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I love exploring the world with my family, but with work and school commitments, it became difficult to align all our schedules. My wife understands how important traveling is to me, so she suggested that I travel some without her. I wasn’t sure if she was serious or just testing me, but I quickly booked my first solo trip with our son to find out.
But I Miss Mommy!
I’m going to give it to you straight: No matter how cool the destination is, a child will miss the other parent, in our case mommy, at some point. They may even cry or throw tantrums. This is perfectly normal.
My son Timmy and I flew to Costa Rica to stay at Hyatt’s Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. We used a combination of World of Hyatt points and the free night certificate from my World Of Hyatt Credit Card to stay three nights for free. Unfortunately, this resort has since moved from Category 4 to 5, so the free night certificate can no longer be used here, but rooms can be booked from 20,000 points per night. (Remember, Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.)
One night, Timmy became sad and started crying for his mom. I knew just what to do. After 10 minutes of FaceTime chatting with mom about our day’s adventures, he was happy again and ready for more fun.
Now, we schedule times to call home so there’s something to look forward to on both ends. Kids are excited to share the highlights of the day’s adventures and the parent back at home loves seeing their smiling faces.
Creating Special Memories
I’m not sure how it is in your household, but mom is definitely higher on my kids’ priority list than I am. Whether we are home or on vacation, she gets most of the kid’s attention (for better and worse).
However, by traveling solo with the kids, we’re able to spend quality time together. They hold my hand as we explore and cuddle with me when it’s time to go to sleep. In the blink of an eye, they’ll be teenagers and “too cool” for that type of interaction, so I’ll take as much of it as I can right now.
I’ve traveled solo around the US and to Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden and the Cayman Islands with my kids. Timothy is now 8 and has done all of the international travel so far. Our daughter Scarlett is 4 and we’ll be planning her first daddy-daughter international trip soon.
Each one of those vacations has created memories that are shared just with my children and me. Yes, they’ll tell their mom and friends all about it, but the actual experiences are ours.
For example, we swam with dolphins in Cabo San Lucas …
… took a boat tour in the Caymans …
… and braved the cold of January in Sweden.
Mommy Needs Some “Me Time”
As you’re creating special memories with the kids, your spouse back at home will probably appreciate some alone time. In our cases, mom can get work done, catch up with friends or soak in the tub with her favorite drink.
Here’s a cool gift idea for your spouse to let her know everyone will be thinking of her. Have the kids write a letter to mommy telling her how much they’ll miss her and what they’re looking forward to most on the trip. Buy her favorite drink and snacks. Then grab a bath bomb to encourage her to relax in the tub. You might even get her a gift certificate to the local masseuse.
I know that my wife appreciates these little touches to show her how much we care. And she relishes the opportunity to spend time with her friends. Life gets so busy with work and family that she often sacrifices her personal time to focus on us.
How Dads Can Start Taking Solo Trips With Their Kids
If you fly regularly, you’ll see plenty of moms taking solo trips with kids whether it is to visit family or go on a far-flung adventure. However, there still aren’t a lot of dads doing it. This has to change.
My first solo trip was when Timothy was 5 years old. We flew to Hawaii on American Airlines using British Airways Avios. The flights were only 25,000 Avios (plus $11.20) round-trip for each of us. I had access to plenty of Avios thanks to the British Airways Visa Signature Card welcome bonus and transfer bonuses from other points programs.
If you’re considering a Hawaiian vacation, read Mommy Points’ article for excellent strategies on the best way to fly to Hawaii with kids.
Flying to Hawaii was probably more adventurous than some might feel comfortable with for their first solo trip with kids. I recommend starting out with day trips or perhaps an overnight staycation. This way, both you and your child will take comfort in knowing that the other parent isn’t too far away in case he or she is really needed.
To make a trip happen sooner than later, look to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, currently offering a 75,000-point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card. Here’s how you can maximize Marriott points for family travel. Or, get an 80,000-point welcome bonus when spending $2,000 in the first three months of having the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. And there are several cobranded Hilton Honors credit cards that are also offering some nice perks for signing up and spending. Here’s how to figure out which Hilton credit card is best for families.
Our daughter Scarlett’s first solo trip with me was at 22 months of age. I was completely scared because of her age and how much she loves her mom. We flew on Southwest Airlines to Milwaukee for the opening of the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. The flights were paid for using points from my Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Because Scarlett was under 2 years old, she flew for free as a lap child. When she gets older, we’ll need to use Southwest’s Companion Pass or the Frontier Airlines Kids Fly Free instead. While the Frontier offer has date restrictions, with the Southwest Companion Pass deal, I can buy a ticket for me and get her ticket practically free on any date (you still have to pay the fare’s taxes).
As you gain experience, take road trips or short flights. Soon you’ll be flying internationally for awesome beach vacations, ski trips or to learn about the rich histories and cultures of other countries. A few years down the road, you’ll be traveling around the country together looking at colleges.
As with any vacation, traveling solo with your kids will never go exactly as planned. Embrace the adventure and relish the memories. Most likely, whatever goes wrong will just be a funny story to tell years from now. Don’t hesitate. Book some solo trips with your kids today. You’ll thank me later.
Featured image is Lee and Timmy on the North Shore of Hawaii. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.
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