“What we’ve long known anecdotally, we’re now proving through authoritative research: travel has a positive effect on relationships.” –Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association
I’m back from Italy and finally resurfacing from the prep, the travel itself, the jet lag, and post-travel loving on my babies. Totally worth it.
Because some parents have really good reasons why they cannot leave children for extended periods (financial, children with special needs, etcetera), I’m uncomfortable with the “why you should take a kid-free vacation” titles. We’ll just call this the “why Brityn and Rich took a kid-free vacation” and you can read on if you’re looking for a push out your door. Or maybe you’re already there and need a how-to.
For the record, Lee and Sam took a childless trip to Paris just a few months ago, so they’re believers. And if you want a child’s perspective, my husband’s parents took trips without children every spring and autumn of his growing up years and he not only believes it’s quite natural, but has fond memories of his sans-parents adventures.
And don’t misunderstand. The Waters, my husband’s family, and now my little family mostly holiday with kids—and we have a grand time. We’ve taken our kids to amusement parks, Alaska, multiple major league baseball games, the Ozarks, New Orleans, Charleston, to a few beaches and many state/national parks. We’re not afraid. But this first vacation without our children….
Friends, it was glorious.
Before we even left, it was good for our marriage. We worked together financially and logistically toward a happy goal. Just the anticipation gave us fun things to think and talk about.
Traveling was a big part of our identities before we met (over 30 foreign countries and several trips to Hawaii between the two of us), and we happened to be traveling when we met, so just planning for this made us feel young again. Oh hey and I suddenly remember when I had an identity separate from my [beloved] offspring.
Before we even landed in Europe we were having a fabulous time. Hours and hours of uninterrupted reading and movies and eating and napping would have made it a success right then.
Rich and I love outdoor adventuring and traveling off the beaten path, but this time we chose a destination specifically to embrace the things we can’t do with toddlers in tow: museums, big cities, fancy dinners, tailored clothing, full days (read: not stopping for nap time), and late nights. I realize relaxing on a Caribbean island makes tons of sense too, but we figure we can do beaches with kids (aaaand if you know me you know that unless there’s surfing I find beaches intolerably boring. But I digress.) Obviously, to each his/her own.
So much fun, so much freedom, so much adult conversation, so much of my dream guy’s attention. I was long overdue for some broader perspective and unplugging. I didn’t turn my phone on for eight days. EIGHT DAYS. We used Rich’s just for some Google Mapping, a few photos, and an open commo channel with the grandparents. I recharged.
When we flew away from Italy I was excited to be going home again. I planned all along for my kids to get a healthy dose of appreciation for Mom, but it turns out I had been taking them for granted too. All that absence makes the heart grow fonder stuff.
But I won’t lie—my dream holiday was only a holiday because of the meticulous planning and prep (including weaning a very clingy one-year-old) that went down a full two months beforehand. And even before that, none of it would have been possible without the generosity of my parents who traveled to Texas to spend a week with three small children. Which leads me to…how to take your very own sans-children holiday. Every step and detail coming soon!
Your getaway can be much shorter than a week. You don’t have to be a millionaire or go far (remember how happy I was just reading on the plane?). You have childcare options if grandparents are unavailable.
Still not convinced this is for you? Here’s some fun research (also quoted above) to back me up:
“Couples who take time to vacation alone together at least once each year report happier, healthier relationships overall compared to those who do not travel as couples.”
–Pam Loeb, Edge Research
Tell me you’re not looking for “increased satisfaction and romance” in your relationship. Or a nap. Maybe just a nap.