The response was universal, without exception. Every single person, from stranger to close friend, had the same exact question upon learning of our upcoming European trip: "Are you taking the kids?"
"Yes, we're all going," I'd reply. The response was also consistent: "Oh, well … you'll probably have a good time anyway."
These reactions affirmed that as great as family vacations can be, they are not to be confused with romantic getaways. Most parents long for an occasional escape from their children. Every couple needs the revitalization of time alone, whether it be a walk in a local park, meeting for lunch in town, a night at a nearby bed-and-breakfast, a long weekend in the next state, or a week-long splurge in some exotic locale.
My husband and I have done those kinds of trips before. Four years ago we went to Hawaii sans enfants, a twentieth anniversary excursion subsidized by a friend's frequent flier miles. It was a slice of heaven.
But this time there were no relatives readily available to help. Besides, at ages twelve and nine, our children were just about old enough to benefit from international travel—and we had expiring airline vouchers to use. Still, perhaps recalling Hawaiian paradise, my husband and I dreamed of intimate moments in London and in Paris, whose name you can hardly utter without fantasizing about the one you love.
As it turned out, we four had a marvelous trip, including some special times for my husband and me. Perhaps what we learned about injecting romance into a family vacation could help you do the same.1