The “bad” news is that the number of single parents seeking quality vacations with their children is growing.
The good news is that the number of single parents seeking quality vacations with their children is growing.
Brenda Elwell is a single mom who’s traveled solo with her kids for twenty years, but chafed under the realization that she and single parents as a group were “woefully neglected by the travel industry.”
She says that all aspects of the travel industry make the same mistake: they assume the needs and desires of single adults traveling with kids are the same as double-parent families.
So, Elwell did something about the problem: she wrote what may be the definitive book on single parent travel: The Single Parent Travel Handbook (GlobalBrenda Publishing, Secaucus, NJ, 2002, www.Globalbrenda.com) covering everything from Documents and Vaccinations to Planning, Money Matters and the Trip Itself.
For Sharyn Saffan becoming a single mom with two young boys seven years ago was a rude awakening. It hurt the New Yorker that her circle of friends had suddenly changed dramatically.
And it bothered her that when she was on vacation with her two boys, she had no one to talk to or “hang out” with. “The kids had a great time at family-oriented resorts,” she said, “but I was alone.
Most of the guests either were couples or had no kids and didn’t want my company. It was a pretty lonely experience.”
A big part of any single parent travel is being sure single parents meet other single parents, while insuring both kids and moms have a terrific time together and individually”.
By far, cruises are the most popular travel for single parents, it seems, because there’s so much for the kids to do day and night, that the single moms or dad get their chance to meet and mingle.
But the “meeting and mingling” isn’t all accidental.
Single Parent travel organizers work hard behind the scenes at creating a private room for a cocktail party for groups usually of about twenty.
Or they’ll reserve a space by the pool at an all-inclusive, the second type of preferred vacation for single parents.
Often there are games with parents and kids, prizes, a private barbeque… and being sure single parents sit together at dinner.
But not every single parent wants the same amount of togetherness, trips are often designed so families can come and go as they prefer.
Still the majority seem to buy into the routine of being together and doing many of the same things.
Single Parent travel experts note that although cruises are extremely attractive, they seldom are comfortable traveling farther than the Caribbean or Mexico, often because of custodial issues.
And there seems to be a distance thing that “kicks in.” “This far and no farther.”
More than one-quarter of all US households with children are headed by a single parent. That’s 16.5 million single parent households in this country, and many more non-custodial single parents.
And that doesn’t even include married adults traveling alone with their kids, or how about single grandparents and their kids?
Then add to that gays who have been adopting children, but often travel alone with the child…this is a huge “non traditional” market.
Brenda Elwell says single parents, by necessity, are working parents, and when they vacation with their child or children, they want to spend quality time and fun time with them, not escape from them.
Single parents are not part of a couple nor are they “swinging singles.” They are looking for family activities that both parent and child can enjoy doing together.
Elwell offers a series of Weekend Getaways across the country.
“We post these, and indicate price for a single parent with one child or two or three.
“I have to tell you,” she says, “the number of repeat clients, and thank yous we get from grateful single parents is amazing!
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