As much as I hate to admit it, travel isn’t for everyone. While there are many reasons to travel together as a family, sometimes it’s the best decision for all involved to leave someone (even Dad!) at home. Read on for why we left my husband behind on my daughters’ and my recent road trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando and why it was the best decision for the whole family.

Taking a Disney family vacation without Dad

The girls and I at Disney’s Epcot. Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen, TravelingMom with Daughters

I get it, right? The definition of a ‘family’ vacation kind of includes everyone by default. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – whatever makes up your own family situation, right? The idea of leaving out an immediate family member can seem kind of strange. However, there are times when it’s the best interests of everyone, to leave someone (in our case, my husband), at home – even when you’re traveling to Disney World.

Why Take a Disney Family Vacation without Dad? Because He Wants It That Way…

Taking a Disney family vacation without DadCircumstances and people vary, but one thing I learned about my husband early on is that he greatly dislikes traveling. He is most comfortable in his own bed at home and he can get very irritable and grouchy when he’s forced to sleep elsewhere. We have traveled together as a whole family, but only a few times. Even then, we often end up in major disagreements about where, when, how to proceed because I’d rather be out seeing things and exploring, while he’d rather hang out inside and relax.

We’ve done Disney World together as a family before, so my husband didn’t feel like he was missing out on any ‘firsts’ or new experiences by not coming with us this year. He hates crowds and has back issues that make it uncomfortable to do a lot of walking. He just doesn’t enjoy the parks like the rest of us do.

For our trip to Florida this year bringing him along was never a consideration on either of our parts. I was nervous about a 20-hour road trip alone with the kids, but our girls are teens and a tween now, so they don’t need a lot of supervision. They’re old enough to be much more of a help than a hindrance. The older girls traded off sitting shotgun and helping navigate while we were on the road, and watched their younger sister while I was busy with our TravelingMom retreat activities.

For my husband’s part, he was thrilled to have a week alone at home to veg out in front of ‘his’ shows on tv, and have a break from the constant requirements of shuttling kids around. He took a couple of days off from work to have a long weekend to relax, and even surprised us when we returned by doing some much-needed improvements and painting to our bathroom – a project that was much easier to tackle when there weren’t four females using it as well.

Why Take a Disney Family Vacation without Dad?  No Need for a House or Dog Sitter…

One other consideration for leaving Dad (or someone else) behind: the house isn’t empty while you’re gone. We didn’t have to find someone to come feed the pets and let the dog out while we were away, plus we didn’t have to stop the mail, or worry about security with a house sitting empty for over a week.

The bills got paid as usual, and my husband was easily able to take care of things like contacting our local credit union when they flagged my road trip debit card expenditures as possible fraud. Thankfully he was able to easily assure them that I was just traveling through ten states in nine days with three kids, and we had no further issues.

Taking a Disney family vacation without Dad

The girls hanging out in our room at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen / TravelingMom with Daughters

Why Take a Disney Family Vacation without Dad? Bonding Time with Daughters…

As the only male in the house, my poor husband is definitely outnumbered. Even the pets are all females. He’s a very good sport about most of what comes along with a house full of wife and daughters, but enjoys a break when he is able to get one. Plus, the girls and I were able to make our trip a ‘girl’ experience and really have some quality time to reconnect and spend time together as mother and daughters.

Our girls are growing up fast and in the throes of the awkward tween and teen years right now. With kids in high, middle and elementary school, plus various activities throughout the school year, we tend to get caught up in the hectic day-to-day ‘who needs to be where when’ of a busy family. We don’t always have much time to talk and just hang out together. I loved having the opportunity to road trip with the girls and spend time together without all of the other life stuff getting in the way.

Family Vacation at Lake Michigan

My husband with the girls at Lake Michigan in 2015. Photo credit: Deb Steenhagen / TravelingMom with Daughters

When Wouldn’t We Leave Dad at Home?

Just because having my husband stay behind was the best option for this trip doesn’t mean that he’ll never travel with us again. It just depends on where and when and all of other factors that make each trip a unique experience. He did say that around the fourth day of us being gone, he was starting to second-guess the decision to stay home because he missed us. Perhaps the next time we plan a vacation, he’ll decide to look past the parts of travel that he doesn’t enjoy and come along. Or maybe not. Having done a long trip like this alone with the girls once now, I’m much more comfortable with the idea of doing it again. So either way we’ll be looking forward to more vacations either with or without Dad.

By the end of the our nine-day vacation, our girls were thrilled to see their dad when we got home. Bonus: their dad was a rested one who was glad to have them home, rather than a stressed out, frustrated and irritable one. Leaving Dad at home on this trip was definitely the right choice!