I’m surprised you’re looking up single parent travel.
Are you interested in trying it for yourself?
Or are you a keyboard warrior prowling for bloggers to harass about how traveling with young kids is unsustainable and not good for their stability?
However you found this post, I’m glad you’re here.
Trolls feel free to leave comments below, I’ll give you some hugs, it’s clear you need it.
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What is Single Parent Travel?
We could all talk a little more about single parent travel.
And we can’t talk about it without discussing what it looks like, who does it, and how it’s done.
What does single parent travel look like?
Perhaps you imagine a fit mom wearing a backpack with a baby seat marching her way to the top of Machu Picchu?
That’s not real.
Sometimes we go to cool places.
But I make my daughter hike on her own.
Single parent travel is slow, thoughtful, and deliberate.
I’m not gallivanting my way from resort to resort.
I recently spoke to a friend who asked me how I could possibly be living in Thailand; I must be spending $100-$200 a day just on accommodation alone, right?
No, that’s my monthly budget for a private bungalow on an island in Thailand.
I travel as a single parent because it’s more sustainable for me than living in the United States.
My rent is lower abroad, the food is cheaper and healthier, the cost of transportation is minimal, and because I don’t need to hustle my life away to pay rent, I have heaps of time to spend with my daughter every morning, evening, and weekend.
To me, single parent travel is about giving my child as much of me as possible.
I was stretching myself too thin in the US, and this approach to life puts my parenting first, instead of my paycheck.
Who are these single parent travelers?
Like myself, there are single parent fathers out there doing the same thing.
Most people that I talk to are on board with the idea of single dad travel.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not met with skepticism.
Consider this story of a single dad who was traveling with his teenage daughter when the authorities were called on him by the hotel staff because they thought he was a pedophile.
Perhaps it’s the stigma that ‘single dads are bums’ that lead to this unfortunate incident, causing the staff to not stop to think, ‘oh yeah, some single dads are good dads.’
Whatever it was, there are some really unique challenges to being a single dad.
You can read a little more about mine in this Reader’s Digest article I was quoted in.
There’s another brave father out there with the heroic name of Talon Windwalker, and I’m pretty sure it’s his real name.
Anyway, he and his child have done heaps of travels, including scuba diving all over the world.
You can read more of his story at 1dad1kid.com.
I’ve been fortunate to meet some pretty cool people in my travels.
One of them was Queenie Tan, Asia’s premier parenting coach.
She’s smart, driven, and full of good advice for parents who are interested in worldschooling.
You can find her here, and I recently did a recorded podcast with her that I will link you to when it goes live!
I’ve got the easy life: one little child who is only occasionally a devil.
Amoya of Trippin’ Momma has one little child and two bigger ones.
I often reach out to her to talk travel strategy, parenting tips, and online income ideas.
You can find her blog here.
Why do single moms and dads travel?
The real question is why does anyone travel?
What is it about far-off destinations that makes any rational person want to get on a flying piece of metal to go swim with sharks or risk their lives climbing a mountain?
I imagine it’s because the very first humans were travelers.
To be fair, we don’t really know anything about the very first humans except that they first roamed the plains of Africa around 300,000 years ago and built tools out of the environment around them.
If we know that, what can we ponder about the way they must have lived?
I like to imagine I’m living 250,000 years ago.
(You can skip past this italicized portion if you’re not interested in creative fiction, if you like spending some time in a pretend world, however, the italicized portion is for you).
My eyes slowly peel open when the sky is dark blue, moments before the first birds start singing. I look over at my daughter who’s rolled away from me. Her mother was eaten by a sabretooth tiger one night when she went out to urinate alone.
I stand up and pull my tanned-hide cloth up around my waist. Looking around the dark interior of our hut, I see other parents stretching their arms and putting on their cloths, even some of the late-teenagers have sat upright.
I’m the first out the door, I take it a deep breath through my nose of the winds coming across the plain, and I recognize our problem and know our solution immediately. My closest friend in our 40-or-so-family community steps out of the hut, smells the wind, and exhales in exasperation.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, “The herds move every season, it’s more fun trying to find them after they’ve moved over night! It’ll be an adventure.”
“It will be,” he replies, “but we’ll be running into rain later.”
I inhale deeply through my nose again, faintly smelling the onset of rain in the distance, “good nose.”
We quickly disseminate among the families that the herd has moved and it’s time to follow.
Myself and several others prepare to track and find the herd while everyone else breaks down camp and gathers the necessary tools and skins for travel.
With a razor-sharp knife cut from stone, a 6-foot spear of the strongest and lightest wood, and a skin of water enough for 3 days, our team of 6 sets out in pursuit of the buffalo.
At first we jog, following their scent, faint as it is on the wind and masked by the impending rain, zigzagging a bit to get a sense of where they went.
For hours we search, until we find their tracks. 2 of the team members turn around, to give word to the other families which direction to follow.
Our jog intensifies, our barefeet land ball-first, coil the heals down, and the rear tendon snaps back to push us forward.
Our run is rhythmic, simple, and efficient.
We could run like this for two-days straight. One of the team members once did, just to prove he could.
After hours of prodding across the open plains, watching the sunrise and feel the heat intensify, the rains begin to fall, but only lightly.
We find the rear of the herd. Walking slowly and lazily, they’re resting, enjoying the coolness the rain brings.
Steam rises from the sea of their backs and horns.
This is the time of year they aren’t going to stop moving.
They’re leaving these plains because they know the rain is leaving.
The journey ahead is a long one, and every member of the 40-families will have to endure it.
(The creative fiction ends here and the blog continues)
Obviously, we don’t know for sure what people were doing 250,000 years ago. But I like to think about things–even single parent travel–from an evolutionary standpoint.
Our eyes point forward, our hips are upright for walking and jogging, our feet are biological masterpieces of efficient forward motion.
I truly believe we evolved to travel.
That’s where the urge for far-off destinations came from.
Our ancestors were all travelers.
That’s why great kings expand their empires and why we visited the Moon.
It’s why we look at Mars and think, what if? It’s why we create movies like Avatar, Star Wars, and even Dora the Explorer.
So if you ask why single mothers and fathers want to travel with their children, just blame it on first humans who loved chasing buffalo across the open plains.
How do single parents travel?
Okay, we no longer carry spears and chase buffalo, but long-term with kids is still possible, even for single parents.
Let me put this plainly: single parent travel–if done properly–is less expensive than living in the United States.
That’s even compared to my home state of Michigan, which has a relatively low cost of living.
Also it’s frozen AF for half the year, but that’s another story.
When people think of parents traveling with their kids, they think of the vacations they’ve taken in their lives that cost thousands of dollars for the family to stay 7-days and 6-nights at an all-inclusive resort.
That is not what single parent travel actually looks like, and the costs are nowhere near the same.
Single parent travel is about downsizing what you own to maximize your time with your kids.
It’s about finding the cheapest flights, staying in the most affordable place for a long time, and living as close to a local’s budget as you can wherever you go.
It’s a life focused on consuming less material to spend more time doing what’s right for our families.
That alone should be enough to convince anyone that single parent travel is okay, but they’re always concerned with the logistics and the finances.
And rightfully so.
But their concern overwhelms them and turns into fear and fear turns into excuses that reinforce the ideas that keep them away from encountering their fears.
Single parent travel is keeping concern at face value.
It’s something that’s there, but you can prepare for it and it doesn’t have to stop you.
Here are some of the excuses I hear about why people think single parent travel isn’t possible, and what I think about those excuses.
Excuse 1: Travel is expensive, I can’t afford that.
Does your child currently go to daycare or preschool in the United States?
Mine did and her school cost just shy of $1,000/month.
Your entire cost of living with one child as a single parent in Chiang Mai, Thailand will be less than that.
If you can afford daycare in the US, you can afford to travel.
I do understand that income is tied to your job, but nowadays it’s not so hard to find a job that lets your work remotely.
And you don’t need to be making much to make it a sustainable lifestyle.
Ways Single Parents Can Make an Income While Traveling
Teaching English is the most abundant job, but if you have a specialty, all the power to you.
I taught Math and English in Hong Kong.
Travel nursing is a real thing.
Heaps of people do it.
Special skill instructor
Think SCUBA, surfing, dancing, singing, yoga and whatever other skill you can teach.
You can take them all on the road.
What better way to connect with the world around you than volunteering on a farm somewhere far away?
Your whole family will be stronger and healthier.
People leave their houses, they need others to take care of their houses and often their pets.
That can be your job.
Transfer within your own company
I know heaps of people who have been able to spend time traveling simply by transferring within their own company to another of their locations overseas.
Could you do that?
It’s easy to make around $20/hour teaching English online to Chinese children.
Heaps of people do it full-time.
Blogs have dozens of ways they can make money, you just have to start one, which you can do with this step-by-guide that I wrote.
Then you need to monetize it by investing in yourself, and I show you some awesome ways to do that here.
I really enjoy making YouTube videos.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be someone who makes a living off of it, but the worst-case scenario is that I get to watch cool videos of my travels when I’m old and senile!
You have a skill? You can coach it.
You’re a super mom.
Coach non-super moms your ways.
And do it all online.
The job description is in the name.
But these agents don’t sit in one cubicle their whole lives.
Digital nomads of all kinds
Web-developers, videographers, bitcoin traders, writers.
There are too many different types of digital nomads to name.
It’s anyone who works online.
Since we’ve confirmed single parents can easily make an income while traveling, the next excuse is usually about protecting their children.
Excuse 2: My child’s education…
Is extremely important.
So why leave it up to a system that is falling behind in the world?
The United States public education outcomes don’t rank in the top-10 in anything other than dropout rate for developed nations.
According to the 2018 PISA Worldwide Rankings for Math, Science, and Reading, students in the United States ranked just 31st overall.
The education style that’s being taught in the US isn’t preparing our children for the world they’re growing up in either.
That’s why less traditional schooling options are on the rise:
- Traditional curriculum in a non-traditional setting.
- No set curriculum; learn from life experiences; self-driven education.
- Forest Schools
- Classes are taught outside; children are given the ultimate freedom to explore nature.
- Montessori Education
- Self-driven education in an experience-based classroom.
- And more
If those aren’t your thing, single parents have the option–like I do–to send their children to an international school that will still provide them with the education and certifications that they need to attend universities back home.
When you throw in the fact that children in travel families get to learn new languages, try new foods, and see the world, you can see why your child’s education is going to be just fine.
When they know their income and education concerns are covered, they instinctively worry about themselves.
Excuse 3: I’d have no support system.
That’s a pretty fair point.
Taking care of a child, they say, takes a village.
But a life of travel and interpersonal support systems aren’t mutually exclusive.
For me, it works perfectly.
As an out-going introvert, my favorite job of all time was when I was a summer camp counselor.
I could be a part of a vibrant community for two months, then spend the rest of the year in a more introspective lifestyle. It’s a great balance for my personality type.
And when I travel, the same thing tends to happen.
We can live somewhere and find a local community using Facebook groups or meetups, but I can still live my own lifestyle on my own time.
And when the scary moments happen–like when I got really bad food poisoning in Thailand–the expat community on Facebook where I was staying responded with overwhelming hospitality.
It feels scary to not have the support system you’re used to back home, but you’ll always find that good people everywhere are happy to help if you ever need it.
So you just have to replace your fear of not having support, with a trust in the world to help you when you need it, because it will.