Traveling Solo with Kids? Hack Your Trip with These Tips

It might have been between the fifteenth “I don’t wanna” and the twentieth “I can’t walk” that it hit me. I was going to be traveling, alone, with my two children for four days. My face must have drained of all color because my husband gave me a look.

Immediately, I went into survival planning mode. I had to rock this trip!

Hack your solo trip with kids using these tips

1. Tech Time

Give in to the devices. Seriously, just do it. I know you feel kind of guilty about plugging your preschooler into a screen for endless viewings of Moana. We’ve all seen the posts about super parents who somehow enjoy a long road trip or timezone crossing flight without screens.

You really shouldn’t feel bad at all for using technology to survive this trip. Own the fact that everyone will arrive alive and slightly less crazy thanks to that screen time.

2. Travel Schedules

There is no perfect time to travel no matter what the perfect internet parents say. Try to pick a time that works slightly better for your family and roll with it. This last trip, I chose the flight that was mostly close to nap time. My goal was to hopefully have at least one child sleep for part of the flight. Luckily it worked out mostly ok. The

Luckily it worked out mostly ok. The little one napped for half of the first flight while my older baby watched a movie. My bigger child napped for half of the return flight and the baby conked out for the last 45 minutes. I’ll call it a success!

Whether you are working around meals, sleep or budget, do what makes the most sense.

3. Pack Smart

When moving alone with multiple children, it is best to have almost nothing with you. Unfortunately, that is not possible when traveling. Instead, pack super simply and cut the proverbial fat.

On this trip, we were only really in our destination for two days, plus the return flight. I packed each child three outfits, plus a spare set of clothes. I did the same for me. Since I still have a small baby, I’m stuck on diaper duty. I only packed the barest of minimums, plus a few emergency diapers.

All of this went into a swivel wheel rolling suitcase that I checked at the counter. Our carry-on bags were backpacks: one for me and one for the preschooler. I kept the survival essentials, like extra clothes and diapers, in mine. She carried the toys, treats and tech.

4. Free Hands

With two kids, it’s impossible to have two free hands. Since I have a baby still, I babywear him as much as possible. This leaves me with one hand to carry the kid backpack and the other hand to wrangle the other child.

If you aren’t bringing carry-on bags or other things that require a hand to pull, take your stroller. Not having to carry or otherwise move two children through the airport made all the difference in the world!

5. Ask for Help

You may feel like you shouldn’t need to ask for help. After all, these are your children on your trip. Listen to me and just do it.

Ask the flight attendants to hold the baby while you use the restroom. If your seatmate on the plane seems kosher, you could go that route as well. When going through security, ask about using the priority or express line if possible. Lots of times the airport staff will take pity and let you through in the fast lane.

I was struggling with my luggage, a stroller and two backpacks while wearing a baby. Suddenly, a very kind gentleman appeared to lift my bag onto the airport shuttle. Other people helped lift the stroller over large gaps on the subway or held elevator doors open for us.

This trip was made possible through the kindness of strangers.

6. Be Kind

First, cut yourself some slack. You are taking on a challenge by traveling solo with children. Not only are there just the logistics of flying or driving, but you are also working with unpredictable little people.

It’s ok if you lose your cool or need to ask for help. Give yourself grace in those moments and know that we have all been there.

Second, extend that grace to your children. Travel is stressful for everyone. Your children will be doing something new, going to an unknown destination and will be off of their normal schedule. Meltdowns and tantrums will happen. Knowing this is half the battle.

Which leads me to:

7. Bribes

You travel to have a good time. This can be hard if you are constantly battling a preschooler who has feet that “just hurt so much.” Instead, I like to use vacation negotiation tactics in the form of sugar or small toys.

I am not above prompting my child to behave with the promise of a cookie if she can make it through this one photo exhibit. I’ve been known to be very liberal with the ice cream and popsicles to help tiny humans handle sightseeing on warm days. There is usually a small stash of coins and small bills in my backpack for emergency dollar store toys or grocery store rides.

Honestly, it’s the little things that helped me to enjoy solo travel with little ones. By little, I mean little bags of M&Ms and not hearing her watch Moana yet again.

How do you handle solo travel with kids? Share your best tips in the comments.

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