Two Kids, One Dad: My Solo Parenting Trip Report…What Could Go Wrong?
I did it and I lived to tell about it! I recently completed a quick trip with both kids in tow (a 5 and 7 year old) without my wife. In the past I have been on solo trips with my son, the oldest, but never with both of them. It was a quick and fairly easy trip so that made it the perfect time to give it a try. I wanted to share my experiences with you to encourage dads (and moms) to give solo travel a try with their kids.
Background on the Trip
The trip was a 2 night trek to Orlando. We had planned a family reunion of sorts with my sister, her kids, and my parents. I had the flights and hotels all booked but the only problem was that I had booked the flights for the wrong week! I am not sure if it was my fault or my sister’s fault (totally sis’ fault 🤣 – that is the story I am sticking with) but I needed to rebook the flights.
Luckily I got them for a song, $90 per person round trip, using that trick I told you about – buying the tickets at the airport. So I bought another set of tickets for the proper week for around the same price. The traveler in me couldn’t let good, and paid for tickets, go to waste so I decided to take the kids on a solo trip. My wife couldn’t get time off two weeks in a row.
Why I Didn’t Do A Solo Trip Sooner
To be honest I had not done one of these trips sooner because of my daughter. She is less durable than my son, as in he walked 7 miles in NYC summer heat and did not complain one bit. She would have complained or asked to be carried after 7 NYC city blocks. I had resisted doing it because I figured she would wear down too easily.
Also being outnumbered by your children is always a tough situation and then when you throw in the stress of travel…you get the picture. I had recently done a solo “staycation” with the kids to give my wife a little break. That seemed to go really well so I decided to give this trip a go.
Trip’s Ground Rules & Itinerary
Since we were hitting Disney the week before I took that off the table. I also didn’t want to hit Universal since we were planning on doing that for their birthday and my wife really wants to see it. So that left doing a smaller park like Sea World or another touristy attraction like Wonder Works or the Crayola Experience. My beautiful children selected the very affordable Crayola Experience, I almost cried tears of joy. My wallet totally did cry tears of joy though!
As luck would have it the Expedia coupon came out right around this time that netted me $20 off of an experience. The Crayola Experience was one of the options on Expedia so that dropped my out of pocket cost for 3 tickets down to around $50, #winning.
My kids love pools and the plan was to spend half the day at the pool and then go to Crayola. They also made me promise to hit up the World’s Largest McDonald’s again so that they could redeem some tickets we had left over, I am an arcade wizard by the way!
The plane ride down was uneventful. We had an early afternoon flight so no early rising etc. My son really wanted to go to the newer DTW Priority Pass lounge but it has restrictive hours since it is the Lufthansa lounge. Because of that we were not able to make that happen. Our flight was delayed an hour or so but other than that it was pretty smooth sailing.
Rent a Car or Uber Everywhere?
We got to Florida in the afternoon while the afternoon rains were in full effect which meant no pool that evening. I had debated whether or not I should rent a car or just use Uber the whole weekend. I was leaning towards renting a car and even had Shawn do a Globalist guest of honor booking at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (which recently dropped to 12K points per night) so that I could avoid the parking fee.
A few days before our trip I got an offer from Uber for 50% off my next 10 trips. That pretty much sealed the deal for Uber. I would be saving money overall (spent less than $50 on Uber costs including tips) and I wouldn’t have to wait in a car rental line, find parking spots etc. Overall I was glad I went that route.
A More Spacious Room at the Hotel Was a Life Saver
As I said above Shawn hooked me up with a Guest of Honor booking which made me essentially a Globalist for my stay. Normally I would be upgraded because of the status but I noticed the hotel was sold out for a convention. Hyatt does a cool thing where the GM usually emails you before your stay asking if you need anything. I responded saying I would love some more space so I could work when the kids slept, hoping for an upgrade. I was offered a suite for an extra $50 a night. Knowing that the hotel was sold out I took them up on it rather than risk it at check in.
That got me a pull out couch in the living room for the kids and a separate bedroom with my own TV so I didn’t have to go to bed when they did. It was worth every penny!
Pool & Mc D’s
After hitting the lounge for some breakfast we spent the entire morning at the pool. The water slide opened at noon and my son was in heaven.
My daughter was too small to ride it and they didn’t allow tandem rides (stupid rule) so she was a little upset. But she had made a friend at the pool and was over it in seconds.
We rode the trolley bus down international boulevard to the McDonald’s which was a cost of $4 for the 3 of us. This is probably my favorite part of the Hyatt Regency’s location. You can easily hit the tourist traps up and down international for almost nothing. I think an all day ride pass is $5 per person.
The Crayola Experience is an overlooked gem in Orlando that I encourage you all to check out. It gets you out of the sun of the parks for a day and it is very affordable. The season passes were on sale when we were there and if you visit Orlando often it may be worth checking out. I plan on doing a full review so look out for that.
Finishing off the Night
The kids wanted pizza after Crayola so we headed back towards the hotel and I picked a place we could walk back to the hotel from. There are quite a few options near the Hyatt Regency to eat that are walkable.
The Flight Home
We had a late morning flight home which made it nice since they were whooped from the previous day of sun and fun. Our flight was delayed 3 times in the morning and then magically put back on schedule which was annoying but fine overall. Other than that we made it home without an issue.
First off I want to commend any single mothers or fathers out there that travel with small children. I was only gone two days and I was beyond exhausted at the end of it. When you are used to being able to share the load with someone it is a change for sure.
I will say that the time I got with them on this trip was invaluable. It was some of the best quality time I have ever had. When you are traveling with just you and them there are no distractions and you can’t “mail it in” for a little bit while your partner picks up the slack. That makes it exhausting but also very rewarding. It makes you be fully engaged at all times.
I encourage everyone to give it a try even if it is with just one child at a time. You will not regret it and I can’t wait till the next time I get to do it! Hmmm…what am I doing this weekend?