NEW YORK -- Becoming a single mom with two young sons seven years
ago was a rude awakening for Sharyn Saffan, the founder and owner
of Quality Time Travel in Commack, N.Y.
It hurt that her circle of friends had suddenly changed, Saffan
said, and it bothered her that when she was on vacation with her
boys, she had no one to talk to or hang out with.
"The kids had a great time at family-oriented resorts, but I was
alone," she said. "Most of the guests either were couples or had no
kids and didn't want my company. It was a pretty lonely
Fired up by this experience, and with experience as a travel
agent, Saffan started Quality Time Travel, an agency dedicated to
helping single parents plan their vacations.
But it wasn't easy.
"I spent years talking to groups, asking friends for names of
friends and creating incentives to get potential clients before I
opened my doors," Saffan said.
"Now I have a mailing list of more than 2,000 single parents and
stay in contact with them by e-mail blasts, the Internet, regular
mailings -- whatever it takes."
Cruises are by far the most popular product for single parents,
she said, because there's so much for the kids to do day and night
that single mothers and fathers get the opportunity to mingle.
However, that "meeting and mingling" isn't always
Saffan will book a cocktail party for her groups of 20 or
reserve a space by the pool at an all-inclusive -- the second type
of preferred vacation for single parents -- and plan simultaneous
activities for the kids.
She'll arrange a game or two with prizes, throw a private
barbecue and make sure the single parents sit together at
This worked for Bonnie Burton from New York's Westchester
Burton began traveling when her son was 6 years old and her
daughter was 3.
Four trips later, all of them booked by Quality, both mom and
children gave the company high marks.
"Whenever we plan a trip, my kids always ask to go with
Quality," Burton said.
Because not every client needs or wants "togetherness" all the
time, Saffan designs travel so clients can come and go as they
However, the majority buys into being together and doing the
"We've had a few marriages come of my trips and many
long-lasting friendships," Saffan said.
Although cruises are attrac-tive to single parents, clients
seldom seem comfortable traveling farther than the Caribbean or
Mexico, often because of custodial issues, she said.
Also, Saffan said, "There seems to be a distance thing that
kicks in -- this far and no farther."
Quality Time, which organizes about 12 trips a year, lately has
been booking individual trips for single parents who want to travel
with their kids but don't necessarily want to be part of a
"As a travel agent, I know my clients and product," Saffan said.
"I know which destinations and which activities work for single
Quality Time welcomes travel agents interested in booking
single-parent family vacations. Commission is 10% on cruises and
For more information, call (888) 758-9386; e-mail [email protected] or visit www.qualitytimetravel.com.
Kaleel Sakakeeny covers the family travel market for Travel
Weekly and can be reached at [email protected].
For more details on this article, see Introducing the single-parent