I have three kids. And I love to travel. I love going on trips with our entire family but I also really believe in taking my kids on individual trips for some solid one-on-one time. I get asked about this all the time. How do we go about planning travel with just one child? Why do we do it? What is it like?
I did an IGTV story about this and you can view that in my profile here but I also wanted to address is on the blog for anyone who isn’t into Instagram.
How do you do it?
Whenever I have a travel session scheduled, I think about who can come with me. I look at what the location has to offer, the dates that I will be there, the cost of traveling there and then see if it seems better as a family trip or a single child trip (or a friend trip). When my husband has the opportunity to travel (which isn’t super often) it generally revolves around sports or an extended family gathering. He goes through the same thought process. In the past few years my big kids have gone on one-on-one parent trips to NYC, Idaho, Austin, Carmel (twice), Charleston and Seattle.
Why do you do it?
There is something so sacred about time spent with one child when they are pulled out of their routine. Especially when you have more than two children at home. I grew up traveling. I am a grown woman who can look back at her childhood and see that almost all of my favorite memories are from trips taken over the years. I am a walking witness that the relational bonding that happens during travel sticks with you. Our kids are growing up quickly, in fact our oldest is starting Middle School in the fall. I know all too well that we are about to “lose her” for a time to her friends and hormones. I am hoping and praying that the memories and experiences from these trips will act like glue that holds us together, even if just barely, during the upcoming “rough years”.
What is it like?
Y’all, It is magic. It is pure magic. Being completely honest here, I know for a fact that I am screwing up a lot of this whole parenting gig. Just being brutally honest, but it is true. I am certain though that I am doing a damn good job at this one thing. That is how good these trips have been. When you have several days of just you and your child, the quality time is so dang intentional. We always let the child on the trip make all the decisions about what we do next and where we eat while we are there. This is so fun for their confidence level and independence. The conversations are good. Sometimes they are deep and meaningful but most of the time they are just everyday stuff. But, the fact that as a parent you are 100% focused on them and not being interrupted by another child or trying to multitask at home, is the biggest thing. Your child is fully seen the entire trip. You are making memories with your child that are special to just them. Like little inside jokes and moments that you can reflect on all year long that are special just between you two.
A few final thoughts that I think are worth mentioning…
In my opinion, the best time to start these special trips is when your child is 7-8 years old. At this point, they are so easy to travel with- they don’t need naps, they don’t need “kid” food, they don’t need playgrounds. They are interested in culture, art, history and can walk long distances without complaining:)You don’t have to travel far for this magic to happen. The first solo trip I took with my oldest was to Austin. That is only a 3 hour drive from our home. We didn’t go far but I adopted all the same ideas listed above- she chose our agenda and dining options. She decided what movie to watch before bed and what time she was ready to sleep. The trip was a much smaller scale than some of the more recent ones but it was still magic. The most important thing is to get out of town and off of your routines.
Last thing, I really think these trips are the most beneficial if they can be at least 4 days long. Our trips have been all different lengths but the ones that were 4-5 days in length we the most beneficial. I think there is something about “settling in” to a vacation. The first day is stressful travel. The second day you are starting to ease into vacay mode. Day 3 is where things really start to be completely dreamy.
The pictures in this post are from a trip to Charleston last summer. I took my oldest on the trip and we had an amazing time. She played the role of my assistant during the session and we did tons of sight seeing before and after. It was such a dream. If you have questions about more details of our travel with kids, I would love to talk, just send me an email. If you are interested in having me tag along on your next family trip, I would be honored. Just fill in the contact form on this page.