I can see it when I stop to refuel or feed my tribe at Wimpy, or even when we check into accommodation. I get the look. They want to know why a woman is travelling solo with kids. I see how people look at us, just the five of us and I know they wonder where is number six. Sometimes people even have the guts to ask, “Where is their dad?”
How do I hit the road by myself with four kids, without my husband, in South Africa. It’s really a simple answer to a very difficult question. A question so many people can’t bring themselves to ask me.
The Answer is simple … And it’s not.
Seven years ago I came to a decision. Maybe its a selfish one, maybe a brave one, or maybe a wise one but it was my decision. I decided to live while I’m here. I decided I can’t wait for better days because the day we are in is the best day to live.
Being Married To An Entrepreneur
I married an amazing man. He is a hard-working man, maybe even a workaholic in some ways, but he works and he works hard and long hours. With this comes solo parenting for me, and very little time with him during the working week. He puts a lot of time and effort into the weekends when he is with us though. I admire that about him. Family time is key to him and I get why it is so important to him. Weekends are the only thing he’s got.
Unfortunately though, he doesn’t make much time for himself or holidays and it was here where I decided I need to break this cycle for myself and the kids.
He joins us over weekends, but heads back to Gauteng during the week. It’s basically the same whether we are on holiday or home. We only see him over weekends, and this is why I started doing this. Travelling solo with the kids. Instead of waiting for him at home, we now wait for him whilst enjoying a holiday.
I woke up one day and decided I can’t sit around, raising four kids and waiting for better days. I decided to load the car, pack the kids and ride into the sun. And so my days of travelling solo with kids began.
The first time I did it, I left for six weeks. We have a home away from home in Cape Town so accommodation isn’t a problem. Once the kids started with Grade One I could only go away during the school holidays but I make sure I always leave a few days before school closes to miss the holiday traffic.
Solo Road Tripping
It’s not always easy. I once had three kids vomiting in the car (car sickness) and I couldn’t pull over. About two kilometres further I could pull over and had a car full of vomit and sour kids. Also the kids listen to me but after a couple a days they need their dad’s voice just to put them back in place.
I also had to learn all the ins and outs about solo travelling. Things like driving with a trailer, tyre pressure, driving into tight spots with a trailer, reversing with a trailer, checking wheel alignment and balancing the wheels before I leave each time but most importantly checking licence disks and fuel prices before I leave. These are things that a lot of women don’t bother learning because traditionally it’s always been the man’s job. We don’t think about these things as woman when we have a man to rely on. I think the hardest thing for me was to get used to hooking and unhooking the trailer. But a wise amazing man taught me how to pack a trailer and now I am acing this!
Once everything outside is checked I have to make sure everything is in order on the inside. Little things, but when push comes to shove big things.
Here is my Checklist for being organised on a road trip when travelling with kids:
- nausea medicine,
- enough water and snacks,
- phone & iPad chargers,
- two point plugs (B&B never has enough of these),
- some cash,
- tissues for those next to the road “have to go now” moments,
- iPads with new movies, headphones (otherwise I will be listening to four different movies/game tunes at the same time),
- blankets, pillows, warm tops (this is so important, temperatures can really drop from one town to the next),
- headache medication,
- shoes for everyone!
- and a new audio book for myself.
It’s not as bad as it looks. It actually gets easier each time you do it. You learn from each trip and each time the kids learn too. Like they get into the habit of helping where they can and take note if they feel like it at that very moment.
My Choice My Life
The point is that I came to the conclusion years ago to live while I’m here, make the most of every moment. One way of doing this was to go home to our other home when I didn’t have to be at our permanent home, our house in Cape Town. Yes it is a holiday but we are also home.
We normally do these trips every three months, the kids and I. We have grown fond of our place away from home and they call it their home as well. Yes we miss my husband, but we would have missed him at home anyway. It doesn’t really cost much extra except for the fuel down to Cape Town. Usually we stop-over half way so we have the cost of one nights accommodation too. On the way back though, I like to drive straight home. Home to the Free State. After being away for a while, we just want to get home.
It might be strange to some people, that I do this all by myself. But I am offering my kids something that wouldn’t have been possible any other way. No working parent can take four holidays a year. I am thankful that we are able to do this and really want to thank my husband for letting us go the way he has.
Our Beautiful Country
Each journey becomes a story and each story forms part of their life. Now that the kids are older and can handle travelling a little better, I try to take a new route each time and make it educational for the kids. We stop, we explore and we fall in love with this beautiful country. They now ask where we are going? Our final destination is always the same but the route changes and this is the beauty of our travels.
Hopes And Dreams
My hope is that one day my husband will join us, so that he can experience it with us the way we experience the road. When he travels with us it’s more of a “let’s just get there and then we can relax,” Where as we enjoy taking our time and make it an experience instead of just the trip down to the Cape.
Travelling solo with kids is possible for any woman/mom. If I think back I actually started doing this long before I was even married. I got into my white little Chicco and just drove. Sometimes with no budget but I always made it and always had a blast.
I am open to any questions and happy to answer them.
What would you like to know about travelling solo with kids?