Family Vacation Tips For Single Parents
As a single parent, it's natural that you want to give your children all the same opportunities they would have if your partner was still living with you, and this includes fun holidays, vacations and trips. However, the prospect of taking the whole family away with you can be quite daunting. This is especially true if you have a lot of children or this the first time you've contemplated going away without your former partner. There's no doubt that traveling with kids as a single parent is hard work, but the good news is, with appropriate planning and organization, it can also be a lot of fun.
Planning Your Vacation
Any trip around your home country or abroad requires planning and preparation, but as a single parent, the factors you consider will be slightly different. Firstly you'll have the question of budget, namely, what type of vacation can you afford and how you can cut costs along the way. Then you need to choose a place and activities that both you and your children will enjoy. You should also consider your own needs. How will you feel and fit in as a single parent in certain holiday destinations?
When it comes to single parent vacations, there are pluses and minuses as far as the holiday industry is concerned. While specially-designed single parent trips and holiday resorts are becoming increasing available, many hotels and resorts still rent out rooms on a two-adult basis and sometimes charge supplements for single adults. You can avoid this by seeking out places which charge per room and not per person. This means the room price stays the same regardless of whether you sleep there alone or with one or more of your kids. When planning your budget, you also need to bear in mind that children over a certain age might be charged at adult rates in some theme parks and resorts.
No matter what type of holiday you choose, the creative single parent will always find ways of cutting costs. For example, if you have self-catering facilities at your holiday accommodation, bringing a picnic with you when you go to the beach, pool or theme park will spare you the cost of restaurant bills. Many single parents feel intimidated by the idea of camping, due to the heavy workload involved in putting up tents and preparing meals without a fully-equipped kitchen. However, depending on the site, camping will almost always cost you less than taking an apartment in a holiday resort or theme park. If you are brave enough to face the challenge, it can also be a fantastic way to entertain kids. Just like holiday resorts, many campsites have organized kids-clubs where fully trained staff will look after your children for a few hours every morning while you relax. Also, campsites usually have life-guarded pools, playgrounds, sports facilities and just about everything you need to keep young kids busy. This is especially true in Europe where camping is a popular summertime activity. Not all campsites require a tent and an outdoor stove; often you can rent a pre-erected tent or a permanent caravan, and eat in the campsite's own restaurant.
As single parent, preparation for your vacation needs to be extremely thorough, as you won't have another adult to rely on if something goes wrong while you are away. You should:
- Plan your route thoroughly and let a friend or relative know where you expect to be at all stages of your vacation. Give them addresses and phone numbers if possible. Ideally you should take a cell phone with you so you can be contacted and vice versa.
- Make sure that you have travel insurance for all the children and yourself as well as breakdown insurance for the car if you are driving.
- Again, if you are driving, bring the car for a check up a few weeks before you leave. That way if any maintenance is needed there will be enough time for replacement parts, etc., to be delivered before you depart. Make sure you know what to do if you get a puncture and that you have a spare tire.
- Make photocopies of everyone's passports and insurance documents and keep these separate from the originals. This will help you if your passports are lost or stolen or if anyone needs to see a doctor.
- If traveling abroad, find out the address and phone number of the American embassy in your destination country as well as the emergency phone numbers for the police, ambulance and fire services. Keep these with you at all times.
- Finally, talk to your children about what to do if you get separated. If they need help, they should ask someone in a uniform or look for another mom with kids. If they are old enough, teach them your full name, cell phone number and the name of the place you are staying at.
Safety On Vacation
You are solely responsible for your family's safety while you are away so don't be afraid to trust your own judgment. You should remove your children from a situation that feels unsafe, even at the risk of spoiling everybody's fun. Be especially careful at beaches and swimming pools due to the risk of drowning. Remember that unfortunately, predatory adults may target public places where there are lots of children and parents have their guard down. Try and know where your kids are at all times. If you have older children who want to do their own thing, agree on 'check-in's' with them, when they should come back to let you know they're ok. Lastly, make sure that your children know where the fire exits are in your hotel or apartment block and what they should do in an emergency.
It Is Worth It!
As you can see, there is a lot to consider before taking your family away alone. But, before you throw out that holiday brochure, remember that many single parents find the fun of bonding with their children on vacation make all the planning and preparation absolutely worth it.