They say motherhood is a blessing, but sometimes mama needs a vacation.
This near universal desire for a break has contributed to a unique travel opportunity for mothers who a willing to go on a solo adventure. The phenomenon has been dubbed a “momcation” by industry experts and eager social media sharers.
On Instagram, the hashtag #momcation has been used over 49,500 times. Most of these images show smiling moms exploring the world and taking part of activities without husbands, partners or kids.
From beach day lounging and indulgent spa retreats to longing gazes at city skylines and lively cocktail hour selfies, there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of moms showing off how they recharge on a weekly basis.
Although parenting publications and blogs have been touting how great momcations are in the last few years, the travel industry as a whole has been slow to cater this niche market. Search engines reveal numerous links to articles that say moms need or can benefit from a mom-focused vacation, but hardly any of these results show curated mom travel packages available for purchase.
Conversely, travel websites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity offer bundled wedding vacation packages while hotels across the country have promotions for brides, group getaways, touring shopaholics and numerous other hobbyists.
Kris Ruby, the CEO of New York-based public relations and social media agency, Ruby Media Group, noted that moms aren’t the only group underrepresented in travel marketing.
“Women are still charged double occupancy rates at many hotels when they travel alone. Basically, if you don’t have a partner traveling with you, you are still stuck paying for one anyway,” she told FOX Business. “If hotels really want to attract more solo travelers, single women or moms, then they should create pricing packages that do not force them into paying double occupancy rates.”
Ruby added: “Double occupancy can add up fast and totally defeat the purpose of traveling solo if you are stuck paying for a person who isn’t even there.”
Where traditional travel businesses are lacking, Mollie Krengel, the founder of solo women’s travel company Wildhive is picking up the slack. In her experience, she sees the momcation market gaining traction.
“I know this firsthand because I live it and I help moms do it,” she explained. “I guide group women's adventures through my business Wildhive where we mostly venture to obscure destinations, such as Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and Las Flores, El Salvador where I combine dance and service.”
Krengel elaborated, “I witness the gift these experiences are for us mothers. They are magical for so many reasons – we get out of our comfort zones, together, and it's life-changing.”
“When we give ourselves these experiences to expand, explore, increase our confidence, connect with others (the list goes on) we return home a better mom, a better wife, a better colleague and a better friend. We connect deeper within ourselves, we transform, and we are reminded of who we are without the identities that often take precedence when we are home, such as mom, wife, daughter, and so on.”
Krengel also vouched that momcations prevent burnout since “No other job requires you to work 365 days a year.” In her view, these getaways also minimize chronic stress, depression, anxiety and shows mothers how much they are appreciated whenever a partner or child lets them know they’re missed.
Yatin Patel, co-founder of Reservations.com concurred that mothers are opting for solo vacations “to get away from the stressors of everyday parenting.” He added that moms who travel on their own tend to have the opportunity to splurge on adventurous or exotic excursions that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy comfortably in a family setting, such as safaris and mountaineering.
On why she chose to elect for a solo trip, Albert said, “I wanted to do something I've never done before, I wanted to live a free-spirit style that as a mom, isn't possible in daily life. Just booking the ticket, changed my mindset.”
As a mother of two boys, Albert of course had her worries, but she made sure to push on. “I thought to myself, everything in my life would be there when I return. Suddenly, I felt alive again,” she admitted.
In the end, Albert found that her trip was worth it.
"I needed it. My kids needed it. It's the best gift I have ever given myself and I can't wait for more. In hindsight, I can't believe it took me this long to travel solo. And I can't wait until I have the chance to do it again!"
Sonya Sigler, a business strategy consultant and mother of three agreed that moms who travel solo get to experience a number of benefits like sleep, alone time, contemplation and relaxation.
“I went on week-long yoga retreats after my second child was born and continued to do so after the third one was born. I really needed solo vacations to hold on to my sanity by then,” Sigler joked.
For moms who are looking into a momcation, Albert and Sigler believe some pre-planning is necessary.
“Load up on apps. I added about 20 new ones for safety, tours and cheap hotels that are rated high! To do it economically — last minute is sometimes your best friend,” Albert told FOX Business regarding her trip.
To minimize the guilt that moms feel at times when going off on their own, she said it is best to schedule the vacation when it will be least disruptive in a child’s life. In her case, she went on a momcation when her kids were in camp.
Sigler, on the other hand, said moms should consider starting off with a few days before an extended vacation. “I did a whole week to begin with and my three year old started stuttering when I left. It was the only time I had been away from him so it was traumatic in a way I hadn't intended,” she explained.
When it comes down to social media, Sigler believes digital platforms may play a role in showing moms they can vacation on their own.
Ruby, who works closely with media personalities in her line of work, has a different outlook.
“Social media has changed the digital playing field in terms of parenting expectations. It creates an environment where moms are forced to compete with each other on Instagram and outdo other moms on who has the cutest new photos,” she said in reference to those who overshare or feel pressure to look glamorous.
On the positive side, Ruby said social media has increased a level of transparency for some moms and has also helped them connect with others who are going through the same parenting struggles.
“’Girls Night Out’ has always been popular before social media existed,” Ruby pointed out, “Momcationing is just the new version of it for moms with a fancy new hashtag.”