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The Other Side of Family Travel

Matt Villano

There are those family vacations you all take together—the ones where the biggest challenges are a) packing for the kids b) entertaining the kids on board the plane and c) figuring out how to get intimate with your partner while your offspring are snoozing right beside you.

Then, of course, there are the family vacations on which you leave the kids at home.

I know, technically, the latter trips aren’t *really* family vacations; the absence of kiddies is tough to justify as “family.” In reality, however, I believe that once you have a family, every vacation becomes a variation on family travel—even if the kids stay home with grandma and grandpa.

My wife and I learned this first-hand during a recent kid-free jaunt to Las Vegas.

On one hand, the trip was decadent and fun. We slept (a lot). We ate. We drank. We conversed like normal humans, without little beings interrupting us every five seconds. We even managed to play a little poker together. (No, that’s not a euphemism for sex. We actually played cards.)

On the other hand, one might question how much we actually “got away” at all.

For starters, we texted with my folks regularly about what the girls were doing, where they were doing it, and how they were behaving while they were doing it. We called home every day around 7 p.m. to say goodnight. On the first morning, I emailed my father a short “manifesto” about everything from when R likes her tubbies and how L prefers to play with Play-Doh. On the last day, I found myself texting with my mother about the girls before I even said “Good morning” to my wife.

Sure, Powerwoman and I "relaxed" in the traditional sense of the word. But, compared to the take-me-drunk-I'm-home getaways of our past, this was a new kind of chill; Relaxing 2.0, if you will. It felt different. It felt "older." It felt real.

And, well, it should have. No matter how much we'd like to pigeonhole family travel as the travel with experience with our children, we take our responsibilities as parents with us whenever we get away, whether we're going with our kids or without them. In other words, just because the kids aren't there doesn't mean you don't worry about them and parent them from afar.

For those of us young enough to remember our wilder days, the notion of never quite escaping "family travel" might be hard to stomach. But the sooner you embrace this new approach, the better off everyone will be.

Think about it: The less time you spend cursing things like a manifesto, the more time you can spend drinking martinis once the manifesto has been sent. The less you stress about texting home for updates on the kids, the quicker you can transition from said text messages to the massage table (or, in my case, the Pai Gow table).

The kids certainly don't care; to them, three days with grandma and grandpa instead of Mom and Dad is just as much of a “trip” as a jaunt to the Big City.

For their sake -- for your sake -- give it a whirl. The worst thing that happens is that you end up obsessing over your kids on the next romantic getaway (which you probably do anyway). If all goes right, you might just prepare yourself for a new era that champions every aspect of the new you, and makes no excuses along the way.

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