This post is sponsored by Embassy Suites.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, or if you follow me on Instagram, you know that travel is a priority for my family. It’s where we spend a big chunk of our money and time. We’ve traveled as a family since both kids were infants because we have extended family across the country and abroad, we love how travel broadens our perspectives, and it’s just plain fun.
Most of the time.
I won’t pretend travel is fun 24/7, because it isn’t. Traveling with little kids, especially, comes with inevitable discomfort. My kids are older now so it’s much easier, but even so my foursome has wildly varying preferences for everything from pacing to food to activities to atmosphere. Some of us are outdoorsy, some are most definitely not. Some rise early, others sleep in. Some are excited by urban bustle, others are overwhelmed. What to eat? Don’t even get me started.
There are lots of variables at play in my family — in most families, really — which makes travel complicated. How do you simplify family travel, at least some of the time? You reduce the number of variables.
This is the beauty of the 1 parent/1 kid trip.
My 13 year-old daughter and I recently took a quick trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit an old friend. We rarely if ever travel just the two of us, so this was a great treat. But I was still surprised by just how wonderful the experience was from a pure ease-of-travel perspective. Our trip had all the benefits of family travel with less of the hassle that comes with bundling everyone off.
Let me share a few of the advantages of 1 kid/1 parent travel:
1. It’s cheaper.
It’s like a half-price vacation for my family of four. Half price for airfare, food, and attraction admission fees. The savings are not as dramatic if you drive a car (your own or a rental), but it’s still ice cream money in your pocket.
2. It’s easier to make travel arrangements.
Fewer flights, smaller rental cars, no need for a rollaway bed. (If you stay at Embassy Suites, you’ll have the whole bed to yourself because every room is a two-room suite with a comfy pullout couch for your kid.)
3. No need to close down the house for travel.
Assuming the rest of your family stays home, you don’t have to shut down your home while you’re out of town. Think of the brain cells saved!
4. You travel differently when it’s just two of you.
My daughter and I like to answer “what should we do today?” based on the weather, what sounds interesting, and how we feel at the moment. We like to stumble upon things and are often delighted by what we find — like the playground in the above photo. But this lack of agenda frustrates my son (and, admittedly, can lead to dead ends), so we rarely travel this way as a foursome.
5. It’s easier to find stuff to eat.
When there are fewer food preferences to consider, it’s so much easier (and cheaper) to manage meals on the go.
6. You deepen your relationship.
With fewer people in your travel party, you can focus and really talk (and listen) to each other. My daughter and I find things funny/interesting/worth discussing that my son and husband don’t, and there’s ample room for those conversations to happen.
7. The family members at home are getting special time together, too.
While my daughter and I were away, my husband and son were home playing video games late into the night, going out for ramen, and moving to their own rhythms. For those few days, our house became their play fort, site (I’m sure) of some happy memories.
8. You come home refreshed.
Do you need a vacation after your family vacations? When it’s just you and one kid, travel is so much lighter and more relaxing, so your homecoming is easier, especially if the rest of your family has been home, opening the mail, recycling the newspapers, and keeping the fridge stocked.
Bonus: your homecoming comes with a sweet family reunion.
I wrote this post in partnership with sponsor Embassy Suites. They have been a fantastic supporter of Parent Hacks and I highly recommend them for family hotel stays. All rooms are two-room suites (comfortable for a family of four, or even five if one kid sleeps in a crib). Also included: a free hot, cooked-to-order breakfast, and a nightly reception with snacks, drinks, and fun activities for the kids.