(Picture: The view as we head to Pigeon Forge, TN April 2, 2013 for Spring Break)
My daughters and I spend more time road tripping in our car, than traveling by plane, and we’ve never traveled by bus or train. What most of our travels have in common, though, is that we usually stay at a hotel.
As a single parent traveling with children, I have no desire to spend any portion of our trip searching out the nearest drug, grocery, or 24-hour store buying necessities that I forgot to bring from home.
Below I’ve provided a list of our travel must-haves, which help our stay remain uneventful, outside of the sights we’re seeing, friends we’re making, and memories we’re creating.
Single Parent Travel Must-Haves
While debit and credit cards are convenient, cash is handy for parking meters, small purchases at local stores, vending machines, tips, and toll roads.
You never know when that flaslight will run out, or some of the gadgets you brought along, so a 4-pack of different types of batteries will come in handy. And buying batteries when you’re on vacation because rather expensive quickly.
Although we don’t spend a lot of time in our hotel room, I like to have easy-to-carry snacks for the times when we miss breakfast, are still hungry after dinner, or just have a few more hours to go until the next big meal.
We sometimes bring plastic cups in our suitcase, but we usually just bring reusable bottles that we carry with us all day long, wherever we go. We’re so used to carrying them when we’re at home, that it’s no big deal to carry them when we’re on vacation. This also allows us to purchase 1 large drink and share it.
Flashlight and/or Night Light
A flashlight is good for cheap, nighttime entertainment for the kids, and doubles as an emergency light in the event of an… emergency! A night light allows kids and parents alike to make it to the bathroom without waking the whole family or stubbing a few toes. Remember, though, that this is also the item that’s easiest to leave because you’re likely to miss it on the quick glance through as you’re leaving the hotel.
Card Games or Puzzle Books
For the times when you’re waiting for a show to start, or spending time in your hotel room before bed, it’s nice to have a card game or two to keep the kids occupied and away from the television.
Reusable Bags and Ziploc Bags
A couple of reusable bags which fold down to fit inside your pocket really come in handy when you’re bringing extra items home or need to separate clean from dirty clothes in your suitcase. They take up hardly any room, but have so many uses. The same goes for Ziploc bags. Use them to control spills and corral small items.
Whether you use Over the Counter (OTC) or natural remedies, please be sure to pack medications that kids and adults can use for sudden coughs, colds, allergic reactions, upset stomach issues, and travel sickness issues. When there are two adults, one can stay with the kids while the other makes a mad dash to the store, but when you’re the only adult, there’s nothing worse than having to pack up the family (including the sick person – which just may be YOU) to find relief.
Wet Wipes or Hand Sanitizer
A Ziploc bag with antibacterial wipes, or a small bottle of hand sanitizer come in handy when you’re traveling. Shortly after you arrive at your hotel room you should take a few minutes to wipe down the light switches, bathroom sinks, and remote controls, since they’re the germiest surfaces in your room.
Light Jacket or Sweater
Every traveler needs a lightweight jacket in case you go inside a building or restaurant that’s freezing cold. When you’re not wearing it, just tie the sleeves around your waist to keep it out of your way.
You never know when you might find yourself and your family staying an extra day, or running out of clothes sooner than you planned. You can wash a change of clothes in the bathtub or sink, or head to the hotel laundry room with a single load. If you keep a couple of sample size laundry pouches, you’ll be ready to go in the event you need to wash before you get back home.
I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this idea on my own, but it’s brilliant. During our last hotel stay the nearest outlet was across the room, and I planned on reading in bed before I fell asleep, but couldn’t, because my phone was on the charger in that out-of-the way spot.
What’s my list missing? What are some of your travel must-haves when traveling with kids?