As a working mother of three kids, traveling one-on-one with a child – especially with my 11-year-old daughter, Dayne, who people often describe as my ‘mini-me’ due to her zest for life – is an absolute gift. Our recent trip aboard a Mediterranean cruise to Greece and Turkey was full of adventure, culture, entertainment, friendship and a renewed bond with my pre-teen daughter.
I’ll admit that I initially received perplexed looks when people found out that I am married and was traveling solo with my daughter. “Oh …how nice,” some people would mumble with trepidation as if they anticipate a follow-up of a certain negative response for being unaccompanied with my child — as if traveling solo is code for, “I’m getting a divorce” or something like that.
But there are two truths in our family dynamic. One is that I suffer from wanderlust – and getting married and having children did not jettison this desire to explore the world. My husband, Dino, knew this about me before we married, and quickly after our meeting, I dragged him to Guatemala and Argentina to test the waters. He passed.
The other truth is Dino and I would take well-intentioned international trips with our three kids over the years, and admittedly would feel exhausted and frustrated by all of us traveling together. We are convinced that the hospitality world caters to families of four, as hotel rooms, car rentals, restaurants, etc. typically offer fours of this and that and accommodating our expanded family in a hotel suite or second room can be cost prohibitive (try booking a hotel room online for five and receive an error message of, “Exceeds Maximum Capacity”). The reality is that when we travel together as a family of five, we don’t sleep well, eat well, and with competing interests on how to spend our time together, we are deeply out of our rhythm.
Still, traveling solo with a child is a big responsibility, and you have to think through every detail to have the most memorable and safest experience possible – especially in light of the craziness going on in the world.