I am a firm believer in taking family vacations. I think it is a great way to build lasting memories and bonds with your children that will stick with them throughout their lives, but I also think it is important to take a vacation without the kids. Here is why.
Rekindle the flame
When you travel with your spouse, whether it is a weekend getaway or an international excursion, it allows you to reconnect. When you travel with your kids, you are always worried about them. Are they eating enough food? Are they wearing enough sunscreen? Do they need a diaper change? And so forth. It is hard to take a moment and give your spouse some attention. Traveling without the kids allows you to give all your attention to your spouse. You can talk, get a couples massage, cuddle in the hot tub, or you can spend the whole day in the hotel room if you want. Being away from your kids for a couple of nights helps strengthen your romantic relationship.
Return to your pre-kid days
I know when I am around my kids I am different than when I am not. I have to be. I have to be concerned for them, and I have to be more responsible. I am less likely to go horseback riding in the Yukon, go zip-lining through the jungle, or travel to a city without booking a hotel first when my kids are with me. Traveling without them means we can be a bit more adventurous. Being kid-less reminds both my husband and me of our pre-kid days. When we could stay out until 3 am without worrying about compensating the babysitter, or how we were when we fell in love with each other; young, wild and carefree. While I would not like to live that way all the time now, it is nice to take a couple days now and then to live that way again.
Travel on a dime
Last year my husband and I took a trip without the kids to Hawaii and Brazil on a very small budget. Something we could not have done if we had traveled with them. We stayed in hostels, took public transportation and would only eat one big meal a day. If the kids had been with us we would have made sure we had safe, clean accommodations, car seats and ate 3 square meals a day. Kids need stability and comfort, something that tends to cost more. Most likely we would not have been able to afford to go to those places if we brought the kids.
Have the opportunity to miss your kids
It is true that absence makes the heart grow founder. When I travel without my kids, I miss them after the first day. I am torn between loving the time with just my husband and wanting to be with my kids again. I may have had the hardest week ever with them before I left, but after one night - I want them back. Honestly, we spend most of our vacation talking about how much fun the kids would have if they were with us. It makes us realize how much we love them, how much our lives have changed since having them, and how they make us complete. It is a wonderful feeling to miss them. It tells us how much we care about them.
Traveling without your kids can be hard. You have to find someone to watch them while you're gone, and you have to be willing to be away from them for more than a few hours. I do not recommend doing it every time you travel, and it does not need to be for weeks at a time. But every once in a while, even if it is only one or two nights away, go kid-less. Spending time with just your spouse helps everyone. It strengthens your marriage, which means your kids are more likely to have two happy parents raising them, and it helps you remember just how important your spouse and kids are in your life.