The days of the homebound single parent may be gone. In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 single parents, Single Parent Travel, Annapolis, MD, a company specializing in the single parent market, has discovered quite a few surprises. "Our last survey in 1998 revealed a few surprises as well and we felt that it was time to take the pulse of our community again," said John Frenaye the "chief single dad" for Single Parent Travel.
"We have always done an annual trip to a Beaches resort in Jamaica; a few years ago, several parents were clamoring for a more upscale experience," said Frenaye. "So we created some great trips for our upscale readers and they were a huge hit—we have been to Kenya, Peru, the Amazon, and my favorite was a Harry Potter trip to the UK." The survey ran for three months from September through November 2008.
The status among those surveyed varied: 61 percent of the parents are divorced, 29 percent are single by choice; 7 percent are either a widow or widower; 68 percent have an income over $50,000 per year; and 72 percent have a college degree or a postgraduate degree. As for travel habits, 65 percent prefer a vacation lasting five-seven days; 85 percent prefer a varied itinerary encompassing an active vacation and a relaxing one; 51 percent have traveled to the Caribbean in the past; and 54 percent spend more than $1,500 on a typical vacation.
"The biggest mistake one can do is to underestimate or assume," said Frenaye. "We are constantly seeking feedback on our trips, our website, and our services so that we can provide exactly what our readers and travelers seek."
The company organizes approximately 25 group trips per year ranging from quick weekend getaways to destinations such as the Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, NY or a 12-day Mediterranean cruise on the brand new Ruby Princess. "We try to have enough offerings to appeal to almost everyone, scheduling around school breaks is another issue altogether," said Frenaye.
The company was founded in 1983 by Brenda Elwell, a single mom and world traveler, who grew tired of the inequities single parents faced when traveling with a child or children. “Singles are penalized in terms of cost because there is not another adult in the party," said Frenaye. "There are also some social 'stigmas' attached when dining and interacting with more traditional families while on vacation. And the biggest peeve was the assumption that the presence of a 'kids club' made a destination or a resort truly 'kid friendly.' "
Single Parent Travel seeks out the best value, the most single-parent-friendly, and the most kid-friendly resorts and destinations. "Whenever possible, we try to make our trips 3 in 1," said Frenaye. "One for the parent (some down time alone or with other adults), one for the kids (with other kids), and of course one for the family. Our families love it."
Check out a personal narrative on single parent travel by Amanda Klimak of Largay Travel Inc.