Single parents face unique challenges when it comes to vacationing with their kids. While the main goal is 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, more vacation options for single parents are available.
1. Travel with People Like You
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 an all-inclusive resort. There are three things you can do to ensure this doesn't happen. First, get over it! Second, 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 situation. Third, pair up with another single-parent family. Maybe you have a sibling or a close friend who is also a single parent. This way, you'll have adult companionship and the kids will have playmates.
2. Try an Individual Itinerary
Here's the problem many single parents face when they try to book a vacation with their kids though: Most prices are based on two adults and double occupancy. Obviously, you don't want to pay an adult price for your 8-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 kid's 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.
3. Consider a Vacation Rental
Booking a vacation rental is another great option, and 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 week-long 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.
4. Head to a National Park
If money is a major consideration, consider visiting a national park. You need not be the Swiss Family Robinson -- families of all shapes, sizes and interests 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 won't be a shortage of activities to choose from.
5. Cruise or Go All-Inclusive
If you and yours kids have your hearts set on a cruise or all-inclusive resort, there are many ways to save. Be on the lookout for single-parent specials. Beaches resorts, including Beaches Turks & Caicos, offer all-inclusive vacations that waive the single supplement and host adults-only cocktail parties for single parents.
6. Avoid Getting Penalized for Being the Only Adult
Unfortunately, some of the best resorts for kids are all-inclusive resorts that offer food and activities all included with the price of the stay - many free for kids under 12 - but they charge for double adult occupancy and one child free, per adult. If you are solo and traveling with more than one child, you could be charged a single supplement. Look for deals for single parents being advertised by resorts, hotels and even cruises. Some may only offer them during off-peak travel, but some companies specialize in single-parent travel, including Signature Vacations and Sell Off Vacations.
This article was updated on January 6, 2013.
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