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Going on holiday with your child as a single parent

The summer holiday is approaching again and Corona or not, we all want to get out! Because of the uncertainty of whether the borders are open and where you can and cannot go, it might be a good idea to look a little closer to home this year. There are a lot of nice and special places to visit within the borders of the Netherlands, together with your child or children.

Don’t you see yourself sitting alone in front of the tent, with a mosquito swatter in one hand and a lukewarm wine in the other? Not very soothing, of course, when your children on leaky air mattresses shout a different excuse for not sleeping from the tent behind you every five minutes. If this is your biggest fear, consider a holiday where your kids are kept busy in the great outdoors.

Think of a summer holiday in the Netherlands where you also get the chance to relax and where food, drinks and, of course, mosquito control are taken care of for all of you. This is possible on one of the spacious antique sailing ships that organise holiday trips on the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer.

A sailing trip with your child on the Wadden Sea or IJsselmeer

Sailing trips on the Wadden Sea or the IJsselmeer are usually group trips. That makes it affordable and because of the size of the ship and your own cabin, there is more than enough privacy.

Many single parents find it a pleasure that once the children are in bed, they get the chance to meet new friends. Because on board there is always someone you click with.

After all, you want a fun holiday where you and your child[ren] can relax, exercise and make great memories.

What does a sailing holiday for single parents look like?

On a sailing-along trip like this one, you can expect to find several parents and children. As long as the Corona Regulations are in force, the group will be select.

Depending on the type of sailing trip you choose, you will embark in the harbour of Enkhuizen or Harlingen. The skipper, sailor and cook are waiting for you on board. While they help you with your luggage and any questions you may have, the little ones can already start looking for your cabin. Every child always loves this, because such a huge ship is a real discovery.

When everyone is on board, there is a welcome speech from the skipper and the rest of the crew. The deckhand introduces everyone to the deck and explains which tasks the children can help with. Of course, the safety rules are also explained so that the ship returns home with as many children as it left with.

Once the sails are set, the children go wild and your holiday has officially begun. In the welcome speech, the skipper explained something about the tide, the weather and the possible route. Especially for sailing trips with children, we try to find a good balance between active sailing, enjoying a good meal together and enough time in harbours or on the Wadden Islands to romp around and do fun things.

A sailing holiday on the Wadden Sea is always an adventure, especially because you are at the mercy of the rhythm of the tides and the wind. Sometimes they sail during the day to reach another island in time for the low tide.

But if the weather is nice and calm, the ship will stay put during the day so you can enjoy the sun or play with your child at the beach. We sail again after dinner, when it gets cooler, and then anchor at sea.

What’s so great about a sailing holiday with your child

Don’t think it will be a shouting match on board. But the children have plenty to do, because every sailing ship turns it into a real adventure. The deckhand, for example, can read an exciting pirate story to the children in the jib net. You know, that mega hammock hanging in front of the bow.

Children can of course ring the big ship’s bell for dinner and those who dare can learn to steer. Don’t think of it as a Boy Scout club, but they do learn to make different knots and help with the hoisting of the sails, the lowering of the sails, mooring the boat and much more. There are all kinds of tasks and duties for little pirates to grumpy teenagers. There is something for everyone.

For you as a single parent, you don’t have to look after your children non stop during your holiday. If you want, you can help together with your children. There is also plenty of time to relax. Sink into a beanbag on board with a good book, the newspaper on your iPad and know that there is plenty for your children to do. All things that are fun without Wifi, but if you want, Wifi is of course available.

Once you have arrived on an island such as Texel or Terschelling, you can always choose to do one of the many fun things alone with your kids or perhaps with a few other co-sailors.

Exhaust your kids by making them cycle against the wind while you watch from an easy chair. Do you miss your cargo bike during this holiday? Don’t worry, you can also hire these for a bargain. Even more fun is renting a Tuk-Tuk and doing a scavenger hunt with it. Some single parents remember at once why they are seperated, now it turns out that they have to read the map themselves and they do not always succeed. On the way, you can climb lighthouses, have lunch, drinks, beach, swims and much more.

For aspiring biologists, there is also plenty to do. While sailing, they learn all about the seals and they can look for special Wadden Sea birds through the binoculars of the old, wise and very passionate skipper.

What about food on a sailing holiday with children

A cook accompanies you on the sailing along trips. He or she provides three meals a day and takes care of sufficient fresh fruit and snacks throughout the day. But you can always join in the cooking, or cook for yourself. The kitchen on board a sailing ship is completely open and everything is at your disposal.

Do you have a specific diet or are you vegetarian? Please let us know when you book, so that the cook can consult with you and take this into account.

From what age is a sailing holiday a good idea?

If you are considering a sailing holiday in the Netherlands with your children, then this is really fun for everyone from the age of 6. Of course, younger children are also welcome, but that requires some attention on your part. The ships are not ideally equipped for this.

For safety reasons, it is mandatory that all children without a swimming certificate wear a life jacket on deck at all times. Even if the ship is in port.

What places do you visit on a sailing along trip?

Which places can be visited depends on which port you depart from. If you depart from the IJsselmeer, there is a good chance that you will pass some nice little harbour towns on your way to the Wadden Sea. From Harlingen harbour, on the other hand, you can discover more islands and the Frisian coast.

Antique sailing ships in the port of Harlingen

The skipper consults with everyone about their wishes and what is possible and so every day you’ll see what the next part of the journey will be. Weather and tide permitting, you can hop from one island to another.

Falling dry on a sailing holiday with your child

The phenomenon of falling dry is also a must. Especially if you, as parents, are tired of those children. The deckhand lowers a ladder on a sandbank in the middle of the Wadden Sea and sends the children out to look for a non-existing crab Guaranteed at least 15 minutes of peace and quiet for you and fun for the kids.

But during this sandbank expedition, there is plenty to see and learn for everyone who wants to. There are fishnets and buckets for the children and they can make a temporary aquarium by catching fish, crabs and lobsters. The skipper or deckhand will be happy to explain the life in the Wadden Sea and on the sandbank.

If you are ready for a moment of zen, walk towards the horizon on the vast seabed. If you want to make yourself useful, then do the ship’s cook a big favour by taking a bucket along on your mudflat walk and collecting some cockles.

They are a delicious addition to the next lunch or as a starter with dinner. Experience shows that children always want to taste their self-produced catch. Even if they never eat mussels at home.

A game of football at the bottom of the Wadden Sea is one to put on Insta! Who can say that? And especially that second photo from a few hours later, where only water can be seen. Score on a unique football pitch and bet that the skipper would like to be goalkeeper for a while?

When do the lights go out at night during a sailing holiday?

In contrast to a camping holiday, where you sit alone in the evening on your folding chair in front of the tent, the nice thing about a sailing holiday with several families is that you are guaranteed to have some company in the evening. The children lie in their bunk beds and you can relax with a drink under the unique starry sky above the Waddensea

If the weather is not so good, you can make yourself comfortable in the cosy ship’s hold downstairs. The ship is open 24/7 and the last one turns off the lights. Because the crew has to get up at the crack of dawn to make a feast of the next day as well.

What is also nice the next morning is not having to cross half a football pitch with a toilet roll under your arm to get to the toilet.

I want to book a sailing trip with my child.

You can choose how long you want to sail with your child. Most single parents book a weekend or a week. Longer is also possible, of course. The costs are from EUR 249.- per weekend for an adult. Children up to 12 years of age receive a discount. A week’s sailing is possible from 599,- euro per person. 3 meals per day included!

Currently, there is a Corona Guarantee. Can’t your trip go ahead? Then you can just cancel or reschedule, no small print.

Get in touch and ask all the questions you want to make it as fun as possible for you and your child(ren).

This post is also available in: Dutch German