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Do you want to embark on an epic road trip solo with kids but don’t know where to start?
Do you find the idea of taking your kids on a road trip daunting?
Do you want to explore hidden places and undertake adventurous activities but need the confidence to actually do it?
Then you have come to the right place.
There are countless reasons why setting off on a road trip with kids on your own is an amazing idea. Yes, amazing!
The idea of travelling solo can be daunting. The idea of travelling solo with kids in tow even more so. But it can also be liberating.
With the right planning, preparation, and execution, it can turn into the most rewarding trip of your life.
A road trip will provide you with the flexibility and freedom that you may not have if you travel by other means. You can stop wherever you want, whenever you want.
Road tripping is like no other experience, especially when taking it on solo with your own kids.
The Benefits Of Road Tripping Solo With Kids
Taking your kids on a road trip will define what you are truly capable of, boost your personal growth and ultimately enable you to make extraordinary memories. Your trust, belief, and confidence in yourself will sky-rocket and you will feel euphoric.
Some parents have no choice but to travel solo with kids because their partner is working, has no or different travel aspirations, or is otherwise incapacitated. Others travel alone with their kids because they are single parents.
Whatever the reasons, it does not mean that you have to miss out on adventuring with your kids.
While there are countless benefits, I’ve listed a few below.
1. Tailor-Make The Trip For You And Your Kids
By being the only adult, you can purely focus on your and your kids’ needs and wishes. In some ways, this can even be easier than having another adult in the mix.
Our experience: I certainly find it easier without my husband in tow (and yes, he is aware of this). You can do all the planning, preparation, and execution without having to consult another person. This is not supposed to sound selfish (we do miss Mr H when we are away!) but when I call the shots I find I’m extra productive and efficient.
2. Set Your Own Pace
Everyone’s pace is different. Whether it is how many days they want to spend in one location; how long it takes them to get up, ready and out in the morning; or the pace at which they hike or cycle. Some like it fast, while others like to linger. When you are the only adult, you can set the pace that suits you and your kids.
3. Focus On The Interests Of Fewer People
This is particularly true if you and your partner have different ideas of what a holiday should entail. Travelling solo, you can plan the trip based purely on what you and your kids like doing best.
Our experience: I like being out and about all day, every day; exploring and adventuring. But I’m also aware that this is not to everyone’s taste. Mr H prefers a slower pace with time for relaxation.
4. Make All The Big Decisions Yourself
From route planning, to sightseeing, to activities and attractions, meal suggestions, and everything in between; it can be easier and also liberating to make all those decisions yourself. This can save a lot of time and eliminate any conflicts.
5. Solo Parenting Can Be Easier
This can be particularly true if you and your partner have either slightly different parenting approaches or dissimilar perceptions of risk.
Our experience: I am the more adventurous one of us two. And so it’s me who takes our kids climbing, hiking, rafting, wild swimming etc. Therefore, I am more aware of their abilities and in a better position to gauge their capabilities more accurately. So, when I allow (or even encourage) our kids to take calculated risks, my husband may get a bit nervous about it. And this in return can cause confusion for our kids. This is why I find parenting solo on road trips easier.
6. Pack Lighter With More Space In The Car For Gear
With one person less in the car, you can also pack fewer things, such as clothes, gear, food, etc. You will especially notice the difference when you go camping and hence will be able to pack a smaller tent and less sleeping gear.
With a whole person less, you can use all that space for more handy equipment and gear.
Our experience: When we embarked on a 6-week road trip through the Scottish Highlands, our electric cool box was living in the leg area of the passenger seat. The passenger seat also serves as a storage area for all sorts of things that I need to have quick access to (such as endless snacks, maps, camera, etc.).
7. Be More Spontaneous
In the great outdoors, often you can only plan the next day’s activity the night before. This is especially true when you travel to mountainous areas with unpredictable weather conditions. In such situations, you may need to change your original plan and come up with a different one at very short notice, sometimes on the day itself.
On the other hand, you may want to change your route altogether during the road trip.
Our experience: All of the above situations have happened to us on our road trips. This is a huge one for me as I’m a very spontaneous person. My kids are amazing when it comes to adapting to change of plans.
8. Be More Adventurous
Travelling on your own will enable you to undertake more adventurous activities, especially if your partner is less adventurous than you.
Our experience: This is certainly the case in our family as I am the more adventurous one and the kids seem to have inherited my daredevil streak.
(Luckily when we do travel together, we don’t need to miss out. Mr H is amazingly patient and simply waits for us while we go rock-climbing or rafting!)
9. Save Money With Smaller Accommodation
Since accommodation is usually the biggest expense on travels, road tripping with kids on your own will be a lot cheaper, too.
Usually, a double room with a sofa bed is sufficient for my two kids and I. For a night or so, we can even manage to squeeze on a (European-size!) double-bed.
It will also be easier for friends and family to put you all up for a night…or more.
Our experience: The reason for our first road trip was to visit friends and family in Germany and the Czech Republic. In the end we only spent one out of seven weeks in a hotel. Had my husband joined us, it would have been more difficult to make overnight arrangements.
10. Bond More Deeply With Your Children
Going on an epic road trip adventure and exploring new places, trying out new activities and making lasting memories will help you bond deeply with your children. It is a lifetime experience that you will all cherish forever.
Our experience: My kids often talk about our road trips; remembering details or asking questions. We have certainly built a deeper bond because of the memories we have made together on the road. We look forward to the next one all year.
11. Grow Together And Share Experiences Deeply
“Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone in a controlled manner can do wonders for our sense of self and our wellbeing.” – Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
Does this quote resonate with you too?
While your comfort zone will be different from someone else’s comfort zone, we are all on the same journey.
When you step out of your comfort zone, when your kids step out of theirs, you all grow. These are memories and experiences which will stay with you forever and which will shape your life. People who adventure together, grow together.
Witnessing your kids trying a new activity or hiking up a mountain for the first time is one of the best feelings you can experience as a parent.
12. Be A Great Role Model For Your Children
Not only by stepping out of your comfort zone but by showing them that they can independently achieve anything they put their mind and heart to. What better way to convey this message to your kids than by “walking the walk” …?
Ultimately, you will feel an immense sense of accomplishment at the end of your road trip. You might briefly wonder how on Earth you survived it all, but you will also realise you actually thrived on it.
I prefer to undertake our annual road trips without my husband for all the reasons I mentioned above. However, we ensure we still have some family time together and he usually joins us for a week or two in the middle of the trip.
And what does he make of this? Apart from the fact that he has the run of the house for a few weeks; he can choose the best leg of the trip to join us on. Since everything is already planned and taken care of, he can literally rock up with a carry-on bag and join in the fun.
If adventuring solo with your kids isn’t for you (yet), then why not ask a friend to come along as well? Even better if your friend has kids too, so your kids can have buddies on the trip.
The Challenges Of Road Tripping Solo With Kids
While there are numerous pros for embarking on a road trip solo with kids, there are also a number of cons.
1. Being The Only Driver On A Long Road Trip Can Be Tiring
This will limit the distance you can safely drive on a given day. This is usually only an issue at the beginning and the end of your road trip, as those distances are likely to be the longest. But you can make the most out of it by planning stopovers in interesting locations or visiting friends or family along the way.
You will need to plan in more stops than you might have if there was a second driver. Try to remember that “the journey is the destination.” It’s a road trip after all; not a race from A to B.
2. Carrying All The Stuff
This is by far the hardest bit about road tripping with kids on your own. Whether sightseeing in a city or hiking in the mountains, lugging around all the stuff can be really tough.
Our experience: On our first road trip, my kids were 3 and 6 years old. My youngest was still having afternoon naps, so every day I ended up carrying him in a toddler carrier on my back while also carrying a backpack on my front, a camera around my neck and a small child by my side (sometimes even with a scooter in tow, too). (Add Prague picture here.) Photo tag: Prague city centre with my 3-year old on my bag, my backpack on my front, camera around my neck.
The older your kids get though, the easier it gets. Both of my kids can now carry their own packed lunches, water, and clothing layers which makes a huge difference. So, don’t give up and try to pack as light as you can. It’s also great for them to learn to be responsible.
3. Organising All The Gear (And Everything Else) For The Day
This is a time-consuming activity for only one person. Being organised helps immensely and so does involving the children.
Read all about what to pack and how to organise your car here, so that you can perform this task as swiftly as possible.
4. Preparing All The Food
This is another time-consuming activity when there’s only one adult. We usually take a packed lunch as we tend to spend the day out and about in nature.
Our experience: During our last road trip, my kids (then 6 & 9 years old) were responsible for making packed lunches if we were having sandwiches that day. Even though they needed some help, it did free up some time for me which I could dedicate to packing everything else for the day.
5. Having Sole Responsibility For Children
While solo parenting is easier for some, others find it harder. There can be challenging days on the road but you can also have these at home. You can make some preparations to make it as smooth as possible. And sometimes you just need to start and wing it … 🙂
Try to remember “All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller
Has this inspired and encouraged you to road trip solo with your kids?
I really hope it has. While it’s not always easy, it doesn’t have to be impossible, either. All you need to do is to Plan, Prepare and Execute it.
To find out how to Plan & Prepare for a solo road trip, check out this article.
Finally, you can read more about the Execution part in this article.
- Camping Essentials: Complete Checklist for Camping with Kids
- How to Plan a Europe Road Trip – The Essential Guide
- Top 11 Road Trip Activities for Kids
- The Ultimate Family Road Trip Packing List
- How to Get Your Car Ready for a Road Trip
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