A little over a year ago, we received a phone call from my grandparents. My grandparents asked if we’d be up for a family trip to ITALY! Of course, we said YES and the planning commenced! We all decided that the girls were just too young to take on a trip like this so, thankfully, we have some amazing people in our village — AKA Grandma and Papa Scholtes — who agreed to stay with our little hooligans for the 10 days we would be gone.
The days leading up to the trip were full of preparation. Thankfully, in our situation, our kids were able to stay in their own environment, so that alleviated several stressors.
Here, I’m sharing tips on traveling without kids — from packing and leaving to returning and everything in between!
Lists Are Your Friend
Lists, lists, and more lists. Lists will be your savior. If you’re anything like me, you have lists for your lists. 🙂 We made lists for ideas of activities they could do while we were gone as well as food ideas. When we’ve left before and our kids were younger, I wrote down tentative schedules to help structure the days. For our trip specifically, I compiled a packing list — from phone cords to how many pairs of underwear I was taking.
When you leave your kids and head to a foreign country, don’t forget the important stuff. Insurance information, a medical release, and power of attorney were all complete. I did a quick Google search for a medical release template and printed it off and signed it. In my case, I forgot to include our actual pediatrician’s contact information (DOH!), but that is also imperative information to leave behind for whoever is caring for your kids. I left copies of everything in a folder for easy access. We also left my in-laws another number for a family member who wasn’t going on the trip just in case they needed a break or help in any way.
We started telling the girls about our trip a few weeks ahead of time. Timing is everything; I know from personal experience that you don’t want to start these conversations TOO early as kids have a hard time with the concept of time. We showed Sophia where we were going on a map and then started a countdown on a calendar to show her when Grandma and Papa were coming. I also had her help me count how many days we would be gone by using a calendar and then encouraged her to mark each day off while we were gone.
Soak It Up, Sister!
While you’re actually on the trip, ENJOY IT! Let your hair down and enjoy the time you have SANS kids. Trust me — you will be thinking and wondering about them the whole time. There will not be any amount of time that you aren’t thinking about them, missing them. BUT. You aren’t chasing kids around. You aren’t listening to any whining and arguing. Your schedule isn’t dictated by naps or lunchtimes or bedtimes. SOAK THIS UP and revel in the temporary freedom!
Back to Reality
When your fabulous time away has finally come to an end and you are back to reality, take some time to get readjusted. If possible, take an extra day off work or other responsibilities. Take at least one day to stay home with the kids, relax, and squeeze them like crazy. We had to adjust to a seven-hour time change, so explaining to the kids that Mom and Dad needed some quiet time helped give us some time to recharge and get back in routine.