Ask any mom and she will be able to tell you that there is a very definite distinction between a trip and a vacation.
I have four kids. Going away from home for any quantity of time with them is definitely more of a trip than a vacation! In fact, when they were younger and we would travel somewhere as a family, I would say that my husband went on vacation, but I took a business trip with all of my associates along for the ride. Not because he sat back and relaxed while I did all the work. It was simply the fact that he was escaping—vacating—his workaday reality while I continued to do everything I always did. Just in a different, slightly less convenient location.
A Vacation is Traveling with My Husband
Now, traveling together when it’s just the two of us? That’s a different world. A calm world. A lovely world. When we travel together, we go places we want to go. Together. We experience things we might not have experienced before. Together. We travel to places we can’t (or simply don’t want to) take the kids!
It honestly doesn’t matter where in the world we go. Staying close to home or venturing farther away isn’t the point. It’s facing the world together as the couple we were before we were parents. It adds so much to our marriage that we simply can’t get in our everyday lives.
The Benefits of Travel Without the Kids
So there are no kids. What are the benefits of that?
Really? How much time do you have? I’m kidding! (Mostly.)
1. Less distractions=more focus!
Date nights are wonderful, but they’re easily overlooked in a busy schedule of kids and jobs. They are fleeting. You know you only have a short time before falling right back into the everyday insanity. When we leave those things at home, our focus totally shifts. It’s less other and way more us.
2. Do things you otherwise couldn’t.
When you travel with your kids, there are so many interests and needs it’s hard to make everyone happy! When it’s just us, we can go to that museum, eat that late dinner, see that play, or simply lounge around doing absolutely nothing at all. It’s up to us!
3. Cost effectiveness is real!
When you only have to buy two tickets for something, whether it’s a ballgame or airfare, it’s significantly less expensive than buying 5, 6, 8, or however many. You can get one hotel room instead of two, better seats in the stands, go to a nicer restaurant, or rent a smaller car. Maybe even get a plane ticket or two completely free by using up credit card or travel reward points!
4. Let the kids depend on someone else for a while.
This is a big one, folks. Kids need to know that there are other people they can depend on in this world. They need to learn what the authority of another adult looks like. The person they stay with (or who comes to stay with them) may not do things just like you would, and that’s ok! Your kids will survive. They’ll adapt and they’ll be better for it. And, believe me, so will you!
But, how do you make it work?
You might be thinking that, while this sounds delightful, it also takes some work. It definitely does! But, like the saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for. Here are a couple of hints to help with your preparations and make your vacation that even more relaxing.
- First, find someone you really trust to watch your kids. That may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have even the slightest worry about what will happen while you’re gone, you won’t be able to relax and soak up as much of the wonderful as you otherwise might. Who could this be for your family?
- Second, start talking about leaving in advance. Kids don’t want to be surprised by the fact that Mom and Dad are taking off. By talking about it ahead of time, you can alleviate their stress and help them find their own stuff to look forward to!
- Next, contact the proper authorities. Contact your kids’ schools, coaches, and group leaders. Make sure they have the contact information of your caretaker and know that someone else will be responsible for the kids for a while. Also, look ahead to pay any bills, make any phone calls, and update any prescriptions before you go.
- Lastly, make a survival guide for the caretaker. This is going to look a little different depending on the ages of your kids. When ours were little, the survival guide might contain information on which lovey they liked to sleep with or how they liked their grilled cheese cut up. As they got a little older, information such as what movies and television shows/channels were approved and which weren’t was included. More information means an easier go for all involved!
All the hard work is done. Now what?
Now, sisters, you enjoy yourselves!
Get dressed up for dinner. Revel in the fact that the only person whose food you will cut up is your own and that nobody will be in the bathroom stall with you. Look for free or discounted things to do wherever you are. Nobody says that traveling as a couple has to break the bank! Eat late and have a couple cocktails. It’s amazing the conversations you can have over a 4-course meal and drinks. Hold your husband’s hand as you walk through a park (and not your 4 year old’s). Walking not your thing? Go for a run or kayak or canoe or rest in an oversized hammock! Explore a place you don’t know. Try new restaurants or find fun little shops. We have found the best pubs, breakfast spots, parks, etc. just by asking locals!
And, if you forget all the rest, here’s your takeaway… Remember that, after your commitment to God, the commitment you made to each other comes first. Kids, houses, jobs, school…it’s all secondary. Your marriage is the foundation that everything else is built upon. Support it, nurture it, and help it to just keep getting better and better.
Reacquaint yourself with the person with whom you share your life. Give yourselves the chance to slow down and like the other person again. Flirt with each other. Kiss in the elevator. Rekindle that fire that fatigue tends to put out. And really, truly look into each other’s eyes when you talk.
Remind each other and yourself, just by being together, not only why you fell in love in the first place, but what keeps you in love now.
Sisters, I really hope this encouraged and inspired you to hit the road with your honey sometime this summer! Take the opportunity, even for a quick night away, to give your cares and your kids over to God and give yourselves to each other. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Do you travel with your spouse? What fruits have you seen? What tips do you have for leaving the littles?
Beth Williby is a mom of four pretty amazing humans and has been married to her college sweetheart for almost twenty years. She does her best praying through singing and feeding the people she loves. Having grown up in the Midwest, she now calls Northeast Florida home. You can find out more about her here.