Summer is winding down. One of our favorite things about summer are the family adventures. As important as family vacations are, there is another type of vacation…the lesser hailed but equally incredible and, dare I say it, possibly even more necessary sister to the “family vaca” is the unicorn trip: the Kid-Free Trip. Gasp! Yep, I said it.
Countless studies show that couples who take trips without kiddos can permanently increase romance, intimacy, general happiness, and even strengthen their relationships with their children. Additionally, the experts agree that children of these couples grow in independence and bond with their caregivers. For more facts like these, check out this fact sheet.
Preparation for a vacation without kids is the difference between “Yes, this is a good decision and I feel great about it…even if my worry-wort brain says otherwise”, and “Oh snap, this was a huge mistake. Um, Miss? TURN THIS PLANE AROUND!!!”
Here are our 5 Tips for Mastering the Art of the Kid-Free Vacation:
1. While Mom’s Away, the Babies will Play
Passes for the zoo, library card, $5 Country Style gift card so she can get a sugar high? Absolutely! Make sure whoever is watching your kiddo has your permission and the means to have as much FUN as possible. If the caregivers are out of towners, leave a list of free local fun like favorite parks, etc.
We have a special tiny suitcase reserved just for when we leave and we stash it with a new stuffed animal, maybe a little new toy, sometimes library books, thank you notes she “wrote” for caregivers and all kinds of various goodies. We make sure Ellie gets in on the fun of choosing her outfits, etc. Another mom friend of mine said she leaves cards for her kiddos to find while she’s away. Super sweet!
Lastly, we always take “requests” for what little souvenir Ellie wants from our trip. A little something for her to look forward to other than our much anticipated arrival.
2. Know Your Kiddo’s Travel Love Language
- Some kids need to talk every day, some need to Skype and see your face…our kiddo, we’ve learned, does best when we talk on the phone and send silly pictures. She does NOT do well with Skype/Facetime/video messaging nor does she do well if we talk anywhere near a bedtime.
- Check out this site for more information on how to cater your trip and make the prep age appropriate. Of course, you know your kiddo better than anyone else, so your judgment wins!
3. Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s
- For the love of all expedited travel, download Mobile Passport and speed through customs in 15 minutes. Get home to those babies even faster!
- Make sure to remember essential info like copies of insurance cards, notes for teachers, important phone numbers, copies of your passports, and (this is morbid) but PLEASE make sure you have an updated will! Just in case! Okay, deep breaths, don’t panic and back to the fun stuff!
4. Embrace the Caregiver Bonding
- I always shamelessly ask for photos from caregivers. They set my mind at ease.
- Eliana treasures her sleepovers while mommy and daddy are away. Our fam has had the chance to read the bedtime story, brush the teeth, give snuggles, even clean up puke (true bonding) and it has written little messages on Ellie’s heart. She knows, without a doubt, that she is incredibly loved by so many!
- This is a little direct, but for those of us worried about consistency issues, LeAnna from Economical Excursionists puts it well when she says: “A week of getting spoiled, a week out of routine and a few bites of food that you normally would avoid like the plague isn’t going to ruin your child. You are leaving your children with this person for a reason…now trust them.”
5. Ditch the Guilt Trip
Know what helps me come down off the emotional ledge when I’m panicking that I made a terrible mistake and no amount of romance is worth leaving my tiny human? Remembering that caring for ourselves and staying emotionally healthy is the absolute best way to model health for our children.
Even if Squishy cries because she misses us, it comforts me to remember that children keep their emotions at the surface and she also cries if I won’t give her umpteen cookies. Tears are not necessarily indicative that I’m making a mistake. They are indicative of love, which is a good thing.
Now, of course, taking time away from kids is exponentially more difficult if you have children with special needs, are a single parent, or have other extraneous circumstances. Please make the best decision for your family and know that there are no judgies coming from me.
The world is your oyster and whether you are adventuring with kiddos or without, I pray you have tons of belly laughs, good sleep and give your whole house lots of grace the week after because, frankly, vacations are exhausting.
Tell me! What are your kid-free vacation travel tips?
Dowshen, S. (Ed.). (2014, July). Traveling Without Your Child. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/travel-without-kids.html
How To Have a Guilt-Free Getaway Without Your Kids. (2017, May 11). Retrieved from https://www.economicalexcursionists.com/vacation-without-kids/
Travel Strengthens Relationships and Ignites Romance. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/5.2015_Relationship_Q&A.pdf
Urist, J. (2014, October). Should parents vacation without the kids? Retrieved from https://www.today.com/parents/should-parents-vacation-without-kids-6C10553731