If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a one-parent household. One-parent households with one, typically low, income cannot always afford to travel. It often isn’t a priority. It isn’t a priority because; council tax, rent, food, bills, school expenses, extra-curricular expenses…birthdays, family gatherings etc.
The list could go on. But instead of going on I’d like to do something that may raise a few eyebrows or start a few lip-blows. I want to URGE you to go travel with your kids.
A few days ago I got back from a brief trip to Berlin. As somewhere that I once lived I love the city and have managed to become fascinated with the place. It was time to go for a coffee and catch up with some close friends. In my mind I fantasised about doing it all alone, but in my heart I knew it was imperative that I brought Dee along for the ride.
Traveling with children can be a daunting prospect for any parents, but even more so for “lone parents”. It is undeniable that being a single parent comes with a lot of stigma attached to it. It seems to be socially acceptable to look down on single parents and single mothers especially. Being a single travelling parent is not immune to this phenomenon. So far not good- but let me tell you about some of the benefits of travelling abroad with your little ones.
They will remember it so long as they are at an age where they have begun to identify themselves as an individual. Evidence suggest that children as young as two begin to from solid memories. Anecdotal stories from young children also supports this! Dee often talks about the big park with the sand and swings in Berlin, despite having only ever visited once. Of course her first question when she found out that we were going to be heading to Berlin was, “Are we going to go to my favourite park?”
I also thought about this before we went to Disneyland during the summer. I thought it would be a waste of money, but having asked a number of Disneyland/Disney World veterans I learned that a lot of the younger ones remembered things that even the parents could not!
You’ll be pushing boundaries in a positive way. This in turn will encourage resilience and resourcefulness by lifting you out of your comfort zone. The first time I took Dee abroad I made sure we only flew with the best; British airways return, luggage and meals all in. I quickly learned that this way was both uneconomical in terms of budgeting (regardless of any flying fears I had) and unnecessary. With experience I began to explore practical ways of flying resourcefully with a child.
Now I only pack the bare essentials, such as clean underwear and a change of clothes. We will usually pack something to eat for the journey as most usual food items are permitted through security. This makes it easy to carry luggage, particularly if you are restricted to carrying hand luggage, with a baby, toddler or young child in tow. Dee is limited to one plush animal as a travel companion, which she happily accepts.
It’s a huge learning curve and educational tool. Now that Dee is getting older she is able to apply some of the things that she is learning at school to the real world. As soon as we arrived in Berlin Adam sent us to the supermarket. During the 30 minute trip to Edeka Dee noticed a few things. Firstly, Germans have a differing attitude to crossing the road, and also need to look on the opposite side. Food in the supermarket wasn’t measured in the same way as we measure food back home. Prices and currency were also different. Dee also spotted some food products that she had noticed were available in other European countries she has visited, but not the UK. Subsequently we started a conversation about differing tastes, international trade and what our favourite products were in each of the countries we had been to.
Let’s face it; travelling helps bring families closer, whilst widening our understanding of the world around us. It doesn’t have to be an expensive all-inclusive holiday to somewhere exotic. In fact, children often enjoy exploring other cities and residential zones that don’t include a 4-star beside a blue-flag beach. There are many ways single parents and co-parenting families can introduce their little ones to other places and cultures and it isn’t as daunting or pointless as you may think.