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: Most prices are based on two adults and double occupancy. 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.
Disney Cruise Line and all-inclusive resorts such as Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Mexico also provide single-parent pricing. Of course, staying at a traditional hotel where children often stay free with a parent is a good option. They typically do not penalize single-parent travelers for having two children with them. Beaches resorts, including Beaches Turks & Caicos, offer all-inclusive vacations that waive the single supplement and host adults-only cocktail parties for single parents.
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. Try Single-Parent Travel Planners
Some companies specialize in single-parent travel, including Signature Vacations and Sell Off Vacations. They will know the best tours, properties and cruises that accommodate single parents traveling with their children.
6. Carry Documentation to Travel With Your Children
Traveling alone with your children outside of the country is not as easy as crossing states with your kids. Child protection laws have required border control to be sure children traveling with one adult have permission from the other parent to do so, whether you are married and traveling alone, or divorced or widowed. If you are divorced, having a notarized letter from your ex giving you permission to travel to a named place/country during a set time period will help make it easier to pass borders. Also, having a notarized letter for medical emergencies is good to carry with you. If you are widowed, carrying an official copy of your spouse's death certificate will be sufficient.
This article was updated on February 15, 2016.
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