Planning a trip with just you and your child? Slightly anxious about how you're going to shoulder the whole load without a break from the sites, sounds, and activities? As a single parent, taking a trip with your child can be a fun and enjoyable experience. It can also be an exhausting one.
With precious few travel resources out there for single parents, planning a trip can be that much more challenging. But don't fret about having only one set of hands. There are ways to simplify your trip -- and even have some free time.
How to Plan A Single Parent Trip
Choose a destination where your child can make friends. Let's face it, you and your child are ages apart, and after while, you both need some time with your peers. My 9-year-old daughter is very active: In one day, she can swim for five hours, spend three hours at an amusement park, go out to dinner, and play on the beach until past sunset -- all the while talking and laughing nearly nonstop. And I love it, but I know at some point, I need a break. I can only imagine what it must be like when there's more than one child involved. Fortunately, some of my daughter's fondest travel memories include the friends that she met by the pool, on the beach, or during an activity.
Involve your child in the planning. Before you go, discuss the destination, the hotel, and the activities that you'd both like to try.
Consider all-inclusive packages. Perfect for single parent travelers, most family packages include lots of activities that will entertain your child and offer chances to make new friends. Taking a trip with fellow parents is also a great way balance time with your child. The kids can bond, and the adults can share responsibilities.
Make it a hotel holiday, and embrace the kids' club. Many hotels offer kids' programs that can be tailored to your visit, whether it's a half day, a full day, or longer. While your child is busy with other kids, you can get in a round of golf, laze on the beach, or plan some special outings for you and your child.
What to Do While You're There
Look for activities that you can do together. But realize that your entire vacation isn't always going to be filled with organized activities, especially if you're traveling on a budget. Thus, here are a few spontaneous and wallet-friendly activities that you and your child can enjoy together.
Explore the hotel. Find fountains, peruse gift shops, wander through the lobby, or check out the restaurants. Many hotels have unique designs and architecture that can easily give you a couple of hours of wandering time.
Find a local playground or park. An afternoon at a local playground or park is another perfect (and affordable) way to while away the afternoon.
Remember to schedule in some down time. As much as you need a break from the amusement parks and the scuba-diving lessons, your child needs some down time, too. Spend a morning, afternoon, or evening at the hotel pool. You can be sure to find other families unwinding. Those kids will also be ready to make a new friend and engage in some non-structured play time.
Travel Resources for Single Parents
There are a growing number of resources for single parent travel. One of the best is Single Parent Travel (www.singleparenttravel.net), which offers advice and opinion on travel and parenting. The site has a trips section, which can help you find a perfect vacation spot for you and your family.
Parents Without Partners (www.parentswithoutpartners.org), a general resource for single parents, often has travel links and resources.
For vacation ideas, my favorite family travel sites are Beaches Caribbean Family Resorts for Kids (www.beaches.com), Travel For Kids (www.travelforkids.com), a great resource of travel all over the world, and TravelWithYourKids.com (www.travelwithyourkids.com), which has loads of trip planning and while-you're-there resources.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Family Travel forum.