Travelling as a solo parent can be frustrating and stressful. Some resorts charge full adult prices for children if you don't have two paying adults. Then there are long line-ups at airports, not enough activities to keep your child entertained and early morning or late night flights that seemed like a good idea because of the price, Until you're actually standing at the airport with a tired and cranky child and others around you are giving you the "I hope they aren't on my plane" look.
I've been there. I've travelled alone with my kids so much that I'm now an expert on how to make my life easier. Let me share a few pro tips with you that will make your vacation fun and memorable, and help to reduce the stress of traveling solo.
Find solo parent friendly resorts
I find that a lot of resorts will only offer kids prices when there are two paying adults on the trip. This is annoying, because one adult and one child will not drink and eat as much as two adults. However, some resorts will charge a kids price for your child even though there is only one paying adult.
When resort shopping, look for ones that say "kid free (single) room." Those vacations will typically be cheaper than the ones that even say "kid free (double.)" And look at the final price, not just the adult listed price. Some resorts may look expensive, but the total price will actually be cheaper because you aren't paying two adult prices. You may have to search a little harder, but it's worth it to save a lot more.
Try and look for resorts that offer more than just a pool and beach
Many resorts have great kids' programs, but if your child doesn't like to be without you in new places, then you are going to want more than just a pool and beach. Some resorts offer water parks, cenotes, lazy rivers, petting zoos and more.
Upgrade your ticket to skip lines
I would definitely consider upgrading your ticket so that it allows you to skip lines at the airport. For an extra fee, many airlines will let you check in at the "plus counter," where there is a much shorter wait. You don't always have to book the expensive plus seats to get this service. As a solo parent, it can be hard to control one or more kids on your own, especially in long lines. Depending on the age of your child, this added expense might just save your sanity.
Book a private transfer
I will sometimes book a one-way private car ride to the resort instead of getting on the large bus that stops at many different places. This can make your kids more comfortable, plus they won't bother other people who would be on a busy bus. And the best part is, your private transfer will get to the resort before the large bus and prevent you from waiting in a two-hour line to check in.
This has cost me anywhere from $30 to $50 depending on the destination, and as I said before, I would rather pay $50 to save my sanity and start enjoying my vacation faster. I will take the included transfer back to the airport, because I'm not as worried about waiting in the line there. You can check review sites to see if your resort tends to have long wait times to check in. If it does, this is a great option.
Check the flight times before you book
I try not to book a flight that leaves at night on the way home because, then you are wandering around the resort for a full day without a home base. Many resorts have storage rooms for your stuff, but they aren't secure, so you may end up carrying around any valuables you have. And, if your kids are anything like mine, they do like to have a break from the sun at some point during the day. Not having a room can cause more misery than you realize.
Same goes for your arrival. If you book a flight that arrives before 3 p.m., chances are your room won't be ready, and kids want the vacation to start as soon as you get there. If you're going to book a flight that arrives early, make sure you bring a carry on that has a change of clothes, and what you need for swimming, or an activity that you would like to do while you're waiting for your room.
Bring inflatable pool toys
If your kids are like mine, then they like having inflatable toys so they can just float and relax in the pool, or go crazy jumping on it. So buy these at home and bring them with you. They are sometimes available for purchase at the resort, but they will be very expensive. And, I guarantee, if your child sees other kids playing with inflatables, they're going to want one too.
Invest in a lock bag
I bought a lock bag a few years ago, and it is one of the best purchases I've ever made. The bag comes with a lock and small chain, so you can thread the chain through the bag and easily lock it to the leg of a chair, or almost anything. You can put your room key, phone, wallet and any other valuables in it then, go and enjoy the fun with your kids without having to keep a constant eye on your stuff.
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It make take a bit of extra research and planning, but it's worth it to have a fun, relaxing and stress-free vacation.
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