24HrVacayRemember back in the day – before you had kids – when you could go away for a week or two, and all you had to worry about was finding someone to water your plants and feed your cat? Those days are a distant memory for parents. Going away without your children for any stretch of time is a challenge. For those of us with a child with special needs, it is nearly impossible. This is where the art of the 24-hour vacation comes in.

My favorite 24-hour vacation was a delayed Valentine’s Day date at the end of February. We booked our respite worker, I got my hair and nails done, and my husband did all of the planning (bonus!). We headed into Toronto (40 minutes away from our house), and checked into the Grand Hotel. Our room had a jacuzzi suite (my favorite hotel upgrade), and before we went out for dinner, we put some wine on ice, enjoyed the jacuzzi, and took our time getting ready to go out.

Dinner was the real show stopper. My husband made reservations at “George” – one of Toronto’s finest restaurants. We ordered  the seven-course tasting menu with wine pairing. And we relaxed, and chatted, and held hands, and enjoyed every morsel of food. It’s easy to forget how enjoyable dinner can be when you aren’t constantly being interrupted by your children. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel to relax some more. Finally, we enjoyed a good night’s sleep thanks to the peace and quiet that comes with the temporary absence of young children.

Yes, it seems like too short a time to fully recharge your batteries and truly unwind. But if it’s all you’ve got, don’t despair – you can still get a lot out of a 24-hour period. Mind you, there are some key factors that will make sure you don’t waste a second of your precious time away.

  1. Plan ahead. Do as much of your vacation prep ahead of time so you don’t have to run around like a mad woman before you go.
  2. Pick a destination that is close to home. Spending hours getting to your vacation spot eats up valuable time!
  3. Don’t pack too much into your 24 hours. The point is to relax, not to cross items off your “must see” list.
  4. Splurge on upgrades. Since you won’t be staying long, get a really nice hotel suite with a jacuzzi tub! And visit the hotel spa for a facial and massage.
  5. Bring your favorite wine and snacks to keep in your hotel room. 
  6. Make dinner reservations close to the hotel at a restaurant that is highly recommended by a trusted source.
  7. Do something you never get to do when you’re with your kids. Maybe this is browsing in a bookstore for as long as you please, hanging out in a martini bar or going to a late-night show.
  8. Get room service for breakfast. Remember, soak up every moment of your 24 hours away.
  9. Ask for a late check out so you don’t have to rush.
  10. Before heading home, do at least one more “grown-up” activity. That may be a lazy lunch, a leisurely walk, or catching a sporting event or a show.