Why we left on a road trip…without our kids!

It’s a pandemic summer, you open Insta and suddenly you are bombarded with photos of every family you know on a cross-country road trip, in an RV…sound familiar? We decided to do something different.

In all fairness, we did hop in our car back in mid-March, with our three kids in tow, and make the 25-hour drive to spend the beginning of quarantine with my parents at their home in Florida. We ended up staying there until May and made the long drive back. That road trip – still fresh in our minds! But, just like every family – whether you’re at home or on the road – we’ve been with our kids every.single.day since the beginning of this craziness.

Don’t get me wrong – we adore our kids. Truly. We love being together, we love exploring together. My husband and I have successfully prioritized both travels with and without our kids and while we’ve always done this – I find it harder and harder to leave them behind as they get older. Might seem strange to some – who find the opposite. But, I love seeing the world through my kids’ eyes and cultivating those lifelong memories together! ┬áPlus – they have so many more activities now then they did when they were super little – so, when I leave them with my parents, there are many more things on the schedule. My parents don’t mind, thankfully, so I get over it. But, it’s definitely made it more challenging to make the decision to go without them.

Even though, it is 100% always worth it.

Why we decided to leave them behind

Traveling without child

We made the decision, like many Minnesotans, to make the 8ish hour drive to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota – HELLO, family and kid central! I felt that heavy guilt that we parents are known to have every once and while as the road trip was coming up. But, we stayed true to our mission – a 5 day getaway without kids. We would have had a great time going as a family, no doubt, but our ethos as husband and wife is to prioritize that connection we have with one another. Being with our kids every.single.day since March (or earlier!), like many of you, has it’s silver linings for sure, but we also wholeheartedly believe that we need some time away – and, they equally need a break from us! Having that time with their grandparents, or any caretaker, gives them their own little vacay, and let’s face it, they actually miss us when we’re gone! That’s never a bad thing ­čśë

We had 5 glorious days – starting and ending with the car ride – for precious time as just the two of us. The foundation of our family. The most important, in our opinion.

And, here are the things we gained:

Time to feel like kids again + be on our own schedule

Grownups need that too and while my kids are constant reminders of the importance of play (as well as my own work)…we truly need that time – without whining + complaining and fighting kids, which is always inevitable to some degree, to just be the two of us. To go on the long hikes. To take secret paths and get lost, to drive and listen to whatever the hell we want! To take windy, gorgeous scenic byways without a car-sick kiddo in the back! To wake up and go to sleep when WE want. And, honestly – to have equal parts meaningful conversation as well as simple peace and quiet.

Reaffirming our goals + vision for our future

We are absolutely the nerds that have a mission and vision for our lives individually as well as together. Every time we travel sans kids, we make sure we are in alignment with our goals. We assess where we’re at, what tweaks need to be made, and what is important to us, as life is ever-changing. Without the daily grind, every-day tasks weighing us down – we have the time to talk and reflect on these important things, especially as life gets busier and more fleeing. We feel renewed and a deeper sense of purpose in the life we are creating together.

Guilt of Traveling Without kids

We take ourselves out of the every day to change our daily habits

So, what does this mean? It’s just human – life gets busy and we start doing things that we don’t necessarily want to do. Staying up too late, excessive TV watching, working too much, and so on. When we are in a new environment, disconnected, we recognize the things we want to change back home. It’s work or an on-going practice, but it’s enlightening. On our getaway – my mind was quiet. I went to bed early and woke up to the sunrise. I felt so energized. While it’s hard to do this at home – with kids’ sports and work piling up, we can take bits and pieces of our experiences and reflections to make small changes…which add up over time.

Watch less TV, make restoration a priority, find ways to quiet the mind each day and so on. Or, perhaps it’s related to physical health. We might walk more when we get back home, eat better – and so on. It gives you the opportunity to have more awareness about daily habits that might be holding you back…from those shiny new goals!

We come back better. And, ultimately why we will always prioritize travel + adventure

We are building a house right now and a home that will attempt to bring the vacation to the every day…the reason I am mentioning this is that it’s easy to blow off taking time away. There is excuse after excuse. No one to watch the kids (reality – if you want it enough, you can find someone), not enough money / guilt around spending money or unwillingness to use (hard-earned) vaca days – especially because travel isn’t tangible (reality – you have to make it a priority and a choice) – let me expand a bit more.

So, with the cost of this new home, it would have been very easy to think of all the ways we should save that money (or be working!), instead, we reframed our thinking – got out of that fear-mindset – and focused on how it’s an investment in ourselves. What could be more important? In fact, what are the chances that we invest in a getaway, but in return – come back more productive┬áthan we were before and earn more than we would have if we didn’t take that time away? It’s pretty dang likely, in our opinion! We have new ideas, a renewed zest, clearer minds and a deeper appreciation. The scientist in me geeks out over the science behind travel and I always find a way to remind people – when we change our environment, go on adventures, take time away – research proves that we return more creative, better problem solvers, take fewer sick days and experience deeper connections, both inter and intrapersonal. All of these things that make us better in the workplace. (Not to mention, better parents too!).

parents traveling without child

So, I got over that guilt that I felt the week leading up to our road trip sans kids, and THANK GOODNESS I did. Just in those first few moments in the car, I knew that prioritizing these days with my remarkable hubby (insert heart eyes) is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Need some encouragement to take a trip without your kiddos in tow? I am here for you.

Happy #wildbumming!

Mollie Krengel

Mollie Krengel