Emily Ashwell takes a look at holidays specifically designed for single parents
The days of the 2.4 family are long gone. Family groups come in all shapes and sizes, and an increasing number of them are headed by a lone parent.
According to the latest government figures from the Office of National Statistics, there were nearly two million lone parents with dependent children in the UK in 2012, a figure that has grown from 1.6 million in 1996. Nine out of 10 of these families are women with dependent children and one in 10 lone parents are men.
Operators are increasingly starting to cater for this family type, offering initiatives that include special departures for single parents and no single supplements. Certain resorts really help out single-parent families.
For example, Beaches offers Single Parent Fun months, where single supplements are waived and there are special activities. Keycamp sites have couriers on hand who can help single parents who don’t want to leave children unattended when getting on with everyday tasks – such as taking rubbish to the bins – that would be so much simpler were they not the only adult present. Disney Cruises offer special events such as lunches for singles and single parents.
For many, affordability is an issue, so seeking out deals with an emphasis on value will really help.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s not just single parents who book these holidays. Operators say there are all sorts of reasons, including a grandparent taking children away or situations where one parent can’t get time off work. Likewise, single parents don’t always want to book specific products for single-parent families, particularly when it comes to the adventure sector where they travel in a group anyway.
Tim Winkworth, family product manager at the The Adventure Company, says: “In the past, we offered a wider range of dedicated departures for solo parents, but we’ve found that parents travelling alone with the kids are often happy to join any of our small group adventures. In fact, more than one in four of the families who travel with The Adventure Company are solo parent families – in most cases, a mum or dad travelling with one child, but in some cases with two or more children.”
Holidays are precious to any family, but for a parent who shoulders the majority of childcare responsibilities alone, a break is even more important. Take inspiration from our options below.
A French holiday park break offers sunshine, family fun and no flights, so a single parent isn’t left trying to juggle multiple children on a crowded flight. Suggest Keycamp’s La Pointe St Gilles holiday park in Brittany – it’s an easy walk to the sandy beach and the popular resort of Bénodet, and the operator particularly recommends it for families with younger children. Kids will enjoy the water park, sporting activities and bikes, and there are free kids’ club activities, giving mum or dad time to kick back and relax – perhaps in the spa.
For single parents: A single-parent discount of £75 is available on all seven-night holidays between July 12 and September 1, and £50 on all other dates, while Keycamp also offers a £25 saving on short breaks of three to six nights.
Sample product: A seven-night stay starting from May 25 at La Pointe St Gilles, staying in a Villanova mobile home with decking, costs £265, including ferry crossings, a £50 single-parent discount and a May half-term offer discount of £210.
Adventure tours are great options for lone parents – they are group holidays by nature, meaning both kids and adults make friends easily. A programme of activities puts paid to any complaints of boredom, but itineraries for families tend to involve shorter days and a bit more free time than classic trips to suit shorter legs and attention spans. Choose The Adventure Company’s Around the Bay of Naples itinerary for a short-haul summer trip, with plenty to keep kids of a range of ages interested, from the ruins of Pompeii, boat trips to the Blue Grotto, climbing dormant volcano Vesuvius – oh, and plenty of ice cream and pizza.
For single parents: This is one of The Adventure Company’s special single-parent departures, which means clients will only be travelling with other single parents – although for these sorts of trips many one-parent families travel in the general groups.
Sample product: The eight-day trip departs August 10 and starts from £1,111 per child and £1,169 per adult including bed-and-breakfast accommodation, flights, group meals, activities and a tour leader. The minimum age for a child on this trip is five.
A deluxe hotel with a tantalising pool area, zen-like spa facilities – and a great kids’ club – can be the answer for frazzled lone parents. Children are kept entertained while mum or dad can kick back and relax – and enjoy family time all the more for having had a little break. A short-haul choice in family-friendly Cyprus is Le Méridien, in Limassol. There’s a huge spa with 34 treatment rooms and seven thalassotherapy pools, plus a Padi dive centre if parents want to start a new hobby. The Penguin kids’ club is free for over-threes and there’s a children’s restaurant with healthy options.
For single parents: Children under 16 stay free with parents, so though mum or dad will pick up a single room supplement, there’s still a saving to be made.
Sample product: Cyplon Holidays offer seven nights’ B&B for one adult and one child under 16 from £1,700, including flights and transfers. Book before May 31 to get a free half-board upgrade.
The annual summer holiday isn’t the only trip that can be tailored for lone parents. A jaunt in the snow will keep single-parent
families happy in the winter months, and a trip to visit Santa could be the perfect opportunity for a grandparent to spoil the little darlings rotten on a short break. Levi, in Finnish Lapland, has been tailoring festive treats like this for years, with activities to suit a range of ages, including snowmobiling, husky dog and reindeer sleigh rides, and visits to Father Christmas.
For single parents: Cosmos Holidays offers special single-parent departures from Manchester and Gatwick on its trips, which are among the most popular types of holidays booked by single parents through the operator.
Sample product: Cosmos prices lead in at £715 per adult and £615 per child from Manchester and include flights, three nights’ B&B accommodation, transfers and activities.
ONE PARENT, ONE PRICE
All-inclusive options suit single-parent families for the same reason that they suit any family: a concrete budget set in advance and unlimited fun – and snacks – on tap. Perhaps the knowledge there will be little need to use that unpopular ‘no’ word is even more comforting when there’s only one voice of authority. All-inclusive chains dedicated to families, such as the Beaches properties in the Caribbean, have family-friendly accommodation and a host of kids’ clubs and activities. In the case of Beaches, these include beach bonfires, boat cruises, Sesame Street-themed parades and movie nights.
For single parents: Beaches offers Single Parent Fun months when the resorts host a range of special events including Xbox family games nights and beach Olympics competitions. Single-parent families who book a minimum three-night stay between September 3 and October 31 at any Beaches Resort will have the single supplement of approximately £160 waived.
Sample product: Funway Holidays offers seven nights at Beaches Negril Resort & Spa in a deluxe Negril room from £3,829 per family of one adult and two children aged two to 11, including transfers and flights for travel in October.
Theme parks are carefully designed to provide fun for all ages, so parent and child alike can find thrills, spills, rides and experiences to suit them, all in the same holiday. With four theme parks, two water parks and a sports complex all on one site, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida offers such variety it would be only the sulkiest child – or parent – who couldn’t find something to float their boat.
For single parents: Single supplements don’t apply at the four-star Wyndham Lake Buena Vista through Virgin Holidays. It’s one of the Walt Disney World Resort official hotels and it has an aquatic playground and breakfast with a Disney character three times a week.
Sample product: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights in a studio room at Wyndham Lake Buena Vista from £929 per adult and £619 per child, based on one adult and two children under 12 sharing, for departures in September.
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