For as much as I love to travel with my family, I have also grown to really like traveling solo. I’ll never forget the first time I had to travel on my own. I was 23 years old, a single mom and started a new job that required me to travel. Back then even the idea of flying terrified me. Funny how things change because now I probably travel alone more than I travel with kids these days.
Even though my kids are used to me traveling fairly often, my 8 year old daughter in particular, sometimes has a tough time when she knows I am leaving for a trip. I have shared about her struggles with anxiety in the past and I have constant mom guilt about being cautious not to add to her stress.
Since I don’t think I am the only parent who experiences this, I have 9 tips for when you don’t travel with kids, which I hope makes those times a little easier.
9 Tips For When You Don’t Travel With Kids
1. Find the right time to tell your kids you will be traveling.
You know your child best and depending on how you think they will handle the news that you are leaving, it may be best to wait to share the news until only a few days before.
I realized that method worked better with my daughter after I told her about a trip I was going on months in advance and she was anxious for all that time leading up to the trip.
I have learned my lesson and now I usually only tell my kids a week or even a few days before I am traveling.
2. Share details of your trip with your child.
Before a trip I always make sure to talk with my kids about where I am going, what I will be doing there and for how long I will be away. Sometimes we look at pictures online of where I will be traveling to and I make them feel apart of the trip by asking what they would do if they traveled there.
3. Give kids a fun calendar to keep track of the days you are away for.
My daughter loves knowing exactly how many days I will be away for, so we got her a fun bubble wrap calendar to keep track.
We also keep a family calendar in the kitchen where I write all the things my kids have going on while I am gone. That way they can keep busy with their own activities and plans while my husband or I am away.
4. Encourage kids to journal and write while you are away.
Over the years I have purchased many journals, planners, notebooks and more for my everyone in my family. When my kids started saying they didn’t know what to do with them or write about, I suggested they keep a travel journal during times I am away. This way they can have some creative fun by documenting our time apart, which gives us lots to talk about when I am back home.
We both get to share our experiences with each other which makes for great conversation and bonding time.
5. Leave surprises behind for your kids.
To help reduce separation anxiety and even give your child something to look forward to while you are gone, I suggest leaving surprise notes.
My daughter has told me in the past that finding random notes from me inside her favorite dollhouse, school bag or tucked within her favorite stuffed animal or doll at night makes me being away much better.
6. Schedule time for phone or video calls so your child can see and hear you even when you are away.
Thanks to smartphones, FaceTime, Skype and more, being away doesn’t have to feel so far. My kids know they can call me anytime when I am away, but I limit my calls to them so it doesn’t make the separation even more difficult (especially for my daughter).
I will admit that my husband is often better than me at keeping things under control at home, which is a good thing because I don’t feel like I have to “check in” often when I travel.
7. Turn your travels into a unique learning experience for kids.
My kids don’t have that wallpaper I had, but we have globes, scratch off maps, travel quotes and more all around our home to fuel their wanderlust. I have inspired them to travel in a unique way, even when they aren’t leaving the house.
When my husband or I travel somewhere our kids have never visited we encourage them to learn some things about the place.
They love asking me questions when I return to hear about what I saw, explored and of course if I brought back any souvenirs.
8. Let your child feel like they are a part of the travel process, even though they aren’t going on the trip too.
My daughter and I have a routine where she helps me pack up my carry on luggage before I travel. We spend time together talking about the weather where I am going and she also helps me pick out clothes and shoes. One of my favorite parts is that sometimes she sneaks one of her favorite stuffed animals into my bag for me to find after I have arrived.
My daughter loves when I pack her clothes as if she is going away too, which also makes it easier for my husband each day by not having to figure out what she is going to wear.
9. Make sure to free up your schedule, post-travel, to spend quality time with your family.
Even though you may be jet lagged when you return, remember that your family, especially younger kids, may have been really missing you and will want your time and attention.
When I don’t travel with kids I make sure to plan something fun when I get back to do with my family. My daughter likes to have a charcuterie board/sleepover date night (I mean all 8 year olds love cheese boards), and my son loves to watch a movie, go bowling, visit Philly and play sports.
This week I will actually be traveling with my son and I have already started to implement some of my don’t travel with kids tips above to prepare my daughter for me being away.
To my kids, I know I am not always the parent you need me to be, and I know it’s not always easy but hopefully I have instilled in you to always be yourself. Just because you may be a spouse and/or a parent someday, that doesn’t mean you have to stop being you or doing things you love. We will always be connected and I am always going to be your mom no matter where in the world we may be.
*This post contains affiliate links, but all parenting tips and opinions are my own.