Going on holiday as a single parent...

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Prior to becoming a parent, travel and adventure were part and parcel of who I was. I’d taken a GAP year before university to India, where armed with a backpack and an ill fitting mosquito net, I trawled the subcontinent before settling in Kolkata [Calcutta] where I volunteered with Mother Teresa’s sisters in their orphanage, street dispensary, and home for the dying. I continued this wanderlust to the Philippines, Naples and the Bronx, before settling to my studies. I should point out that I’ve always been an incredibly nervous flyer, but the desire to see the world gave me courage to overcome that fear. I always imagined [rather idealistically] that should I ever have children, I would be putting my toddler in a backpack and revisiting places on my travels.

However, on becoming a mother [a single one], at the age of 32, I realised that I had suddenly become rather more cautious. Gone were my days of collecting intestinal parasites as a matter of pride, or taking risks and sleeping in cheap backpacker hostels. As much as I wanted to show my son the world and nurture him with a sense of adventure, I had neither the finances or courage to whisk him off to the subcontinent and beyond.

 

If you’re a single parent you don’t need me to explain the many and varied pressures on your time and resources. You will have your own routines; your “normal”; childcare, meal plans, laundry, play dates, after school clubs, housework etc.etc. But what about holidays? Everyone needs a break, but for the single parent this has added complications.

As a single parent, your entire life is revolved around your child/children, and it is an intricate balance finding some time for yourself [which you totally deserve!] and giving your children the best of you. The thought of booking a package holiday and watching other large families enjoy themselves whilst you’re left juggling the pool and sunbed and going to bed at 7.30pm watching CBeebies in Spanish, was not my idea of fun. Having flown alone with a 3 year old, I added a new level of airport stress to my repertoire, as whilst I was being frisked by the man at security, my son was trying to climb on the conveyor belt with no one to rescue him until I’d been deemed “safe”. This was before we had even left Birmingham!

So what tips do I have for going on holiday as a single parent?

Let someone else do most of the work! You are busy enough, and this is meant to be a HOLIDAY for you too. As much information there is online about different locations and activities, you can put that time to better use. Go with an organised trip … saves you enormous amounts of stress, and someone else is responsible if things don’t go to plan.

Know your budget and plan in advance so you get the best deals. Many places allow you to pay a low deposit and then pay in smaller amounts until a set date before departure. I know I wouldn’t be able to take my son away without these plans. Likewise, look at any sales and offers available, especially after Christmas for the following summer.

Consider a Single Parents holiday - children make friends and have playmates during the day, but so do you! It’s generally much harder to make holiday friends when you’re away alone and everyone else seems to be with families. If you choose a single parent holiday, there are going to be people just like you who will appreciate some adult company and will understand the strains and stresses of a single parent lifestyle.

Have activities planned into your trip- With a tight budget, you don’t want or need any unexpected expenditure. If you book a holiday with activities already planned or as part of the package, this means you have less worries over spending money.

Try something new! We all know the benefits of being out in the fresh air and spending quality time with our children. Let your children see you do something new and make new memories - even if something is outside your comfort zone.

Remember, adventure doesn’t necessarily mean abroad - I’d always travelled to faraway places in pursuit of adventure, but since becoming a parent have realised there is a lot of fun and adventure to be had in this country and Europe, which are much easier and more affordable to get to.

My biggest piece of advice is to remember that your holiday is to be ENJOYED and you need to be able to relax. If you’re relaxed, your children will pick up on this. It can be daunting, going on holiday alone with your child - but the memories you make will definitely be worth it.

Written by Verity Worthington (single parent, blogger & teacher)