Family trips can be great fun, but traveling with the kids can be challenging. Mom and Dad may return from the trip exhausted, feeling that they need a real vacation before plunging back into their daily routine.
Many parents are afraid to leave their children while they travel. They may feel guilty, but careful preparation can help calm those fears. What's more, consideration of the benefits of kid-free travel ought to help parents get past the guilt. Modern family life is hectic and stressful. A cruise or other romantic getaway can do wonders for a couple. If parents feel overwhelmed by the demands of raising children, a few days apart can restore perspective.
Money matters, too. Parents may be able to swing a rare pricey trip for two. But if they throw in food, rooms, transportation and admission tickets for the kids, the price tag will soar. If the children aren't old enough to appreciate the destination or are teenagers who'd rather be with their friends, taking them along may be like throwing money away. It may be better to take a break from parenting and bring the kids a souvenir from your trip.
Single parents may debate whether to take the kids when traveling for business. Even if businesses provide childcare, having children along may end up being a distraction. Leaving the kids safely at home can free the parent to concentrate on business. And the single parent might enjoy the social opportunities that a few child-free days can provide.
Parents might consider leaving older teenagers home as a trial run. Teens old enough to drive often prefer not to go on family trips. They may not want to miss jobs, sports or other activities. Leaving teens home while parents travel can be a step toward their independence. In many cases, these teens will soon be off to college or otherwise away from home. Being home without parents for a few days may be a useful first step. Few states have laws specifying at what age teens can be left overnight, but common sense should rule.
Do teens need supervision? Many teens balk at the idea of a sitter, but they may accept a relative or family friend staying with them. Having a responsible neighbor or other adult check in a couple of times each day may be a reasonable alternative.
Besides unsupervised teens, what are the other perils of leaving the kids at home? Find out on the next page.