3 things I wish I'd known when planning my first 'momcation'
As a mother of two toddlers just 19 months apart, the pandemic was especially difficult on me. I went from having the autonomy and independence I loved to suddenly being a work-from-home and full-time mom. It goes without saying that I've needed some time to myself several times over the last year.
Affectionately called a "momcation", when a mom gets to take a solo trip without her family, she gets so much more than a vacation. She gets peace and quiet, and the freedom to do just about anything she wants. These aren't things most moms can say are a part of their average day.
I've been lucky enough to take a few trips without my family — from a week-long trip to Aruba to a weekend close to home to watch planes take off at SFO — and I learn something on every trip. But I didn't always know how to make the most out of my time away.
From the planning to activities to insignificant things you might not think of, here are three things I wish I'd known when planning my first solo mom trip.
Consider all destination options
Deciding on a destination for any trip is exciting. But deciding on where you want to take a solo mom trip is special and even more meaningful. Depending on how far you're comfortable with being away from your family and how many days away you'd like to take, it's an opportunity to cross a place off of your bucket list or re-do a place that you didn't get to explore how you may have wanted when you visited with your family. The options are endless but I like to keep a few things in mind when deciding where I want to go on my solo mom trip.
Cities and beaches give completely different vacation vibes. When visiting a big city, I find myself wanting to visit museums, walking miles and miles admiring architecture and keeping a list of the best restaurants to try. But when I'm on a beach, my only concern is how much time can I spend on the beach in a single day — all I want to do is relax and listen to the ocean.
Alternatively, there's nothing quite like leaving all of the noise behind, a.k.a. your children, and completely unplugging in the great outdoors. Enjoy a hot cup of coffee on a deck overlooking the woods before a hike in the forest. If you're craving peace and quiet, an airstream might be right up your alley.
Related: 8 Survival tips for wilderness hikes
You don't always have to go far to enjoy a little "me time". Sometimes it's less about a new passport stamp and more about the mental health break that a solo mom trip gives.
Sometimes we get taken away by the glitz of international travel and forget to explore our own backyard. It's important to remember why you're taking this trip in order to ensure that you get everything you want out of it.
Prioritize hobbies and self-interests
The beauty of any solo trip is the ability to do anything you want without having to consider other travelers in your group. And when you travel with your family, it's easy for the itinerary and the activities to revolve around what would make the kids happy — and not necessarily factor in the things you'd like to do.
I wish I'd thought of one thing that I really wanted to do when I took my first solo mom trip. It gives you something to look forward to during your precious time alone.
There are probably so many things you could think of that you'd want to do if you had the time.
There are self-care practices like a massage or facial, getting a manicure and pedicure, or getting your hair done. An activity you can't usually enjoy is anything that requires you to spend more time than you have. One thing I love to do is read a good book for hours and hours — the fewer interruptions, the better. I can do that when I take a solo mom trip.
Depending on the age of your kids, it might be difficult to convince them to join you on a museum tour or a cooking class. Maybe your partner doesn't enjoy aimlessly walking through a new city or taking walking tours while you love them.
A solo mom trip is the perfect opportunity to do something that you enjoy but can't convince other people to do when you travel with your family.
Some tour companies specialize in affinity groups for travelers with common interests. You could join a group that's focused on wellness, food and wine, adventure and more. Activities like these could be enjoyed with your partner but it might also be an option to join a tour or activity that allows you to meet other travelers with common interests.
Utilize points & miles to indulge
It's easy to tell ourselves that we can't afford to spend money on ourselves — especially on something like a vacation. So that's why it's important to not only have a budget for your solo mom trip but to use points and miles whenever possible.
Related: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points for signing up for these loyalty programs
Some hotel loyalty programs like World of Hyatt have great redemption rates for really amazing properties. For example, Hyatt's Ventana Big Sur has rooms starting at just 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night. The property is all-inclusive with views of the Pacific Ocean (when it's not too foggy) and you can even choose between camping and glamping.
If you're staying domestic or traveling to certain destinations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Southwest is an easy, no-frills option for airfare. It's easy to earn Southwest miles through one of their co-branded credit cards to earn miles toward your solo mom trip. Not to mention, Southwest's companion pass makes it a favorite airline among family travelers as well.
You deserve a break — we all do. It's easy enough to plan a trip but a solo mom trip deserves special consideration. Deciding what kind of trip you want to give yourself might require more thought than vacations with the family.
City breaks, beach vacations and the great outdoors are all great options for any vacation. Even deciding to stay closer to home and explore your own backyard is something you can do for your solo mom trip. Once you know where you want to go, think about something you can look forward to doing. And lastly, decide on your budget and how best to make your trip happen. Solid loyalty programs can get you to where you want to go and provide a fabulous hotel when you get there.
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