The weather is finally warming up (despite a few rainy days) which means the summer holidays are fast approaching. We know that the six weeks holidays can seem daunting for single parents, so we have put together our top tips to help you plan your summer. If you don’t think you can afford to go abroad this year, we’ve got you covered with some free/low-cost options too. You can also find information on organisations which provide discounted holidays and days out for single parent families on Gingerbread’s holidays page.
You might also get some ideas from single mum Chris’s video about going on holiday with her two sons.
10 tips for planning for (and surviving) the summer holidays
- Don’t feel under pressure to go abroad. There are lots of holiday options in the UK, try searching ‘holiday ideas uk’ or ‘unusual holidays uk’ for something a little different (we found a place where you can sleep in stables with an actual horse!).
- If you’re keen to go further afield, it pays to shop around. You will often get the best price by booking online but make sure you book with companies that are Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) registered. If you are travelling with an independent tour operator or travel organiser, check that they have a valid Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) number.
- If you are going away and would like a break from childcare (after all, it’s your holiday too), check if children’s clubs or crèche facilities are available at your chosen venue. If your child has special needs, you can book with an organisation that caters specifically for them. You can find a list of these on our holidays page.
- Make sure you travel with the right paperwork. If your child/ren’s other parent has parental responsibility, you will need to get their permission (preferably in writing) to take them abroad. If you have a different surname to your child, it’s also a good idea to travel with your child’s birth certificate and your marriage or divorce certificate (if you have one) along with the other parent’s written permission.
- Summer holidays don’t mean you have to go on a lengthy break to have fun. Councils often put on free/low-cost activities throughout July and August. Search for ‘summer holiday activities near me’ to get you started.
- Get your child/ren involved in a project. The Summer Reading Challenge is free and you can take part online or at your local library. They could also restyle their bedroom (a chance to retrieve lost items from under the bed!), keep a scrap book to record memories of the summer or try a spot of gardening with quick growing veg like cress, lettuce, radishes and beans.
- Get out and about. The summer is a great time to get outside and explore your local area. Take a picnic, a ball or frisbee, or just sit back and relax. If you want more of a challenge, download Gingerbread’s ‘My Family Moves’ activity pack and see how much you and your children can complete in six weeks.
- Share the holiday experience. Get together with family and friends for a trip out or a BBQ to share the fun and the costs. You could also swap childcare days with your children’s friends’ parents. Your child gets two days of fun with a pal but you only need to take one day of annual leave.
- Whether you’re going on a day trip or away for longer, make a checklist. It will help to build the excitement of the trip as well as helping you to remember everything you need. Our essentials always include hats, water bottles, waterproof jackets, insect repellent, sun cream, snacks and card games (Dobble and Uno are firm favourites for us). Packing for multiple people can be a bit of a headache but packing cubes can save space and improve organisation.
- Enjoy it! Holidays are for you as well as your children so make sure there is a mix of activities planned, so that everyone (including you) gets to do something they enjoy. Involve your children in planning activities so that they learn to organise their day, share their time and consider what others want to do too.
We have lots of helpful FAQs on our holidays page, from what will happen to your benefits if you go abroad to negotiating holidays with your child’s other parent.