Now that the newest addition to my family is not so new anymore, I recently had the chance to leave him at home and take not one — but two(!) — weekend trips without him. One was for a bachelorette party of a friend in March and another was for a college reunion weekend with my husband just last weekend.
I’m a firm believer in letting parents get a break from their kids on occasion. It’s healthy for everyone. We are keeping our getaways to short trips for now while the baby is little, but we did take a much longer two week trip when our daughter was 3 1/2 (before baby #2).
The preparation to get away for a few days was pretty intense and time-consuming, but it was well worth it to get a parenting break. Luckily, our little one decided to take it easy on grandma and grandpa on our most recent getaway by sleeping 10+ hours through the night. And our big one had a blast with her grandparents while she was spoiled rotten at baseball games and birthday parties.
In case any readers out there are planning kidless getaways any time soon, here are a few tips to make travel without the kids more enjoyable for parents:
1) Prepare in advance
You will be able to enjoy your trip more and not worry about the kids if you’ve taken steps to cover major contingencies that can arise back home. I always write out a detailed daily schedule for our children’s caregivers that they can consult during my absence. I start drafting it a week or more in advance so I can remember all the minutia I might want to tell them. You’d be amazed at how much you want to add as the days pass. I also leave an emergency contact list and copies of health insurance cards just in case a little one needs unexpected medical care during our trips. Passports and Pushchairs had a great post last year that covers all the little preparations you might want to make for bigger trips.
2) Let it go
Once you depart on your trip, really try not to check in too much with your kids. For many older toddlers and younger children, it will simply make them miss you more and make things harder on everyone. Plus, you will really not get that break from your kids that you need as a parent to recharge. And, assuming you have left your children in the hands of good caregivers (would you go away if you didn’t?), they will contact you with any real emergencies that actually require your input.
3) Live it up
Travel with kids is pretty unglamorous. If you get a rare break from your precious little ones to travel, this is the time to travel in style. Spring for a nicer hotel if it is in your budget (use those hotel points!), use up those drink coupons (thanks, Southwest!) and visit an airline lounge (several airline credit cards include free lounge passes and you can sometimes buy up other people’s extras on eBay at a discount). On my last trip, I hit the United Club in SFO and the cheap glass of wine I got was almost heaven!
Have you traveled without your kids? Share your experiences in the comments.