Should You Take the Kids on Vacation?

Christine Ryan Jyoti

Kids on vacationI’ll be honest: My husband and I have only had one child-free vacation in our six and a half years of parenting. The “vacation” was one night in a midlevel hotel on the Baltimore Harbor (it rained the whole time).

Is this because we’re huge fans of family vacations and refuse to leave our kids behind? Not really. Young children, distant relatives and a limited budget have kept our travel to a basic level.

Should you take your kids on vacation? Turns out the answer is yes and no. Family travel is a great chance to bond and explore the world as a unit, but travel with your spouse (or solo) can do wonders for the body and soul.

The tough part is deciding which is right for you. We’ll take a look at the latest research—as well as five families who’ve found strategies that work for them—to help you plan your next vacation.

To Bring the Kids … or Not?

A recent Harris Interactive poll found that 64% of kids surveyed strongly agreed that they get to see and do things on vacation that they’ll remember for a long time, and 53% said vacations bring their family closer together. Meanwhile, 62% of adults surveyed said their earliest memories were of family vacations taken between the ages of 5 and ten, and they remember those trips more clearly than school events or birthdays.

But that doesn’t mean every vacation needs to include the whole family. “Going away without the kids, even for a night, is soul salvation,” says Katrin Schumann, co-author of “Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too.” “It’s a reminder that we’re not automatons. We have needs, and that’s all right.”

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Research shows that a little benign neglect turns children into independent, out-of-the box thinkers.

According to a 2012 U.S. Travel Association survey, “couples in a romantic relationship report traveling together makes them significantly more likely to be satisfied in their relationships, communicate well with their partners, enjoy more romance, have a better sex life, spend quality time together and share common goals and desires.”