5 Tips for Traveling Solo (with Kids)

I am a teacher.  My husband works retail and just recently completed his commitment with the Army National Guard.  Needless to say, we do not have a whole lot of time off together to go traveling.  It is horribly unfair for my husband, but if we waited for him to be available to travel, the Boo would never experience the outside world.  By my parenting philosophy (you can read more about that here), we would be doing her a serious injustice.  That being said, I go solo…a lot.  Probably more often then not.

I’m not the sort to vacation by myself with a Post2baby (at least not yet!), so our solo road trips are usually to visit family out of state or meet family for a vacation.  It makes me feel a lot better knowing that I have support on either end of the trip!  Things have not always been smooth sailing on these trips, but we have learned a lot along the way.  Keep in mind that I am a woman, so this is definitely reflected in my tips.

1.  Choose your route wisely.  You are traveling by yourself (with a child), so safety is a priority.  While there is a certain appeal to traveling the scenic route, highways and interstates might be the safer option.  Speaking as someone who has been stuck on the side of the road with car trouble more times than I care to remember (I have the worst luck!), it is better to be stuck on the highway.  Police patrol these roads with greater frequency and road services (like AAA) will have an easier time finding you.

2.  Pick safe stops.  Again, you need to consider safety here – especially if you are traveling after dark.  Look for well lit and populated areas.  Sheetz is my favorite road side stop.  I have always found them to be easily accessible, clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly people.  I have also felt comfortable stopping in populated mall and strip mall parking lots.  Just remember to make safety a priority.  If you do not feel comfortable about any aspect of the stop, move on.  I would rather drive around with a screaming baby for an hour than stop somewhere shady.

3.  Babywearing.  Do it.  I cannot imagine traveling solo without my soft-structured carrier.  Consider bathroom breaks.  There is nowhere to put an infant in a public restroom.  “Umm, here kid.  Just sit on the floor until I’m done.” – Gross!  Even though Boo can stand now, I still don’t want her touching anything in the bathroom!  My solution?  I strap the kid in a front carry and take care of business!

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My 17 month old’s travel toy stash!

4.  Keep everything you need on the shot gun seat.  A bag of toys, snacks, water, extra pacifiers…  The goal is to have everything easy to reach without having to take your eyes off the road.  So when your traveling companion gets a little demanding, you can (attempt to) keep them happy until you find a safe place to stop.  I have become pretty skilled at reaching over the rear-facing seat and popping a pacifier in Boo’s mouth without taking my focus off the road!

5. Coffee through the drive-thru is a lifeline!  Driving all that distance by myself?  Definitely need some coffee.  Make that a LOT of coffee.  It always seems that when the coffee need strikes, Boo is taking a nap.  Something about the sleepy vibes in the air, I think.  So I could wake her up, drag her grumpy, half-asleep self out of the car, and then stuff her now-awake (but still grumpy) self back into her car seat when my coffee need is met.  OR I could find a drive-thru and hope that all of the talking doesn’t wake her up.  You make your own choice here, but I’m sticking with Option #2.  Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts frequently have drive-thrus, but McDonald’s (now that they have McCafe!) is usually my go-to.  They are everywhere!

How do you survive a solo road trip with the kids?

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