Twenty-seven percent of American kids under age 18 live in single-parent households, according to the U.S. Census. If you do a quick internet search for “single parents,” “single mom,” or “solo parenting,” you will find a plethora of articles and resources on parenting solo. However, do a quick search for “single parent travel” and, well, very little comes up—at least for U.S.-based resources.
According to Hillary Bressler, Fractional CMO & Digital Marketing Consultant at Pinch Hit Partners, via an article on hospitalitynet “the travel industry ignores the single parent family travel market of 12 million single parents in the USA, and 320 million worldwide.” Even more interesting? Bressler also reports: “The fastest growing segment of single mothers are those aged 35 and older. This population tends to be educated and financially stable single mothers by choice.” Recently, in our own Macaroni Kid Family Travel survey, 86% of parents said they believed travel made their kids better global citizens.
If parents believe travel is awesome for kids, and single parents have the financial means to travel, why are there so few resources for single parents who enjoy traveling? Why aren’t more resorts, cruise ships, and airlines looking to make travel more appealing to solo parents? Lack of resources was one reason I began the Single Mom, Will Travel column—in hopes of offering advice and tips to single parents who enjoy travel.
While resources and inspiration are few and far between, given the massive population that would utilize the advice, the resources that are out there are good ones.
One of my favorite ways of finding new resources highlighting single-parent travel is to follow appropriate hashtags on social media. Look up #SingleMomTravel, #SingleParentTravel, #SoloParentTravel, or #SingleDadTravel and you will find many social media accounts highlighting travel in the single-parent space. This is a great way to be inspired, get advice, and make connections with other single parents who travel with kids.
There are quite a few blogs that focus on single-parent travel. Here are a few of my favorites:
Single Parent Travel—Single Parent Travel is run by two single parents: Brenda, the founder—now with grown kids— and John, Chief Single Dad. The blog has great articles on single parent trips and also offers tours specifically for single parents through the website. Parents can sign up for the Single Parent Travel newsletter to stay in-the-know on upcoming trips and blog posts. There is also a single dad blog on the site.
Happy Traveler—Happy Traveler focuses on vacation ideas, tips, and resources for solo parents and also curates a list of single-parent travel packages, including their own. Upcoming trips for single parents and their kids include all-inclusive vacations to a dude ranch and a "single mom by choice" family trip to the Catskill Mountains in New York, as well as a Thanksgiving family cruise.
1 Dad 1 Kid—1 Dad 1 Kid is run by Talon Windwalker, a single dad who began a nomadic life with his then 9-year-old daughter in 2011. The website features their adventures along with those of guest writers. I especially like that you can look up articles by destination. Windwalker also has a section of the website devoted to housesitting—which he and his daughter do as a way to travel less expensively. It’s quite fascinating and there are plentiful tips for those who may have an interest in the same.
Invest in companies that care for solo parents
It’s shocking to me how few in the travel industry offer specific programs for solo parents. (To note, there are a handful of travel excursion companies that cater to single travelers—not traveling with kids. These may be great options for solo parents looking to travel when the kids are with the ex, for instance.) I’d love to see more in the industry embrace the special needs of parents traveling alone with their kids. Until then, I will do my part and, when possible, invest my vacation funds in companies that do offer that special consideration. I mentioned that a few single-parent family trips are offered by websites above. In addition, the following companies cater to solo parents.
MSC Cruises—Cruises are fantastic for single parents. Your itinerary is mostly set for you and once you are on board, there are typically activities for all ages and interests. Throw in the usually available all-inclusive aspect and it can make vacationing as a single parent with kids feel like a true vacation. MSC Cruises recognizes the single parent market and offers “All In One” single parent cruise specials.
OARS—For single parents looking for adventure travel, OARS is a fantastic resource. OARS offers rafting, camping, fishing, boating, and hiking trips—many within National Parks. Any parent who has tried to set up a tent by themselves or is alone with a couple of kids in a river will tell you that an extra set of eyes and hands would be much appreciated. OARS offers this. While they don’t specifically cater to single parents, they are loved by single parents as they not only provide the gear needed for adventure trips but their guides carry gear, set up camp, cook food, and host games. It’s all the fun of camping and adventure without all the work that would make an active adventure trip daunting for a parent riding solo.
Intrepid Travel—No travel company seems to get the single parent struggle as well as Intrepid Travel. They recently debuted solo parent itineraries which Dyan McKie, the Brand & Product Manager for Intrepid’s Family Tours says “allow children to bond and form friendships with other children in the group, while giving a single parent the unique opportunity to travel with adults in similar family dynamics.” Many tours are priced on double occupancy—not so with Intrepid Travel. Prices start at $555 per person for an eight-day adventure (without airfare) and kids under 17 years-old receive a 10% discount. Intrepid Travel currently has six trips designed specifically for single-parent families and the destinations are fantastic: Costa Rica, Thailand, Northern India, Egypt, Vietnam, and Morocco. McKie states: “These destinations were intentionally chosen to make it easier for solo parents as they could otherwise feel intimidated to travel to these destinations alone with their children.” Leigh Barnes, Intrepid's Director of North America tours, said “Intrepid Travel’s new trips offer a completely dedicated product for solo parent families. Led by local leaders in each destination, these itineraries provide parents with some much-deserved rest and relaxation, while taking the pressure off them to plan and entertain at all times. As single-parent households are increasing in North America, it’s time for the travel industry to take notice and ensure all kinds of families are being accommodated and are being offered travel opportunities that are fun, adventurous and affordable.”
I couldn’t agree more. I am thankful that while the resources for single parents, such as myself, who want to travel with their kids are few and far between, there do seem to be more and more companies recognizing this unique niche and offering more options to ease the lone-parent load.
Single Mom, Will Travel (SMWT) is written by Kayt DeMerchant, a divorced mom of three kids. Kayt loves to travel—with and without her kids—and enjoys hearing column ideas, tips, and single parent travel stories from others. If you have a great travel resource for single parents not featured here, please send it along to Kayt. You can reach Kayt via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to watch for the SMWT column quarterly in Macaroni Kid Family Travel.