A Guide For Holiday Travel as a Single/Divorced Parent

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A young girl hugging her father next to a Christmas tree. | New Direction Family Law

Holidays are about family, joy and creating memories together. If you are a divorced and/or single parent, you and your children can have those magical moments too. While holiday travel may present unique challenges, with some thoughtful planning, open communication, and a sprinkle of positivity, you can turn these moments into cherished memories for both you and your little ones. 

Here are ten important tips to know if you are planning a trip during the holiday season. By following this guide, you’ll make holiday travel a delightful adventure.

1. Early Communication is Key

Open and honest communication with your ex-spouse or co-parent is crucial. Start planning as soon as possible to discuss holiday schedules, travel plans, and any potential challenges. The sooner and better you communicate, the more likely everything will run smoothly on your trip.

Communicating early also helps to reduce any problems with custody arrangements.Communication with the other parent may not be easy, but in the end, it leads to the best for your children.

2. Follow Custody Agreements

If you and the other parent have an established custody agreement or order, be respectful and follow the terms laid out in the agreement. Following the agreed upon terms help to avoid confusion, provide accountability, and avoid conflict and/or violation of a contract or order. 

If the needs of your children have changed, reach out to an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options for modifying your current custody arrangement. 

3. Create a Detailed Itinerary

Plan your travel itinerary and share necessary information with the other parent. Sharing details such as departure and arrival times, flight or road trip details, or any layovers or stops can be helpful in setting up expectations and reducing conflict. 

Having a clear schedule helps everyone stay informed and reduces stress. Just in case you are running behind on the return from your trip, the other parent won’t have to worry about where you and the kids are. It just may save you from receiving unnecessary calls or texts.  

4. Pack and Plan Together

Coordinate packing and planning with your ex – especially if your children will be spending time with both of you during the holidays. This ensures that the children have everything they need and reduces the likelihood of important items being left behind. 

For example, this can be very helpful if you are picking up your children from the other parent’s house and then heading straight to the airport or starting the road trip. With a little cooperation and planning, your kids will have everything they need. 

5. Travel Comfort is a Priority

Whether you’re traveling by car or plane, prioritize your children’s comfort. Depending on the form of travel, there may be certain limits to how much you can do, but packing some of their favorite snacks, games, and entertainment, might make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

6. Respect and Create Traditions

If you and the other parent have established holiday traditions that are important to your children, try to maintain the traditions that you can. Whether it’s setting out the milk and cookies for Santa, playing games, or anything else your children expect over the holidays, do your best to keep it going. Consistency provides stability for children and continuing familiar rituals over the holidays can help children feel more at ease.

While maintaining old traditions can help your children feel more secure, consider creating new ones as well. This can be a positive way to make holidays special for your family. Whether it’s a holiday movie night, a special meal, or a fun activity, building new traditions can be exciting for everyone.

7. Be Mindful of Emotional Needs

Holidays can evoke various emotions, especially for children of divorced parents. Be attentive to your children’s feelings and encourage open communication with them. Let them express themselves and validate their emotions, emphasizing that it’s okay to miss the other parent.

If your children are having a hard time over the holidays, it may be best to reach out to a child therapist. They can help your children work through their emotions and experience the holidays without the negative feelings. 

8. Stay Positive and Flexible

Flexibility is key during holiday travel. Unexpected situations may arise, such as flight delays or changes in plans. Stay positive, adapt to the circumstances, and focus on making the most of the time you have with your children. If you are able, remember to keep the other parent updated so there is no worry or confusion for both of you. 

9. Technology Bridges the Gap

Leverage technology to stay connected. Video calls, virtual holiday celebrations, and sharing photos or videos can help create a sense of togetherness despite the physical separation. If you are traveling with your children and they miss the other parent, consider doing a video call to relax them. 

If the other parent is traveling with the kids, consider asking them to schedule a time for you to video call or communicate with them. This can help to alleviate any feelings you may have about missing them. 

10. Plan for Self-Care

Finally, remember to take care of yourself. The holidays can be emotionally charged, and self-care is essential. Whether it’s taking a quiet moment to reflect, enjoying a hobby, or spending time with loved ones, prioritize your well-being. 

When you are calm and relaxed, you can focus on the precious time with your children instead of worrying about other things. 

Need More Support During The Holidays? We Can Help.

Holiday travel as a single or divorced parent may be difficult, but with careful planning, open communication, and a focus on the best interests of the children, it can also be a time of joy and shared moments. 

At New Direction Family Law, we are committed to supporting families through these new chapters. By keeping these tips in mind and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can navigate holiday travel successfully and create positive memories for your children. For any of your family law needs or support, reach out to us today at 919-646-3858 or schedule a consultation.

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