Traveling can be stressful—let alone with kids, without another parent to help out. As such, its important for single parents to have one thing completely figured out: safety. With a safety plan mapped out and emergency items in your bag, you’ll have a peace of mind and be safer as you travel from one place to another. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Make an Itinerary and Share It
Having an itinerary, and sharing it with someone back home is one of the first and easiest safety measures you can take, whether traveling alone or with kids. When traveling alone with your kids, give them a copy too so they’re empowered to know where they’re going and what you’re doing. Companies like MomAboard will build a complete itinerary for you and offer it in a pdf format you can forward to friends or family.
2. Make An Emergency Plan
Sharing and going over the itinerary with your children can help if children they get lost. With a copy of the itinerary, they may be able to find their way back to you easier. While this is a good fail-safe, you should still create an emergency plan and talk with your kids: “Make a plan ahead of time for what the kids should do if they become separated from you,” says Jennifer Wolf, with The Spruce. She continues, “In general, it’s a good idea to tell kids to look for someone in a uniform or another mom who has kids in a stroller. Even very young children can be taught mom or dad’s full name and your hometown.”
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, founder of MomAboard suggests slipping the card of the hotel into your children’s pockets, or making them remember the name as well.
You can even create emergency contact cards for your little ones; if they don’t remember, they can still get help.
3. Pack “Go-Bag” Items in Your Suitcase
A “go-bag” is kept at home with all the important items you’d need if you had to leave quickly and immediately. When traveling, you don’t need to bring the whole “go-bag” but it’s wise to pack some of the most important items so you’re prepared in case of an emergency. According to Putting Together The Ultimate Go-Bag: The Essentials, some of these items include:
Small first-aid kit
Utility or tactical knife (if not traveling on a plane)
Consider other items specific to you and your kids including extra medications, important allergy items, etc.
4. Avoid Check-In Lines
Check-in lines are a headache as a single parent with children tagging along. “Kids and long lines are always a recipe for disaster, and even more so when there’s just you to wrangle luggage and an antsy child,” says Christina Coppa for Parenting.com. To avoid this, use technology to your benefit by checking in online 24 hours early. When you get to the airport, you can print boarding passes at the self-use kiosk or simply use digital passes on your phone and head straight to security.
5. Don’t Skimp on Essentials
Essentials like a stroller increase safety when traveling alone with kids. With children sitting in a stroller, they’re easier to keep track of. Not to mention, you can keep various items in the pockets, making them easier to find. This way you spend less time digging through the catch-all bag you’re carrying on your shoulder.
When flying, however, the mindset is often, “Oh, we don’t have room for that,” or “That will be a pain to bring along.” Luckily, strollers can be checked at the gate and are not counted as bags, so this won’t cost you any extra money. Simply get on the plane, leave your stroller at the door and then grab it when you get off.
Did you know? MomAboard offers a trip planning service connecting traveling parents with local moms so you can travel with confidence. Try it now.
Further Reading: 15 Ways to Minimize Risk while Traveling
Keep yourself and your children safe when traveling with these tips. When you’re prepared for emergencies, have a plan in place and take extra precautions; you’ll travel with peace of mind and less stress.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full- time writer and content marketing consultant. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips and more.