As much as we love family travel there is definitely something to be said for a trip without kids. In fact, I can say lots of things – sleeping in, staying up late, less luggage, nice fancy restaurants, eating dinner after 5:30, well, you get the picture! We have always made an effort, with the generosity of grandparents who are always willing to babysit without complaint, to get away a few times a year, usually for weekend trips. Our first was when F was 6 months old and we did a weekend jaunt to Paris (ah, this is what I miss about living in London!) and since then we have done many.
Three years ago we had the opportunity to do a long trip to Asia, as my husband had to be in China, without F. This was before we had our daughter, and we knew if we were going to be all the way over there we would have to add in some countries, so we made a SE Asia itinerary and off to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia we went.
But through all our planning it dawned on us that we really had never left proper instructions and forms for our children, and that with a trip that long, and a distance that far away, we needed to cover all our bases in case of emergency. It seemed very overwhelming to make sure we left all the right ‘things’, but once it was done I felt a tremendous sense of relief that if something happened while we were gone F would be okay.
First, make sure you have a will. It is not pleasant to think about something happening to you while travel, but living in a realistic world it is better to be safe than sorry. We didn’t have enough time to have a will drafted by an attorney but we did do one online, and took it to our attorney to, well, make legal. It included medical directives for both my husband and I, as well as guardian information for our son and future children.
Second, make sure you have your medical insurance up to date and leave the cards out and easily accessible by whomever is watching your children. (I realize this only applies to the US and other countries that do not have nationalized healthcare) We also contacted our pediatrician who sent us a form to fill out authorizing our parents to take F in to see them. Some doctors may not have a specific form, but it is best to check to see if yours does. We also typed up, printed out and notarized a letter stating that our parents had permission to take F to the hospital and make medical decisions on our behalf, in case they needed to take him to the Children’s Hospital. The same should be done for the dentist as well. They had the addresses and information for the pharmacy so if he needed a prescription they could get it filled with no issues.
Third, all of the medicine that could possibly have been needed, as well as dosage amounts, were written down and left out in case they were needed. Since most kids medicines are based on weight it was important to make sure they knew exactly what should be given if needed.
Fourth, we left out our car insurance information, as well as our AAA card, in case the car broke down or there was an accident while we were gone.
Fifth, I bought a cheap paper calendar and filled out his schedule every day, with incredible detail, from school to meal options to playdates. While I have complete confidence in both sets of our parents it is always nice to make sure they know exactly what they need to do at certain times. I also left out all our membership cards for different museums and play areas, so they could take him to do some fun stuff without having to worry about paying for it.
Sixth, we had our laptop set up with Skype and ready to go, so we could make calls and see him before he went to bed. I am sure they could have easily figured out how to do it themselves but since we knew we would want to see him every day it was better not to leave it to chance!
Finally, we left copies of our itineraries, hotel info, flight info and copies of our passports at home.
All of this likely seems intuitive, but I know for us we were usually so excited and ready to get away on a kid free weekend we had never really thought about making sure all our i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed. And, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we landed in Thailand, after 20+ hours of travel and a 12 hour time difference, we found out that F was sick, really sick, and he did have to be taken to the doctor, and get a prescription, and it broke my heart to be so far away – but knowing he was well taken care of, and they had everything they could possibly need, made it easier!
What do you do to prepare for a trip without kids?