paris-as-a-coupleBefore we had kids, we had grand visions of continuing to travel the world with little ones in tow. When each of our kids were little babies, there was no way I was going to leave them at home — I couldn’t bear to be separated from them, plus I was still breastfeeding. For these reasons, our kids had already traveled to Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Aruba, Hawaii, and many places in our great state of Idaho by the time they were ages four and two.

As our kids started to walk and do some things on their own and our life became busier with activities and cleaning, recleaning, and recleaning our house again, I began to feel like my relationship with my kids was great — but it was getting harder for my husband and me to find time to spend together as a couple. We tried to go on a date once a month, but it didn’t always happen and we started to feel like we weren’t ever making the time to reconnect.

After a couple of serious discussions and taking our first vacation together without the kids (all the way to Belize!) we decided that taking a trip together once a year is a great way to get away, reconnect, and come together as a couple. It strengthens our relationship and ultimately makes us happier people and better parents.

At the same time, we still want to travel with our kids and show them the world. To that end, we came up with a strategy to plan two big trips a year: one with the kids and another one as a couple sans kids. We’ll also plan lots of camping and weekend trips together as a family.

The trip with kids is more chaotic and expensive, but it’s also a great way to spend dedicated time with them and watch their expressions as their minds become expanded soaking in the new culture and locale. The trip as a couple is romantic and more exotic; we can spend the time to learn the culture. It also allows us more options, because, let’s be honest: do you want your two-year-old with you as climb the French Alps or Machu Picchu?

So far this vacation strategy is working well for us. The only thing I would change is more like four or five big trips a year but we can all dream.

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What is your vacation strategy? Do you always bring your kids? Do you think it is selfish to leave them at home?