Updated: Sep 9
Every day is its own adventure. Figuring out how to travel with your children, starts at home, and learning how to just get out of the house! In the hustle and bustle of life sometimes we forget to enjoy ourselves and each other. The best way to remember how much fun we all are is to have a family day! Get out!! Hit the local park or beach and play. Build small increments with your child so that you know, learn, and trust one another so that when there are bigger trips on the horizon, things will go smoothly.
I don’t usually identify myself as being a "single" mom because this family is more like a well-oiled machine than the term “single mom” allows for. But really I wanted to use that "single" status to demonstrate that if I can do these things, anyone can. Did I mention I', a teacher? I am on a tight budget. And "by these things" I mean take family adventures :-)
From museums, to theme parks, to state or national parks to city days, I love exploring. As a family we all are active and like to get out into nature. Hiking, kayaking, riding the waves, or just strolling through, it's the experience of seeing new sights that inspires us. Appreciating the beauty of the world around us is good for the mental psyche, and research shows that spending more time in nature is one way to combat depression and anxiety. We live in Florida, where there are lots of outdoor places to enjoy. My goal is to have as much fun as possible while spending as little money as possible.
I've always had to enjoy my family with a tight budget and made the most of every free place and event I could find. Often I brought our own food and drinks to cut costs and even snuck food into locations it may have been frowned upon! But all in all my children are grown and I will not look back wishing I'd bought that pepsi from the convenience store. I will wish we laughed more, smiled more, talked more. No one will remember that I didn't buy the skittles at the gas station, but they will surely remember the road trips!
What's the secret to enjoying the day out with your kids? Just a little vision and planning.
What ever you decide - TRY TO FOLLOW THROUGH! If you decide we are going to the park from 5 - 7 stick to the plan (of course blood, puke or horrible weather permitting) and: Engage. If you are sitting across the park and noticing how high they can swing or how fast they can climb they will lose interest sooner. The first goal is to build sustainability. If they discover it is fun to be out, this will lead to the acceptance that being out is fun. And how many of us have seen a kid that never wants to leave the house? Make it rewarding, reward with attention not material items if at all possible. And children are just as happy getting negative attention as positive attention so try to keep it positive whenever possible to set the tone. Remember: What you look for you see more of. I can not stress that enough. If you look for excuses and problems you will find them galore! If you look for the good - it will be abundant.
My second secret: Stick to your budget. Yes, they are going to ask for every candy, sweet, and treat along the way. This is where you teach moderation, control, or simply, no. If you plan to not spend any money - DONT. If you decide beforehand, I have $5.00 I can use today, then stick to that. Can you get drinks for $5.00? Ice cream? There are possible items for whatever you decide, but whatever you decide needs to be defined and respected, first by you then by your children so that the understanding is: I have already thought about this and know the answer. It will save a lot of begging and whining once the ground rule is My plan is able to be trusted. It's a great message. It will build to bigger and better adventures. Consistency will make your life easier in the long run.
*This will also help save the spending for the bigger trips or activities. I am not spending $10.00 on the convenience store (ever) because those dollars add up and give me more joy when spent intentionally.
Most importantly when traveling with kids: Be Proactive.
They want candy? Buy it on sale before you ever leave and be the awesome prepared person you know lives inside of you. Bring all the things you might need to whip out. I know this may seem daunting but organize. A little travel tote with some first aid treatments, sunscreen, and lollipops can go a long way. Road trips are easy to over pack, so start in your comfort zone. Traveling by plane with luggage restrictions is a little more complicated but can be done! Mainly on this point: Plan for the things you think could arise. Bring the favorite blanket or a good book, or car activity. You'll thank yourself later. **I am not above bribery when needed lol.
We have had day trips and over nights, and then upgraded to longer stays and full-blown family vacations. As a single mama of four ranging in ages10 years apart, and on a teacher's salary many people ask me how I do it. I share my tips, secrets, and itineraries in all my blogs. I am hoping other families will use them to get out more and enjoy the land around us!
I am most excited to share our Grand Canyon Adventure: 18 days in the Great South West! (click for more). We circled the Grand Canyon starting in Vegas, seeing Zion, Bryce, The North Rim, Page, Monument Valley, and the South Rim before driving to California for some more amazing sight-seeing. This was a fast-paced adventure where we drove, hiked, ate, climbed, explored and discovered new spots every day. I planned like crazy and worked out an itinerary we would all enjoy. But I know this trip was successful due to my kids being A) Old enough to appreciate the magnitude (Although I think this trip is good for every and anybody) and B) All the groundwork we laid previously. Yes, I know my budget is tight. But I also don't make that annoying. I don't make it a deterrent. It's more like a game. How much can we get for this amount of $$? I do also save a little for going over the budget, and so I don't have to freak out of I need to spend more than planned for variables I couldn't control. Like many Hotels that have a deposit, or the rental car deposit. I try to find all of that out ahead of time to be ready. Also, I keep a little cash on me for emergencies which eases my anxiety. Know your personal stresses and plan ways around these ahead of time.
And most importantly remember: "The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” (Luke 6:45)
And what is in our hearts will surely overflow into all the rest of our lives.
This is where I formulated Adventure Abundance.
We want our overflow of energy to be used in ways we look forward to.
This means self-care and taking time to plan quality time, making memories and events we look forward to!
Honestly, if I stayed at home and made it all perfect, cleaned every day and just paid my bills and went to bed in the routine, I'd fall into a despair. I want to see everything and go everywhere, and I believe in spending quality time with quality people. In fact, I'd rather be alone than in company that doesn't suit me. My favorite travelers are my children especially as they are older, I have found them to have great humor, intelligence, and the spirit of wonder is still alive and well!
My heart overflows into quality time and without it I find myself getting nasty.
I know I need to plan these excursions to create the space for us to enjoy each other's company and discover new places. I've learned that I cannot pour from an empty cup, and getting out into nature keeps my cup running over. Positively 😀
Balance It's all about balance. I am a person who would resent my beautiful home if I felt stuck in it. (I tried that during covid and was able to make a great mental shift with the hope that it would be a temporary issue. Read more about that here. If I can reward my good choices and good effort to keep my home afloat with some awesome opportunities to get out of my house, I am able to REALLY appreciate home.
Getting out of the house is the hard part. But being in our destination is easy! I pick places I want to see for a reason!! Being home is comfortable. It's mine. It's ours. Shared space. It's easy! But leaving and going out into the world is crazy at times! You never know what you will encounter and we've had our share of flat tires, wrong turns, and bad food along the way, which is all part of the allure at the end of the story. All of the things we navigated, we fixed, we transformed - that is powerful. When I say Get out of the house, it's about the transition.
Loading the car, packing the bags, planning financially, food? Snacks?
All of the pieces that keep the world turning can impact a mood or a vibe.
What can we expect? I know there will be potty stops and dirty clothes along the way no matter how well I plan our time I still need to work in the chance that my timing may be off due to kids being kids. As soon as I know I am booking a trip I am mentally planning. Do we need hiking socks 6 months from now? When I find them on sale I'm ordering. We might need some water camel backpacks and there's a birthday that would be appropriate for. I'm gifting things that will have us all well prepared. Oh my oldest is going on a cruise without me? I'm getting him some comfort items he will have in his travel rolodex of cool stuff forever after.
Let's be real. This is often the biggest consideration when planning to go anywhere. How are we going to get from where we are to where we want to be? So again, I recommend start where you are. When I was a young mom in NY, I didn't have my own car. I did have a train in walking distance, and I wasn't afraid to use it! I'd load my babies and stroller and we would just go walk other places.
The best financial advice I was given was to prioritize a reliable vehicle. Not fancy or anything crazy, but reliable. And I can gladly say once I had 4 wheels, we started to venture out more and more. I made it a priority to take day trips and road trips. If family invited us, we visited! I also invested in a good air mattress. When my kids were little I had a portable fridge and port-a-potty (the type you'd use for a boat) in my minivan! We were going to see stuff!! My Honda Odyssey took us everywhere safely. I invested in a car that with a little routine maintenance would hold up for years. That enabled us to stay mobile.
I did fly a couple times when the babies were babies, but it is costly to fly an entire family somewhere and we didn't do a real airborne vacation until 2016 when we flew to California to visit our cousin Nollie. When we flew over the Grand Canyon I knew if I could make this trip happen, I could also plan that adventure. I begin to believe in myself. Every time we went somewhere and made it back safely was the encouragement I needed for the next plan.
This comes a little more organically. Lots of our local adventures were attractive because I saw them posted in local pages and the seeds were planted to go see for myself. Places like The Devil's Den Prehistoric Spring was on my bucket list for years, but seemed too far and awkward a drive to make it work I had to plan how to make that worth the drive. I really had to wrap my brain around that. I mapped it out. I found other things to do in the area. I picked a day, and just put it on the calendar.
Sometimes I get tired of wanting to go somewhere for so long. Like Marianna Caverns State Park. There was always a reason not to go. They were flooded out after Hurricane Michael, and I knew they needed some rehabilitation. It was soooo far I knew that anything over 3 - 4 hours is an overnight trip. I didn't want to be disappointed. I also wanted the weather to be good and they do not take reservations, I'd be devastated if I went and was turned away. I worried about it for over a year. Then one day during Spring Break I put it on the calendar and decided I don't care let's just go. Not everyone was able to go due to scheduling which can sometimes be another barrier to me - but sometimes you have to just do it for yourself.
The Florida Panhandle Trip was a little different in my thought process. I started with dates. I knew when we got out of school and when I wanted to plan a family get away that worked for everyone's schedule. That was the first consideration. Then I originally wanted to be on the beach. But which beach... as I began researching and reading reviews, I decided it was better NOT to be directly on the beach but in a good spot that I could get to many beaches from. I found the Airbnb we settled with because it was a unique place. Many times we don't plan to spend much time in our overnight accommodation, so I don't care what the place is like. This time we'd be there a week, and I wanted everyone to love this trip. My boys are getting older, and I wanted them to remember this trip with the whole experience being positive. So I splurged a bit on the house. There was an iron tub with those old claw feet which I couldn't wait to soak in. There was kayaks outside. All of this made the experience more memorable. And we visited ALL the beaches. Half of the time we were there ts was raining, lol. Pensacola Fun
Of course, my kids as they got older had their own requests, and places they wanted to include along the way.Lots of these requests are spontaneous. "MOM PULL OVER! I need to climb that rock!" and if I can I will. I want us all to enjoy the trip. I love when my plumber son wants to see an aqueduct or my sciency kid requests the Observatory that I can find a way to make this happen. As they grow so do their interests. In fact, on a recent trip to NY my son Josh said he wanted a day in NYC unplanned just to wander around Central Park and do whatever we feel like. In full disclosure I had a list of things I hoped we'd feel like lol, and we did make it to the MET that day.
I also want to point out here a scripture that has always proven true to me -
"In all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose", Romans 8:28. I always pray before our trip, during, and after. I take the Holy Spirit on all our adventures with us. This strengthens my resolve that we will always return safely.
Each trip has a unique vibe. What changes are the goals for a trip, are we exploring a cave, snorkeling a reef or hiking a cliff? And the wellness of everyone who is present. Are we all ok? Are we all focused on enjoying ourselves? If not let's stop now and get right because this is going to be a great experience. Remove the barriers ahead of time so we can really enjoy every moment intentionally.
As a Grandma....
I feel like our old favorites are exciting again. We have to reexperience Disney. And the Zoo. And of course, our favorite beaches! Things we take for granted because they are in the back yard, and new places I didn't think of as a young broke mom. A lot of my reason for keeping the kids out of the house was trying to keep the house clean! Now my reason (with the experience of doing this all before) is to expose the baby to the beauty around us that God created for us to enjoy.
The beach bag stays packed. As soon as the towels are washed they are back in the bag ready for the next time. The
Our children 5 and under are building the foundation of everything! This is the easiest time to teach dual languages and increase curiosity. Let your children discover their inner scientist, its innate for our little learners to want to understand the unknown. They are hard wired for wonder and excitement for new things. Travel increases vocabulary, because it builds experience into the brain. Being exposed to diverse cultures including history, foods, and languages from an early age will plant seeds your child will later harvest when reading and writing. Some people ask, when is my child old enough to travel? I'd recommend starting small with visits to your local park or gardens and as they build trust and tolerance grow their experiences.
All the wonder in the world is captured in their eyes and smiles!
A word for the single parents bringing multiple children out:
You can do it. Trust your instincts and build the relationship with your children to make traveling fun. When you enjoy the time you spend together, traveling will be an extension of your respect and love for one another. The more the kids feel they contribute and understand the plan, the easier it will make your life in traveling.
Some kids need to see a calendar with plans.
Some may require clothing packed a certain way.
Know your kids and help make this trip empowering for them.
Wherever your travels take you, enjoy every step of the journey and remember what you focus on you get more of! Be present and let yourself play more. When we play, we learn and grow.
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