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Traveling as a single mom doesn’t have to be terrifying. From staycations and road trips to cruises and solo family tours, there are several options for single parent families to have a blast alongside their kids without breaking the bank. Here we share several single mom vacation ideas for your next international or domestic getaway alone with the kids.
For single parents, the thought of traveling alone with children can be overwhelming to say the least. From the planning to handling all of the logistics, there’s no telling how the trip will pan out.
I’ll never forget the first single mom vacation I took with my son, just two years old at the time. Aside from safely getting to and from our destination, all I could think about was whether it would be enjoyable and affordable.
Much to my surprise, there are many destinations that are family-friendly, even for the single parent. And with the travel industry seeing single and solo parent travel on the rise, travel is becoming easier and more affordable. Here we share several different ways you can take an incredible single mom vacation that everyone will enjoy.
Take a Domestic Single Mom Vacation
If you’re traveling as a single parent for the very first time, it’s easier to start small and stick to the states. Here are a few domestic destinations that pack plenty of fun for single parent families, no passport needed:
Arizona has a number of all-inclusive resorts that offer so much to do that you won’t even have to leave the resort. Between the massive resort waterparks, spas, children’s programs and kids clubs, you can sit back and vacation in style. Outside of the resorts, there is plenty to do with the kids including exploring the museums, hiking the Grand Canyon or a visit to Bearizona Wildlife Park.
Florida is a popular single parent destination with plenty of fun activities that parents and children can do together. There you’ll find several popular kids theme parks such as Legoland, Seaworld and Disney World. Additionally, there are several beautiful family-friendly beaches and numerous outdoor activities. Many resorts across Florida offer kids clubs and daily activities to keep the little ones busy while you spend alone time at the spa or enjoying a kid-free meal.
Puerto Rico is a great option for a tropical Caribbean vacation that doesn’t require a passport. San Juan, Puerto Rico was the first place I’d traveled with my son as a single mom when he was just two years old. If there’s anything I wish I’d done differently, it’s to have stayed longer!
Puerto Rico has a number of family-friendly beaches that are safe for children and small enough to keep an eye on them as a single parent. There are also plenty of other places to explore with children, including El Yunque National Rainforest, the two forts: Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal, the bioluminescent bay and the Rio Camuy Cave Park.
While Puerto Rico doesn’t have any completely all-inclusive properties, there are several family-friendly hotels that offer all-inclusive packages that bundle together your stay with other incredible perks.
International Destinations for Single Mom Vacations
Traveling internationally as a single mom can seem like a big, scary step. But thankfully, there are many international destinations that are both affordable and single-parent friendly. Here are a few of my favorite places to travel for a single mom vacation:
Mexico was the first international destination that I traveled to as a single mom when my son was just three years old. In fact, it is Mexico’s family-friendly environment that helped sway my decision to make Mexico my home!
One of the perks of Mexico with kids is that many local restaurants have free supervised kids clubs. This makes the dining experience enjoyable for the whole family. As a single mom, having this option when my son and I go out to eat together is a win-win. He gets to play and meet other local and traveling kids, and I have a moment to myself to relax and enjoy my meal.
Mexico has numerous all-inclusive family resorts with fancy kids clubs and plenty of activities, making it a popular destination for family vacations. Some of these resorts let kids stay and play for free (such as Palace Resorts), and some even have the occasional single parent promotions that waive the single supplement fee– so it’s always best to check when booking your hotel.
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Costa Rica is another excellent idea for a single mom vacation, especially if your child loves nature and outdoor activities. My son and I first traveled to Costa Rica when he was just three years old, and he has been asking to go back ever since.
With Costa Rica having a large expat community, it isn’t hard to find other English speaking families. We actually ran into a couple of other single moms traveling with their little ones while in the airport. I was also surprised to find that there was a separate customs line for families who had kids in strollers. As a single mom traveling with a fussy three year old, this was a life saver that helped us quickly get in and out of the airport.
When it comes to activities, Costa Rica has plenty of beaches and nature to enjoy without spending a lot of money. From our Airbnb, we could spot monkeys, sloths and other wildlife while sitting on our porch or taking a dip in the pool. However, there are also various tours and activities for children of all ages that you can book and meet other families. Booking a private tour of the Manuel Antonio National Park was very affordable (and highly recommended for an enjoyable experience).
Ever since my single momcation, Aruba has remained on my list of places to return with my son because of the vast number of family-friendly activities. Aruba is a small island that isn’t overwhelming to drive around alone. In fact, many other single parents I know have said that Aruba was by far one of the best vacations they have taken as a single parent.
Aruba has a “One Happy Family” program at several of its hotels and resorts that provide discounts and deals for kids ages 12 and under. These specials include free accommodations when sharing the same room as an adult, free daily breakfast, a family gift, kid cocktail upon check-in and a VIK (Very Important Kid) passport. Most of these hotels all sit on calm, swimmable beaches, giving you the option of how you want to soak in the sun with your kids.
There are also a number of family-friendly tours for all ages. I’ll never forget the ATV tour where tour guides were so incredibly helpful to a family traveling with their 5- and 8-year-olds. Both kids as well as the parents had the time of their lives!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Before traveling out of the country as a single parent, make sure you have your paperwork in order just in case you are asked for it! If you share custody or if the other parent is listed on the child’s birth certificate, bring a signed and notarized document from the other parent stating you have permission to travel with them to that particular destination. If you have sole custody, bring along a copy of your custody documents.
“Go” on a Staycation
Staycations are a much more affordable single mom vacation option and great for a short weekend getaway. Since you’re likely driving your own vehicle, there’s no need to worry about transportation. I’ve personally found plenty of gems in my own backyard that were worth exploring with my son and no more than a 30-minute drive away.
My son and I are no strangers to staycations. In fact, we try to take one every now and then for a small change of scenery and for a fun way to act like a tourist in our own city. Sometimes we splurge on expensive hotels and resorts, but many times we prefer to stay in affordable family-friendly hotel chains such as the Holiday Inn or Choice Hotels where kids stay and eat free. That way we have extra money to splurge on room service or to save up for a bigger getaway!
Set Sail on a Cruise
Cruises are a highly-recommended vacation option for single and solo parents. And if booking a closed-loop course (starting and returning to the same US port), you won’t even need a passport!
Cruise ships take the hassle out of planning. Everything you need is in one place: lodging, meals and fun activities and excursions. Solo parents have plenty of opportunities for some “me time” while on the cruise thanks to the kids’ clubs. Additionally, there will be other families traveling, making it easy for them to meet friends. If you ask me, it’s the best way to see multiple parts of the world as a single parent family.
Here are a few cruise lines that are great for single parents and kids:
Disney Cruise Lines
Although on the expensive side, Disney Cruise Lines is still a popular choice for single mom vacations. These magical cruises pack a ton of family-friendly activities for both kids and adults. From exciting family entertainment to themed accommodations with 24-hour room service, it won’t even feel like you’re traveling alone. In fact, every single parent I know who has cruised with Disney has said it is well worth the cost!
Disney Cruise Lines is also known to place single parent families together during dinners, taking the pressure out of traveling alone. My son is very friendly and talkative, so I know he’d enjoy meeting a new family. There are also forums where single parent families can meet and chat before the cruise.
Voted the “Best Family Cruise Line,” MSC Cruises are specifically built for moms, dads and children to enjoy time together as well as separately. With kid clubs for ages ranging from 0-17, even the older kids in the family will be able to enjoy themselves.
Children under the age of 18 who travel in the same cabin as their parents, cruise for free year-round on select cruises. They also frequently waive the single supplement on select itineraries. It’s definitely worth checking into when booking to see whether it applies to your trip!
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Single parents traveling alone with their children will find plenty to do on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Children have plenty to do including zipping down twisting water slides, swimming in the pool or playing a game of basketball on the multi-use sports deck. There’s also a complimentary cruise youth program for children ages 6 months-17 years. There, they’ll have fun playing with other kids while you relax at the spa and mingle with other adults.
When it comes to accommodations, there’s a small (yet swanky) suite designed just for solo travelers. While more expensive than a double-occupancy room on a per person basis, it’s less expensive than the single supplement. There’s also complimentary family dining.
Travel with a Family Tour Group
One thing that I have learned as a solo traveler is that traveling alone doesn’t mean that you’re alone! With these tour groups, you’ll be enjoying an action-packed single mom vacation with other traveling families. Another bonus? You don’t have to do any of the planning– just pack your bags and get ready to have fun!
G Adventures specializes in planning small group travel of no more than three or four families. For the single parent traveler, this is an excellent way to meet other worldwide families while building everlasting friendships!
These family trips aren’t just vacations, but fun hands-on educational experiences that expose you to the culture and language. Some of their most popular family trips include Peru, Thailand, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Intrepid Travel offers solo parent vacation packages to far away and exotic destinations. Some of the destinations include Morocco, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt and India. You and your children will take part in fun yet educational age-appropriate activities such as snorkeling amongst the coral reefs of the Red Sea, hiking the Amazon jungle, exploring Chinese temples and dining with local families.
The best part is, they take care of all of the planning and arrangements so that you don’t have to stress about a thing. To make it even more affordable for single parent traveling families, they even offer 10% off for children under the age of 17.
For single parent families who love outdoor adventures but don’t feel comfortable doing it alone, OARS has you covered. This tour group offers diverse outdoor family vacations appropriate for families with children as young as four years old.
Most of their trips take place in the western states of Colorado, Arizona, Colorado and Alaska. There, you’ll participate as a group in exciting activities such as river rafting, camping, kayaking or horseback riding. There are also international family trips to Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico. The tours usually take place over school breaks so you don’t have to worry about missing a day of class!
Although not a tour group, Club Med creates unforgettable all-inclusive experiences built especially for single parent families. Single moms and dads can relax knowing that the kids will be spoiled and pampered from the moment they arrive.Club Med takes care of all the logistics including accommodations, transportation, meals and club access for children ages 4-17. Adults can snorkel or relax poolside knowing that their kids are having fun making friends in their own club. For single parent families traveling with children under the age of four, there’s a cozy Baby Club Med. There’s also the Club Med Baby Welcome service that will have a crib waiting in your room upon arrival.
With locations all over the world, there’s no shortage of activities for the family to participate in. Whether it’s snorkeling, swimming, skiing or snowboarding, you’ll be sure to find the ideal vacation for you and your family.
Trafalgar takes the stress out of planning a single mom vacation with action-packed itineraries appropriate for all ages. They take care of all the logistics ensuring that adults, children and teenagers create unforgettable memories alongside other families.
Whether it’s jungle-trekking in Costa Rica, island-hopping in Greece or even exploring one of the many national parks right here in the USA, you’ll be sure to have a one-of-a-kind, fully-immersive experience.
Vacation Express is an online booking site that offers family-friendly vacation packages to the best beaches in the Caribbean. Their destinations include Cancun, Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Panama and Saint Lucia.
In addition to the kids’ clubs, kid-friendly entertainment and restaurants, their line of “Smile” resorts waive the single supplement fee for single parents sharing a room with their kids. Additionally, up to two children ages 2-12 can stay, play and eat free. Teens get special pricing as well!
Plan a Road Trip
Going a vacation doesn’t have to mean getting on a plane, train or boat. Sometimes the best places are a short road trip away. Road trips are great for single parents who are on a budget or don’t have time for lengthy trips.
The first road trip I took with my son was to New Jersey when he was just two years old. It was helpful to be in control of our own schedule and take breaks as needed. It was also nice that he could play with his toys in the car without disturbing other passengers. My recommendation is to get up bright and early before traffic and to safely get to your destination before dark.