Bright and Early: on Holiday Without the Baby

Getting up early for flights can be exciting – but not with young kids. So rather than battling with a sleep-deprived babe, how about leaving them behind? That’s what Carla Gale-Parks did. She shares some tips…

Where did you go, and when?
Mexico and San Francisco – at the end of May 2015.

Why did you decide to leave Charlie behind?
Mike and I didn’t have our honeymoon as Charlie came very soon after we were married, so we said we would have a honeymoon when he was over one. We also got invited to Mike’s cousin’s wedding in San Francisco, so we linked the two up – meaning we’d only leave Charlie once.

How old was he at the time and who looked after him?
He was 13 months when we left him. He had six nights with my mum and her partner and the four nights with my dad and his partner.

How was the trip?
The whole trip was amazing. We had five days in Mexico and five days in San Fran. The hotel in Mexico was amazing, so much included and the staff were so attentive… perfect for a honeymoon. We stayed at the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Riveria Maya.

Mike and I aren’t usually lounge around people but in Mexico we were very lazy tourists and sat by the pool and beach and generally drank a lot of cocktails… we needed it! We did do something each day, but it was the activities the hotel provided: cooking classes, tequila tasting classes, shopping trip by boat, spa treatments. After five days we felt very relaxed and refreshed.

In San Francisco we did far more. First we had the wonderful wedding, then had a day driving around the areas outside of San Fran and then general sightseeing. Each night we went out with Mike’s cousins and friends that he knows in San Fran.

Mike’s cousins own a few restaurants so we ate very well and then were taken to great clubs. We left the whole holiday with a new love of tequila and Californian Pinot Noirs.

carla and mike 2

How was it, being without Charlie?
Obviously we missed him loads, but I think I felt it far more on the weeks leading up – and then once I was back, I didn’t want to go back to work and leave him again. During the time away I thought it best to get on with all the adventures and not let myself feel guilty, as we had paid for it all and moping around won’t change anything.

What did you find difficult about leaving Charlie behind?
The logistics were tricky, but both my parents look after Charlie each week while I’m at work so they know his routine. I also got my parents to move into our house so that there was minimal change for Charlie.

My parents both stayed around for the bath and bedtime routine in the weeks leading up to us going so that they could see exactly what we did. I stocked the fridge/freezer with all his favourite food to help them out.

I also wrote a mini manual about everything Charlie needs… I started writing it weeks before and then would add bits as and when I thought of things that were important for them to know.

Charlie has always been good at being with other people and being away from me, as I went back to work quite early, and I usually have to go away for work for a weekend once a month or so. I don’t think he was old enough to really know what was going on, so I don’t think he missed us too much, but I did notice he was slightly more clingy when we returned.

While we were away we did Skype and he learned to blow kisses at the screen, which was lovely.

Have you been away without him since, or do you have any plans to?
I have been away with work a few times since. We haven’t got anything booked in yet for Mike and I but we both want to try and have a few days each year where we go away just us.

With my job, I have to work over the weekends, so we don’t get any full days off together. Only over the summer holidays do I get my full weekends back so it is very important for us to have couple time that is more than just a date night.

Charlie is happy to be with any of his grandparents… and I’m sure he’ll start to look forward to his weekends with them, as they all spoil him rotten.

Overall, what worked and what didn’t?
I feel it all worked really well. We both had a great holiday and Charlie was looked after by loving grandparents in his own home.

What advice would you give to other couples planning a trip without the kid(s)?
Do it! Even if it’s just for a weekend. I feel a few days here and there thinking about just yourselves is a very healthy thing.

Leave a detailed manual and a full fridge. Have some practice days/nights with whomever will be looking after your child so that you are relaxed that they will know what to do while you are away. Skype and picture messages help.