Kimberly Zapata Main pool at the Caribe Royale Orlando
I love my children. Like, love them. My 3-year-old makes me laugh, wildly and loudly. His obsession with fart noises and bodily fluids is nothing short of humorous. His jokes would put a smile on even the most begrudging person's face. My 9-year-old is insightful and creative. I envy her confidence. I say I want to be like her when I grow up. When I'm an "adult." And yet, while my children are my light and my life, I found myself yearning for a break-from them and the chaos of parenthood-last spring. I needed to get away. And so I did. I headed to Orlando (the family-fun capital of the country) alone.
Of course, I didn't know what to expect when I boarded the plane or checked into the Caribe Royale, a suite-only hotel located in the heart of central Florida. I didn't know what to expect as I sauntered to my room, orange luggage in tow. And I didn't know what to expect from the place, property, or my time. But from the chocolate tasting experience to my day in EPCOT-yes, I went to Disney without my kids-everything was perfect. It was just as it should be.
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Here's why every parent can (and should) take a kid-free vacation, if you can make it work.
Set Your Own Itinerary
While fun, traveling with children-particularly young children-is hard. Schedules revolve around feedings, meal times, nap times, and diaper changes (or potty breaks, depending on the age and stage you're in). But when you travel without your kids, you get to ::gasp:: set your own itinerary. Life moves at your pace, and on your schedule.
I got up at 7:30 because I wanted to workout, not because I had little mouths to feed. I went to the properties (epic) pool multiple times because I could. I sunbathed instead of splashing in the kiddie pool or giving swim lessons, and I was able to indulge in some more adult undertakings too. One evening I went to a rum tasting at the hotel's bar, which I couldn't have done with my two children in tow.
Eat Where and What You Want
Chain restaurants are great. They offer a wide variety of options and have kid's menus, most of which are moderately priced. But while I appreciate a good cheeseburger or even a penne pasta plate, the truth is I don't always want to base my culinary decisions on which establishments have the best chicken nuggets. Kid-free vacations give you the opportunity to try new foods and experiences.
Sleep In and Relax
If you have young children, you'll probably appreciate this point more than the others, but kid-free time (and vacations) give you the opportunity to sleep in and relax. No feet in your face-or poking into your side.
Fill Your Cup
Have you ever heard the expression "you cannot pour from an empty cup?" The adage is (yet) another way of saying you have to take care of yourself first. And while it can be hard to prioritize your physical, mental, social, and emotional health when you have kids, taking a kid-free vacation will give you the opportunity to rest and recharge. It can be an important form of self-care that actually makes you a better person-and parent. Kid-free vacations can also help you reset, allowing you to appreciate the "little things" more.
Try New Things
Do you like horseback riding; hiking; or long, late walks on the beach? Have you always wanted to bungee jump or skydive or engage in some other heartstopping (and adventure-filled) activity? Kid-free vacations will give you an opportunity to explore new things.
Reconnect With Your Partner
While I flew solo for my last kid-free vacation-yes, my significant other stayed home with the kids-many couples opt to travel together, leaving their children with family members, neighbors, or friends. Why? Because stepping away from the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of parenthood (and life) can help you and your partner reconnect, giving you both the time and space to remember why you came together in the first place. It can also strengthen your bond, particularly if you are exploring a new or foreign place, because you must rely on each other for comfort, support, and advice.