Regardless of your destination, traveling with kids is an adventure in itself. It’s even more challenging when you’re a divorced parent who shares child custody with your ex-spouse. You might have gotten used to having an extra pair of hands to manage the kids. Or maybe the kids are more inclined to listen to their other parent. Either way, don’t let the thought of traveling alone with them get you nervous.
You can plan a successful and exciting out-of-town trip just for you and the kids. You just need to plan ahead. A checklist makes it easier for you to plan and execute a memorable vacation with the little ones.
Determine the Type of Family Trip
Are you thinking of a weekend getaway in one of America’s favorite campgrounds? Or are you planning a long vacation that lets you and your kids catch up with each other? The first thing about planning a trip with your kids is determining where you will go, what you will do, and how long you’ll be there for.
Keep in mind, however, that the choice isn’t entirely up to you. You have to check your kids’ schedule and make sure your co-parent is okay with it. Moreover, here’s the secret to a fun and memorable out-of-town trip: choose activities that your kids like or places that they want to explore.
Check out these ideas that are most popular with kids of different ages:
- Surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking at the beach
- Trail riding and cattle driving at a dude ranch
- Sleigh riding and snow tubing at a ski resort
- Hiking and camping in a national park
- Exploring the magic of Disney World
Check the Guidelines of Your Custody Order
The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the only thing that’s stopping you from packing your essentials, heading out the door, and going on a vacation with your children. You have to consider the custody arrangements, too. You can ask your family law attorney about your custody order if you aren’t sure about how a two-week spring holiday would work if you and your co-parent have shared custody of your kids.
In addition to the actual custody order, you have to review the parenting agreement with your ex-spouse. You have to make sure that your co-parent agrees with the schedule, especially if it takes up some of their parenting time. In this case, you may consider proposing parenting time swaps with them.
Don’t feel discouraged if your ex-spouse doesn’t agree with negotiating or swapping parenting time. You can respect their decision and still spend quality time with your kids. You can always rearrange plans, after all. This is where we remind you that it’s important to plan ahead and to talk things out with your co-parent before making reservations and telling your kids about the trip.
Prepare the Travel Documentation
After reaching an agreement with your co-parent about your holiday with the kids, you have to work on the travel documents. It helps you run the trip as smoothly as possible. It also gives your co-parent peace of mind when they know the details of your trip and how they can get in touch in case of an emergency.
Your initial travel documents typically include your travel itinerary, your methods of transportation, the places you’ll be staying, and other details that your co-parent should have access to regarding the trip.
The COVID-19 pandemic also has many Americans thinking twice about international travel. It would be much easier to take your kids on road trips, beach holidays, and camping vacations across the country. The United States has its fair share of natural landscapes and exciting holiday destinations, after all.
But if you’re planning an international trip with your kids some time this year, you have to check travel guidelines first. And if the trip is feasible, make sure you and your kids have all the international travel documentation needed. This includes a valid passport, entry visas, proof of insurance, and vaccines.
If you and your co-parent share legal custody of the children and the kids need to apply for a passport, you and the co-parent will both be required to give your consent for the application.
Be Flexible and Have Fun
After everything has been sorted out and you get to the destination, all that’s left to do is to have fun. But because no trip goes exactly as planned, be prepared to make some changes along the way. If the kids want more time exploring somewhere, go along with them. Or if you notice that they would rather do something else, make some changes to your itinerary to make the trip more enjoyable.
And remember, the planning process is a headache but your time with the kids is always worthwhile!