Have you ever taken a kidless trip? If so, good for you. If not, it’s time to consider it.
It took my husband seven years to convince me to leave our children behind and I am so grateful he did. I absolutely hate leaving my children. Just the thought has me breaking out with hives and popping anti-anxiety pills. But the trips I’ve taken alone with my husband have been some of the most pivotal relationship builders over our 12 years together.
As parents, our lives are consumed by our children.
We usually wake to the demands of breakfast and don’t fall asleep until the last little body has been tucked in bed. If we are lucky we find a few odd minutes for some much needed me-time or us-time with a spouse but those moments are few and far between. Date nights are nice. They offer a little time to relax, reconnect, and rekindle. But a kidless trip is like a date night on steroids. It’s not just the ease of adult-only travel that makes leaving the kids at home rewarding. (Although, leaving the diaper bag, stroller, car seats, & pack-n-play at home is certainly a good incentive.) And it’s not necessarily the breather from the neverending parenting demands (although, it is incredibly nice to juggle only one plate through the buffet line.) It’s the opportunity to mimic the feeling and environment in which your love story began that makes kidless trips so momentous. When you have extended uninterrupted time with your other half you talk more, touch more, and even the moments of silence seem to breed a marital connection. But no trip is perfect so good planning and maintaining reasonable expectations are pivotal.
Here are my tips and tricks for successful spousal travel:
- Know your comfort capacity and stay within your limits: Don’t push it. You can really spoil a romantic getaway by extending the time too long or travel too far risking an emotional breakdown before you can get back. Start small, a simple overnight staycation is perfect for beginners.
- Know your travel style and your partners travel style: Do you like to sightsee? Adventure? Get pampered in a luxury resort? Coordinate as best as you can and compromise when you must. My husband and I love to adventure & eat while on vacation so we make both these things high priority. But he enjoys museums more than I do & I enjoy relaxing more than he does. We spend most of our travel time enjoying what we like to do together & reserve a little time for each other’s personal interests.
- Do adult things: We love taking advantage of our kidless time to do the many things that we can’t do easily with our littles. This is the perfect opportunity to try out some adrenaline pumping activities like skydiving or bungee jumping together, get pampered at a spa, or just enjoy a fancy meal or a quiet movie without interruption.
- Pack light…and leave the pajamas at home: You know you won’t be using them, anyway.
- Do your research: Have a good understanding of where you’re going and what options will be available. It’s handy to have a rough plan for your day-to-day activities & eating itinerary but don’t be overly committed to it. I highly recommend having alternative options that allow you to adjust according to time, taste, & changes.
- Split meals: My husband & I love eating out & trying new foods. By splitting meals we are able to try more dishes on less time. We’ve tried up to eight different eateries in a single day by ordering one dish to share at each stop.
- Have an opinion: As mothers we’re used to going with the flow and putting everyone else’s needs before our own. I’ve found that my husband is just as concerned with my travel happiness as he is his own. He appreciates when I’m upfront about what it is I want to do & where I want to go.
- Bring your selfie stick: I know what you’re thinking, but trust me on this one. You are going to want pictures of the both of you and this is an awfully convenient option.
And here are a few tips for easing the difficulty of leaving the kids at home:
- Plan your trip with your kids limits and abilities in mind: Know when they are old enough to handle your absence & know how long they can reasonably manage with you being away.
- Make sure you are 100% confident in the person you are trusting your babies with: You don’t want any doubts or concerns popping up when you’re an airplane flight away.
- Leave an itinerary & map of where you’ll be going & when: Kids love checking off lists & counting down days. It makes the distance & time apart easier to manage. They’ll feel closer to you despite the distance if they can see where you are & know what you’re doing.
- Make sure you can get in contact with your kids: Know where they’ll be & when so you can coordinate communication. During our last trip abroad I was fortunate enough to find wi-fi during one of my son’s soccer games & another son’s preschool graduation. Not being there live was tough but catching these precious moments virtually was priceless. If you are traveling abroad ensure that you have regular wi-fi to FaceTime, iMessage, Skype, etc. And if time differences make it difficult to catch them you can always send emails with pictures & I-love-you’s when it’s convenient for you, and they can open when it’s convenient for them.
- Know your kid’s prime times & call them then: I’ve discovered that my boys are not morning folk so early chats end up being more trouble than they’re worth. And late night phone calls just get them too wired before bedtime, which is just unfair to grandma & grandpa. I try to call during midday for the best long-distance contact. Consider picking a set Skype time that you can all plan for.
- Have a few surprises in store: These don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. The key is to come up with simple gestures that will reassure your kids that you are thinking of them while you are away. I always like to put in a secret Scholastic book order that is set to be delivered while I’m gone.
- Bring back thoughtful gifts that connect them with the places you go: I usually come home with a stack of postcards & a pile of maps from each place I went, as well as, a collection of rocks & shells I collected along the way. This works for my boys. They love geography & geology, and these little tokens give them an opportunity to experience the places I travel first hand.
- Have traditions: Kids love traditions. They can make the most undesirable activity exciting. Build traditions that give your kids something look forward to when you travel. We have a tradition of bringing home a children’s book & money from each country we travel to. My boys hate to see us go but they can’t wait for us to come back so they can add to their collections.
Leaving the kids behind is hard but you really should give it a try. Whether you take off to Thailand for two weeks or book a simple overnight staycation in a neighboring town you will not regret the extended time to soak up your significant other. You’ll find your marriage strengthened and your love refreshed after a little one-on-one time. Just be sure to follow these traveling tips to get the most out of your travel time without the kids.
Looking for even more travel helps? Here are a few of our favorite travel tips, tricks, and destinations that will make your next trip easy peasy: