With nearly 3 million Brits in single parent families1, the research from Vrbo highlights how the shape of the so-called traditional family holiday is changing.
Britain’s single parents took on many roles over the past year. From teachers to chefs, entertainers to breadwinners – it’s needless to say these multi-tasking super parents deserve a break! But many of them struggle to get away on holiday, with more than half (56%) not having taken a trip for over two years.
According to research from a global expert in family holiday rentals, Vrbo®, more than half (54%) of UK single parents are eager to get away on holiday this year and are planning a trip away with their kids to enjoy spending some quality time together.
With nearly 3 million Brits in single parent families1, the research from Vrbo highlights how the shape of the so-called ‘traditional’ family holiday is changing. With families in today’s society coming in all shapes and sizes, holidays are increasingly having to cater for families that don’t fit the traditional two-parent model. But how can a holiday as a single parent be relaxing for all the family? And what are the pain points faced by single parents when looking to take their family away?
What to pack? Granny and grandad!
Although officially ‘on holiday’, the only real difference to daily life for a single parent can be the change in scenery. To overcome this and ensure everyone gets a break, many parents opt to take additional family members to support, with over two thirds (68%) of single parents admitting it’s really important when they travel on holiday with their children, that they have another adult with them.
Providing insight on why single parent holidays are a great way to bond and make some positive family memories together, Vrbo’s Family Psychologist, Dr. Angharad Rudkin commented: “Going on holiday as a single parent has its challenges, but it is also a perfect time to reconnect with your children, take time out from the demands of everyday family life (and work) and meet new people.
Being away gives everyone in the family a chance to have a new mindset, to enjoy one another's company more and to relax. The knock-on effect is that parents and children try new things, explore together and chat more, and the positive and deep connections established while away can filter through into life post-holiday.”
A third of single parents revealed they had previously postponed or cancelled a holiday because they felt they couldn’t manage the kids on their own, highlighting just why additional adult assistance is at the top of the list on what to pack for many single parents!
Top of the invite list as the go-to people for support on holiday are the ever-reliable grandparents and in-laws (39%), followed by friends or another single parent with kids (26%). 2 in 10 (23%) also said they’d choose to take a sibling with them. Sharing the responsibility this way enables single parents to relax and ensures everyone has an unforgettable holiday.
Dr Rudkin commented: “Single parents don't have the luxury of being able to hand over responsibility to another parent whenever they want, so it can feel as though they are on duty 24 hours a day. This can be a hefty burden on holiday, with parents feeling they need "eyes on the back of their head" in order to know where their children are and whether they are safe.
So that the holiday feels like a rest for everyone, families could organise to go away with another family or adult, so that the children are entertained and the parents have another grown up to talk to. Evenings can feel quite lonely for single parents on holiday, so choosing a place with evening entertainment for all of the family, or with a TV to watch a boxset on, can help the holiday feel like a treat for everyone.”
Three adults, five children?
The hunt for the perfect place to stay is not a simple feat for single parents. It can be difficult to find suitable accommodation options that aren’t solely based on double occupancy or that aren’t large enough for the wider family joining the trip. In fact, over half (58%) of single parents said they found it extremely or somewhat difficult to find accommodation that caters for single parents who holiday with their kids, which is why holiday rentals can often offer a perfect solution for single-parent families.
Actor, singer and member of Steps, Ian "H" Watkins' said: “I’m not surprised to hear that many single parents struggle to find suitable accommodation options when booking a holiday or look to take additional family members with them for support. When I go on holiday with my two boys, as a single parent, I am already outnumbered!
Taking a friend or family member is always a great way to not only share the responsibility, but also an opportunity to spend some quality time together. That’s why we prefer holiday rentals for our family getaways. Staying in a holiday rental, altogether, gives us that extra space and privacy. To make things easier, I’ll always look for places to stay where there are child friendly activities nearby and use filters when booking a trip to find a suitable property to cater to my family’s specific needs - that way, I don’t need a holiday to get over the holiday!”
Holiday R&R – Rest and … Responsibility?
According to Vrbo’s data, single parents in London were the most likely to feel they were able to take a break from being a parent and enjoy themselves on holiday (42%), followed by those in the North East of England (38%). It was a different story for those in Northern Ireland, with only 1 in 10 single parents saying they felt they could relax on holiday with their kids (11%).
There is no denying that once on holiday, it can be hard work at times. Over a quarter (26%) of single parents admitted that a holiday with their kids left them feeling like they needed to book another trip away to recover straight away and 16% even admitted they have previously been brought to tears by the stress of being a sole parent on holiday! Some of the biggest concerns for parents when travelling alone with their kids include:
- Keeping their children safe (28%)
- Having to keep their eyes on them at all times in unfamiliar surroundings (18%)
- Finding entertaining options that will please everyone (15%)
It’s no surprise that at the end of the day, all these self-sacrificing parents want to make sure of is that their kids have a good time on holiday. According to the research from Vrbo, parents’ top priority is to make sure their kids are entertained and having fun (68%) while also giving kids the opportunity to make new friends (54%).
Keeping the kids sweet is another way to ensure fun is had by all. 4 in 10 parents said they promise their children treats like ice-cream, pizza, chocolate etc – in return for good behaviour; whilst a third admitted to letting their kids have more screen time than they would at home when on holiday, in a bid for more relaxation time!
Karen Mullins from Vrbo says: “With families coming in all shapes and sizes, holidaymakers have different requirements when looking for suitable accommodation to fit their needs. Finding a holiday rental that feels like a home away from home is so important for families travelling in a wider group, in need of extra space and privacy.
Having a space where you can maintain a routine with your kids means everyone is able to relax, enjoy spending time with one another and deserve a well-earned break, for a truly unforgettable trip.”
Notes to editors:
In 1995, Vrbo introduced a new way for people to travel together, pairing homeowners with families and friends looking for places to stay. We were grounded in one purpose: To give people the space they need to drop the distractions of everyday life and simply be together. Since then, we've grown into a global community of homeowners and travellers, with unique properties around the world. Vrbo makes it easy and fun to book cabins, condos, beach houses and every kind of space in between.
© 2021 Vrbo, an Expedia Group Company. All rights reserved. Vrbo and the Vrbo logos are trademarks of Vrbo.
An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among single parents in the UK. The research fieldwork took place on 14-17 June 2021. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.
1Office for National Statistics - There were 2.9 million lone parent families in 2020, which accounts for 14.7% of families in the UK