Skip to content

I only took one of my kids on vacation. Here's why you should, too

April 25, 2022
7 min read
Child and mom standing outside roller coaster entrance
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Whenever I find myself cleaning crushed Cheerios out of hotel room carpet or lugging three car seats through the airport, I am reminded that there is a difference between "traveling with kids" and "vacation."

To fulfill the need for actual "vacations," my husband and I travel solo on a regular basis (sorry, boys). But traveling with my kids is just as important to me as traveling without them. I want them to have new experiences and learn about the world outside of our small town in Indiana.

To strike that balance between whatever traveling with a family of five should be called and an actual vacation, my husband and I recently took just our oldest son on a weekend trip to Universal Orlando. We had a fun, relaxing weekend — and I'm planning to make it a point to do the same thing with my two younger sons.

Here's how – and why – I recommend planning sans-sibling trips with your kids.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Less stressful to plan

Traveling is much easier when everyone can carry their own suitcase. (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

My sons are currently 8, 5 and 3. When our family travels together, I have to find hotel rooms or vacation rentals that don't appear to have too many sharp edges or easily breakable furnishings and can comfortably accommodate all five of us. I can spend hours, or sometimes days, searching for a place to stay even after we've settled on a destination.

Then there's the packing. Our suitcases are loaded with sippy cups, swim diapers, arm floaties for the pool and enough snacks to answer every, "I'm hungry!" with a baggie of Goldfish or granola bar before a tantrum breaks out.

There's no way around it. The fewer kids we travel with, the fewer things we have to bring — and the easier it is to find somewhere to stay. It's not the most important reason to travel with only one kid, but if your vacation goal is stress reduction, it's one worth mentioning.

More suited to their preferences

My oldest son is the only one tall enough for VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando. (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

My oldest son is 8 years old and while he is nowhere near outgrowing the magic of Disney World, he is a huge fan of the thrill rides down the road at Universal Orlando Resort.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Bigger thrill levels mean taller height requirements. He is the only one of our three kids that is tall enough for rides like Revenge of the Mummy, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and The Incredible Hulk Coaster.

That last one is one of the primary reasons for our visit to Universal. During a visit last summer, he was not quite tall enough to ride Hulk. He was so close that his hair brushed the line for the 54-inch height requirement, so we knew he would be tall enough next time we visited the park.

Finally tall enough to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster. (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

Sure enough, when we visited last weekend he had more than bypassed the height requirement and we were able to celebrate that special moment with him.

For the rest of the day, I (mostly) let him lead the way. If he wanted to skip a ride I had suggested in favor of something else, I let him. I wanted the day to be about him — and other than my request to sit on the motorbike rather than the sidecar on Hagrid's, it was.

More suited to their age and developmental level

This trip was all about my oldest son. (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

We've taken plenty of theme park vacations as a family, but it sometimes feels like the youngest ones are just along for the ride (especially when I think back to a few years ago when the younger two spent most of the day in the stroller as we bounced from ride to ride).

By the end of the day, they didn't want to go anywhere near the stroller. They wanted to use their little legs to expend all their pent-up energy. Our oldest, on the other hand, hadn't had the same limitations because he was older and able to do more on his own.

Being the oldest isn't always an advantage. We've run into the opposite issue when visiting places geared more toward younger kids. There are times when my oldest was bored out of his mind while the younger two were happily playing at a children's museum or hotel splash pad.

It can be tough to find activities that appeal to a toddler, preschooler and third-grader. When I'm only planning activities for one child, it's much easier to find activities that he will find fun and engaging.

On this trip, that meant roller coasters and bottomless Butterbeer, but it could also mean taking my dinosaur-obsessed toddler to Chicago's Field Museum or taking my preschooler camping so he can make s'mores over a campfire (something he requests often).

I can give them individual attention

I let my son choose his seat on the airplane. Just like mom, he prefers the window. (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

I definitely see the importance in teaching my kids to share and helping them understand the world doesn't revolve around them, but my mom guilt sometimes kicks in when I realize that none of my kids get much one-on-one time.

When my husband and I spent the weekend at Universal with our oldest, I was able to have uninterrupted conversations with him (a true novelty in our family) and find out what's going on in that little head of his.

Of course, it was difficult not to feel guilty about leaving the other two behind, but they are young enough that a "sleepover party" at my mom's house is still their idea of a good time. It didn't hurt that we brought them each home a stuffed dinosaur, either. As they get older, it may be a little tougher for them to understand, but hopefully the promise of their own solo trip will hold them over.

Bottom line

Most of us (myself included) can't afford to take an endless number of vacations every year, but solo time with your kids doesn't have to mean a week away with each one. You can do a weekend or overnight trip or plan a "staycation" where you stay in town and let your child plan the day's meals and activities.

We came home from our weekend away with some silly inside jokes and new memories that will strengthen our bond for years to come. I know we all cherished our special weekend together and I can't wait to take my other kids on solo vacations.

Featured image by My oldest son is the only one tall enough for VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando (Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more