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Single Parent? What to Know Before Traveling Overseas with Your Child

by Susan Finch

Jan 2, 2018

© Victoriashvili | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

We’re all already terrified of flying long distances with kids and navigating a new experience, but it’s especially daunting when there’s just one of us. But you’ve got this. Being a single parent doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the dream vacation or much-needed break from the norm. Pack your bags and get ready to brave the experience as a single parent.


Bring a Stroller and Go Bag

If you’re a parent, you probably already feel like you don’t have enough hands, feet or eyes to keep track of your children at all times. But it can feel especially overwhelming when flying overseas and navigating another country without another parent to pitch in. Unless your child has outrageously outgrown their stroller, bring it with you along with a go bag. Pack up snacks, small items from the Dollar Store in case you need to wait in long customs lines or hotel desks, medication, change of clothes and a bottle of water.


Carry a Birth Certificate or Adoption Decree

You may have sailed in and out of the country several times with your children, but border patrol or customs can ask for proof you are their parent at any time. It can feel unsettling, make that panic-inducing, to get stopped to question your legitimacy as their parent. But if you share different last names or are from different ethnicities, it’s wise to bring along their paperwork to clear up any confusion quickly and get on your way.

father and son traveling

© Victoriashvili | Dreamstime.com


Consider Bringing a Letter from the Other Parent

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends carrying a letter signed by both parents that acknowledges they are aware the other is traveling with their child out of the country. This doesn’t have to be a complicated form or process. The site offers the example, “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission.” Of course, if you’re a single parent, you need to change the wording a bit, but it fulfills the needs of the government.


Ask for Help

You don’t have to do it all, and a trip overseas should be an exciting and adventurous time for everyone, not just the kids. Stop and ask for help when you need it. Whether you need someone to help with your luggage on the plane, grab some extra napkins for you, load your stuff into a taxi or just pitch in and chase a runaway ball, don’t be afraid to ask. People are generally willing to help and just need the go-ahead that you want it.


Look for Kids Clubs

Resorts and hotels alike often have special kids clubs or programs like movie nights and organized babysitting. Take advantage of it to get some much-needed downtime or a little splurge of social time on your own. Your kids will have a blast playing games and watching movies while you get to reclaim your sanity.


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