Single parents face several challenges when it comes to vacationing with their kids – not least of which is keeping costs under control. And while the main goal of your trip is likely to spend quality time together as a family, you should be able to have some adult fun in the process sans children. The travel industry has recognized this growing segment of the population and as a result, there are more vacation options for single parents now than ever before.
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Of course, the majority of the families you’ll meet on your next vacation will likely be two-parent families. Some solo parents worry they and their children will feel out of place on their next cruise or at the all-inclusive resort. There are three things you can do – the first is get over it, and be proud of your kids and what you have accomplished on your own. The second is travel with a group that caters to single-parent families or take advantage of travel deals for single parents, where the majority of other travelers are likely to be in your same boat. The third is to pair up with another single-parent family – maybe you have a sibling or a close friend who is also a single parent. That way you’ll have adult companionship and the kids will have automatic friends.
Keeping Costs Down
Here’s the problem many single parents face when they try to book a vacation with their kids: Most prices are based on two adults and double occupancy. Obviously you don’t want to pay an adult price for your eight-year old who eats nothing but chicken fingers and won’t be enjoying a poolside pina colada. So what’s the alternative? You could pay the single supplement for yourself and then pay a kids’ fare. There are no clear-cut answers for saving money here – you just have to do the math and see what works for you. Single parents might also want to consider the possibility that booking an individual itinerary, rather than a package deal, might be the more economical route. Just don’t forget to factor in the costs of food and entertainment.
Booking a vacation rental is an excellent way to save money. There are no single supplements and you’ll likely have more room than in a resort or on a cruise ship. You’ll also have a kitchen so you can keep the dining out to a minimum. And vacation rentals aren’t just for weeklong stays at the beach anymore – you can rent homes and villas all over the world, a great way to spend a week with your kids in Europe, immerse them in the culture and have a home base all at the same time.
Think about visiting a national park. You need not be the Swiss Family Robinson – families of all shapes, sizes and leisure preference enjoy these trips. Best of all, you likely won’t have to go far from home to find a national park or seashore – there are many more than you probably realize, some perhaps within driving distance of your home. Accommodations vary widely – you can rough it at a campsite or relax at a rustic lodge. In any case, there’ll be no shortage of activities to choose from.
Even if you and the kids have your hearts set on a Caribbean cruise or an all-inclusive resort, there are ways to save. Be on the lookout for single-parent specials – this spring for example, Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos are offering all-inclusive vacations that waive the single supplement and host an adults-only cocktail party for the parents. VacationsToGo.com is advertising two Caribbean cruises for single parents this summer that include kids-only and parents-only activities, with plenty of time left over for togetherness.
Tips for Taking the Kids
- If you plan on leaving the country, make sure you and your child’s passport are up to date.
- Keep in mind that as of December 31, 2005, all travelers will need a passport to travel to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.
- If you are not the child’s sole legal guardian, have the other parent sign a notarized letter of consent if you plan on taking a minor child out of the country.
- Carry a recent photo of your child with you on the trip. Each day, make a mental note of what your child is wearing. This will be important and useful information if your child gets lost.
- Take all essential items for the children, like medication, in carry on luggage.
- If you’ll be renting a car, consider bringing your own car seat – chances are it is a better quality and more comfortable than the ones available from the rental car companies.
The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler's exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel. You can access our wealth of travel resources and great bargains here at www.independenttraveler.com, or at www.bargainbox.com.