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Lessons from Linda
Vacations for a Single Mom Family

Well summer is pretty much over and I'm already thinking about taking another vacation even though I just came back from one about 8 weeks ago. Wait, that sounds good, a vacation every 8 weeks. Don't I wish! Oh Well.

Unfortunately, many single parents may not be able to enjoy the luxury of an out-of-town vacation. Usually this is due to work schedules, kids softball schedules or plain old affordability. So if given the opportunity - one should seize it.

Single parents (at least in my case) are the ones managing everything; a full time job, a home, the homework, the chauffeur service to sports practices, movies, dances…. you name it. But darn it! We deserve our peace too!

I'm lucky enough to have a big family and have gone on many vacations with my siblings and their kids. This makes for a great vacation for everyone. The kids have someone to hang with, the parents get time alone or with the other adults - everyone's happy.

For the past several years, we have had a large group spend a week of summer vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This has been an ideal vacation for all ages. There truly is something there for everyone, plenty of miniature golf, fishing, restaurants, shows, shopping, swimming, sun and beach.

It's about a 12 hour drive and with the kids getting older, they've become more tolerant to the long drive so the adults are less tortured. And we most gratefully acknowledge the people that invented the portable DVD and CD players.

We usually stay at a condo right on the beach, so there's not much need to leave the complex. No hustle and bustle, just the ultimate in relaxation. There is something about the sound of the ocean slapping against the sandy shore and the cool breeze just forcing you to relax and breathe deep. No stress - No worries!

This is definitely the kind of vacation that would be affordable for say a large group of single parents and their kids (12 or more). So long as everyone gets along, at least for most of the time.

Expenses could be shared for lodging, groceries, gas and miscellaneous activities. Being in a large group is really a fun way to vacation. It provides time to reconnect with extended families and friends in a way we wouldn't otherwise be able to.

On our vacations we usually bring cards and games to break up the late afternoons or even after a late dinner. My nephew has become a nearly world renown Texas Hold-em player. He brings the necessary setup to play and gives quick lessons to those who aren't sure how to play.

All the kids get involved in the Texas Hold-em games while on vacation. It reminds me of when I was young, growing up in the early 70's playing rummy with my mom and my sisters at our kitchen table on warm summer nights

Overall, an ocean beach vacation is the best. You are forced to stay at the beach - you decide you have driven too far not to enjoy the very thing you came there for - to relax.

Now relaxation, that's another subject altogether. How many of you find it incredibly difficult to do this most natural of behaviors? Too many I'm sure.

The pressure of constant activity and worry of not being able to do it all and be there for everyone plagues single parents everywhere - especially women... especially Catholic women.. especially divorced Irish Catholic women… Okay enough of that. Now back to vacation destinations.

Another really economical place to go is Niagara Falls. I took my two daughters and two nieces there a few years ago for an overnighter. I found a deal in the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Friday magazine. We had a hotel stay at the Radisson, discount admission to the Butterfly Conservatory, discount tickets for the Maid-of-the-Mist, coupons for museum admissions and half off dinner at the Outback. A pretty good deal overall.

We kept busy nearly the entire time. The kids brought swimsuits. You know how they love staying at a hotel and swimming in an indoor pool. I got to spend quality time with "the girls". They actually love doing the "all girl" vacations.

Now for those that can afford it, I'm told the Disney cruise vacations are fabulous! A co-worker took this vacation two years ago and is going again this October (with his wife and two daughters). To save money, they vacation in the off-season and pull the kids out of school. It's not the cheapest vacation, but from what he said you get a good bang for your buck.

And since he refuses to go to Disneyworld (I can't blame him) this is the ultimate alternative. I have been to Disneyworld twice - (the last time was somewhere around 1986). From what I hear about it now, it's far too much work for what should be a vacation.

Making sure to stay at the right place, get the early entry pass, bla bla bla, then you have to make a reservation for your place in line for the rides. What are you kidding me? That's a vacation? I don't think so!

However, I recently came across a very helpful website for single parent family vacations. There is a ton of information about where to go, single discounts/supplements, travel tips, favorite vacation spots, kids' activities and lots more.

I happened to browse the Dude Ranch vacation in Arizona which sounds like a blast - or maybe even the Mexico vacation sounds fun. I know last time I viewed this site there were planned organized vacation tours for single parent families.

Here are a few web addresses that I came across travelwithkids and singleparenttours.

In any case single parent family vacations can be as affordable as tent-camping or a drive to the beach, or maybe a few years of saving up and heading for a cruise, or a dude ranch or snorkeling in Cancun. In any case, we all need a vacation - explore the opportunities.

Being a single mom or dad doesn't mean you can't have a fun family vacation. Who knows? Maybe you'll find another single parent family to spend more time with.

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