How to Find Quality Time as a Couple on a Family Vacation

Guest author: Cerise Roth-Vinson, Enchanted Vagabond.

Our first date many years ago took place on a secluded beach in Baja, Mexico which set the tone for a life of travel and adventure together. Since then, we have explored all over the world with our two kids. We have become experts at how to find quality time together when traveling as a family!
For the first 10 years, we traveled as a couple and had unlimited time together. When we adopted children now ages 7 and 11, travel became more hectic and our time was in high demand. A family trip is great for bonding and spending time together, but it’s also a chance for my husband and me to relax and reconnect. We typically have lengthy trips of several weeks or longer with our kids, so building in time for adult conversation is essential. The kids are amazing and adorable and we love spending time with them on vacation. But, we also make time together as parents on vacation a priority using these tips.

Here are the best ways to create quality couple time on a family vacation.

1. Book an AirBnB or vacation rental

Hotels and hostels were fun when it was just the two of us, but once we started traveling internationally with our kids it became expensive and not relaxing. Now, we book an AirBnB or vacation house anytime we travel. The extra space of a rental house or apartment is essential! We can enjoy a leisurely coffee in bed or retreat to a lounge or sitting area together where we are out of sight and we can focus on our own conversations. Access to a kitchen also means the kids can be more independent with access to snacks or breakfast items. By doing our own cooking, we plan for the kids to eat first and then we sit down to dinner just the two of us after they go to bed. A recent trip to Australia was fantastic because we had lots of places to retreat to while the kids played. Staying in a vacation rental is the easiest way to create couple time when on a family vacation!

2. Find an affordable hotel with a family suite

Adjoining rooms or two hotel rooms is an option we have used, but it comes with a big price tag. This strategy for creating privacy or having enough space as a family on vacation is expensive and often cost prohibitive for a longer trip, but is great for a night or two. An alternative to two rooms is to book a suite. A hotel family suite provides a sitting area and often a pull-out sofa bed that kids love.

3. Request a room with a deck or balcony

Select a place to stay that has a private deck or balcony. When we stayed in Hawaii, most condos and vacation rentals have a lanai or outdoor space. We make it a part of our daily routine so the kids know in advance that around sunset we take an hour or so together to enjoy a glass of wine and chat. The more you create a routine around finding time with your partner, the more your kids will respect this time and interrupt only if they really need you. A deck is great in the morning as a couple so you can sit and plan the day with minimal distractions.

4. Travel with a pop-up tent

When the kids were even littler, we traveled with a pop-up play tent that doubled as an extra bed at night. The kids created their space for reading, playing or even napping. This gave us some time together while they were occupied in their own private area.

5. Pack an outdoor picnic blanket

When indoor space isn’t possible, we find a spot at a park while the kids play. Put down a blanket under a shady tree and relax together while kids play and meet new friends. Even better — bring a few toys that kids can be independent with like bubbles, water squirters or tennis balls. On a recent trip to the US, I booked a vacation rental next to a park just for this purpose and it was great!

6. Pick your airplane or train seats

Failure to plan in advance on a train ride in Taiwan a few years ago led us to the brilliant discovery of intentionally booking our seats in configurations that allow parents to sit together while still supervising the kids. The kids sit together in front or behind us. Another option for seating that gives you couple time to chat and get a break from your adorable kids is to request adult seats on the aisles with a kid on either side. Siblings who are older can be extra helpful with kids on a plane or train because the confined space limits a lot of activity.
Family Travel Resource Guide

5. Pack an outdoor picnic blanket

When indoor space isn’t possible, we find a spot at a park while the kids play. Put down a blanket under a shady tree and relax together while kids play and meet new friends. Even better — bring a few toys that kids can be independent with like bubbles, water squirters or tennis balls. On a recent trip to the US, I booked a vacation rental next to a park just for this purpose and it was great!

6. Pick your airplane or train seats

Failure to plan in advance on a train ride in Taiwan a few years ago led us to the brilliant discovery of intentionally booking our seats in configurations that allow parents to sit together while still supervising the kids. The kids sit together in front or behind us. Another option for seating that gives you couple time to chat and get a break from your adorable kids is to request adult seats on the aisles with a kid on either side. Siblings who are older can be extra helpful with kids on a plane or train because the confined space limits a lot of activity.

7. Pre-load movies and podcasts on an iPad or tablet

Like most parents, we like to limit the amount of time the kids spend on electronic devices, especially on a family vacation. But there are those times when a movie is just the solution! Pre-load a tablet with some new movies or download YouTube videos they can watch offline. We have a portable charger device and a headphone jack splitter so they can both watch a movie. On a recent trip to Japan, our son listened to podcasts for kids like Wow in the World or Story Pirates for the longest time and really enjoyed this alternative to staring at a screen!

8. Stay at an all-inclusive resort with a Kids Club

When we traveled to the Philippines with kids recently, we splurged and stayed at a Shangri-La resort, famous for their family-friendly amenities like pools with lifeguards and an AdventureZone where kids are supervised by trained staff. Scheduled craft activities and a huge play area are lots of fun for the kids while adults can go snorkeling or get massages together.

9. Travel with another family

Planning a vacation with another family or bringing your family members is a great way to create opportunities for time as a couple when traveling. On a trip to Vietnam, we shared a large AirBnB house with family friends. Having other kids and two more adults made it easy for one or two adults to watch the kids while we went out for great hikes or happy hour at sunset. We love traveling with other families or a grandparent!

10. Plan a beach vacation

Of all the types of adventure trips we take as a family around the world, the best family vacations are those with access to a pool or sandy beach now that we have kids. Water is nature’s wonder toy when it comes to kids having fun. You can relax on a towel or lounge chair while kids are playing within supervision distance. Our trip to Cambodia with the kids is still memorable because the kids were exhausted from hours of playing at the beach.

11. Bring walkie-talkies or a baby monitor

Our young kids are more willing to be independent if they know they can call for us or reach us. We are also more open to allow them to play outside or on a different floor of the house if we have communication. A baby monitor is small and packable and can also create peace of mind if you’re relaxing on a patio outdoors or enjoying a long soak in the tub.

12. Take the kids to a trampoline park or indoor play area

The same tips and tricks that work at home can also work when on a family vacation! Search Google Maps or TripAdvisor for popular indoor playgrounds and activity centers. Kids get a chance to burn energy while you and your partner can supervise from a distance while still carrying on a conversation or planning the next day of your trip. I love a good win-win situation!

There are lots of creative ways to make sure your family spends time together to become closer while also carving out couple time on vacation. I’d love to hear what works for you! You can read more authentic advice on where to stay and what to do with kids for families who travel or to find out where we go and what we do when we travel internationally with our two kids by visiting Enchanted Vagabond.

About the author: 
I am a busy, expat working mom who loves to travel the world often with my family. I blog from Taiwan about traveling in Asia as a diverse family, travel with school-age kids and tweens, expat life, being a foodie, and my love of local markets. My two favorite items to travel with are my Swiss Army knife and ukulele!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at you extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links. You can also see my full Disclosure and Terms and Conditions (you know, the real boring stuff).

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Quality Couple Time
How to Find Quality Time as a couple on a family vacation
Family Travel Resource Guide
2018-06-11T15:43:31+00:00

About the Author:

Hey, I’m Mackenzie, a writer, traveler, and photographer living in North Texas. Been to 65 countries solo, now taking the baby along. I blog about family travel while writing novels and binge-watching British TV.

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