Travelling solo with my child! I repeated the idea in my mind over and over again, did all calculations, safety plans, backup for contingencies and took the leap, believing in the adventurer in me. In one word, the experience was ‘Uplifting’.
Bookings done, bags packed, excitement levels high (my son’s), anxious excitement for me..we finally embarked upon this journey which was going to be a completely new experience for me and my 4 year old. Delhi to Ranthambore, to the jungle, village and the famous fort!
All parents know that travelling with a 4 year old can get stressful, even when your spouse or family accompanies you. Imagining to do it all by yourself sounds a bit scary, too much of a responsibility. And fun? Where will that come from, if you are not able to chill?
Making the right choices and advance planning to the last detail can save the day for you and turn it into a trip of a lifetime. From choosing the right destination, to the mode of transport, hotel, mode of sightseeing, level of exploration, planning for idle time at hotel to customised meals for your child, everything acts as a make or break factor for such trips. I did my research, not just on Google, but spoke to the locals (hotels, safari agents, etc.), weighed all options and then finalised the itinerary.
I am sharing my experience and tips today to help parents (especially mothers) travel solo with their kid. This article is an offshoot of my recent trip to Ranthambore National Park, on which I will soon be writing in detail.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Deciding the Destination
This one is tricky, the traveler in you wants to try the unbeaten path, soak in the adventure and tread to an offbeat place with not much infrastructure around. However, the parent in you seeks comfort for your child, an easy stay and journey and most importantly, safety for both of you. Choose a mildly adventurous destination with good hotels/ accommodation options around which provide adequate safety.
While choosing the destination, keep in my mind how long will be the journey and how will you make the journey. Try to keep the road trips short while travelling with small kids solo, try to fly to your destination. If you are making a road-trip, take frequent breaks and keep the map of possible stop overs (with options for an emergency stay) ready.
Although my son slept through most of the road journey from Jaipur airport to Ranthambore (3 hours), it might not happen always. Kids tend to get restless and fussy during long road trips. Keep their favorite music, toys or books handy during road journeys. Choose to go by train, only if you and your child have done it before (with family or spouse), so that you know what challenges could be in store for you. Trains have a lot of space for your child to run around. Keeping a watch on him/her and your stuff at the same time can get exhausting.
Pack light, always carry a backpack and keep your hands free. There is going to be a lot of running around.
Small snacks (fruits, nuts, sandwiches, chocolates) keep the child full and happy. Keep them handy, along with the water bottle.
Keep Distractions Handy
Always carry your child’s favorite toy (small one), crayons, sketch books, story books etc to keep him/ her busy during journeys and idle time at hotels.
Choice of Hotel
Don’t compromise on quality of your accommodation, save later. Choose a hotel with more than basic facilities – with a pool, activity room for kids, a variety of food options, 24×7 snack bar, room service and laundry service. All these will be helpful in keeping your child engaged at times when you want to relax. The Tigress is one such resort in Ranthambore.
Talk to the chef of hotel in advance if he can prepare customized food for your child, even during buffets. Usually good hotels provide this service a no extra charge. This facility was a life-saver for me, as would be for parents of fussy eaters. I briefed the hotel well in advance about my child’s food preferences and gave a sample menu to them – khichdi and curd, stuffed paranthas, hot chocolate, dal-rice, fruits (all seasonal) etc. Almost all hotel kitchens can prepare this in no time.
If you are going to a national park or sanctuary, carry a binocular for your child. This will help keep him busy and let you click pictures easily without interruption. Though Jeep safaris are always tempting, opt for a canter safari if you are alone with a child. There, you will not have to keep holding him/her all the time.
Talk to your child before and during the journey about the trip. Keep him mentally prepared for what is coming and set his/her expectations right. This will avoid unnecessary show of tantrums later. Treat your child as your travel partner, not a responsibility. Share moments with him, show him and teach him things while on the go. Let him immerse in the experience. This will create long lasting memories and learning for him. This was the best part of our journey.
Trust but Cautiously
Delegate tasks, get all the help you can from airport staff and hotel staff. People help solo parent travelers. I sometimes get priority check-ins at airports 🙂 When you go sightseeing, take the hotel’s cab. Yes, it is expensive but safer and most of the good hotels send a member of their staff along (usually the driver) to show you around and help with the child. Never leave your hotel room unlocked, even if you are inside.
Be cautious, but do not over-judge people. Don’t blindly trust them but take them along and enjoy the journey. Logistics usually work well with a bit of planning, don’t over-think.
I have traveled solo a lot (without taking my child along) which makes you shed your inhibitions and exposes you to different people. It makes you intuitive, teaches you to trust your judgement and embrace the world as it is.
However, when you travel alone with a child, the experience is even more rewarding. You see people from a different perspective, get to know the better side of them. In general, if they don’t mean any harm, they are extremely helpful and sensitive towards you. This is Indian people I am talking about. Yes, I was surprised too. But that has been my experience.
Caution, right judgement and trust in yourself are the only things which can help you gain this amazing experience.
Turning into a parent was temporarily hampering to my travels. I took baby steps and tried coming out of my comfort zone to pursue my passion, I could not have let it dwindle like that. And that’s when travelling solo with my son happened to me. Yes, it took a bit of convincing myself, believing in myself, fiercely protecting my child at occasions. But everything fell in place with the right planning and trusting myself.
Hope these tips instill some confidence in you to go solo with your kid. Such journeys will always stay with both of you, and re-invent your bond 🙂
Do you still have any questions or suggestions or need any help in planning solo trip with your child? If yes, please feel free to post them either in the comments section of this article below or direct message on Instagram.
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Happy traveling to you!!!
Do follow @soulful_worldview on Instagram for updates on my next adventure.
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