When it comes to family holidays, a simple google search brings up hundreds of options touted to keep mum, dad and the kids entertained. But what about one-parent families? Have travel options evolved to cater to the modern family? In early 2012 there were nearly two million single-parent families in the UK, a number that has been steadily on the rise for the last decade. With little effort, I was happily surprised to find that single-parent holidays are readily available and a thriving travel option. Gone are the days of avoiding popular travel destinations or spending your holiday deliberately ‘ostriched’ in a novel. The Single-Parent Holiday is here...
In The UK
Cornwall - the most popular family destination in the UK. It might be because of the quaint fishing villages, or monstrous cliffs and secret coves, or maybe because it boasts the longest stretch of continuous coastline in Britain. Either way, Cornwall is an unforgettable seaside experience in the summer holidays or any time of the year.
While Cornwall offers a wide variety of accommodation options, this part of the world really lends itself to going back to basics and getting in touch with the natural surroundings. As such, campsites abound, but for the most friendly (and equipped) family experience, head to Roseland Peninsula’s Treloan Campsite. Aside from the lush beaches and gardens just waiting to be explored, Coastal Family Holidays have organised onsite Fireside Sessions and workshops welcoming parents and children to meet others in a fun, relaxed environment. Kids are also invited to help out with feeding the animals in the eco-field and your own well-behaved pets are welcome to join you on your holiday.
Isle of Wight
You’d be forgiven for thinking that in the short journey from The Solent to the Isle of Wight, you were transported to a farming village in 18th century England. With rolling meadows and an abundance of greenery, the Isle of Wight is reminiscent of the old charm that England so easily exuded in previous centuries. England’s largest island, it's the perfect holiday destination for anyone wanting either the peace of the countryside or the bustle of a coastal town.
Don’t be fooled by the tractors and quirky stores, the Isle of Wight is a premier beach destination. Bembridge, which boasts several quiet beaches of rocks, pebbles and sans, is ideal for children. They can go crabbing, cockling and explore the natural surroundings safely, and these beaches are little quieter than the others so you won't have to search for a spot to set up your umbrella. East Cowes is a more popular beach and the traditional promenade has a children’s play area, woodland walks and stunning views of the Cowes. And it’s just a short walk from shops and cafes. Single Parent Travel Club has organised many holidays to the island and families have always returned home happily with new memories and maybe a little sand in their shoes.
The New Forest
Tucked away in the South of England, the historical area of The New Forest is a sought after camping area. According to the history books, in 1079 William The Conqueror discovered the forest and declared it his new hunting forest. Today there are few places that have retained their historical culture and significance as much, but The New Forest is one of those rarities that has managed to remain largely unspoiled throughout the years. Single with Kids organises weekend breaks here that have families venturing to the land where cattle and ponies graze freely and wild deer stroll between mighty Oaks and Beeches. Nothing beats attempting to climb the tall trees, trudging through shallow, muddy river waters and hunting insects, and then recapturing the day through stories around a campfire. And let’s not forget sleeping in a tent with nothing but a piece of material between you and the stars. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hire a bike and ride through the many miles of car-free cycle tracks where you can get even closer to the natural forest and wildlife.
A camping holiday in the Peak District is so much fun that I’d like to turn back into a kid and make my mum take me there. Luckily for you and your kids, Single With Kids have arranged a fun holiday right in the middle of Peak District. Some of the most spectacular scenery can be seen from the Manifold Valley, where the sight of the river and trails passing through can take take your breath away. The Tissington Trail, which can be explored by bicycle or on foot, follows the old Buxton to Ashbourne railway and leads to the peaceful, isolated countryside. Ashbourne, the nearest town, is just a short walk away and you’ll be privy to a charming shopping experience where vintage and contemporary architecture mingle effortlessly.
Parents and kids can pitch their tents, set up their caravans or lay out their sleeping bags on the grounds of a large field where everyone can mix and interact. The site is surrounded by trees and greenery and the many walks keep children entertained for hours. The large stepping-stones on the river and local wildlife seem to make everything more interesting. You can visit the Heights of Abraham by cable car, take the kids to the local park, and quietly read a book while they play in the heated swimming pool. After a busy day, relax in front of the fire and roast marshmallows while exchanging adventure stories.
Just in case you weren’t spoilt for choice enough, bring in the Lake District. The mountainous region in the North of England is a popular holiday destination, primarily because of its clear lakes, dense forests and iconic mountains. Although lovely all year round, spring is certainly one of the best times to go as you get to watch the rhododendrons bloom and see the leaves bring colour to the trees.
This time, Single With kids heads to Ambleside, an area in the heart of the Lake District. Expect ample water sports, walking and climbing. One memorable trek is to Stock Ghyll Force where you’ll come across a beautiful waterfall in the woods. You can hire rowing boats at Waterhead Pier and explore the waters of the Lake District or you can take a boat trip to Lakeside. Your home for the next few days is a bunk house with two dormitories on the grounds of a lovely country house just outside of Ambleside in the South Lakes. It has its own bathroom and kitchen facilities and although the rooms are shared, this is certainly the best way to make new friends. The accommodation is on an estate of 34 acres of woodland and boasts waterfalls and an adventure playground for children. For a more relaxed activity, take a stroll on the Coffin Trail - don’t be fooled by the name, the picturesque pathway is rich in natural beauty and will certainly make your senses come alive.
Roughing it with your family has never been this adventurous or culturally educational. Single Parents on Holiday offer a unique holiday amidst the rugged and exotic farmlands of rural Italy.The Gelindo dei Magredi Farm is where you’ll be staying, surrounded by vast meadows and unspoiled landscape. The nature farm lies at the foot of the stunning Friulian Dolomites, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
The 400 m² nature park is a perfect educational environment for your children. You’ll be witness to the wanderings of more than 40 horses, cows, pigs, rabbits and many more farm animals. Let your children play in the swimming pool with their new-found friends while you relax on the patio enjoying home-baked cakes and a glass of wine with your new friends. The farm even has a restaurant dedicated to providing cuisine with a traditional Friuli influence. The evenings will see the farmhouse come alive with live music, pool parties and discos. As if that’s not enough, there are an abundance of activities on offer, ranging from guided bike tours and horse riding in the countryside to trips to the sandy, blue beach or a longer day trip to the famous city of Venice.
Fuerteventura - Canary Islands
Just saying the words “beach holiday” makes my skin tingle and nose wiggle. That feeling of the white beach sand and the deliciously salty sea smell, cannot be compared to anything else. I can only imagine what the thought of a beach holiday means to a child - especially on a trip to the Canary Islands, undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.To ensure that you and your children have an unforgettable holiday on the sandy beaches of Jandia, why not make the most of the comprehensive package offered by Single Parents on Holiday - it takes the stress out of having to plan your trip and you'll be guaranteed a family-friendly holiday.
Jandia is located near the small fishing village of Morro Jable, which features some of the best beaches in Fuerteventura, Spain. The wide, sandy beach stretches for more than 20 miles and hosts a beautiful backdrop of mountains and clear blue skies. There are teenager, maxi and mini clubs for parents and children to enjoy the many sports - from table tennis and beach volleyball to water sports and darts. The mini and maxi clubs put on shows and play games and if you have a teenager, this is the perfect holiday as there are a variety of activities for older groups. This is a beach holiday, so be prepared to spend the next few days in your bathing suit on the beach, playing in the waves and building sandcastles.
So it's obvious that there are a variety of holiday options available for your family. But maybe camping or beaches aren't really for you. Mango Holidays offer a single-parent holiday where you can go skiing in the French Pyrenees.
Barèges in the Tourmalet ski area is the largest resort of its kind in the French Pyrenees. Tourmalet is less known than the Alps so not only is skiing cheaper and less crowded, but the scenery has also remained unspoiled and maintains the atmosphere of a traditional French mountain ski village. The village is nestled in a valley between meadows and wooded slopes with mountains boasting snow-covered tips peeking out of the sun light. The ski area is able to host beginners, intermediate and more advanced skiers so it is ideal for children and adults. You'll get to stay in a quaint, family-run hotel located close to the village, with direct transport to all ski facilities.
The Turkey Single Parent Holiday by Responsible Travel is proudly eco-friendly. When visiting the coastal town of Kas make sure that you have adventure on your mind. Coastal towns are always a favourite - you don’t just get to dive into the sprawling waves, you also get to immerse yourself in the beach culture. Boardwalks, shorts and tank tops, ice-creams and midday beach gatherings are par for the course.
The holiday is ideal for teenagers who have a thirst for adventure. And what better way to bond than a kayaking trip to visit a sunken city or exploring the land by mountain bike and exciting treks. Or what about SCUBA diving in crystal clear waters - with options for both novices and beginners, anyone can have a go at it. If you’re tired after a few days, you can simply relax on the beach or spend two nights cruising the Aegean Sea in a gulet (traditional sailing boat). Only local tour operators and accommodation providers are used so all the money you spend gets plowed back into the community. And to do your part for the environment, guests are encouraged to recycle.
Portugal is more than just the birth place of the talented (and extremely good-looking) Christiano Ronaldo. Aside from its many world-class attractions, the country also boasts the famous Algarve, one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. The stunning beaches and over the top resorts may attract the tourists, but it’s the breathtaking cliffs and natural bays that keep them coming back.
Busy places like The Algarve aren't always the first option for single parents, but when you’re around like-minded adults, it’s easier to see the appeal. Single With Kids have arranged for you to stay in an all inclusive hotel - which means no cooking or cleaning! There will also be a variety of hotel facilities and activities on offer, suited to both parents and children, so everyone is guaranteed a fun and memorable time. Or if you'd rather head off on your own as a family, you can spend the day on the beach building sandcastles, catching fish and exploring the clear, blue waters.
Just A Thought
When it comes to travelling alone or as a single parent, the biggest challenge is to put yourself out there and make the most of every opportunity. This is especially important when you're taking your kids travelling. So depending on your natural instincts and those of your children, you'll either need to lead by example or follow theirs. Kids might be more willing to hang out with others if they see you chatting to other parents. Or if you're inclined to take solace in a book or paper while your kids go galivanting, follow in their footsteps and make the effort to meet other people. It's your holiday too... you can read the newspaper at home anytime.