I was asked at work the other day to list the best family holidays for single parents. To be honest, I struggle with the whole concept because travelling with children is very hard work in general and compromises have to be made. It was tempting to recommend that the best single parent holidays are the ones where you leave your children at home (or with the ex) and bugger off to drink exotic cocktails on a beach somewhere, but that would be mean-spirted of me now wouldn’t it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my children, but I have been on many holidays as a single parent that have been difficult on account of the fact that it is impossible to find the right combination for everyone on a family holiday whether it’s with one “responsible” adult or two. Especially when your children are different ages and genders and therefore will all have very different interests and expectations. My ideal holiday is to be allowed to lie by the pool and read six books, two out of three of my children are happy to do that for a while, whereas my third child would cry with boredom if required to do that for more than six seconds. On the other hand, I really don’t want to dive bomb everyone and play Marco Polo in the pool all day, just to end up with an ear infection. Wandering around cities? It works for a bit if you can factor in lots of food breaks, but it’s pretty hard to drag kids around anywhere cultural for any length of time and it’s amazing how little energy they have when they have to walk anywhere.
Nor would I want my holiday to be entirely child-centric and have to spend days on end at a waterpark having regular enemas and looking undignified. When the children were younger going anywhere with an upbeat and age appropriate kids club was fantastic – they could hang out with friends and I could ignore everyone and not be worried. This is therefore what I recommend with young children – something like Mark Warner – but again not cheap.
However, different interests aside, we actually do all like each other so want to make the effort and there is something very lovely about being somewhere abroad with your children, away from all distractions in order to just spend time together. We managed to do that last year when we stayed in a hotel on the Amalfi coast, but I did have to sell my house in order to do it (almost).
So what would I recommend as a single mother of three for 2015? It is interesting to look at what is going to be trending in travel for 2015. What I can tell you for certain is that children called “Nutella” will not be a trend this year after the recent ruling. The living like a local trend doesn’t necessarily work with children either and of course, a lot of fabulous ideas are ridiculously expensive.
Another option, as the kids get older is to do separate things from time to time with each one thus ensuring they get your undivided attention and are doing what they want. I took my daughter to Florence when she was studying Art History and it was wonderful:-
That was me looking a little worse for wear after climbing the Duomo. I was still receiving from my near heart attack and had shrunk 5 inches for some reason:-
My youngest son and I went to Spain and again managed a mix of wind tunnels (not a good look for me) and Dali’s house that worked very well:-
Dreadful photo, but you get the general idea – if I can get him to be excited about our image on a yellow plastic plate, then the holiday was good:-
My oldest son and I haven’t been away together I’ve just realised, but then again I could argue that as he had three years with me before his siblings arrived and he was born in Australia so did a huge amount of travelling in his early days – although as he can’t remember any of it I’m not sure I’d get away with it – but just in case he complains – here’s a reminder – this one was taken in Hong Kong and we had a LOVELY time:-
My TOP favourite thing to do with my kids is to go on safari – you do it all together and have a massive shared experience – everyone loves watching the animals. Expensive though. My daughter went on one for Christmas and said it was “the best holiday ever” (note I’m sure she wasn’t referring to the fact that the rest of her family weren’t there):-
Seeing the tigers in Rajasthan is meant to be an incredible experience – I’d love to do that, or the gorillas in Rwanda.
OR go to somewhere where you can help feed and learn about the animals – lion and tiger cubs in Johannesburg or Orangutans in Borneo.
Great if you can find somewhere that will take the whole family and your children are happy to dig a well with you…good luck with that one.
Learning a new skill would be good – cooking in Italy or Thailand maybe??
I’m a crap skier so back in the day I was happy to stay on the nursery slopes with my toddlers. Now they can all ski better than me it’s only during the apres skiing where we all come together. I can’t afford to do a family ski holiday and am too old to not injure every joint (and possibly bone) in my body so not sure I’ll be doing that again in a hurry
Short City Breaks
These are always a good option when travelling with children as you can include a bit of culture. Athens for example is the perfect location to absorb a bit of history and marvel and the Acropolis and the dawn of democracy whilst trying to second guess where Greece will be going next…then head to the beach for a few days so there is something for everyone.
Stay At Home
The ultimate staycation where you can save masses of cash is to do day trips and theatre visits and trips to the beach all from the base of your home. Kids love it because they don’t have to hang out with you so much and I love it because well, vice versa, but the problem is you don’t manage to get the luxury of time to just all “be” together and don’t really feel like you’ve had a holiday by the end of the year.
Walking Is The New Running
Walking holidays are perfect for “people of a certain age” and it’s one of my favourite occupations. You can learn so much (and exercise at the same time) by either hiring a guide to give you a walking tour of a city or by heading out to somewhere far more exotic with your mates – Great Wall for example or Machu Picchu. However, it is rare to find children that get much a kick out of this – TOOOOOO SLOW!!
If you have older children then a trip to the Galapagos Islands (if money is no object) or a road trip to America is a good idea – a package holiday in other words that sorts it all out for you. As a single parent I am not good at roaming freely whilst feeling massively responsible for my kids so it’s a good solution.
Any other top tips I’d love to hear from you??