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There are plenty of articles and check lists offering tips for traveling WITH your kids, but not as many on the topic of traveling WITHOUT your kids.
Jason and I are lucky enough to escape on our own a couple of times a year (big thanks to local grandparents!). Traveling is our absolute favorite thing to do together. Whether it’s exploring American cities, lounging beach side in the Caribbean, or jetting off to Europe, we happily take advantage of any time we can sneak away from the chaos of life at home.
Traveling with our kids is still a bit tough (two-year-old Miles DOES NOT go with the flow). We’ve done a few Disney trips, a couple cruises, and regional road trips, but we’re waiting a few more years to fly with them. There are a million places I want them to see and experience…just not yet.
Since we’ve traveled without the kiddos our fair share of times, I’ve come up with some helpful tips:
This seems like a given, but figure out who will be watching your kids in your absence and WHERE! Your house? Grandma’s or babysitter’s house? Our parents often keep the kiddos at their own homes for convenience, but I’ve always thought it would be a good idea for them to all stay at our house since the kids’ beds, clothes, bus stop, etc. are already there. We are just thankful for the childcare, so wherever our parents want to keep the kiddos is just fine by us.
Jason gives me a hard time about the laundry list of instructions I leave for the grandparents, but with three kids going in a million different directions, it can get overwhelming. I type out daily schedules, what to pack for lunch, how they get to/from school, after school activities, teacher/school names and phone numbers, medical info including doctor and current medications and allergies, our hotel/airline/contact info, and I’m sure plenty more that is not currently coming to mind. The grandparents may laugh and never even read the instructions, but at least the info is there for reference.
NOTIFY SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS:
Make sure to let the kids’ school and teachers know you will be out of town and leave caregiver info with them. If one of my kids becomes ill at school and needs to go home, the school needs to know how to get in touch with whoever is keeping them. I also notify the school of any temporary transportation changes that may be in effect while we are gone (this is a huge priority at our school, and understandably so). Also be sure to notify any after school activity personnel, as well (soccer coach, dance teacher, etc), especially if the kids will be dropped off and picked up by someone outside of the normal routine.
MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY:
I always print a medical POA naming the grandparents as responsible for my kids in case of medical emergency. You can easily find a form online (I keep it on our Dropbox and print each time I need it) and be sure to date it for the duration of your trip, sign it, and have it notarized. The caregiver will need to bring this with them when seeing a doctor with your kids. Takes just a few minutes and saves a lot of headache in your absence! If you do use a form your find online, it’s a good idea to have lawyer look over the document to ensure it is legally sound.
RELAX AND HAVE FUN!
In my experience of traveling many times without kids, the preparation is the most nerve-wracking and stressful part. Believe me, it gives me lots of anxiety getting everything ready and of course it seems like there is never enough time. But once the kiddos are squared away and we start our trip, the stress usually melts away and I can focus on enjoying one-on-one time with my main man. Trust that everything will be just fine on the home front and that the kids are in good hands. I’m a big advocate for spending time away with your spouse. Life with kids is busy and messy and loud and amazing, but taking a break to focus on being husband and wife is SO VERY IMPORTANT and will recharge you once you return to your normal routine. Enjoy!