Should You Vacation Without Your Kids?

Family on vacation

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

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We’ve all indulged in the occasional vacation daydream of a tropical beach with golden sands, a chalet in the snow, or a balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower. But if you find yourself daydreaming about going anywhere at all without an entourage of children, you might be a parent of multiple kids—and it might be time to genuinely consider taking a vacation without them. While family trips are all well and good, there are a number of perks to vacationing (at least occasionally) sans children. 

Here’s a look at several benefits to getting away by yourself or with your partner, how to get the most out of your child-free vacation, and how to strategize ahead of time so things go smoothly at home while you’re gone. 

Why Vacation Without Kids?

Not sure if an adults-only trip is worth the effort? Consider the following reasons for getting time away.

Personal Refreshment 

Leaving your kids for a few days may initially make you feel some pangs of guilt or selfishness. But the fact is, you matter! Taking care of yourself by refilling your mental and emotional reserves can be an important form of self-care that actually makes you a better parent. Try to approach a kid-free vacation with the mindset that it’s healthy, not selfish, to give yourself a refreshing break.

Relationship Building With Your Spouse or Partner

There are certain relationship-building activities you and your spouse or partner just can’t do with kids around—so getting some quiet time and space is a helpful way to rekindle your connection.

“Being away from children gives a couple a bit of time to remember why they came together in the first place,” says couples therapist Anna Hiatt Nicholaides, PsyD.

“Despite all the joys of parenting, having children can constrict a relationship, making it hard to even have basic conversations with one's partner. Going away is the ultimate antidote.” 

Kids and Adults Enjoy Different Things

Be honest: how much do you really enjoy themed character parks and petting zoos? On the flip side, how much do your kids get out of visiting a modern art museum or lingering over a candlelight dinner? Kids and adults enjoy different pastimes—and that’s okay! Just like you probably make efforts to give your children pleasurable experiences while on vacation, you deserve to enjoy adult forms of entertainment and relaxation, as well. 

It’s Actually Good for Your Kids, Too

Kids have to learn that their parents are unique individuals with their own interests and needs. Allowing yourself time away sets a good example of self-care. This may even translate to your kids following your lead, taking better care of themselves when they’re adults.

“I often hear parents talking about their worry that doing something without the children is bad for their child in some way, thus producing guilt and an inability to fully enjoy whatever self-care they've tried,” says Nicholaides. “In actuality, children are much happier when their parents also have lives separate from them.”

Plus, it can be a learning experience for your children to spend time with other people or take on a little bit of increased responsibility while you’re away. “The mentality that you need to be with your child at all times conveys a kind of fragility to them, which they can internalize,” Nicholaides points out.

“Leaving your child with the confidence that they are strong and resilient enough to be without you for chunks of time helps them believe in themselves, which is a belief they can take into adulthood.”

Finally, encourages Nicholaides, children are happier when their parents are happier—and vacation is a surefire way for parents to boost their own good vibes! “Kids who have parents in happy relationships feel more happy, secure, and are better able to get along with others.” 

Planning Ahead for Time Off Without Kids

Convinced yet that a solo trek to the mountains or couples’ island getaway is worth pursuing? Before you pack your bags, try these tips for planning ahead. 

Plan Far in Advance

Childcare is difficult enough to coordinate when you’re trying to get a date night on a weekend—so finding a sitter to cover a chunk of several days will probably require a lot more lead time. If possible, give yourself ample time to nail down the details of who’ll be watching your kids. Planning in advance also means you’ll be able to prep your kids thoroughly on what to expect while you’re gone. Plus, you just might snag better deals on travel! 

Divide and Conquer

Depending on your family size, it may be more practical to have kids stay in different places while you’re away. (This also works well if you have certain children who have a hard time getting along, or a child who may need extra attention.) You can help this feel like a positive experience for kids by framing it as special time with Grandma or a favorite sitter.

Stock up, Fix, and Freeze

Any time you plan a trip, you probably have a budget for restaurant meals. But when leaving kids at home, there’s a whole separate line item for their meals, too. Get ahead of the game by gradually stocking up on food stores your kids can access while you’re out of town. Providing a store of healthy foods means they’re less likely to chow down on junk in your absence.

Then, if you know your sitter isn’t the cooking type, you might go a step further and make a few meals ahead of time. Casseroles, soups, pizzas, and pasta dishes make a lot and can get stashed in the freezer for easy-access dinners. Taking initiative in this way may give you increased peace of mind.

Set Expectations With Kids 

Before you hit the road, have some conversations with kids about what they can expect while you’re gone. Who will be picking them up from school? Where are they spending each night? When will you be back? Be sure to cover with them any behavioral standards you expect from them, too.

Communicate With Those Around Your Kids

Just like you can set expectations with your kids before you leave, it’s wise to set a few with others around them. Send a quick email to teachers or after-school instructors to let them know that this particular week, your kids may be late or things may be just a little bit off. You might also ask a friend or neighbor to be on call just in case unforeseen situations arise, like a lost house key or car trouble.

Making the Most out of the Time Away

With all these details hashed out, it’s time to enjoy your kid-free vacay! Here are some tips for getting the most out of precious time to yourself or with your spouse or partner.

Set Goals With Your partner

You may only get away without kids once in a great while—so do some thinking about what you’d really like to experience. With your partner, spend some time discussing how you can use the time together to work on your relationship.

Perhaps you book a relaxing couples’ massage, set aside time to talk about specific issues you’re struggling with, or make reservations for a leisurely dinner. “Taking the time to have one or two extended meals together is a sensual and gratifying way of being together and allowing for space and necessary topics to ensue,” notes Nicholaides.

Allow for Downtime

While setting goals with your partner is constructive, you certainly don’t want to feel overscheduled on vacation. So build in plenty of downtime, too. “Getting away is a great time to sleep in, shower, read a novel, or just stare out the window!” says Nicholaides. Quiet time can be just for yourself or together with your partner. “Giving yourself ample time to just be together is of utmost importance.”

Set Boundaries With Kids (and Sitters)

A kid-free vacation won’t be relaxing if constant phone calls and texts keep you glued to drama at home. Be sure to communicate clearly (to both kids and sitters) how much you’d like to hear from them while you’re gone. Whether you’d like a daily update or no messages at all is up to you. If you do keep regular tabs on the domestic goings-on, just don’t let it steal the relaxation from your precious time away. 

A Word From Verywell

Before embarking on a kid-free trip—especially if it’s your first one—it’s natural to feel worried about how your little ones will do in your absence. Won’t they miss you? (And won’t you miss them?) In all likelihood, yes, there may be some tears and sniffles. But occasionally missing our loved ones can actually strengthen our bonds, reminding us how much we care for one another.

So give yourself permission to enjoy your kid-less vacation without guilt, knowing you’ll soon be back to regular role as mom or dad. In the meantime, soak up the refreshment, build your romantic relationship, and order the drinks with the mini umbrellas. You only get to vacation so often!

By Sarah Garone
 Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.