Important Info When Traveling As A Solo Parent
The second I found out I was pregnant and started to feel the pangs of morning sickness, single mothers sprinted to the top of my list of super heroes. It was hard enough going through my pregnancy and raising a child with a partner, let alone trying to do it all on my own.
As I embarked on my first solo trip with Dek, I found an even greater appreciation for traveling single parents. All the paperwork involved and things you have to think about doing on your own can be really daunting. Besides visa, plane tickets and hotels, I needed to secure a decent consent form ASAP. I had experience crossing borders without a parent after all.
When I was 16 years old and headed to Mexico for the first time, I got stopped at customs with my aunt. Her last name did not match mine. We also look nothing alike. There were questions over whether I was allowed to be traveling with her. At the time, we just thought the customs agent was looking for a little bribe to get into the country. Maybe he was. Now that I am a mother, I am more conscious of news stories about child abduction across the Canadian and Mexican border. I realize now that maybe that customs official was just doing his job and trying to protect me.
As a teenager, I could easily attest to the fact that yes, I was traveling with my aunt, my parents knew, and I was not being kidnapped. Traveling with Dek, who’s favorite word at the time was “ball,” would be a bit more difficult. How would a customs official know I was not stealing him away from his father?
I did a little Internet research. Although it is not mandatory, it is highly recommended that you get a notarized consent form from the parent who will not be traveling outside of the country with you. I found a PDF form on SingleParentTravel.net, which also gave medical consent in the same document. We took it to our bank the morning before I left. Within 5 minutes we had our free, notarized piece of paper to show any customs agent who might question if I should be traveling alone with my son.
Luckily I never had to pull out that notarized consent form. However, I did feel better doing multiple border crossings with the form safely tucked away in my bag. Whenever I travel, I always figure it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when I’m traveling as a solo parent.
Note: SingleParentTravel.net was an amazing resource for my first solo trip. If you are a single parent traveling, check out their site. They also have useful information about forms if the other parent is not present in your child’s life anymore, and other good tidbits any traveling family can learn from.
For more necessary paperwork, check out the handy page titled Travel Forms.