Seems there is a new trend running through the lives of my friends: Separate Vacations.
In the past several years I have known quite a few ladies who have packed up their bags and taken off on solo trips, leaving husbands and kids behind. From trips to Vegas to hikes in the mountains, from scuba diving in Micronesia and Fiji, my friends have decided that in order to get away and enjoy some down time they may need to do so alone-or with friends.
It isn’t just one gender, either. While you may think that these friends of mine are male, since males travel solo for work and women tend to remain behind and watch the kids, in all cases it has been the woman who has gone away; in only two homes, it was both the man and woman. Seems this trend for solo vacationing is hitting my female friends more than my male friends. Why is that? And is it a good idea?
My very close friend who has two children that are 4 and almost 2, the same age as my children, decided she needed a breather. She was feeling bogged down by work and hitting a slump. Her friend, a travel agent, booked a trip-to Micronesia. She spent 18 hours on a plane and then a week diving, reading and resting.
When she got back, she said she felt refreshed, and that she had a renewed energy because she realized the one mistake she had made as a parent-she had given up the things that had mattered to her pre-kids. Going away for a week brought back those things, and she realized that she could combine children with solo-pursuits to be happy and fulfilled: That she didn’t have to give up one just because she had the other.
Her husband then booked his own solo diving trip to the Fiji islands. A few months later off he went. We met up with them at the zoo the other day and he stated the same thing that she did when she returned: He felt refreshed and renewed.
I found one comment he made very interesting. He said, “It’s not that I wanted to take a trip without the family. If I could have, it would have been the wife and me, but that wouldn’t work out right now because of the age of the kids and the things that we would want to do.” So the decision to travel alone was not because they wanted a breather from the family, but because they wanted to pursue things that they were very interested in and had not been able to do since having children.
For solo vacations to work, I am wondering if what they found is the key: That you go and do something you really can’t do with the other people in your lives. For instance, if your husband hates shopping and you despise motorbikes, would it be best to take separate weekend trips so that each of you can enjoy your own endeavours? This is the reason a second group of friends of mine have taken separate vacations. They each enjoy different things and rather than book a week-long vacation they take separate weekend jaunts.
This helps, they say, because the spouse that is left behind to care for the home and kids doesn’t get too taxed and the kids don’t get angry with the mom or dad who leaves. (This became an issue with my friend who went to Micronesia: Her son, just one and a half at the time, was upset with his mother when she returned. While it was fleeting, she felt horrible about it, and it dampened her post-vacation mood).
This couple that lives nearby focuses on things that the other half may not have as much interest in. The girl goes to the spa, gets facials and massages, visits her best friend and shops. The husband spends the weekend in the desert racing dirtbikes.
I know of two other women friends who go on solo weekend or short trips. The husbands remain behind to care for the kids, and these two husbands do not take trips on their own. One travels frequently for work; the other goes out from time to time to ballgames and such, but neither have ventured on their own solo vacation up to this point. Both families have young children under the age of 8.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you think separate vacations are a good idea? A bad idea? Do you think it matters on extinuating circumstances?
In our family, it would be hard for me right now to justify going away on my own. I’m not sure I would enjoy it much, either. A night away, maybe; an entire week, probably too much for me right now.
However, I am known for not taking much time for myself and it also wreaks havoc on my psyche, so perhaps I am not the best person to sound off about this solo vacation adventure. Tonight, for the first time in many, many months, I am heading out on my own. But my adventure will be to the bookstore and possibly to see a movie. Micronesia seems far, far away from my little ones, and while in theory it sounds exciting, I don’t think I would want to do it without the kids and husband.
If you are going to take a solo vacation away from the family, certain things have to be considered.
First, how is your spouse with this idea? I would assume it takes a strong marriage for this to work, as one that is teetering may not sustain the actual vacation. Someone feeling slighted in a marriage may believe the spouse is going to ‘get away’. Others may become suspicious and jealous. Still others may be frustrated that they are being left behind to take care of everything while the other person is off ‘having fun’.
Also, is the spouse left behind okay with taking care of the children for a few days-or a week? It’s not an easy job, especially when you also work. Do you have additional support systems in place nearby to help out the spouse that stays behind? I can tell you from the numerous business trips my husband has taken in the past that it is sometimes tough to stay behind and care for the kids alone for an extended period of time. Resentment comes easy when everything falls on one person, and if the other person is off having a good time – well, I can just imagine the type of resentment that might build over that time.
How are your finances? Can you afford two separate vacations, since this would be not just one week of housing but two? Can you pay for the activities that you want to enjoy while away, if you are heading out to do some diving or skiing or spa treats?
I think it would take a really close relationship for separate vacations to work, as well as a pretty thick wallet and some great planning. I’d love to hear your stories regarding solo vacations, or your comments on whether or not you think this is a good idea.