Once upon a time, I was devastated and resigned to the fact I couldn’t travel to all the dreamy places I’ve wanted to. At least not now. Becoming a mom, I didn’t see how it was possible to go off exploring (since most of my money would be going into diapers and other necessities). I would have to wait years before going off on some travel adventure.
My Mood Then
I would read some of my favorite blogs, all posting the same thing, that “I can travel and I could do it now if xxx”. But fact of the matter was I couldn’t! What none of these blogs did at the time was take into account those with kids. Pretty frustrating. The feeling of wanting to explore a new country but facing a reality that didn’t allow that. Traveling had been a big part of my pre-baby life and there were so many places I was aching to see. But I was a single mother of two babies and it just didn’t seem possible.
My Mood Now
Nothing is impossible. Even the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! Audrey Hepburn
That popular quote right there became very relevant to my life. I have a canvas print of this quote I received as a gift in 2008 that has been hanging within eyesight on my wall since. Maybe that in itself subconsciously turned the impossible-ness of my situation into a very possible reality. I was a year and a half of going through something serious (too heavy for some light reading blog like this) causing depression that was only relieved by the thought of someday traveling. And though my situation didn’t change – opportunities to travel came. The first thing I did, summer of 2013, was quit my desk job and take a road trip down south. Two babies with me, a one and two year old in tow. But I was determined! Since then I’ve been finding ways to travel with kids and sometimes without. Their much older now and I can go a long weekend without them or travel with them in a more relaxed way (no more diapers)!
I know I can’t be the only mother, parent, single or not, out there with the desire to travel. And because of that I want to help you make your travel dreams come true. Here are some ways I’m able to travel now, with or without the kids!
1. Tag Along With Family
So, this is a given, but should you be lucky enough to have family that travel, travel with them! Split costs, save money, and most importantly create memories. I pay for all my plane tickets, even when traveling with my parents, but when we get to the location I know I won’t have to pay for food costs and other things (although we still are all frugal with money). I’m very grateful for those trips. With everyone, my siblings, nieces and nephews. It doesn’t happen often, but when the opportunity to travel as a family comes along I’m usually the one planning it.
2. Travel To Places Relatives/Family Live
Nine times out of ten (rough figure but you get the gist) I’m traveling to a city where I’m close to someone who lives there. Saves so much money than having to cash out on a hotel or even the cheaper Airbnb option. In the Philippines I had my Abuelita’s home. In San Diego I’m often crashing at my sisters place with my kids. In LA and Las Vegas I have aunts, uncles, cousins. The first road trip I took with the babies I stayed about a week with either my aunt, sister or other family thanks to their hospitality. So if you have family in different locations, reach out and make a trip happen!
3. Cheap flights and flexible schedule
I’m lucky enough to have had a pretty flexible schedule in the past. I work from home because daycare costs for two children adds up to more than a 1-bedroom apartment in the bay area. When my kids weren’t in school, we could vacation any time. What I would do is hop onto SkyScanner.com and look for the cheapest dates possible. Some days, out of curiosity, I look through “flights to everywhere” and see where the cheapest places are to travel to. Lately, however, I’ve found Sky Scanner to be a bit inaccurate. Google Flights has shown some cheaper results.
4. Add A Layover City
An example would be my trip to Manila last June. Flights directly to MNL were expensive. But I found a cheaper way by traveling first to Hong Kong, then Manila. I utilized the Sky Scanner search engine for this, seeing which places flew into MNL for cheap. Not only did I save money on my flight, I was able to see a new city! All I had to do was find a cheap Airbnb for the time I was in Hong Kong.
5. Opt For A Road Trip
This would be the best starter trip for a single parent traveling with two small kids! When I had a desk job, making just enough to pay daycare for the month, I basically snapped. There’s this impulsive pattern I found throughout my life and that month in 2013 was one of them. I didn’t have a babysitter which I found out only two weeks before and had no one to watch my kids. In those two weeks (after looking around for any back up daycare) I had to train someone new, sold my unreliable commuter car, and bought a new car that would take us on a 3-week adventure around Southern California and Las Vegas.
A road trip is a great option for those who want to travel now. You have the convenience of your car instead of having to depend on public transportation or renting one. You aren’t limited to checking in only two bags. And if your children are anything like mine, car rides make them fall asleep and are more comfortable than air planes. There were lots of tough moments where I couldn’t wait to drive back home to my own bed, but the experience had just the right amount of excitement I needed. I was traveling with a one year old who only started walking and my pretty well-behaved two year old. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but I knew I had to get out of the Bay Area!
6. Hold Off On Buying That New Iphone
Everyday we’re spending money on things we don’t need, when you can spend that money on experiences that have more meaning. I’ve had the same phone since 2014. It still works great, still takes decent pictures, still dry AF because people don’t text me. I don’t feel the need to get the newest phone. I remember for the price of my entire Mexico City trip, I could have bought an iPhone and then some. True story. I’m not saying if you stop spending on new clothes and phones or necessities (etc.) that you will magically be able to travel the globe, but consciously think about what your spending on. And how much you spend on it. It could be traveling just isn’t as important to you as the latest gear. That’s fine, it’s all where your priorities are.
A little story. A friend of mine (don’t be mad if you find this cause ILY) would always tell me how much she wanted to travel or how lucky I was for traveling. But this same friend was spending hundreds of dollars on concerts and these music festivals. She could have held off on an event or two and used that same money to travel somewhere new! Update: she travels a lot now! The bottom line is if you really want to travel, you can!
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel the last couple years. Things are a bit different now since I have to plan around school schedules. But the memories and experiences from traveling with or without my kids remain. It’s completely worth that extra money you save to see a new city! As a single parent, on a single income, I didn’t think it was possible. I understand completely that all situations are different. If you’re a single mom/dad out there reading this, still frustrated that “I want to travel but I can’t because of xxx reasons”, don’t get discouraged! The day will come when the opportunity to get out there and explore will present itself to you. Visualize and save what you can. It took me about a year and a half worth of savings just to take a little bit out and spend on my first trip. Like I said, be mindful of what you are spending on. If traveling is important to you then make it a priority to your bank account.
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