How to survive your first holiday as a single parent

Embarking on a holiday with kids on your own for the first time can feel like a real challenge, especially when you are still grieving the loss of your partner through separation, divorce, or, worse, bereavement. You want to have a much-deserved family holiday, yet you feel overwhelmed by the logistics and the challenges of navigating an unfamiliar place without a partner helping to take care of the kids. 

As overwhelming as it might feel at first, a holiday with kids on your own is doable. Here is how to not just survive your first holiday as a single parent, but how enjoy every minute of it: 

Choose where to travel

First things first: How do you decide where to travel for your first solo trip with your children? Make a list of all the things that are important to you and your kids. Destinations popular with families include theme parks, beach resorts, and cities with plenty of kid-friendly attractions but be open-minded! Farm stays and weekends in the countryside can be equally fun depending on your children’s interests. Destinations that offer a mix of educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities will offer a well-rounded holiday experience. 

If you are going abroad, remember to check what the climate might be at your chosen time of year. A high standard of healthcare in your chosen country, a low crime rate, and convenient methods of transport should also feature high on your list of priorities. Other considerations are any potential language barriers, cultural differences, and vaccinations required if you travel further afield. 

Book holiday accommodation

Once you have chosen a destination for your first holiday as a single parent, it’s time to secure your accommodation. Kid-friendly hotels and holiday villages will offer numerous activities and facilities that will attract families with kids of all ages. Best of all, many of them will offer free childcare, so look out for those if you want to relax and switch off for a few hours every day. After all, you also deserve a break.


For most children, having a swimming pool, a sandy beach, and a waterpark nearby will make or break their holiday. Having other children to play with and adult company is usually equally important, so a group holiday or club holiday would tick all the boxes. Teenagers need places and people to hang out with, so look for a teen-friendly hotel, with some cool facilities if you can. 

Do a little digging and read holiday reviews from other families who have stayed there to get an idea of the good and the bad.

Make a family-friendly itinerary

The more you plan, the better, but leave a little room for flexibility. There is no need to plan a detailed itinerary – after all, you are on holiday and want to relax! But knowing your options will go a long way. 

Start by checking what there is to do at or near your accommodation, then continue to explore the area around it. Make notes of interesting sights, opening times, prices, transport options, and organised excursions, so that you know where to go and what to do if you fancy exploring. Immersing yourselves in the local culture through cooking classes, language lessons, or visits to local markets or festivals is a wonderful way to explore a new country. If you are on a city break, look for parks, museums, zoos, and other attractions that offer interactive exhibits and educational experiences. Guided tours specifically designed for families can be both educational and fun for families with kids of all ages.

Involve your children in the planning process by discussing what they would like to do. This will not only get them more excited about the holiday but will also give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Tackle the paperwork

Travelling with children requires some planning ahead – all the more if you are going solo. Start by checking that everyone’s passport is up to date, visas have been applied for if needed, and parental permission has been sought from the other parent (if there is one). It’s a good safety measure to carry copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and medical records, in case of an emergency.

Before you start packing, make a checklist of all the items you and the children may need to make sure essential items, such as passports or the favourite teddy your youngest can’t sleep without, are not left behind.

Get packing

Start by choosing versatile clothes that can be mixed and matched. Lightweight and crease-free fabrics that are comfortable and easy to care for are perfect travel clothes to wear during your travels as well as during your holiday. Pack enough clothes, toiletries, and medication to last for the duration of your holiday, plus a few extra days just in case. 

When it comes to toiletries, buying travel-sized items is a great way to save space and weight (and money with that). It’s also a good idea to pack a compact first aid kit with basic supplies such as plasters, painkillers, and antiseptic cream. If your children are little, bring a sufficient supply of nappies, formula, and other baby essentials. You will likely be hard-pressed to find the same brand abroad. Keep those stress levels low, knowing you have everything you need with you. No panic shopping at the airport or the resort for you!

Most importantly, think about the items your children use at home for comfort or entertainment. Which ones can travel easily, will keep them entertained during the journey and will also provide a sense of familiarity in a new environment? Naturally, the best thing to do is to let the children choose – within reason! If you are short on space, let them choose a couple of toys each or make a small activity pack as a surprise for the journey. Travel-friendly gadgets include portable DVD players and tablets loaded with their favourite movies and games. Just don’t forget those headphones.

Navigate airports and customs with ease

Navigating airports and customs can be a challenge, especially when travelling alone with children. To make the process smoother, arrive at the airport in good time before your flight. This will allow plenty of time for queuing at check-in and security, buying drinks, toilet breaks, etc.. Consider using a pushchair or baby carrier to make it easier to navigate through the airport with your children and carry-on luggage.

At customs, be prepared to answer any questions about your travel plans and the purpose of your holiday. If you travel with children who have a different last name than yours, it’s wise to carry a notarized letter of consent from the other parent, or a court order, birth certificate, or death certificate of your partner, depending on what is applicable in your case.

Connect with other single parents

Travelling as a single parent can feel isolating. If you haven’t booked a family-friendly hotel, group, or club holiday, it might be worth connecting with other single-parent families staying at the same resort before you set off on your travels. Social media platforms and travel forums can be a convenient way to find other families travelling to the same destination. Alternatively, you could join organised group activities at your resort. 

Such connections can provide support and companionship during your holiday, as well as lead to lifelong friendships and future travel opportunities.


Embarking on your first holiday abroad as a single parent may seem daunting at first, from packing for your summer holiday to thinking about the flight, but it can be an incredible experience for all family members. Remember to embrace the adventure, be flexible, and celebrate the success of your first independent adventure together. The memories you will create and the lessons you will learn along the way will last a lifetime. Happy travels!