Solo Travel Tips

French Toll Booth

What a day!! We played, we relaxed (probably too much), we ate and now it’s just me, myself and I. I need to do some grading but I thought I’d write this post first. This post is for moms, women or even single gals who for some reason cannot travel with a (male) companion.

I go places myself or with the girls because one it’s the way I am and two it’s because if I wait around for hubby I’ll be staying home quite a bit (and I’d go mad). It’s not that he can’t take a day off or vacation time but when you’re in the military things just come up at the last minute and plans need to always be flexible. Despite the unpredictability’s of this type of field, I believe that a partner shouldn’t be restricted to that unpredictable schedule.

Traveling doesn’t always have to be far off places. We go to many places near us, here and when we were in Missouri. It is though always more intimidating when the travel requires hours of travel time and a foreign language.

Although I dream of it, I am not a professional traveler. But, after traveling with the girls a few times without the husband (many more with just M and I), I have a few tips I want to share.

Here’s THE most important one… see the photo above? NEVER drive a right hand car in a left hand country where you have to pay toll fees. See how far the booth was from my side? The driver’s side? I had to unbuckle, run out, grab the ticket, back in, drive up so the pole won’t get back down, hurry and buckle and go. I did this a dozen times I think. Maybe more if I counted the parking garage. One booth hated me. Instead of coming out from the bottom, the ticket came from the top. Like trucker height. So I had to stand up on the passenger seat to grab it. GRR!!

Anyhow, here are my tips…

  1. NEVER travel long distance with no other adult in a car with a child who doesn’t travel well. Just because I did it doesn’t mean you can. Both our girls are great travelers. We did the 10 hrs drive from Missouri to Mississippi and back for holidays and they did great. I’ve done a few smaller trips with just the girls and they were great. Because of past experiences I knew I’d be fine driving around with just them.
  2. When you decide that they won’t drive you insane, make sure you have sufficient but not overly crazy entertainment for them. With Jovie an iPod, naps and big sissy were enough.
  3. Travel light. When we drive I do haul more but while we did have scooters and strollers in the trunk of our car, we only took a carry-on, backpack and purse into our hotel/B&B. With children this is important. When you’re not big like me, this is important. Bring appropriate clothing.
  4. Always have enough cash for at least a tank of gas. Nowadays most of us carry credit/debit cards but there are still places that only takes cash and sometimes machines quite working. So on the safe side, always have a bit of money on you.
  5. If you’re visiting a country that doesn’t speak your language, learn a bit of their language. It’ll come in handy! Example, I always thought that Belgium folks speak Dutch, French and English. Well, I was wrong. I was in southern Belgium and the restaurant owner didn’t speak a lick of English. I was very glad I know a bit of French. Also it’s just something nice to do. I’d be tickled if a foreigner spoke to me in a bit of Indonesian for example when in Indonesia.
  6. If you’re at a popular destination on a weekend or holiday (always check the country’s holiday schedule, this can be easily found online) book your stay before arrival. We didn’t do this one time in Germany and goodness, we almost gave up and moved on but we go lucky. If you’re on your own it is much easier. There were many single zimmer frei, just not the doubles/family size ones.
  7. Plan your route using online maps like Google, MapQuest or here in Europe Mappy or ViaMichellin is best because it tells you the price for tolls too.
  8. Get a GPS/SatNav AND a back-up. Trust me, I was so glad when I had a printout of my route when Danny the Garmin died right outside of Brussels. Recently, besides the printout I also plan my route(s) in my phone’s Google Maps app. I do this before I leave the house. This way if there’s no 3G or somebody’s free wifi to steal the GPS part will still work and get me to where I need to go.
  9. Try not to drive around at night. Who knows what can happen and even to me it’ll be a bit scary especially if it’s in a shady part of a city or the middle of a corn field.
  10. Have all sorts of contact numbers handy and always make sure the phone is charged and ready to go. For my phone I added on an international plan, I can use it outside the UK for a little bit of money. It’s free to get this add-on so it’s a great feature.
  11. Be positive and make it relaxing. Don’t have a two page itinerary for a day trip. Just highlight a few things, note the addresses, and just see what happens. If it’s just you, do whatever, but with little ones, it’s not such a great idea. You’ll be disappointed because a lot of things weren’t visited and you’ll have cranky kids.
  12. This part’s required in the EU but do bring a first aid kit and safety equipments (e.g. triangle, vest).

I think that’s more less that. It really was a great experience traveling with the girls and there was never one instant where we didn’t feel safe.

2 comments

  1. Traveling Mama says:

    I think you are much braver than I am, but I will say that I really enjoy traveling with my kids or even just going places with them. I know my child wouldn’t be able to help me, but having them with me brings me an odd comfort… plus it’s just a lot more fun! Now, when are we going to get a visit in Copenhagen?? I want to meet you in person!

  2. Ashley Cannon Newell says:

    Addition to #9 – try not to get extorted by police. hahaa it’s only funny now!

    I definitely could travel alone, but with kids? That’s so foreign to me – oh yeah because I don’t have any! :) You’re a great mama!

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