In recent years family travel has exploded beyond the nuclear family to include extended family, multi-generational travel, groups of families getting away together and single parent travel. Family travel has literally broken all the molds, and more and more resorts and destinations are adapting to the new norm, which to put it bluntly, is that there is no norm.
As a travel writer, I’ve gained a unique perspective on traveling with one child at a time. With press trips a writer is often invited to experience the destination with one other person as their guest. For me, when it comes to writing about family travel, it means that one of my children must join me in order to see the destination through their eyes.
Recently, I was invited to attend the Grand Opening of Beaches Turks & Caicos, Luxury Key West Villages. My family has vacationed at both Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios prior to this trip, so I already knew that our trip would be worry-free and rich in experience, but I wondered how it would be as a destination for one adult, one child. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Beaches has perfected the family experience to include families of every size and demographic, so we were just as comfortable as a pair as we had been as a foursome.
Here’s what I learned about the joy of traveling with one child:
- No sibling rivalry to contend with changes the way you relate to each other. When kids are not competing for your attention it’s amazing how different they can be. No longer the baby of the family, Ava seemed to relish her role as mature only child.
- Ava will always be an introvert when under the shadow of her exuberant older sister, but take her away from all that and there’s an extrovert just waiting to jump off catamarans into the ocean. The child who is scared to death of sharks, took MY hand and led me to the edge of the Kitty Kat where we jumped hand in hand into the great big blue. I’ve never been prouder of her than at that moment when she swallowed her fear and did it. She later admitted that if her Dad and sister had been there, she probably wouldn’t have jumped. In that moment, I knew for sure that traveling with one will be something I’ll try to do even if another press trip should never come my way.
- Traveling with one child allows them to become your caretaker for a change. “What do you want to do mom?” was something I not only heard more than once but something she took great pride in making sure we followed through on. Like making us drinks in our full sized kitchen ( I spiked mine with rum), or heading to the spa for a little mother-daughter bonding time, she seemed to really enjoy seeing my wants met. Talk about Freaky Friday-ish.
- Vacations remove everyday stressors, allowing you to focus on building stronger bonds with your child. For a one on one vacation you simply can’t beat Beaches, who take all-inclusive a step further by including luxury at every turn so all you have to do is enjoy making memories that will last a life time.
- As long as you promise to take the time for a solo trip with each of your kids, you can leave your guilt behind and truly enjoy the moment. Cries of “It’s not fair”, aren’t heard when your kids know their time is coming.
- It can build stronger bonds between siblings. Upon our return from our trip, my daughters were inseparable for a week. They slept together nightly and didn’t even want to see their friends. It was nice seeing them truly understand what they mean to each other.
Lying in bed at night for snuggles now, we reminisce frequently about our special time together. The trip may be over but the joy of that trip lives on. I hope that my kids get these moments with their Dad and with each other down the road. One on one time, as I’m learning, let’s you see a side of each other you may not have seen otherwise. I’m already looking forward to what new things I’ll learn about my oldest daughter on our next trip.