Two and a half years after Roni Dagan’s husband died, she and her seven-year-old son, Gal, found solace in places removed from home.
They didn’t confine themselves to a single location. The act of traveling itself is what has brought Dagan and her child joy — something they began after that first yr of grieving.
Before she had Gal, she lived within the United States, and traveled to India and Ibiza.
“To have adventures and to explore — that is freedom to me. And Gal is within the place where I can do this with him,” Dagan told CNBC Travel. “That loss … it made me realize … you simply need to go and do the things that you simply like to do.”
Dagan, who runs her own marketing firm in Tel Aviv, Israel, has spent the past yr and a half traveling as often as possible with Gal. They’ve camped within the deserts of Egypt and snorkeled within the Red Sea. They also did a safari in Tanzania and visited Bulgaria last summer.
Of her son Gal, Roni Dagan said: “It was difficult when he was younger, but … he’s now super easy to travel with.”
Source: Roni Dagan
The pair just spent six weeks on the Greek island of Syros with Boundless Life, a travel company for “slow-traveling” families. She said the trip pushed them out of their comfort zones, but checked three critical boxes: she had time to work, her son engaged in educational and social activities through the day, and the trip gave the sensation of “living” someplace else.
“I would not do that by myself. You must have community; you could have coverage while you’re traveling on your individual as a single mom,” she said. “Here, there’s all the time someone you may count on to make it easier to out if you could.”
Dagan is a component of a wave of single mothers who’re rediscovering themselves and reconnecting with their children through travel.
It’s a demographic Boundless Life hasn’t specifically targeted, yet the trips — which include accommodations, coworking spaces, and education — are resonating with single mothers and single dads. Across its locations in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Bali, the corporate can also be seeing more bookings from mothers voluntarily traveling solo with their children, and divorced parents either traveling together or splitting the trip into two parts.
What it costs
Boundless Life’s six-week summer package for a two-bedroom apartment and one child at school is around €9,050 ($11,540).
That includes Wi-Fi, weekly cleansing, access to a coworking hub and yoga classes. Packages are cheaper within the winter and get proportionately cheaper the longer you stay.
“We have several families in every cohort joining us as single parents,” said Elodie Ferchaud, Boundless Life’s head of demand generation. And “we’re welcoming an increasing number of.”
“We often hear from single parents that they need the community to make the traveling experience richer and more fun for the children — and for themselves. Single parents take care of a lot already. They showcase strength, resilience and connection, but they need more for his or her children,” she said.
Like Dagan, U.S.-based single mom Alison Lewis turned to travel to take care of heartbreak. She escaped to a friend’s apartment in Hawaii for 3 months together with her then two-year-old son, O, after the breakdown of her marriage in 2018.
The pair have since traveled all around the United States, taking in lakes, mountains, beaches, hot springs, dinosaur relics and diamond-digging.
“I really like traveling — it type of saved me,” said Lewis, a digital design consultant who now lives in Texas. “My kid all the time had recent things to have a look at and luxuriate in that weren’t his screen.”
Two-year-old O (who’s now seven) with a family friend in Hawaii.
Source: Alison Lewis
But traveling hasn’t been easy, she said.
“It challenged me to my limits as a human being to travel alone as a mom with a two-year-old,” she said. “During that point, we had lost all the pieces. So I had to start out over.”
Like Dagan, Lewis and her son, who’s now seven years old, have also done a six-week summer stick with Boundless Life, this time within the medieval hilltop town of Sintra, Portugal. Lewis said she worked, but had time for weekly hikes and to bond with other mothers within the group. She said she is not looking forward to going home, where she often feels the odd one out as a single parent.
“The joy and happiness that O has straight away … I do not know provide that for him once we go home, when it comes to the planning and the playdates,” Lewis said.
“We all the time want to hang around but everybody we all know all the time has a reason that they cannot do something on the weekend. And that has to do with being a single mom, because [traditional] families stick together, and single mothers are type of unnoticed,” she said.
“People don’t do it on purpose. They’re just in their very own world.”
Traveling after a relationship ends resonates with Catherine Chinatree, an artist based in Margate, U.K. She launched into a three-month trip together with her child, Sonny, then aged 4, when she separated from her partner five years ago. They rented an apartment in Bangkok, and from there traveled around Thailand in addition to Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Nepal, she said, visiting temples, mountaineering and seeing wildlife.
Catherine Chinatree, together with her son, Sonny.
Source: Catherine Chinatree
“I wanted to interrupt out of the life we had built up in London. Sonny was starting school, and I used to be doing my Masters in Fine Art at university and it was all pretty hardcore,” she said. “I wanted … three months simply to give attention to him.”
They returned to the U.K. and put travel on hold through the pandemic, she said. But that feeling of wanting to get away again soon resurfaced.
This time, though, Chinatree had a significant solo exhibition to arrange for, so she needed facilities for Sonny while she worked. She joined Boundless Life for a three-month trip to Sintra within the spring of 2023.
“Sonny loves football, so we went to the local football team, and asked if he could train with them. He joined that immediately, then we had this easy community of Portuguese football kids,” she said. “My social life also became greater there than it’s at home, but I also was capable of consciously decide to do things by myself too.”
Revitalized by their travels, and feeling confident as single mom travelers, Dagan, Lewis and Chinatree are already considering destinations for 2024 with their children. Possibly Sintra for Dagan this time, and even India, she said.
For Lewis, Costa Rica is looking, to see an old friend who lives there. Chinatree is open to her next travel destination, so long as there is a community for her and her son.
Regardless of where they go, Dagan is painfully aware that traveling together with her son could have a shelf life.
“By the time they’re teenagers, kids might be done with you and wish to be with their friends as an alternative over the summer,” she said. “I actually have this window that I intend to make probably the most of.”