Travelling without kids

Travel lighter ... Leave the kids behind. Photo: Getty Images

So what about when you don’t holiday with kids?

I mean, of course they’re the sunshine in our lives. Obviously we want to spend all our time with them. There’s no question the reason we were put on the planet was to have kids to love, cherish and obey - and to holiday with, that goes without saying.

But what if the opportunity arose where you could go away without them? 

As in, alone, just you and your lovely. Like that time the two of you were much younger and you drove to the Gold Coast in your Suzuki Sierra and had ‘the best time’ until someone slashed your soft top and took your wallets and you were pretty well cactus stuffed until Monday when the banks opened and you could get some more money out. Before mobile phones and your mum and dad letting you have a credit card. Remember?

I do. I remember going out all night and vegging all day and being guilt free about pretty much anything because, well, that’s just how it was. What did we complain about, back then?

Recently, such an opportunity came up. 

There was a conference in Istanbul and whilst it was work for me it wouldn’t be for my wife if she were able to come. Of course she was able to come. ‘Try and stop me,’ she said. Right on, I thought. This could be a few days work, a few more days tacked on for fun and whacko the didlio why the hell not? 

‘The kids are going to love it!’ she cried. ‘I can’t wait to tell them!’

‘Wh-wh-what? Hang on a second, it’s, well. Wait on.' I’ll be honest, this was not quite the reaction I’d been expecting. I thought it would go a bit like, ‘Oh, My God. Istanbul. One of the most exciting cities in the world.  We could sight-see and shop and buy a Turkish carpet and go to a Turkish Bath – together. Oh honey, what a great idea. You are possibly the most fantastic man in the history of the world, how did I ever get so lucky?!’

So, after scooping my jaw off the ground and replacing it below my top teeth, I gently mumbled, ‘What if we just went by ourselves?‘

I don’t think she heard me. She’d glazed over in that I-just-found-some-Zimmerman-bathers-for less-than-$200 kind of way. ‘So, right yeah. Of course. So much to organize. Passports? Have the kids even got passports? I don’t think so. We’ll have to get the dog booked in to the kennel, stop the paper. Deb’ll take care of the mail and the rubbish will only have to go out on that first Monday and then it’ll be empty? We have to replace that lock on the bathroom window, it’s hopeless and I think that’s about it. For now. Oh, hang on, what’s the temperature, we’ll have to pack for it.’

Who’s brain computes that sort of stuff so fast?

‘Just us,’ I said. ‘No kids. It’ll be fun!’ The reality extended beyond just wanting to holiday with my wife. There was the very real question of three extra airfares, 24 hours of travel and, keeping an eye on three little wanderers in a city of 14 million people. 

‘No kids? Just us? Alone? For how long?’ She nodded and made one of those upside down smiles, like Robert Deniro when he does that ‘you talkin’ to me?’ thing.

Then the smile wavered a bit, before turning the right way up. Whilst she didn’t actually verbalise “you are the most fantastic man in the history of the world” I could tell there was a chance she was thinking it. Her brain did a complete u-turn as she started working out how not to take them with us. 

Who would look after them was pretty easy, my parents would love to do it (I’d checked). The bigger, more complicated question, was how in God’s name would they get the kids to the ridiculously long list of activities that tie them up before and after school every day except Thursday? Three kids, different sports, bands, instruments, interests and clubs. It’s nutty, but we all go through it, right?

I couldn’t reconcile the job of explaining to my parents how two kids had to be two suburbs apart at the same time and they would only have one car to do it. I was fearful. My mum would give me a lecture about kids being kids. I would probably cry and call her mummy. She would probably cry and use my middle name. 

Oh, the shame! 

Oh the rules.  Would Mum and Dad play by the rules?

We grew up watching TV, would Mum guffaw at me when I said there was no tellie during the week? She would. She’d snort and guffaw and say, ‘don’t be ridiculous.’ I’d have to say their brains would turn into milky mush and they wouldn’t do their homework. They could get in trouble. It could be a disaster. The world would surely end – maybe we should take them.

Which, of course, is the reason not to. If you’re lucky, and we’re probably all pretty lucky, the world doesn’t end, it just spins at a slightly different speed. Mum said she would do her best to get everyone to everything, but if they missed a few things they’d live. Everyone would. 

She was right.

We did go for our kidless ‘holiday’ and had a fantastic time. We sent too many photos, wrote too many emails and spoiled most of our stories before we got home. And, the kids, whilst they missed us “terribly” when they remembered we weren’t there, had an absolute ball with their grandparents. 

It’s funny. Going away without kids can be a brilliant reminder of just how much we love them. 

Have you gone on a kid-free holiday recently? How did it turn out for you? Leave your comment below.