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Solo Parent Travel Documentation: A Helpful List

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Taking one-on-one trips with my son is one of my favorite ways to explore the world. Sharing his excitement as we explore and learn together is enriching for both of us and has, without a doubt, bonded us through our mutual curiosity and sense of adventure. However, as part of the planning process, it’s important to recognize that when traveling with only one parent, there is specific solo parent travel documentation that may need to be brought along. This is particularly notable if you have different last names or racial backgrounds (both of which apply in my case). I’ve listed here the items I am always sure to bring and have included a handy downloadable version of my travel consent form for you!

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Mother and son on an adventure outdoors with a view of trees in the distance.
Solo parent travel requires a bit of planning but is so rewarding! Adventure together!

1. Birth Certificate

My son and I have different last names (surnames). This is very common in many parts of the world. However, in some places, this can raise a few concerns. To alleviate any questions, I bring a notarized copy of his birth certificate as part of my solo parent travel documentation. The birth certificate clearly indicates that I’m his mother and provides necessary and important proof of our relationship. Note that you should do this even if you have the same last name as your child!

2. Passport

This is a given if you are traveling internationally but it must be mentioned, nevertheless. In addition to the actual passport, I travel with color copies of the photo page of our passports, and I store the copies in an alternative location to the actual passports (in a different bag/wallet). Should you lose your passport, or should it need to be replaced during your journey, having this copy available to agents at the local embassy can help expedite the replacement process. I also have a photo of the passport photo page “favorited” for easy access on my phone (very handy for completing any arrival or visa forms!).

3. Medical Cards/Insurance Coverage

Whether you are traveling internationally or within the US, be sure to bring a valid copy of any cards for medical insurance in your solo parent travel documentation. If the insurance is not in your name (you are not the primary on the insurance), you may need to bring along a notarized document stating that you have permission to leverage the insurance on behalf of the child beneficiary.

For travel medical insurance, be sure to have copies of international numbers to call for assistance as well as all the information on your plan. I print out the full plan details (yes, it’s a lot of pages) to make sure I know what is covered and how it works (it’s typically a reimbursement model, you file a claim when you return home).

4. Travel Consent Form

This may be the most important document that I make sure to bring with me on every trip when I am traveling without the other parent. This document not only indicates that I have full permission to travel with my son across borders but also gives me full consent to make any medical decisions needed, should the need arise. It is very important that any consent letter includes this, should you run into any type of emergency on your trip.

Your letter should be signed by the non-traveling parent and notarized. You can choose to make the document trip specific (ie: mention the destination and duration of the trip) or just have a blanket document valid for say, a year, that allows you to travel wherever.

5. Custody-Specific Documentation

If you are presently going through a divorce or you are the sole custodian for your child, be sure to bring notarized copies of any court documentation to indicate this and that you have legal permission to cross borders with the child. This is a critical component of solo parent travel documentation if this circumstance applies to you.

Mother and son with hats in airport lounge smiling.
Give yourself peace of mind by bringing the correct solo parent travel documentation.

PEACE OF MIND: There is a conscious effort on the part of border patrol in many places to curb child trafficking, and this has, in some instances, led to further scrutiny of solo parents traveling with a child. Avoid interruption to your journey and alleviate concerns by making sure you are adequately prepared with these documents.

You are now ready to get packing for your next exciting adventure (don’t forget to pack these important carry-on items and your all-important travel medical kit). Let us know if this list was helpful, and Happy Roaming!

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