Traveling Without Kids for the First Time? Tips For Surviving
Updated: Jun 11
How to make your first weekend away from the kids successful for everyone.
Being a mom is part of your identity. The first few years of motherhood are all-consuming as you raise babies and toddlers. Even if you’re at work, your kids are always on your mind and in your heart.
You’ve probably traveled with your kids as well, and learned to juggle everything in the airports. Kids are always hungry, thirsty, and never want to sit still. Traveling with kids is exhausting – but the more you’ve done it the more you’ve mastered all the aspects.
So now it’s time to travel without your kids.
Do you even remember the last time you went anywhere for more than a few hours without your kids? The journey of motherhood changed your life so much, it’s hard to remember what traveling was like when you were only responsible for yourself.
To help you travel successfully, I’ve compiled some quick tips that will help you on your first trip without your kids in tow – from a seasoned mom who did it all wrong during my first trip without the kids.
Check-in For Your Flight Early When Traveling Without Kids
Set your alarm and check-in for your flight as soon as you can. If you have an assigned seat on your flight, this isn’t as important, but if you’re flying on an airline like Southwest where your boarding position depends on your check-in time then don’t delay.
You may find yourself wandering over to the family boarding area before your flight. Remember – your kids aren’t with you, so you’ll end up looking a bit crazy if you’re standing among the families with nothing but your backpack.
If you end up as the last person on the airplane, you’re guaranteed a less than optimal seat. You’ll spend hours in a middle seat that barely has any space, or you’ll be parked next to another mom who did bring her two kids with her, and you’ll end up parenting someone else’s kids the whole flight instead of enjoying your trip.
It’s easy to forget to check-in while preparing for your flight when you’re busy getting everything and everyone ready for your absence. Set the alarm now so you don’t forget to check in.
First Time Traveling Without Kids? Pack Something To Do
Think waaaaaaay back to your younger years before you had kids. You boarded the plane, sat down, and immediately put in your earbuds or pulled out a good book. After all, the only thing you needed to do after stowing your carry-on luggage was hang-out until the beverage cart came by.
That seems like an extremely distant memory right? I’m guessing you’ve stopped packing anything to do on the airplane because you’re constantly busy while flying with kids.
You’re traveling without kids for this trip, so you’re going to need something to do on the flight. You get to board the plane, stow your carry-on luggage, and relax.
Except you probably can’t relax right?
Moms are so accustomed to taking care of other people and being constantly busy, that you may not know what to do with hours of quiet and alone time. The first time I flew without my kids, I sat down on the plane and froze. I had no book, nothing downloaded, no journal, no headphones… I had nothing.
So be wiser than I was – pack a book, a journal, and headphones. Download some podcasts, audiobooks, movies, or anything else that will keep you entertained.
It’s ok to enjoy the peace and quiet of a flight or take a nap… but having options will help pass the time if you can’t quite calm your mind while traveling without your kids for the first time.
Leave an Itinerary, But Don’t Micromanage Your Spouse When You’re Traveling Without the Kids
Mommas – I get it. You do everything and manage all the schedules at home. You know which color spoon each kid likes and how to peel the banana to avoid meltdowns. You set the tone and manage the flow of the daily activities like a champ (most days anyway… nobody is perfect).
It’s ok to leave an itinerary or a sheet of notes to help your spouse. When you’re covering someone else’s job, it’s nice to have some guidance. But remember that this is your spouse – these are his kids too.
Don’t forget he is a capable human being. You married him for a reason – it likely wasn’t because he was helpless. He does not need a list that tells him when to put on his pants and when to eat lunch.
Give your spouse a little credit. Let him parent and manage the schedule in his own way.
If you leave a schedule that dictates everything down to the minute – you’re going to lose him. Your schedule that was intended to help make the weekend easier will end up in the trash.
Create a list or itinerary, then go back and take out at least half of the words/items you listed. Decide what’s really non-negotiable and what can be flexible. (Depending on how intense you are the first time you make your list… you may need to do a second round of edits and release a little more control. It will be ok)
Accept That Things Will be Different For The Kids While You’re Traveling
Along with editing down your instructions, you’ll need to mentally prepare yourself that things will be different at home while you’re gone.
Life and routines will not be exactly the same while you are gone. This is good for your kids, they will learn flexibility and have new experiences. This is a life skill – their future includes babysitters, school, house guests, and changes to their routines that all require some flexibility.
Let go of a little bit of control – it’s going to be ok.
Maybe they will eat dinosaur chicken nuggets every night for dinner, maybe their teeth won’t get brushed, maybe they’ll watch more TV than you would like – none of this will kill them or affect them in the long run.
Keep the big picture in mind – and consider the positives of this new experience.
Your kids may learn a new skill, make a new friend, master their joke-telling skills, or challenge their sensory systems with some wild and messy play.
Dads parent differently than moms – it’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.
Also remember, parenting alone is difficult for anyone. Cut him a little slack when things don’t go as you’d like, or when they miss their veggies for a night. But he may surprise you, there could be dinosaurs at the table that eat all the broccoli… you never know.
When Traveling Without Your Kids, Give Yourself Adult Time
On your first trip without your kids, you may feel a void from their absence. Remember you’re on a trip without your kids for a reason and there’s no need to find other kids to keep yourself busy. You can learn to enjoy your time without your kids, although it takes some conscious effort.
If you can, sit in an airplane row without kids. Not sitting with kids helps you relax and enjoy the flight and it’s priceless. When you sit by other kids on your flight, your mother instincts may kick in. Instead of having time to yourself for a break, you will be playing peekaboo the entire trip.
But let’s be real too, if you see a mom flying solo and struggling, give her a hand. You know how hard it is to fly solo with toddlers and babies. Many times a little help goes a long way, and then you can politely put your headphones on and enjoy the rest of your trip. Try to take time for yourself.
Pack the Baby Wipes, Even When Traveling Without Your Kids
Why on earth would I say you should pack baby wipes when you don’t have kids traveling with you?
Well, you have probably been carrying baby wipes everywhere you go for so long that you don’t know how to function without them. You’ll reach for baby wipes 15 times during your trip – even without the kids with you.
You’ll want to wipe your hands, the tray table, or a seat. Maybe you’ll want to clean off your phone or someone near you will spill and need a wipe. Baby wipes have a million uses other than on babies.
A mom is still a mom, even when your kids aren’t in tow – pack the wipes.
Check in With Your Family… But Not Too Often
Who do you think will be struggling more… yourself or your kids?
If you said the kids – try again.
Seriously, every time I leave the kids with my spouse or the grandparents – I’m the one missing them more than they miss me. Spouses do a fantastic job keeping the kids busy, having new experiences, and enjoying their time.
Checking in via text or calls is fine, just don’t expect a constant stream of communication, or a report every fifteen minutes about what’s happening at home. Let your spouse know you’ll gladly take any and all updates, but don’t expect that he’s going to manage everything and give you a full report every time they do something.
Honestly – can you imagine if you were expected to report to someone else how much the kids ate, if they slept well, who fell down, and their emotional state at all times? It would be incredibly stressful and a bunch of extra work.
When you’re asking for updates on everything, you’re communicating that you don’t trust your spouse’s judgment and ability to parent. I know that’s not what you are trying to do, but that may be the message you’re sending.
Trust that if there’s a problem, your spouse or family will let you know.
Calling or video-chatting will also remind your kids that you’re gone and could make them start missing you when they had been doing just fine. It’s interfering with your spouse’s ability to take ownership and manage the kids.
If it’s your first time away from your kids, you will be tempted to check in constantly. Solve this by setting a timer, or boundaries so you will avoid smothering your spouse while you’re gone.
Better yet – have a conversation with your spouse before you leave. Let him know you want updates. Explain that you trust him to handle everything, and you only want updates because you’ll miss the kids. This can help prevent frustration and miscommunications while you’re gone.
Plan, prepare, communicate, and then enjoy your time away (and cry when you need to).
It’s great to plan ahead, grocery shop, and set your spouse up for success while you’re traveling without the kids for the first time. When you’re the person who usually manages the home, there’s no doubt you will be missed and some jobs won’t get done.
By setting reasonable expectations, communicating, and releasing control of small things – everyone will have a better time. Set your family up for success, then trust in their ability to make decisions, problem solve, and adapt.
You’ll likely miss your kids – and that’s ok. Honor your feelings and emotions, cry when you need, and laugh when you can. Keep reminding yourself that it’s only a few days and taking a break benefits everyone.
Just like anything new, traveling without your kids gets easier with time and repetition… although I’m not sure that many moms are able to walk away on a trip completely carefree. If you have mastered that – leave me a comment. I’d love to learn from you!
Being away makes coming home and hugging your kids even sweeter.
My first trip without the kids?
It was a bachelorette weekend for my high-school best friend. My youngest was under two and I had to wean him for that trip. (He had massive food intolerances, and if I ate anything “off-diet” he would have horrendous pain and digestive issues. It didn’t make sense to try to avoid almost all foods while traveling with girlfriends and keeping the celebration focused on my friend.)
Like I said, I sat on the airplane and realized I hadn’t even considered myself while preparing tor the trip. I had no entertainment, no snacks, and no idea what to do with my busy brain on the flights. Until that moment, I really hadn’t considered that I never went anywhere alone other than work or grocery shopping.
I had also lined out 3-4 different people and a detailed schedule to cover my “work” while I was gone. The family did an amazing job juggling the kids, work, and preschool for the older kid. I wanted ALL the updates, and in hindsight, I probably swamped them with both information and requests.
The person who struggled the most was 100% me. I was dealing with weaning pain and hormones, trying to have fun with a great group of women who weren’t moms, and missing my babies like crazy.
So for those of you leaving for the first time, I see you.
You’ll get through this and everything will be fine. <3