Traveling as a single parent can be stressful — especially when you’re juggling a 3-month-old in a Baby Bjorn while trying to push two rolling suitcases and getting through the security check as your toddler runs off in the opposite direction. By the time you get to your destination, you might be wondering how you’re going to get through the actual vacation. Here are some traveling tips for single parents that might help.

Travel Light

When you’re juggling kids and stuff, the fewer things you bring, the better. That means limiting shoes to one pair packed and one worn (have your kids wear the bulkier pair, such as athletic shoes, and pack the smaller pair, such as sandals) and bringing only one pair of pajamas. Plan on having your kids wear the same thing more than once. If it’s accessible, you can do some laundry on the trip.

Bring an “Essentials” Backpack

As you’re traveling, you need to have things at your fingertips that you and your kids will need. This could include the following:

  • Copies of you and your kids’ health insurance cards
  • Notarized letter from the other parent giving permission for the trip, if it’s international
  • Emergency snacks
  • Medicine
  • Rain ponchos
  • Cash
  • Wallet (hidden)
  • Passports, if traveling internationally (hidden)

A backpack is the easiest to carry through airports and amusement parks, and it can replace any other bags you might bring (like a purse) so you can carry fewer items with you.

Let the Kids Help in Picking the Destination

If you’re flexible about where you’re going, let the kids help choose. Start by researching kid-friendly and family-friendly destinations where you’d like to go, along with attractions in the area that will interest the kids. Next, present the locations to the kids. By choosing some destinations ahead of time, you can prevent the kids from choosing only expensive places, giving you more control while still giving them a choice.

For example, maybe you can find great deals on Raleigh hotels from HotelPlanner, and you think it would be a great choice for a vacation. By letting the kids know that there are kid-friendly activities like Marbles Kids Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences with hands-on exhibits, and Pullen Amusement Park, the kids will more likely be interested in going. If they choose where you go as a family, they’ll be much more excited during the trip and will have a better attitude as opposed to your choosing a place they’ve never heard of.

Don’t Over-Plan

Although it’s good to have an idea of what activities you’ll do each day, don’t plan too much. Instead of going to a museum in the morning, a zoo in the afternoon, and an IMAX movie after dinner, plan some downtime. It could be as simple as going for a walk, heading to the nearby park to play on the swings and slides, or sitting in the hotel room reading a book aloud to the kids. Overtired kids won’t have much fun, and you won’t either.

By doing a lot of pre-trip planning, you’ll find that the trip will be smoother and everyone will have a lot more fun.