Motherhood Mondays: How Long Would It Take for You to Feel Ready to Travel Without Your Baby?

Alex and I have loved taking family vacations with Toby in tow, but lately, we’ve been thinking…

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip with just the two of us? Without bananas. Without diapers. Without 6am wake-up calls! And, hey, we could read magazines on the plane. But, I can’t help wondering, would we miss Toby too much? A mama’s heart (and head) is a mysterious thing. Would I be able relax with my baby 1,000 miles away?

We talked it over: Alex wanted to go away for seven fabulous nights. I thought we could start with…one night. So, we settled on two nights. :) We’re taking a little getaway this weekend to celebrate Alex’s birthday (the destination is a surprise!), and Toby will stay home with my mom. Fingers crossed it will go smoothly, and I’ll be able to turn off my parental neuroses chill out!

I’m curious: Have you been wanderlust-y recently? Where would you want to go? And fellow parents, how long did you wait to travel on your own, without your baby? Where did you go? Was it hard or awesome? Did you travel for business or pleasure first? When you were growing up, did your parents travel on their own? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!!!

Just for fun, which of these three waterfront places would you like to visit…

This hotel in Miami, where you can order a grilled fish sandwich by the pool, read magazines, and then go dancing at night.

This (budget!) hotel in Jamaica, where you’d sleep in a thatched roof villa and go snorkeling among green turtles.

This whale-watching spot in Vancouver, where you can hike along the cove, get a massage and sip single-malt scotch as the sun sets.

Which is more your style?

P.S. 10 tips for traveling with a baby.

  1. Wow the inn in Vancouver seems amazing! But if I’m more in a chill-out mode rather than an exploring mode, I think I’d go with Jamaica. I love the bridge and thatched roof!

  2. This post couldn’t have been posted at a better time! My husband and I just got back from a 2 WEEK cruise to Hawaii… which meant leaving our 1 year old at home.. did I mention it was for 2 WEEKS! Although we very much enjoyed our alone time (which was needed) we couldn’t shake the feeling of Jude being so far away from us. My husband would reassure me that everything was ok, he is getting to know his grandparents, we need ‘our’ time together, Jude would still recognize us when we got home, all the things I knew in my head, but my heart hurt being away from him. I had to try to not think about it so much or the tears would start building up. 2 weeks was just too long for me. I think mini vacations are always good for the parents to have their time.. We go on over nighters often (working for Marriott does have its benefits!) but man, 2 weeks was much, much to long for me to spend away from my munchkin.

  3. My parents never traveled on their own, but I think it would’ve been good for them. My sisters and I wouldn’t have minded at all. One, because we’d get to stay up late. :) Two, because its important for all parties to take a break, parents included. Parents have a very different relationship with each other, and as kids, we forget that and just think of us as a family. But they were once young and madly in love…so its good for parents to nurture that.

  4. Anonymous says...

    Uh…never? I have to confess I don’t really understand the leaving-the-small-child thing.

    I don’t think it’s worry. I think it just feels wrong to me, for us and for her, at four years old. Perhaps if it is a mom you’re leaving the kid with it feels OK?

    This, to me, is an individual parenting thing like, oh, say, cribs – you feel your way to what works for your family.

    Our baby wouldn’t take a bottle and didn’t go to daycare, so I suspect we grew our parenting instincts around the fundamental fact that she always needed to nurse and one of us always needed to be ‘on duty’. And now we’ve accepted that. We’re sort of a sheepdog family, everyone present and accounted for at all times (we work at home so literally…everyone.)

    I think it would be tough to go away, really, because then you come back to life and it’s a shock!

  5. Jenny says...

    The first time we left our first girlie, it was for a weekend with some very good friends (we live far from relatives). She was 13 months old. We did one more weekend trip when she was about 15 months old, and then when she was 17 months old, we went to France for a week without her. !!! She stayed with my mom (we’d all gone and stayed for a week ahead of time, since we live on opposite coasts) and she had a good time, although we were both overjoyed to see one another when we got back!

    I’m glad we did it when we did. Working up to a longer trip was a good idea – and having someone you can leave the kiddos with that you love and trust is important.

    • Hannah says...

      I’m with you, Jenny – start ’em off young, with someone he/she loves, and work from short periods up to longer periods, that’s the way to go.

  6. Anonymous says...

    miami!! maybe jamaica. vancouver is nice but after spending 2 summers in alaska, seeing whales isnt as spiritual as you may think!!

  7. Thank you for this post! It has reassured me.
    My mother in law has generously shouted my husband and I tickets to New York (from Australia) to visit my sister for 2 weeks from boxing day. Its the trip of a lifetime but I’m soooooo nervous about leaving my baby who will be 10mths. I know the 4 year old will have a blast. Both sets of Grandparents will be looking after them so I know they will be spoilt rotten but its SO FAR AWAY!

  8. Hello Johanna,
    Always read your articles with a lot of interest! Few weeks ago, when you published your post about travelling with your baby, I was the one who talk to you about the matter of travelling without baby.
    My name is Jenny, French and mother of a little beauty named Louisia, 14 months old.
    And my partner and I decided to travel for a week in Sicily without Louisia. It was very very hard days before leaving but as soon as we arrived there it get easier (even if we called my parents everyday to have news!) I am sure you will handle it and there will be holidays for little Toby too ;-)

  9. Sarah says...

    I have a 6 yr old and a 3 yr old and have never spent a night away from both of them. I’ve been away from my 6 yr old for 5 nights total in his life (4 different 1-2 night sleepovers in 4 yrs). And I’ve never spent a night away from my 3 yr old. Honestly, I have no desire to do so. A date night would be plenty for me. But, now that both kids are weaned (I nursed each of them until just before they turned 3 yrs), both sleep in their own beds (we coslept for a long time), and both are old enough to understand when we explain things, I would consider a weekend away. But, I still can’t see doing a whole week away. I’d rather travel with them.

  10. Ooo…that place in Jamaica for sure! That restaurant looks amazing and I want to sit on that bridge, looking at that beautiful water!

  11. I just left my one year old last week for 5 days!!! every year my sisters and my mom do a girls trip-no kids allowed! so my husband had him in the evenings and my best friend who my son thinks is his grandma had him during the day. everything went PERFECT! the only bump in the road was he grew a new tooth while I was gone so my poor husband was up with a teething baby all night. it was hard to be gone and when i came back i felt like a stranger, like i was an observer of my child. once i put him down for bed and woke up with him bright and early the next morning-i was back to being mommy! being gone made me realize how important it is for couples to get away for some alone time. Good Luck!

  12. While eating diner with my hubby, we were talking about it . Mathis is one year old and Philippe asked me where would you like to go to vacations . I started to tell him: Greece , Croatia … And he said to me but Mathis is not going to like it and I answered back but vacation with Mathis is not really vacations so We are thinking about going alone but I don’ know if I would be abble to do it . I’m waiting to read about your week end , may be it will help me

  13. Anonymous says...

    my husband and I were planning a long weekend away, but he just started working again, which is good, but darn it…we were finally ready to leave our 2 year old with my parents for a long weekend! My little guy has only recently spent the night at my parents’ on his own. Even though my mom was totally up for it ages ago, I just felt guilty leaving him I guess. I don’t know… I def should have done it sooner though because it’s been a great success so we’ve been doing that more often which gives us a little break here and there. Have a great weekend away – it will be wonderful! -lbs

  14. Leslie says...

    Wow, Joanna, this post could not have come at a more perfect time for me, as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few weeks. Our daughter is 10 months old and we have not spent any nights away from her. I’m at the point where I’d love a weekend away with my husband, but I’m still nursing and she won’t take a bottle. I figure by the time she’s weaned (hopefully by 12-15 months??) we can plan for something beyond the date nights we currently do, but it’s hard.

    Also, my parents are not really in a position to come stay with her, and my husband’s family lives out of state, so getting help in place is a challenge.

    But your post–and all the comments–is inspiring and will give me something to look forward to! In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend with Alex and enjoy every minute!

  15. i love these awesome comments about the rockhouse, it sounds like a dream! and i love all your insights/thoughts on traveling without babies. so fascianting. we’re all the same! :)

  16. I left my first two boys both at 4 months old for the hubby and I to go to Las Vegas both times. It was hard for sure, but since it was Vegas and you should only stay there 2 nights or you get into adult trouble;-), it was the perfect amount of time away to ease us into the uncharted territory of being child-less. Now that we have 3, we’ve only been able to get away once just bc none of the g-parents can handle all 3- shoot, we can hardly handle all 3 sometimes and we’re only in our 30’s! But do it, just pull the trigger and get away- even one night is enough to jump start your mommy and wife battery! Have so much fun whatever you choose!!

  17. Anonymous says...

    i just travelled solo to the US (from Australia) for 10 nights without my two boys (3yrs and 10 months). i had insane fears of something happening to me while away but once i got on the plane, i thoroughly enjoyed myself. Starting missing them about 1/2 way through but didn’t overshadow the good times. i appreciate their company more than ever now that i’m back!

  18. No travel for my parents in my childhood, because we were living at or below the poverty line until I was seven and my mother went back to work (I have a sibling with a developmental disorder and my mother waited until we were old enough to be alone in the afternoon to go back to work). So, weekend drives up to Portland once or twice a year – and then when we were better off and my brother and I were preteens, we began taking annual trips to Ashland to see Shakespeare. =) I was 28 before I first crossed an ocean, though when I was eight we did drive up to Vancouver, B.C. for a four-day stay – with a stop in Seattle to see the touring museum collection “Moscow: Treasures and Traditions,” just released for the first time to western countries by Mikhael Gorbachev. My parents were pretty amazingly selfless – what little travel we were able to do, mostly in state, always contributed to our general education and cultural refinement, even from a very young age! (I loved that show; I still remember the glittering orthodox monstrances, Peter the Great’s sled, and Katherine the Great’s dresses.)

  19. We don’t have kids (yet) but Derek and I always wish we could afford to travel more while we still have the flexibility! We make do with staycations and nearby travel!

    All three of these destinations sound like a dream! Though I just got lost looking at that blue, blue water on RockHouse’s site.

    Enjoy your weekend getaway! And happy birthday to Alex!

  20. We left Lucia for the first time when she was about 11 months. It was brutal at first for all the obvious reasons. My parents sent me a photo about 30 minutes after we dropped her off and she looked SO happy and like she was having so much fun that I felt ridiculous for being so worried. Obviously we missed her (obviously) but it was so important. It’s great for them to have time with other people and let’s face it, it’s great and extremely important for us as parents and for our relationship outside of being mama and daddy. Two days was perfect for the first time. Then in September we went away for five days. We had an amazing time but by the 4th day I was ready to see our girl – we both were. Still, it was so nice to be away…read a magazine, sleep until 9, stay out until when ever, etc.
    Anyway, that first weekend away helped us to relax about leaving her. And last weekend we had a little staycation for my husband’s 40th. Now we’re planning another trip for my birthday in February…just a few days. And she’ll have the best time ever with my parents. :)

  21. BD says...

    Wow, what a hot topic – so many comments! My oldest child is almost 6 and my youngest is 2.75. We haven’t taken any trips without them, but are planning to do so at the end of the year. I think they will both do great!

  22. We took a mini weekend getaway when Levi was six months old. We were only about 40 minutes away and had a great time! And is the Jamaica spot the Rockhouse?! Been dying to get there…

    P.S. We went to Vancouver Island and did some whale watching on our babymoon. :)

  23. I am really hoping for a husband & me (or just me, I’ll take that too) trip before Christmas. We’ll see. Europe, ideally.

    We’ve done a few no-baby nights. Twice for just one night when he was one/one and a half, and 5 nights last fall when he was almost two (NYC). We slept in foreva and it was luxurious. But better than sleeping in was shopping and eating at restaurants without a kid. Amazing!

  24. Jeez. We have 3 kids. The most we have had away was one day and one night…this is not by choice but by the fact that we have no one to look after them. Both my parents are dead. N’s dad might as well be and his mum is on her own, brought up 4 kids and made it clear she would not bring up any grandchildren so more than a night is a big no no. If someone was happy to take them i’d definitely be totally happy with 5 days…maybe 7…two weeks, no. Then i’d feel like i was a mum who didn’t care enough about her kids but one week = heaven. Be thankful for your mum Jo and use her while you still can! xx

  25. My daughter was 5 months old when we left her with my mom for seven days while we took a vacation to Hawaii. I had months to prepare for the trip so that helped. I was honestly OK with leaving her. Until day 4 hit and I had a massive melt down and cried an entire day in my hotel room.

    Thankfully, there is skype and face time and my mom sent me little updates everyday with pictures. It helped and I knew she was in good hands so I did enjoy myself. Except for that 4th day.

  26. We just got back from a week in Puerto Vallarta at Casa Velas, it was incredible! I would highly recommend it.

    You could bring Toby an awesome wooden iguana toy as a consolation prize : )

  27. I’ve stayed at the RockHouse in Jamaica…glorious! Although, I would recommend staying at Tensing Penn which is right down the road from the RockHouse, I’ve stayed at both places and we preferred TP. But Negril is beautiful on it’s own, so anywhere along the cliffs has a view of their magnificent sunsets! :)

    Have fun on your little trip!

  28. I realize this sounds crazy now…but my husband and I took a 10-day trip to the UK (somewhere I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go) when our son was 11 months old. When we booked the trip, he was super little and for some reason I thought, oh yeah, no problem. But honestly, although I cried when we left him with my parents, we had a great time. We missed him bunches, but talked on the phone and my parents sent us pics & videos constantly. I was ready to be home after about 7 days, but I don’t regret doing it. My husband and I reconnected and it felt exactly like it did when we were first married! Just go – Toby will have an exciting time with his loving grandparents and get to experience a little bit of independence :) It’s good for him, and good for you guys, too!

  29. Anonymous says...

    Well, it’s 25 years and counting. I have an ongoing and serious case of wanderlust, which I satisfied by 1. Moving every 5 years due to dh’s job and 2. Taking my children when we travel. I have three children, ages 25, 24 and 17. They had most stamps in their passport by the time they were 3 than most people have in their life. We did everything from self-drive canal boat trips when they were 8,7 and 1 (did I do the math right?) to sleep in the hay in Switzerland when they were a tad older. I do understand, however, that some people need that couple time away and I think it’s fine. I’m sure the grandparents would love to get rid of you for a week so they can do what they want with the wee ones.

  30. we left our son with my parents for a long weekend when he was 6 months, and it hadn’t occurred to me until the night before the flight that something bad could happen to both of his parents at the same time! so we haven’t taken a real vacation without our kids since then (he’s now 6), but I’d like to, though I might prefer to fly separately. pretty morbid, right?

  31. interesting topic and conversation. i travel a fair bit for work (a night or two nights here and there-maybe 8 trips a year). my son is 4 and i really don’t have a desire to vacation without him. that said, my husband and i aren’t big vacationers. most of our vacations are spent visiting family or vacationing with family. we have no local family so maybe we’d feel differently if we did and our son knew his grandparents in a daily sense (as opposed to seeing them a few times a year). i got to travel a ton prior to having a child and so did my husband so we partly feel as if now that we have a child, and he’s our only child, we don’t desire to vacation away from him. we do have a regular babysitter for date nights but i have a super hard time envisioning myself ever wanting a vacation without my son.

  32. Anonymous says...

    I have a 2 year old and a 10 week old. I havent left my 2 year old for more than 2 nights and now that I have another and nursing again it will be a while before we get any real alone vacations. I guess I worry too much about my babies and I don’t know if I’d enjoy being away from them for more than a few days.

  33. Oh, Joanna! This post couldn’t be more relevant. My Hub and I are leaving our nine month old son with his grandparents for two nights next weekend. I’m so torn between being positively giddy over the idea of having my man all to myself and the fear of missing my little boy so much that it’s not worth it. Were going to a wedding so fingers crossed we’ll be nice and distracted and able to relax.

    Will be thinking of you x

  34. Tara Tufo says...

    I would love a romantic getaway with my husband, but I’m still having a hard time being away durning the work day from my 4 1/2 month old. I know that I’m going to have to do an overnight work trip, so I’ll have to deal sooner than later (even though I’m sure I’ll try to figure a way to bring them in tow).

    Your two day trip sounds wonderful! I hope you both have a fantastic weekend!

    ps…regarding the pics, I would totally pick the Rockhouse in Jamaica. I have wanted to go there forever.

  35. The first time we left our son, he was 15 months old. I was really worried, but we HAD to go. We only had a few days notice before we left, but my son magically weaned himself during that time, so I knew he’d be okay. And he had a great time with Nana and Papa.

    Fast forward to this summer…boy is almost 3 and my husband and I went on a 50 mile backpacking trip while our son stayed with Nana and Papa again. He had the hardest time and missed us constantly. Groan!

    I think it’s easier leaving when kids are younger, but the sooner you start, and the oftener you go, they’ll be used to it, and you’ll build their trust that you’ll always be back.

    Have a fabulous time, wherever you go!

  36. It’s nice to hear other Mom’s thoughts, like this one. I am a videographer and have traveled to New York & San Fransisco and my son is only 3 months old. It’s been sooo hard to leave him and I swear he grows bigger for the 3 days I’m gone. Thanks for being open and honest in your posts.

  37. I was the nanny of a little boy who’s parents decided to go to Mexico for a week when he was approximately 8 or 9 months old. He was used to spending the entire day with me and didn’t think much of it at first, but after about 24 hours he started to become distraught, looking around for his folks every time we walked into a new room and crying when they weren’t there. It was heartbreaking, especially since he had already gone through the experience of being separated from his birth mother, as these were his adoptive parents. They didn’t even call to check in on him until they had landed back in the states. I’m all for some personal escapism, but 2 days seems like a max for kids under 1 yr.

  38. we went away for 4 days this past weekend. we don’t have children but i had tears in my eyes dropping the dog off at her boarding facility and called them twice while away. my request for our next vacation (for 5-year anniversary this february)…. any place with “resort” in the name!

  39. Anonymous says...

    i can still remember when my parents went on a week long cruise without me. i was three and was totally, achingly, inconsolably unhappy is missed them so much. i’ve been reluctant to leave my kids for long because i remember it so distinctly still:(
    i’m sorry to be a wet blanket.

  40. We took a trip to Napa with friends when our son was 6 months old. He stayed with his Nana (grandma) and had a great time! Luckily we were in a place where it was expected that you would be sipping (guzzling) wine all day, so that helped a lot – self medication. I missed him a ton and couldn’t wait to get home, but it was really good for my husband and I to reconnect. Have fun!

  41. Kate says...

    We left our little one overnight with grandparents when he was about 4 months old, for our 5-year wedding anniversary. He did great, and they did great – but we picked him up pretty early the next morning! :) It’s a really nice feeling to miss him, and look forward to seeing him, instead of any little resentments that creep in (naturally) the more time that goes by depriving you and your spouse of time alone. We really put time together as a priority, and just make ourselves do it. We’re thinking of doing another overnight away when he’ll be nine months old (December). We’re really ready for another night away NOW, so maybe for us this natural every-three-months-cycle will be important. Figure out what works best for you and Alex. I say, make yourself go and have a swell time!

  42. Wendy Frances says...

    Go, relax and take comfort that Toby is on a vacation from you too! He is spending his time being coddled and spoilt by the loving Grandma, having the time of his life too! I realized this when dh and myself went to the Bahamas for 5 nights and our children stayed with my parents. They didn’t even miss us! They defintely had a better time than us!

  43. j says...

    My husband and I had our first get away sans kids, to Hawaii this past summer. Our daughters are 5 and 3.5 yrs old. I read them the book The Berenstein Bears: Week at Grandma’s 2 weeks prior to our departure. It was helpful. It was for 3 nights. My husband was much more distraught than I! LOL! I was very excited about having 1) only 1 piece of carry on luggage, and 2) reading magazines and books on the plane.

  44. i was basically raised by my grandmother. my parents worked a lot. and then they divorced. and they work even more now. i miss family vacations.. its a rare treat for me. my mother moved a couple states over when i was in high school and my dad travels the world for work. he’s home probably only half of the year. now im the world traveler.

  45. margaret says...

    Maybe the key is not thinking you are leaving your baby, but you are giving him an opportunity to bond with his grandmother.. I know the times I spent with my grandparents were always magical.

  46. Ali says...

    Starting when I was nine months old, my parents would go away for one week each year (my sister and I were left with our deeply-trusted babysitter). My mom would leave behind a small present for each night that they were gone, like Lisa Frank pencils (I was child of the 90’s), notebooks, and sometimes a slightly larger gift that my sister and I would share (often a Disney movie). We would get the gift each night after dinner and sometimes our babysitter would even hide the gift somewhere in the house and my sister and I had to play “hot or cold” until it was found. Like I mentioned, the gifts were fairly small, but they made the week exciting for my sister and me and we didn’t feel like we were jipped because we stayed at home.

  47. I am going to Austin for the film festival this week. Then in a few weeks I’m going to Atlanta for the first time (I live in Milwaukee). I definitely love to travel, though I don’t have any children so I wouldn’t know how that might affect my vacation enjoyment. Have a great time with Alex!

  48. With my first, I did a very brief overnight when he was 8 months and I basically ran home the next morning to be with him. My 2nd was 5 months and I left for two nights with a group of friends for a girl’s retreat. I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I found myself really enjoying the break. I think the point is to focus on the NOW. It’s a waste if you spend the whole time wanting to be somewhere else. And if you do, once you get home you’ll kiss the baby and then think “Why didn’t I enjoy myself?”

  49. My oldest is going to turn 4 in November and he has only been away from me when I gave birth to my youngest and one sleepover at his grandparents!! Not that he could not do it more often, in fact, he did not want to come home when he stayed with his grandparents. I guess what happened is that by the time he was old enough to spend a few nights away, I had another baby, so my husband and I never got a chance to have a vacation away. Maybe when my baby gets older…

  50. One lucky part about being a single momma is that I can leave my girl with her dad and go on vacation by myself! I first did so when she was 1.5 years. Definitely had moments of aching heart- but I honestly don’t recall those as well as I do the vaction itself.

  51. We went away and left my son with my mom for 1 night to attend a friend’s wedding when my son turned one (incidentally it was his birthday weekend…) I was amazed at how calm I was about it, how easy it was. On our way back home we realized we wished we had taken the whole weekend. We are now planning at least 2 more trips without the little one!

  52. I’m a nanny and I’m currently staying with my 2 boys while their parents take a week-long vacation to Mexico. I’ve been writing emails and things to keep them feeling attached while they’re away. It’s definitely harder on them than it is on the kids. I think the most important part is having someone at home that you trust– at least that’s what they kept saying before they left. Being here 24/7 by myself (I’m a 23 yr old with no kids myself) has really given me an even better perspective for how difficult parenting is, so I think if you can get away for some R&R with your spouse, you should definitely take the opportunity!! Someday I hope I have someone that will help me out so I can get away too!

  53. Anonymous says...

    I love the top picture – classic and beautiful!

  54. My husband and I went to Mexico for a 9-day getaway when our daughter was 18-months old. After about five days, we were missing our baby, and ready to get back home. We did have a good time, and now that we’re expecting baby #2, I want to get away for a quick weekend because I know leaving two will be hard.

  55. I have eight kids, ages 16 months to 16 years. I usually stop nursing when the next baby comes, so we haven’t been away overnight since 1994, back when we were too poor to afford a vacation! It’s only a season, and now that I think we’re done with new babies, we might go away for our 20th anniversary in 2012. I will no doubt cry because I miss the kids so much, but I will also no doubt have a blast because of spending all that time alone with the fabulous hunky guy I’ve been married to for two decades!

  56. i wish i could just jump in ! :)
    clear waters, relaxing time…
    take a look at my blog:)

  57. we love travelling with our son, and so far he’s been great, whether we’re flying to europe, or somewhere closer, he’s a dream. However we have been talking about going away for our 3 year anniversary after baby J’s 1 year birthday..and I’m torn as well. I want to go away alone, and I think it would be good not just for us to have some time to recharge, but also just to spend some quality time just the two of us {like it used to be}. But I think I am going to miss J terribly, so I’m a bit on the fence right now. I don’t know just yet.