If youʼre embarking upon a short — or long — trip with just you and your kids, youʼre a very brave soul indeed. Iʼve always considered myself a seasoned traveler, having been introduced to the international life as a young Army brat living around the world. But when youʼre the one in the driverʼs seat instead of the one who gets to simply enjoy the ride, thereʼs much more to consider than the sights you get to see along the way.
Step one: what youʼre going to pack. Diversions, diversions, diversions
When itʼs just you and your kiddos stuck in the same hotel or apartment for days on end — perhaps due to inclement weather, canceled flights or some other calamity — youʼd better be prepared for lots of options for entertainment. You might shun the electronic devices back home, but believe me, theyʼre going to be a godsend when youʼre on the road. Just try to balance spending the money on the high-dollar item that could get lost or stolen with choosing something that offers games, e-books and other fun things to keep the kids occupied. My child bought her own iPod before we left for our year-long journey, and itʼs been a great help in avoiding inevitable crushing boredom. Research ahead of time what converters youʼll need to use the electrical outlets, so those electronics can stay charged, but donʼt overlook card games, books, colored pencils and other art supplies.
Prescriptions and preventative medicine
Donʼt just pack the medications you think youʼll need for your kiddo — also bring along copies of the prescription, ideally translated into any languages youʼll be encountering along the way. While youʼre at it, have your doctorʼs notes translated too.
Travel insurance and instructions for what to do in an emergency
If your child is hurt, travel insurance eases your worries about paying for the ordeal. But if youʼre hurt, whoever ends up caring for your child is going to need information about who to contact, what medications you might be allergic to, and how to access your passports, travel visas, insurance documents and other important information. If your child is old enough, make sure they knows where to find these items in an emergency, and review an emergency plan with them. If your child is not old enough, seek out friends of friends, colleagues, volunteer coordinators or other people with whom you have a relationship and alert them to where to find your information.
When youʼre traveling solo with your child, simply carrying that child around is burden enough — let alone all the extra clothing, toys, gadgets and other stuff you thought you needed. Sure, bring along a few key items that can help your child feel at home, such
as a favorite blankie or a beloved stuffed animal, but resist the urge to max out your luggage allowance. In transit, youʼll thank yourself for packing light — giving you more time to focus your attention on your precious children.
Set up lines of communication back home.
As a solo parent abroad, youʼre going to need a support network more than you ever have. Whether you use Facetime, Skype, or some other video or online chat feature, make sure your family and friends know how to reach you, and set up scheduled times to talk. This will help you sound off about what youʼre going through and remind your kids that theyʼre still connected to a community back home.
Traveling solo with your kids is joyful, and also the hardest thing youʼll have ever done in your life — but when theyʼre grown and theyʼre embarking on journeys of their own, your kids are going to thank you for every minute.
By Nicole Vulcan.
Nicole is a global nomad from the United States, currently living and working in beautiful Granada, Nicaragua, where she spends her time writing, riding bike and exploring the land of lakes and volcanoes with her 11-year old daughter. Find her work at http://www.nicolevulcan.blogspot.com.