Travel trend: packages tailored to single parents and their kids
A vacation can be a different animal for a single parent traveling with their kids. You’re the only person in charge. You don’t have another adult to make conversation with. You don’t get a break.
But the tourism industry has finally taken notice. Slowly but surely, there are a handful of companies providing experiences tailored to single parent families. One of them is Intrepid Travel. Dyan McKie is their family adventures brand manager and a single mom. After traveling solo with her five year old daughter, she spent a year researching and creating six vacations just for single parent families. They offer full itineraries in Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt, Morocco, India and Costa Rica. These countries are a mix of the most sought after destinations and places a single parent might feel intimidated to travel to alone with their child. McKie just got back from a Solo Parent Family Vacation to Egypt. She says traveling with other one-adult families ups the fun for everyone.
“You’re all coming from the same place where you are parenting alone at home, you’re kind of bonding over those experiences of school pickup and sporting arrangements. But it’s also giving the kids that opportunity to interact. We saw that in Egypt. By day two they are all bonded, they’re all playing cards, they’re all experiencing an amazing country. If you were traveling by yourself, your child doesn’t have that opportunity to interact with other children.”
And, of course, this dynamic gives parents a chance to relax and connect with other adults.
“As much as we love our children, being around them 24/7 in a foreign country is quite tiring. Being with other parents, I noticed at mealtime was probably the time when you appreciated it the most. At the end of the day, at dinner, the children wanted to sit at their own table and interact which gave the parents time to enjoy their meal and have adult conversations without being interrupted. The other time I noticed was around the pool. The kids would swim in the pool for like two hours, and play, and the parents had a lot of opportunity to relax and feel like they’re having a holiday. Which, when you’re traveling by yourself, you don’t feel that often.”
Disney Cruises have also hopped on board, offering to seat single parent families together at meal times and pair them up for off-ship expeditions. And some cruise lines and resorts are waving the supplement fee that can come with traveling as a solo adult. Many trip packages penalize single parents, charging them a fee for not traveling with a 2nd adult.
“They would sell a package [for] two parents traveling, presuming that every family is two adults, two kids and that’s how we are going to package up these particular holidays. It’s not looking at the wider picture that there are a variety of families out there. It’s very narrow minded, I think we need to move with the times and move with the landscape that the world is traveling at the moment. We do have a lot of different dynamics that make up a family.”
A lot of parents might choose not to take a vacation because they don’t feel comfortable or confident.
“It can be really hard at times. You’re the organizer, you’re the leader, you’re the protector, you’re the go-to person. And that could be quite exhausting when you’re just traveling with you and your child. What happens if you get sick, what happens if they get sick? How do we get to some remote places to really experience the country you’re traveling in while feeling safe?”
McKie says there are still a very limited number of companies offering specials to single parent families, but hopes the trend will continue to grow. They launched their Solo Parent Family Vacations a year ago, and the trips range from 90% full to sold out.