A reader named Brittany recently wrote with a question: “Since this is such a thoughtful community, I’d love to ask: how do you travel without your kids? Especially how to make it less stressful for everyone involved. After an extended NICU stay when my girls were born, I still haven’t left them for longer than a night, and they’re almost four. I’d love to hear how parents take trips and are able to enjoy themselves and relax… I fear my children will be in college before I’m ready!” Here are 11 tips (and I’d love to hear yours!)…
Alex and I were lucky enough to go on our first romantic getaway when Toby was a year and a half and I was SO freaked out beforehand. But, as with most things in life, the anticipatory worry is by far the worst part.
Here’s the anatomy of the trip:
The night before: Staring at the boys while they’re asleep in their beds. Telling Alex we maybe shouldn’t go because how can we leave them?
Cab to the airport or train station: I’m freaking out a little. Asking Alex if this is the best or maybe definitely the worst idea.
At the airport or station: Realizing I’m only responsible for my snacks at the airport! I start to buy two bananas before noting that I can just stick with kettle chips and sea salt chocolate!
On the flight or train: Flying without kids is basically a SPA. You can watch When Harry Met Sally, read a book, stare out the window, eat Pringles, even have a glass of wine.
Checking into the hotel: By the time we arrive, I’m feeling sooooo happy and chill.
On the weekend trip: Having the best, most relaxing time. Remembering why we fell in love.
Flying home: Feeling restored and rejuvenated. Cannot WAIT to see the boys.
Arriving home: The sweetest reunion!!! All the kisses!!!
A few tips that have helped us while we’re away:
DO choose a destination that works for you. Maybe that’s far flung, or maybe it’s close by. Recently, our friends dropped their kids with their grandparents in Ohio, and they went to Columbus for a long weekend. They had an amazingly romantic time. So, even if you’re going half an hour away, you still feel a world away when it’s just you.
DON’T FaceTime or call. We’ve found that it’s better, for everyone, to be out of sight, out of mind. Said a reader named Britta: “I really only want to hear the ‘good’ updates, unless someone is on fire or losing a limb!” My mom or our babysitter will usually send written updates at the end of the day and they’re so much fun to read.
DO consider a hotel that doesn’t allow kids. We once stayed at an elegant B&B in New Haven, Connecticut; and we also love The Standard in Miami because it’s adults only (and has a giant pool that’s as warm as a bathtub). For us, we prefer to be around grown-ups only, because when we see kids on our trips, it makes me miss our own; and without babies and kids around, you can truly relax.
DO pick out a present for the kids. This is such a fun part of parenting — getting candy or a little toy from your destination. Even if we just grab M&Ms at the airport, the boys are so happy!
DO tell your kids they’re having a “staycation.” We always help plan some fun things for them, like going out for ice cream or watching a new-to-them movie.
DO leave your kids with someone you trust. My mom will sometimes come stay with the boys while we go away for two nights; or we’ll have trusted sitters switch off and each take a day/night.
DO get organized before you go. We leave a list with friends’ phone numbers, the doctor’s info, our hotel phone number, any schedules, etc. It just helps you know that your kids will be just fine.
DO sleep way in or read a book or stare happily at the ceiling — and don’t worry about seeing every sight. This isn’t just a vacation, it’s also a break from regular life for you to rest and take a breath.
DO play Would You Rather. It’s so much fun to be together without kids underfoot and get to talk about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING, versus who will pack the school lunches and whether we have kids’ winter socks in the right sizes.
DO know that this is good for everyone! Your kids will enjoy their time at home; and I always get such a crush on Alex when we go away together. Once when Alex was saying we should take a romantic weekend together, I teased him, “You just want to make out.” He replied: “No, I want to make jokes!” which I thought was so cute and true, since it feels so good not to talk logistics.
DO consider coming home before bedtime. On the day we return, I always try to get back by 4 p.m. so we can hang out with the boys before bed. I love that reunion!
Now we try to take a romantic weekend away once a year, and we know we’re so, so lucky to be able to do so. A huge thank you to my mom and our beloved sitters for making it possible.
Have you ever traveled without your kids? Do you have any advice? Any destinations you love? Please weigh in below!