Traveling with children post-divorce can be challenging, however there are tricks to making it go smoother. If being used to having another adult helping out (your former spouse), consider enlisting a replacement. My mother was the “granny nanny” and accompanied my two sons and I on many of our global adventures. She escorted a tired child back to the ship, or even watched the boys play in a park while I hit a few shops.
Select destinations according to the ages of the children. Wee ones enjoy playing in the sand and staying put in one place. A condo at a beach or cabin at a lake fills this need nicely. Older ones crave adventure or exploring ruins like Indiana Jones. Think about a place that would be enjoyable for every family member. For example, many families where I reside, go to Costa Rica. One can take a leisurely stroll in the rainforest with a toddler, or have teens zip-lining through it. There are beaches for relaxing and museums for culture. Amusement parks, such as Disneyland, satisfies kids of all ages. See what travel deals you can get to make trips more affordable.
Several divorced parents advise going to all-inclusive resorts. The youngsters partake in fun sports or classes which enables mom or dad to have some free time. It is one price for food, lodging, and many of the offered activities. My friend liked to take her two sons to a Club Med, some which have circus classes for children. While her boys were dangling from ropes or on the trapeze, she was sipping a rum cocktail on the beach.
There are various travel companies which offer special tours for families. One has safaris to Africa where the youngsters meet with a chief to learn about tribal life. The single parents can be at the spa or working out during these few kids only events. There are plenty of experiences that are shared with the children. Not being hands on 24/7 gives the solo parent a much needed break.
For myself, traveling with children post-divorce often included going on ocean or river cruises. We took advantage of sales and 2 for the price of 1 offers. I did not have surprises with costs and selected trips that fit my budget. I liked unpacking only once and not waking up cranky boys to catch trains or buses. We sailed at night and merely walked off the ship to a new destination each morning.
Set boundaries on vacation just as you do at home, which includes curfew. My 14-year-old son was in the ship’s teen club where there was one girl who was traveling with her father and siblings. Early in our twelve-day Mediterranean cruise, the captain woke up all passengers at 2 a.m. urgently asking if anyone had seen this girl. My son later told me that she had been “in some dude’s cabin.” The father packed up the kids at the next port and flew them back home to California. She learned a life lesson the hard way. I respect that father for making it clear what was unacceptable.
Parents and schools can go overboard instilling fear into children regarding talking to strangers, as I have personally witnessed. The best times my sons and I have had on trips is interacting with strangers. I insist that my sons talk to many people which enriches their lives. On one European river cruise, my teenage son who is a dancer, discovered the perfect partner. Rose had been a chorus girl in West End shows in London for many years. They danced many a night away despite a fifty-five-year age difference.
That said, my sons are not allowed to go off somewhere with a stranger and must stay in a public area. Listen to your intuition and leave right away if something seems uncomfortable. On two occasions, once in Cuzco, Peru and another time in the Casablanca airport, a group of children surrounded my older boy. They appeared friendly and wanted to play with his Game Boy. I said “no” and yanked him away from the kids. My son was relieved that I quickly intervened as he felt that there was a sense of danger, too.
Keep in mind that there will be mishaps, delays or other problems when traveling. Down the road these disasters will make amusing stories to tell friends. We still laugh about many things that did not work out well at the time. Travel expands your children’s world and their relationship with you.