Taking trips with your family, whether they’re long or short, can be great experiences. However, packing up and heading out isn’t always feasible for divorced parents. On top of the complications traveling with kids can bring, there are now likely stipulations and guidelines in your parenting plan that you need to follow to take your kids on a trip.
When you are planning to take the kids somewhere, make sure you’ve got all the details straight according to your custody agreement first. Once you have that handled, you’ll be able to dedicate your focus to the vacation experience instead.
Plan Ahead of Time
Each situation is unique, but a good place to start for a separated or divorced parent who is planning a trip is reviewing the parenting plan. Take a close look at your plan to see what is there regarding traveling with the kids and holidays. Your agreement may have details about what times you are allotted for vacations and travel. There may be deadlines to notify your co-parent of your desire to travel and your plans. If you want to take a trip during a popular travel time, such as the winter holiday season, make sure you know about any previously-agreed-upon arrangements for those time periods so you’re not trying to schedule a trip during your co-parent’s allotted time with the kids. If you do really want to take a trip during your co-parent’s time, do not make any arrangements until you’ve spoken to them first and they have agreed to it. You can propose a time swap so your co-parent isn’t losing any time with the kids.
If your co-parent can’t agree on swapping parenting time, try not to sweat it and be flexible instead. It’s disappointing when plans don’t pan out, but respecting your co-parent’s time now will encourage them to do the same for you and help keep the co-parenting relationship healthy. However, if the event is some major family event you feel strongly that your children need to attend, you can speak to a family law attorney for advice.
Get Your Documents in Order
Once you have a travel schedule set, you will need to document all your travel agreements and plans for your kids. This includes your itinerary, details on your transportation mode and carrier, where you will be staying, and other relevant information. Your co-parent should have access to this information for review before and during your trip. Should something change, be sure you let your co-parent know as soon as possible.
Get Set for Fun
With all these other details to sort out, you may have forgotten you will be setting off on an adventure with your children, one they are getting excited about. Start doing all that you can during the planning stage to help ensure the trip is fun and memorable for you and your kids. Have snacks and games packed to help ward off boredom and hunger on long flights or drives. For really long trips, you might want to consider a tablet loaded with movies or favorite TV shows and some headphones for the kids.
Once you get to your destination, try to keep to some sort of set schedule for meal and sleep times. While it won’t be exactly the same as home, having a routine set can help keep your kids well-rested and fed despite all of the excitement.
Traveling with your kids after a divorce or legal separation can seem too complex, but it’s worth the extra effort in the planning stages. A fun family trip is something both you and your children will always remember, and it’s a new experience you can all share together.