Single Parent Travel and Educating your Child on the Road

I was talking to a single Mum about single parent travel via Facebook today. She has been reading my articles I’m writing from Brazil and is planning to travel with her child. We were brainstorming on the ideas that do and don’t work. Everything was wrapped around the idea of travelling as a single parent and its benefits to both the parent and child(ren).

Single Parent Travel

So we started by talking about Expectations. Don’t be too expectant that you will meet a countless number of single parents. For the time I have travelled, I have realized that most travellers are either singles, couples or friends. Almost all BBQs are full of happy two-parent families. Rarely do we meet families, but occasionally we do. To date, we have not met another single parent families on the roads.

Accommodation

While the hotels are good, they can always be lonely. That is why I suggest you choose a hostel instead if you want to talk more and mingle with others. However, make a wise choice when picking your hostel. Party hostels where drugs and drunks are a norm should be a no-no. Just try to pick a place with a common area, kitchen, eating area, lounge or game area etc. I don’t suggest dorms. 

I do not ever stay in a mixed dorm. Men and women can act like rabbits in the night if you get me. Also, who knows if some guy might have a ‘thing for little boys’. No! Protect your child. In fact, we have stayed in dorms, female only. Often we have booked the dorms because we know there are no other guests.

Single parent travel

©Exploramum and Explorason – having fun together

Fatima Hostel in Bogota was wonderful with this. We had our own dorm for days. When they got busy we moved to a private room. We shared a room in Panama with a lovely lady, who taught my son about the solar system.

Exploring with Other Families

We meet a lovely couple of families that allowed the children to go out and explore the town with us, and do some learning together. Here we went to the Palace in Quito, Ecuador.

single parent travel

©Exploramum and Explorason – making friends

Other Adults

Again, another fabulous lady completely engaged with my son. We downloaded this app. and she spent hours making the solar system and stars come to life. When embarking on single parent travel, it is great to have others spend time with my son, so I can catch up on washing, planning etc.

Bonito

©Exploramum and Explorason – other travellers can be a big support

Other Travellers

We discovered that many of the guys wouldn’t mind playing a game of pool / 8-ball with him. This group of Israeli guys made him feel really special. They lifted him on the table to reach balls he couldn’t hit. Then they ‘helped him win. This night, single parent travel was made easy for me.

Camping

Camping is another great idea for single parent travel. However, as a parent, you need to exercise some caution when choosing this option. Yes, camping can work, but if you are a Mum, you need to exercise safety here. Camping will, in fact, allow you to mix more with other families and hopefully have a fun adventure together.

When booking tours, please ask them about their experience with children. We actually did a fabulous jungle tour.  However, some of the quests on this tour were not comfortable having a child among them. It became one of the loneliest times of our lives since there are times when we were excluded. One man was, in fact, plainly rude to my son.

Thank goodness we had a tour guide who was very good and my son felt comfortable with him. He sat and instructed him on the boat. He answered questions – 100s of them and he took an interest in my son. Therefore, he was a great teacher.

Tours and Single Parent Travel

On a positive note, in relation to single parent travel, we have done tours where my son become loved by many. An example of this was at the Pantanal. This Danish guy was amazing with my son. He even later had him to his room opposite ours for a movie night using the computer.

Pantanal

©Exploramum and Explorason – single parent travel

Here an English guy helps my son with a caiman skull. He pulled out a tooth and gave it to him to make a necklace. This tour was one of the best for single parent travel because of the other travellers.

feeling special

©Exploramum and Explorason – examining a tooth and a skull

Many of the guys engaged, joked and gave my son great attention. The language was no barrier. This guy was Mexican but our single parent travel through Latin America meant we knew some Spanish.

single parent travel

©Exploramum and Explorason – making friends with adults

Mixing with Locals and Travellers

When we went to Lake Titicaca I was impressed with most of the people. This lovely girl went out of her way to teach my son football/soccer. He was actually really good. The local kids didn’t want to play with him, but the group did.

games

©Exporamum and Explorason – soccer game

Attending Church

Going to a church that speaks English is another great way to get your child more involved. Here a church in Quito presents my son with his birthday cake.

Happy Birthday

©Exploramum and Explorason – church connections

Duration of Stay

Staying in an area for a long time can help your child make new friends. In Fiji, my son learned to fish. First, from some boys travelling the world on a yacht. Then a wonderful Irish guy spent many an evening with him on the docks teaching him. He also took him snorkelling, on his bike and kayaking.

fishing

©Exploramum and Explorason – fishing after school in Fiji

Stay with People

Staying with people is often good for single parent travel as well. We stayed with friends in Wisconsin. My son was taught to snow blow and shovel. I am saying this as it gives me time out since other people replace me as his “teachers”.

snow blowing

©Exploramum and Explorason – Adults teaching him new skills

Learning New Foods

When we were in Sydney in 2012 at the start of the trip we also stayed with a life-long friend. She is starting a cooking school. She taught my son Japanese cooking.

cooking lessons

©Exploramum and Explorason – Cooking lessons

Fun Times

We travelled a small part of our journey with 2 guys. One from Belgium, and the other from New Zealand. They spent time with my son, played with him, and gave me a break. He learned a bit of Chinese from one other guy too. When on a tour bus, he joked and played with him.

Peru

©Exploramum and Explorason – travelling with others helps too

World Schooling

Teachers for world-schooling can come along as a surprise. Here in Fiji, we wanted to find a waterfall. A local came with us to show us the way. We would never have found it otherwise. He is a Geologist, and he spent ages wandering around the rocks teaching my son about volcanic rock. I couldn’t keep up as I was on the outer. I wanted to learn too!

Geology lesson in Fiji

©Exploramum and Explorason – Learning from locals

 Expat Opportunities

Another thing you can do is to find out what the local ex-pat kids do. Here in Savusavu Fiji, they give free sailing lessons. It was just an introduction, but I bet it was still a learning process for him. Actually, here we realized that learning is a process that comes in many forms.

sailing for kids

©Exploramum and Explorason – sailing lesson in Fiji

Raising Funds

One thing we do is raise funds and help the poor as we go along. My son was very involved in learning about the Fiji way of life. We collected some funds from others. Then, we used some of our own. We spent hours preparing for a trip to a remote area.

Here my son is learning about giving and the needs of others. He selected the clothes that fit well with different kids. This too was part of learning – in a different form.

giving

©Exploramum and Explorason – helping the less fortunate

Planning

If you are planning to travel, I suggest you pick something your child can focus on. You may go rescue baby turtles, feed stray dogs – the list is endless. Language is something your child will learn.

Language

My son now often answers me in Spanish. We will do a school soon. But learning a few words a day TOGETHER is the best way. Thankfully, we were also told by his German teacher from his school to stop the German. We were instructed to learn the language together. Anyway, I don’t recommend pushing a language on your child. If you change countries too often it might be very confusing.

How to Learn

When in Brazil I had him pick an item each day.

He had to write it on paper (English and spelling). Then we googled the translation in Spanish and Portuguese. We then wrote both down. He hid the papers and we had a game to find them. We then stuck them up on the items like toilets, light, fan, chair etc.
When it comes to mathematics, we focus more on budgeting. We have a simple app called Cash Vault. Do get the full version. We have a set budget. He adds to it each day as we spend. He learns more about categories. Plus, he also learns how to budget our daily, monthly and yearly totals.

He learns which countries are expensive, and which are not. For South America, he tells people it is A, B, C. In other words, Argentina, Brazil and Chile are the 3 most expensive.

Currency, change, shopping, and distance are also used. We did fractions with Pizza, and we also used his Trash Packs.

world schooling

©Exploramum and Explorason – world schooling

Learning

The other day he asks me “how the Australian dollar is comparing to the US$. I was amazed at this.

Geography is, of course, an easy one they learn. He now knows where countries are.

Writing – we use a diary when he is on the road. Often this can be a bit of a push. But he has seen other kids who travel become “famous”. So, now he thinks he might sell his diary when he is interviewed by Oprah. I love big thinking!

History

History is also easy. Try to get an English guide if you go somewhere. He loved the guide telling him the walls were made of animal poo. As he is shy, it took a while to come out of his ‘shell’, but we learned so much on this day.

history

©Exploramum and Explorason – history comes alive

Book Exchange

As for learning when we spend too much time in one place, we do try to buy books when we find used bookstores. These can be good for crafts too.

education with travel

©Exploramum and Explorason – education time

Marina’s and hostels will have a book swapping area. However, these weigh you down.
We are now thinking of downloading free books on the Kindle app on his iPad. He gets to download 3 free games and 3 free books each day – when we remember.
We also try to make learning more fun. I am not a fan of letting him un-school with unrestricted TV and computer time.

Art

My son is excellent at art. He often needs to be given time to do some artwork. Of late we use whatever is in the house to make artworks. Yesterday (after collecting for the last few weeks) we made these.

I could go on and on. But really – the world is a wonderful teacher. If I had a chance to start the trip all over again, I would do it differently. I’d probably ditch the books and I would allow more of what is around us to be his teacher. I would lighten up – they are learning without us knowing. Plus, I’d spare us the fights and the pushing. I would guide differently.

People want instant results. I would STOP comparing my child to those back in his school in Australia. He will be behind in some areas. But what he is learning will advance him in so many other areas.

Travelling is tiring – just because we don’t see them learning, they are! Put yourself in places to meet people.

Take time to visit museums and educational places. One last place we went to – I will close with. It was a Career Centre for kids. Please see my Bogota, Colombia blog re this. An amazing day of learning.

single parent travel

©Exploramum and Explorason – education is fun

A Safety Tip on Blogging

I write usually only after I leave a place, never when staying there. You never know who reads your articles, follows you on social media, and you don’t want some stalker or kidnapper after you.

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education-Mark Twain”

Here is a Home-schooling book I can recommend

Questions and Comments

  • Would you rather travel with your child?
  • Do you ever get scared that the different cultures you explore might corrupt your child’s innocence?
  • How do you ensure your child does not lose out in his school work?
  • Do share your comments with us below.

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