Traveling as a parent in any capacity is challenging enough, especially when it comes to road trips. Traveling as a single parent amplifies all the challenges.
Many people are opting to travel by car right now, as the delta variant continues to affect the country.
Whether you’re planning a vacation with your kids or you’re going to visit family, you can survive a road trip as a single mom with tips like the ones below.
Get Your Mind Right
Anytime you’re behind the wheel, and your kids are with you, safety has to be a top priority. That’s especially true when you’re sharing the highway with big trucks.
When we say get your mind right, we mean to do what you can to prepare ahead of time for your trip, and then when you’re driving, don’t let your kids distract you. It can be easier said than done, but you have to be a mindful driver to be safe.
Be a defensive driver, meaning that you’re constantly scanning the road ahead of you and trying to anticipate what other drivers are going to do proactively.
Even if your kids are crying, you have to maintain your focus until you pull off the road. Don’t attempt to soothe them while you’re driving.
Prepare yourself before your road trip by remembering they inevitably will try and get your attention or need something on your road trip, but that they’ll have to wait.
While driving on a trip with your kids comes with challenges, remember that it can also give you more freedom and flexibility, which is critical as a parent.
For example, if you were going to take a plane, you’d have to work out schedules, and you might share your children with their other parents, giving you fewer options.
You’re also going to have to make sure you’re on time. Otherwise, your entire trip can be ruined. These aren’t issues when you drive, so while there are downsides, there are plenty of upsides too.
Get Your Car Checked Out
You never want to deal with car troubles, but especially not if you’re on a road trip with kids.
Before you leave, have a qualified mechanic check out the primary components on your vehicle and ensure that everything is working correctly.
Even when you do this, it’s still a good idea to have roadside assistance and keep the number handy since you never know what might happen.
Consider Renting Gear
If you’re traveling to a hotel, you might want to research how much it would cost to rent some of the gear you need for younger children. For example, if you need a pack and play or other sizable options, trying to pack them and transport them on your own isn’t always easy.
If you can have things waiting for you at your destination, it can reduce your workload.
Be smart with your packing too. Again, while it’s tempting to overpack so that you feel prepared for every possible situation, this is just going to be more cumbersome for you ultimately. Be a light packer as much as you can manage.
Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
Even though you might have a general idea of your route, if you haven’t already done it, take the time to precisely map it out before you leave. You want to make sure you’re not going to need directions along the way, plus you may not have a friend or someone else with you to help you navigate if you’re traveling as a single parent.
Yes, you might be able to use your GPS, but what will you do if you don’t have an internet connection?
Some apps will let you download your map ahead of time, which can be used even if you’re offline.
As you plan your route, it can be helpful to get an idea of where rest stops are going to be along the way. Try to incorporate how long it might take you to stop at least a few times, depending on the length of your trip, so that you don’t feel as rushed when you inevitably do have to pull over for a bathroom break.
Prep Your Front Seat
As we talked about above, safety is so important when you’re traveling any time, but especially with your kids. You don’t want to have to reach the back seat because every time you do this, you’re likely taking your eyes off the road and increasing the risk of being in an accident.
Get your front seat prepared with everything you’ll need if no one is sitting in it.
Keep snacks, a map if you need one, water, and anything else you think you might need while you’re driving in the front seat.
Consider a Podcast If Your Kids Are Old Enough
The more you can keep your kids entertained on a road trip, the better.
For kids who are old enough, there are great Podcasts geared toward them. You can put them on while you drive, and they’ll be engaging enough to give you at least some distraction-free time.
Many Podcasts for kids feature stories, and there are some specifically for younger and then older kids.
While it’s nice to have them be entertained, you do want to remember that sometimes it’s okay for them to be in their boredom a bit. We live in a time where everyone expects to be entertained at all times, and sometimes your kids might learn something from having some time where that’s not the case.
Finally, accept the unexpected will happen. What tends to ruin our travel experiences as parents are expecting everything to be perfect. When that doesn’t happen, it can be frustrating and upsetting.
Go into your road trip knowing that not everything is going to go according to plan, and that’s okay and, in fact, inevitable.