Single Parent Holidays Travel Blog

The Ultimate Single Parent Guide to Holiday Packing

From passports to flip flops: Check out our holiday packing list for your next single parent holiday

You might know the feeling: You have booked a single parent holiday, just you and the children. Excellent, you are thinking, we should be celebrating! Yet your excitement is somewhat muted as you think of all the things you need to do in preparation for your trip. There is no one else to share the load and help you pack, and you literally want to wind the clock forward to that moment you and the kids are on that plane, passports and suitcases packed.

Well, we know how busy our hard-working solo mums are and all the things that can go wrong. If you have once forgotten to renew your little one’s passport, you are not alone. It happens more often than you think.

So, without further ado, here is a list of all the things you need to tackle in preparation for your single parent holiday abroad:

Don’t forget the paperwork

Don’t forget to check that your paperwork is in order! This includes passports for all family members, travel insurance and permission from your ex. We know how busy our single mums and dads are, and how little time there is left at the end of the day, but check all your documents are in order as soon as you have booked your break:


Make sure mum’s and kids’ passports are up to date. Your passports are likely to have different expiry dates, so it’s easy to get caught out. Should either of you require new documents, you should apply for your new passport asap. We advise applying at the latest two months before travel. Keep paper or digital copies of your passports with you on holiday in case of loss.

Note: You do not need to renew your UK passports during or after the transition period unless it expires. If you are travelling in 2020, your passports only need to be valid for the period of travel within most European countries. From 1 January 2021, however, both yours and the children’s passports need to have six months left on them for travel to Europe (except Ireland) as a result of the UK leaving the EU.passport and boarding pass - paperwork for single mum holiday

Permission from the other parent

Whether you have sole parental responsibility, joint parental responsibility, a residence order or child arrangements order in place, you need to be aware that there is a good chance that you will be asked to produce paperwork to prove that you are allowed to take your child abroad. This may be proof of your relationship with your child (birth certificate) or the consent of anyone else with parental responsibility. Don’t travel without the correct paperwork as both airlines and border control could stop your onward journey.

Travel insurance

If you are a British citizen, you can apply for a GHIC card (previously EHIC card), giving you free state healthcare in the EU and EEA nations, as well as Switzerland. In addition, it is wise to get additional  private travel insurance to cover you for scenarios such as theft, falling ill before your holiday necessitating cancellation of your trip, treatment  for a long term or pre-existing condition, or repatriation in case you or your children fall severely ill and wish to or must return to the UK. If you have already bought travel insurance, check that it’s up to date and covers the country you visit and the activities you and your children are planning to pursue.

Booking details

You might have the details on your smartphone, but what if you cannot access the right folder or have no wi-fi when you step off the plane? Make the time to print your boarding passes and booking vouchers or at least the address and telephone number of your accommodation and transfer. If you haven’t booked a transfer to your hotel, print directions, or if you are driving yourself, map the way out in advance on Google maps and save everything on your smartphone, so you don’t rely on mobile phone reception.single mum packing holiday clothes

Buy and pack these holiday clothes and accessories

Don’t forget to check in good time before your trip if you or your children need any new holiday clothes. It is likely that your kids have outgrown last year’s summer clothes, swimwear, sandals and flip flops and that your wardrobe needs a little updating, too.

Beware that if you are going to a hot destination in the middle of a UK winter, you won’t find many summer accessories in the shops. That means shopping for holiday items online. Buying quality products that can be worn again at home for special occasions is a great way of saving money in the long run. You may also be lucky enough to purchase some items in the sale as you are buying off peak! Additionally, don’t forget to pack a few elegant dresses for special occasions for yourself. After all, you will want to look your best at those memorable evening events, be that a themed night, a gala dinner, or a night out on the town.

Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to check our beach holiday packing list:

  • waterproof sunscreen with high SPF
  • DEET-free insect repellent
  • sunglasses (not just for mum, also for sensitive kids’ eyes)
  • beach toys
  • armbands
  • goggles
  • deodorant, antiperspirant and/or perfume
  • beach towels if not provided
  • two bathing suits/bikinis/trunks each
  • sun hats, ideally with UV protection for the kids
  • light beachwear for going to and from the pool/beach
  • flip flops or crocs
  • sandals
  • trainers for travel and activities outside the hotel
  • underwear and socks
  • t-shirts
  • shorts and skirts
  • daytime and evening dresses for mum
  • footwear for the evenings
  • jumpers/cardigans/lights jackets for travel and cooler evenings
  • pyjamas
  • workout clothes if you are planning to go for a run or gym

girl with armbands playing on beach on single mum holidayOther travel essentials

If it’s your first holiday as a mum you want to make sure you have all the things you need to take for first time vacations with your little ones. If you are a solo mum flying alone with children, you want your hands free at the airport and entertainment on the flight and during the holiday. You are the sole entertainer, when it’s just you and your children. One of my travel hacks is a little surprise, such as a small toy or new kids’ magazine. So, consider buying a small gift for the journey – it is bound to provide many hours of much-needed peace. Of course, you need to pack wisely, too, when it comes to weight and space as there is only one adult to carry the bags and a luggage allowance to think of.

So, here are some holiday essentials you must not forget to pack, including some holiday accessories that will help keep any single mum or dad sane:

  • paperwork (passports, permission from dad, EHIC card, travel insurance, booking details)
  • mobile phone incl. charger
  • several power plug adapters
  • camera, including charger
  • currency
  • handbag
  • rucksack
  • beach bag
  • prescription glasses if you need them
  • any regular medication mum or kids need (buy from a pharmacy online if under time pressure)
  • first aid kit with remedies for travel sickness, headaches, colds, tummy aches and mosquito bites
  • washbags for everyone
  • DVD player or another favourite gadget incl. charger and headphones
  • DVDs
  • magazines and colouring books
  • crayons
  • books (or kindle) for mum and kids
  • small favourite toys for plane and hotel

kids inflatables on beach: pack for your single mums holidayTravelling on your own with kids may be that little bit harder, but it is all worth it. With a little extra organisation pre-holiday, you can all relax, have fun and enjoy your well-deserved solo family trip. We hope our packing guide for single parents will contribute to make this your perfect family trip. When you have saved for your holiday all year and really need that annual break, arguably the highlight of anyone’s year, you deserve it!

If you liked our single parent guide to holiday packing, these “what to pack” guides might also come in handy:

Or if you are going skiing, check these guides to ski holiday packing out:

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