As a single parent, you don’t need to be told that Christmas is a tough season to experience. It is an emotional roller coaster with both parties trying to make the best of a difficult situation. So, even the thought of travelling during one of the busiest times of the year can be quite intimidating. Nevertheless, you don’t actually have to lose your sanity – though you might find this hard to believe. As long as you are well-prepared and stay in the right frame of mind, this can be a positive experience for all. So, without further ado, here’s a single parent’s guide to staying sane when travelling at Christmas:
Get Permission from the Other Parent
If you are flying out of the country, then the legal issues can get a bit sticky. To avoid any misunderstandings, it is best to get a letter from the other parent, notifying the authorities that you are taking your children abroad. This is something you should do, even if you are given sole custody of your child. If there is any confusion at the airport or borders, this piece of paper can save you a great deal of hassle.
At the same time, make sure to take all documents that prove you are related to one another. This is especially important if you and your children don’t share the same last name. In such an instance, your passports alone may not be enough. So, birth certificates and a divorce certificate should be carried with you.
Book Your Seats Ahead of Time
There is nothing more frustrating to board your flight only to be told that you can’t sit together. Sure, the flight attendants may eventually arrange it so that you are all together but it can end up being rather annoying for everyone involved. Try to handle this first when booking the tickets. Also keep in mind that many airlines will charge you extra for seat allocation. So, if you are trying to save money, this may not be a priority. It will, however, cut down on the stress of getting your kids into their seats.
Handle Everything Online
The check-in counter at the airport is what single parent nightmares are made of. So, it stands to reason that avoiding this at all costs should be a priority. This can be managed by checking in online – if this service is applicable to the airline you are flying. You can then check in up to 24 hours before your flight and print out your boarding passes. Then, you and your kids will not be expected to show up at the airport quite as early.
Pack and Dress Your Kids in Visible Clothing
This is a useful tip when packing your kids’ suitcases as well as when you are travelling with them. The first thing you should do is to pack highly visible clothes. The more they stand out, the better. This way, you will be able to tell where your kids are with a single glance. In case they don’t have many of these items, go shopping for fluorescent hats or vests that they can wear while you are out and about.
For the actual flight – brightly coloured pyjamas are the way to go. First off, they are noticeable, even if your kids decide to do a runner. Secondly, they are comfortable and you don’t have to worry about changing your little one if they do (hopefully) decide to take a nap.
Take Further Safety Precautions
As a single parent, your natural state would be worry, and this is only amplified when you are travelling. After all, it can often seem like danger is lurking behind every corner. Fortunately, there are a number of remedies for this. If your kids are too young to memorise names, phone numbers, or hotel addresses, ID bands will be a good substitute. You can note down important contact information on these so that a Good Samaritan will know how to reach you.
Hanging a whistle around their neck can also alert you to your little one’s location, should you get separated. Another safety tip to remember is to take photographs. Take a picture of your child every day, once they have been dressed. Make sure it is clear and visible. This way, you will have something to show people if your children get separated.
Bring Lots of Activities
Somehow, when you are travelling, your kids’ energy levels seem to reach improbable heights. This can wear down even the calmest of people. To prevent getting angry with your children, it is best to provide as much entertainment as you can. Colouring books, puzzles, games, and anything else that you can think of will come in handy. Provide a small knapsack for each child where they can easily carry and access their goodies. Snacks, as you can imagine, will be a welcome distraction as well.
Give Yourself a Break – Take the Easy Route
You probably have a few rules when it comes to screen time and technology. Well, you are only human, so it is fine to bend these rules a bit since your kids will be cooped up in one place for a long time. To avoid any future tantrums, make certain they understand that this is a special occasion.
Then, load up the tablets, computers, or similar devices with games and movies. If you are lucky, this should stop even the most grievous of arguments or crying jags in their tracks. At the very least, the other passengers on your flight will be thankful for it.
Be Prepared for Anything
Last but not least, you will need to be prepared for anything your kids or the universe might throw at you. This is particularly vital if you are travelling to an area where you don’t speak the language and may not be certain of what you will require. So, stock up on medication that your kids might need. If you are packing liquids, ensure that you are following airport security restrictions. Bandages, colourful plasters, and ointments are a good idea as well.
You will also need to arm yourself with insect repellent and sprays that can help relieve bug bites. Make sure these products are safe for children. If you aren’t sure, check with a doctor beforehand so that you can avoid any further issues.
There is no denying that there are bound to be a few tears and tantrums while travelling – some of these may even come from you. However, just remember to keep a cool head and to be as patient as possible with your kids. This is all anyone can ask of you. Also, try to have fun, as this is what your children will remember most about the trip.