell you that you need to be some super woman planner to take your kids out of town alone. I will say however, if you have a spring break and the idea of loading up three kids in the car and heading south alone is better than the idea of staying home for nine days, I support you, Momma!

Here are some brief tips I collected from that trip:

1. Timing: There is no ideal time to travel. You’ll still get cranky kids at some point and an ever so untimely “I gotta potty!” Most holidays, you’ll run into traffic. Whatever time you choose, make sure you can stay awake at the wheel and kids aren’t thrown off their normal sleep patterns. Leaving late at night allows kids to sleep. Early in the morning, you can wake up and roll out, then arrive at your destination just in time for check in. Safety first!

2. Pit stops: Are you a one stop per six hours kind of road tripper? Or do you stop every hour? If you stop every hour, count me out, especially with kids! Trust me, their legs won’t fall off if you don’t let them walk around. Stop at one of those fancy truck stops for one meal, full tank of gas, and restroom all in one.

3. Rest Stops: When the highway systems were made to expedite travel to destinations, rest areas were put into place for safe pull offs. Nowadays, these have play areas and lots of maps for car riding dreaming. Free papers with pictures? That’s a kid’s dream!

4. General safety: This should go without saying, but make sure you book a place in a safe area. Scope out reviews online, use Google street view to get an idea of the neighborhood, and call to ask the front desk for an honest review of you staying alone with kids. Airbnb is my preferred choice of accommodations. In a home, you can have separate bedrooms and more privacy to make your getaway feel like an actual vacation vs. torture chamber sharing one big room in a motel.

5. Planning: Don’t plan too much of a schedule; let your day flow. Map out places to eat so you never go hangry. Don’t pack every day too full, but do ask your kiddos ahead of time what they want to get out of the trip. In Savannah, my youngest daughter wanted to see a unicorn, son was interested in some history, and my other daughter wanted to taste test at every single candy shop. Letting kids pick some things gives them ownership of their getaway. This also makes sure that each kid has an age-appropriate activity.

6. Budget: Know how much you want to spend ahead of time and what expenses you can spare. If souvenirs aren’t your thing because you assume they’ll just be trashed a week later, have kids take pictures of memorable spots, journal about their day, or color a picture from what they saw. Skip fancy dinners and opt for takeout pizza and dinners in with a movie. Small city parks or larger forest parks for hiking are a favorite free activity. 

7. Rest: Most importantly, give yourself grace. I needed a break from routines at home and so did my kids. We tied in a visit to see family at St. Simons with a few days at a home in Savannah. Activities in the day led to tired kids by night. I did a lot of reading, quiet sitting, resting, long baths, and tv watching after they went to bed. We came home rested and found that Dad got some work done around the house without the kids underfoot. Win-win!

Have you vacationed with just your kids? Single Momma, married Momma, any Momma, you can do this! I found many other friends take trips out of town sans spouse and some Moms ask another relative or friend to tag along for back up. Where will you go next?