Did you know that even as a single mom you can take amazing vacations? Single motherhood is not a poverty wish nor is it a wish to live a life void of phenomenal experiences. This is why I’m so excited to share how you, a single mom, can still travel, have amazing experiences, and create great memories with your children. This post shares tips on where to take your children and how you can save up the money to travel debt-free.
P.S. Check out The Vacation Planner for Single Moms at the bottom of this post (totally free).
How to pick the right vacation
The first thing you need to think about is how to pick the right vacation. When you are choosing a vacation destination, you need to consider the following:
How the vacations are priced
Understand whether you need to pay for 2 adults in order to get the deal. Some of the vacations that are offered are sold per person and they require 2 adults to book to get the price. If you are the only adult traveling, then you will be required to pay more money, because these vacations charge a premium for single adult travelers.
The other thing to look at with pricing is to understand whether children receive a discount and how they are counted towards the room maximum. For example, if you have 3 children and the room maximum is 3, then you may not be able to book that deal because you will need to have 4 people in the room.
Is food included (or at least breakfast)?
Having food included is a huge cost saver. Meals while traveling can get expensive so if you are able to get at least breakfast included, you will save money. I love all-inclusive resorts because I don’t like to have to worry about the extra cost of food while I’m away.
Are there cool, age-appropriate things for the kids to do?
All vacation destinations, hotels, and resorts are not created equally. Some locations are geared towards adult travelers and others are more accommodating for families. As you research your location, check out the website to see if there are special kid’s clubs or activities for children.
Don’t limit yourself
As you research your vacations, I highly recommend you check out Wandering Mom on Facebook. This is an amazing group of moms who love to travel with their children. I used to travel a lot before I had my twins, and I have flown with them as well as taken road trips, but I have drastically reduced my travel because vacations seemed intimidating and expensive. Getting feedback from the moms, and learning how they travel with kids has been amazing. I was even able to use a lot of feedback from the moms in that group to share with you for this post.
The endless vacation
Could it be time to make a career change? You may be wondering what I am talking about right now, but think about it this way: You could take a job teaching English in a foreign country. It would provide an amazing experience and the benefit is that, in many countries, once you are there you can travel around for less. Plus, you will probably get way more vacation time. Check out this story of a single mom, Tanai Benard, who moved to Abu Dubai with her children and then traveled to 7 countries. If you decide to go this route, then pick a country that has a great support network for expats (especially moms) and good American schools.
What places are good for single moms?
Don’t limit yourself. I learned from the Wandering Moms, that you can go practically anywhere with your children. The moms who provided insight have been to a variety of places. They have traveled to Jamaica, Aruba, Costa Rica, Turks and Caicos, Florida, Brazil, South Africa, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Although you can travel anywhere, there are places that may be more accommodating, easier, or even cost effective.
Cruises are great because you can travel to multiple places and they have a kid’s club. Kid’s clubs allow you to leave your children in a safe location while you get a break and be able to do something for yourself. The cool thing is that the kid’s clubs are generally free, with the exception of infant care.
I have heard great feedback about Disney cruises because they are totally geared towards families. Another good thing about Disney cruises is that they started to do cruise deals for single parents. This means that you get to avoid the penalty comes with single adult travelers.
All-inclusive resorts are amazing. Literally, if you don’t want to you don’t have to take out your wallet. I love them. If you are considering an all-inclusive resort, look into all-inclusive resorts that have:
- Have discounted pricing for children. Some resorts have discounted pricing or even free pricing depending on the age of your child.
- Special activities and clubs for kids.
These things help provide an indication that it is kid friendly and they will also save you money.
Don’t overlook the possibilities of a staycation
It seems like it isn’t fun, but there are probably so many places in your own backyard that you haven’t explored. Take a weekend to explore your city of residence or take the day to explore a place 1 – 1.5 hours away. This is a cool way to get to know your city, try something new, and save money.
Now that you know your options for vacations, next, we will discuss how you can vacation without the debt.
Taking the vacation without the debt
Create a budget for the trip
As you start to plan your vacation, think about how much you can afford. In order to do that, do 2 things:
- Understand when you want to take the vacation
- Understand how much it will cost. The costs that you need to calculate are:
- Luggage Fees
- Parking costs
- Taxi / Shuttle / Car Rental
- Entertainment / Extras / Activities
- Childcare costs if your children aren’t traveling with you
- Just in case expenses for the unexpected expenses that could pop up (For example, I actually had to see a doctor on a couple of vacations)
Doing these two things will help you back into how much you need to save out of each pay period in order to take the trip. For example, if you want to go to go on a Disney cruise in 6 months, and it will cost $3000, then that means that you have to save $500/month. If you get paid twice per month, then that is $250/paycheck. Then you can understand if you can afford it or you should adjust the timing or adjust the vacation location. Check out free Ellevest’s customized financial goal planner to help you to create a plan to reach your savings goals. Click HERE to learn more.
Evaluate options for cost reductions
Once you have a plan, survey the expenses to see where you can cut or look for ways to increase income to save more money for the trip. The key is to go on vacation without the debt.
Here are a few ways to save money on your vacation.
Apps and Discount Websites
There are a number of apps and sites that help you to spot flight, hotel, or vacation deals.
- Google Flights
- LivingSocial Escapes
- Groupon Getaways
When you are using the metasearch sites for flights like Kayak, Google Flights, and Airfarewatchdog.com, be sure to set notifications and alerts so you will learn when prices dropped or are about to increase.
Think about your timing
- Book far enough in advance. Check out this Krazy Koupon Lady post that shows the best time to book for each airline. The prices of flights vary wildly and tend to skyrocket within 2-3 weeks of travel. Therefore, book early enough to avoid overpaying for your flight.
- Off-peak travel. You can find great deals if you travel off-season. Before you book, research the location to identify its peak and low season to see how much you can save by traveling off-season. For example, you can save 40 – 70% if you are willing to travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and the Bahamas during Hurricane Season (June 1 – November 30). For more great destinations, check out this article from the Travel Channel and Lonely Planet.
- Choose days of the week to fly that aren’t as popular. There is a great post by Fare Compare that talks about the timing that will yield you the most cost-effective travel.
The one thing to note with timing is that you must decide what works for you and your children. For example, if you have a small child then it is better to plan your travel around naptime so that your child is sleeping on the plane. Therefore, let cost be a part of your booking decision while not minimizing or forgetting about convenience.
Use Travel Rewards Programs
When you fly or stay at a hotel, sign up for the loyalty programs which allow you to build up miles or hotel stays towards free rewards. You can earn rewards even faster if you have a travel credit card, but if you do not have the discipline to pay it off in full every month and not to overspend do not apply for one.
Save on food
Look into staying at a place that has a kitchen so you can buy groceries and cook. One place to check out is using a travel club to get access to unused timeshares so you can only book for the week that you are interested or you can use Airbnb.com to rent people’s homes which will give you access to quite a bit of space and a full kitchen.
Join a travel club
I have an active vacation club membership because I love to travel, and up until recently, traveled very frequently. I love this club because I’m able to get curated vacations for 25%-70% off retail price. In addition to the savings I’m able to stay at amazing resorts (when I was pregnant I stayed in a 4 diamond resort for less than a budget trip to Miami), my activities are pre-planned (which saves me a ton of time because I don’t have to plan the activities), I get to travel with and meet new people, and all I have to do is get a flight and show up and have a phenomenal experience. There is a cost for a vacation club, but I more than make my money back on the savings from the vacations that I take. This also helps to guarantee that if the price of my flight changes then the savings will be passed back to me. This helps me to avoid having to worry about whether or not I’m booking my flight at its cheapest point, because if the price of my flight changes, I will be refunded the difference. Click here to learn how I save so much on travel and everyday items and activities!
Develop a savings plan to pay for the vacation
Earlier in the post, we talked about identifying how much you need to save per pay period for your vacation. The key is to put the money away in a separate savings or investment account (check out Ellevest’s investing accounts here), so you are not tempted to spend your vacation money. How many of you have “accidentally” spent money that you allocated for your vacation or something else that you wanted to do and as a result were unable to do whatever you planned? Alternatively, if you did it anyway, you accumulated debt? Separating your vacations savings from your checking account and even from other savings accounts, helps you to minimize the risk of spending the money that you put aside for your family’s vacations.
There are a few ways that you can save money. Look at your local bank (or the bank that you are currently with) to see if you can open a separate savings account for your vacation goals. Some banks and credit unions even have special savings accounts for vacation or other savings goals. Also, check out SmartyPig or an online bank.
What if you want to take a trip with your friends?
Family vacations are amazing but sometimes busy, hands-on mommies need a break too. If you want to travel with your friends and do a girl’s trip, then you need to include the cost of childcare in your travel budget. If you are wondering about childcare options so you can travel without the kids, then you can consider the following options:
- Hire a nanny. One of my friends, a single mom, has to travel a lot for work so she has a nanny to stay overnight with her children, pick them up from school, and help with homework.
- Overnight camp. If your children are old enough, look into an overnight camp. My parents went on vacation when my sister’s and I were teenagers, and while they were away we were in overnight camp. It was a ton of fun.
- Ask trusted friends or family members to watch your children.
Don’t let single motherhood impact your ability to travel. Check out Tanai Benard’s post about how she traveled. She is my single mom travel inspiration because she has been all over the world with her children. I had an opportunity to talk to her and I love her outlook on life and creating new, amazing experiences with her children (click here to read more about her). I also spoke to a fellow single mom of twins and she travels all of the time with her children. She has been to Jamaica, Paris, and many other places. When I spoke to her she talked about creating experiences and memories instead of using your children as an excuse to not see the world. As you can see, traveling as a single mom is possible. I encourage you to use the tips in this post to make this dream a reality for you and your children.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
If you want more tips and resources, then check out this FREE grocery reduction challenge to help you to cut your grocery and takeout bill so you can have more money for the things you love! Click here to join the challenge!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!