Traveling Without the Kids

Just over a week ago, I dropped my son off at his grandparents’ house, and hopped on a jet plane for an eight-day cruise with my husband. As I was walking out the door, saying goodbye to my son, I promptly started to cry. I quickly apologized, blaming the fact that I’m pregnant. My precious father-in-law simply stated, “It would be just fine to cry even if you weren’t pregnant.”

Traveling Without the Kids

My 16-month-old smiled, blew kisses, and gave a “bye-bye Mama” as I headed out the door. He did have a fun-filled week of grandparents from both sides ahead of him, and PaPaw was holding him. Who can blame the kid for such an easy send off?

As I drove away, my thoughts turned to the time ahead of me. Eight whole days with just my husband? The two of us together, alone? As anyone with kids can relate, our lives changed drastically 16 months ago with the birth of our son, and they will change again with the birth of our next. As much as we desperately missed our son, we desperately needed this time away to rest, relax, and reconnect with the most important person in our lives.

I’ve known since I was young that I would vacation both with and without my kids. Ours was a traveling family. My paternal grandparents owned a travel business and led tours all over the world through the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, visiting over 40 countries. Therefore, with that type of legacy, I grew up with my family of four spending our summers and spring breaks in all corners of the USA, often tagging along on Daddy’s business trips. I had visited 48 states by the time I graduated high school.

However, my sister and I did not go on every trip with my parents. About once a year, my parents would set out on their own. Sometimes small, sometimes big, but always just the two of them. Sommer and I would often spend the time with our grandparents. Win, win. My parents got time away, alone; we got invaluable time with some of the strongest influences on our young lives.

Traveling Without Kids

From left to right: Shelley’s family at the Grand Canyon in 1984; Shelley’s parents in Hawaii in 1984; Michael, Shelley, and Daniel in Florida; Michael and Shelley in Puerto Rico.

Because of these invaluable experiences I had as a child, I knew I would do the same once I had a family. Fortunately, my husband’s love for travel is as strong as mine. We love to get away together, but we also want to instill that love of travel in our sons. So why do I think traveling as a couple is just as important as traveling as a family?

1. Its time to stop.

When you work, have kids, and have responsibilities, life is simply crazy–especially when the kids are young. Getting away for a few days makes both of you stop, walk away from the crazy, and allows you the luxury of getting to just be with one another. Do I think life is better since we’ve had our son? Yes!! But it is so different, and sometimes I miss being able to just hang out with Michael. Vacation gives us uninterrupted hang out time.

2. It shows our kids where our priorities lie in relationships. 

After my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with my husband comes first in my life, then my relationships with my kids. And this is how it should be–both Biblically and emotionally. I want my kids to grow up watching a healthy, growing, active marriage. It’s a great influence to show them that time for just Mama and Dad is important. I am thankful that is the example I saw growing up, and I pray they will be thankful too.

3. It gives our kids time with other important influences in their lives.

Over the last week, my son spent 3.5 days with one set of grandparents, 4 days with the other, and a day and a half with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Were these logistics a bit of a headache to put together? Sure. But, they were so worth it.

I’m so thankful for the relationships he has with each of these family members, and they are only stronger after this week. Like myself, I want him to have amazing memories of his childhood, spending time with loving extended family.

I understand extended family is not an option for everyone. We are incredibly thankful for ours. If your family is unavailable to keep your kids, maybe you have close friends who are like family? Maybe you could talk about switching off and watching each other’s kids while the other couple takes a long weekend away.

Now that we’re home, getting back into the normal swing of things, I’ve had a few days to reflect on our time away. Did I miss my kiddo? Yes, I sure did. Was it worth it? Absolutely. The uninterrupted time away with my husband was invaluable—and I look forward to our next getaway together.


Do you and your spouse travel without your kids? Start a conversation with your friends by sharing one of these pics:


Shelley Ford is a registered nurse turned college professor who loves spending her days teaching the next generation of wannabe health care professionals. She is the wife of Michael and the mother of Daniel and Caleb. Traveling to new places is her very favorite thing to do, and she is passionate about the work being done with the orphans in Lusaka, Zambia. Her other current favorites include Mexican food and good afternoon naps whenever possible.

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