k-in-backseatFamily travel is one thing; traveling with one child and leaving another at home is quite another. When circumstances require a parent to travel solo with a son or daughter, there are ways to make it less of an issue for the child staying home. I recently had a trip that allowed me to bring only one of my two kids. I brought the older child with me, leaving my then-two-year-old son behind with his dad. While the preparations depend on the age of the child and circumstances of travel, there are a few ways to make the trip easier for everyone – even the ones who are staying home.

Explain in Advance the Trip
Talk to the child who won’t be traveling about the trip you’re taking. (It may be wise to focus on the parts you know he or she wouldn’t enjoy, such as a long car or airplane ride or time away from a favorite friend or toy.)

Make Goodbyes Easier
My son was fine with us leaving – until we left. At the airport, he had a meltdown as my daughter and I weaved our way through security, leaving him and my husband behind. While it might have been easier for me to say goodbye at the airport, he might have done better if we’d had a quicker goodbye at home.

Leave a Present Behind – and Bring One Back
Tucking away a gift for the child who stayed home to find can take his or her mind off your absence or help to diffuse the situation. A toy or other gift that he or she can enjoy while you’re gone – and thus doesn’t have to share with his or her sibling – can make the time you’re away go faster.

Bringing a souvenir such as a t-shirt or toy back with you for the child can also help to prevent him or her from being angry or upset when you return.

Do Something Special After the Trip
After you return, do something special with the child who stayed home, such as going out for ice cream or taking a trip to the museum or playground. Spending one-on-one time with the child who didn’t get to go on the trip can let him or her know that they’re just as special to you as their sibling.

How have you coped with traveling with one child and leaving others at home? Leave a comment below.

Teresa J. Shaw is editor of the Free in 50 States section and also writes about Southeast Michigan for Traveling Mom. Visit her blog and follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.