One of our favorite things to do is read all of our guest feedback after Getaway trips—there are so many different folks who get away for different reasons, but all with the same goal of spending time with loved ones or alone out in nature.
Stacie Galiger is a math teacher at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia who wrote in about the challenges of being a single mom, and so we reached out to chat education, travel and single parenting. She’s been a teacher for sixteen years, and when her husband died her kids were two, five and eight years old.
“One of the things that terrified me the most about being a Single Mom was the fear that I wouldn’t be able to raise my daughters the way I had always envisioned—with lots of adventures, wild time and travel!
I didn’t want them to grow up feeling like their childhood had been compromised by our circumstances so I vowed to do whatever I could to raise them hiking, camping, paddling, climbing and exploring,”
Outdoor activities are natural de-stressors. The combined benefits of being in the outdoors with physical exercise is a double win; Stacie runs as a stress reliever and has done half marathons and other races in the past. She lives minimally and intentionally—her and her girls don’t have a TV and the three of them share a room and often have dance parties:
“Music is really important to me and helps me with everything from running faster, to calm down, to having dance parties with my kids! So Spotify premium is a splurge I love. The Discover Weekly playlists feel like a gift I get every week and I create playlists for pretty much everything,”
Note: we’re big fans of playlists for drives, too. While technology has made life simpler in ways we don’t even think about anymore (imagine life before the iPod or without the ease of creating playlists) it has profoundly changed the way we live, and the way we educate:
“We have so many resources and are literally connected to the world from anywhere. It’s exciting, but I think it’s also changed the role of the teacher from one who disseminates information to a mentor who helps students find and discern the facts themselves. Our role to teach students to think critically has never been more important.”
Thinking critically is increasingly important in an era where we’re constantly moving, scrolling and always checking for the next notification or update. It’s also good to just pay attention, and Stacie’s tip for keeping balance in her own life is true to this spirit: “I try to get outside and really pay attention to everything as much as possible. Even if it’s just walking to dog around the block, I take the time to look at the moon or listen to birds while I do”.
“I try to get outside and really pay attention to everything as much as possible. Even if it’s just walking to dog around the block, I take the time to look at the moon or listen to birds while I do”.
Here are her top tips for single parents who want to travel with their kids and get outside:
- Always pack snacks. This is such an important family rule that I painted it on our living room wall. Most travel meltdowns (child and adult) are caused by hanger and impatience. No one makes good decisions or is good company while hungry! When you’re on the road, you never know when and where you’ll be able to stop for food so always have some energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, etc.
- Do your research ahead of time. When I was young and had no little people depending on me it was fun and exciting to get lost on a dirt road in Costa Rica, arrive in Prague without plans or reservations, and have no idea how I was getting from the airport to my friend’s apartment in Ireland. Now it’s really important and helpful to know what’s around us when we travel. I still love spontaneous stops and side adventures, but with three little kids depending on me all the time I feel much more comfortable going into things having some ideas about the locations we are headed to.
- Don’t be afraid to change plans, adjust expectations and ask for help. I’m super stubborn so this was a hard one for me, but the bottom line is if the parent is stressed out the kids aren’t going to have a good experience. Getting out there is important and valuable and even if things don’t go to plan remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and if the kids are having a good time and learning, that’s what’s important.
A big thank you to Stacie for all of her insight—you can follow her and her adventures on her blog here.
If you’re interested in contributing or being featured in our Journal, reach out to us at [email protected].