Ever wonder what it’s like the first time you travel without your baby? My first trip without my daughter was in the summer of 2011, to Salt Lake City for the USANA International Convention, when she was 11 months old.
I have spent much of my life traveling, crossed the ocean more that a dozen times and on average take 2-3 trips a year. I am used to being away from my family, especially since my parents live in Mexico and my sister and her husband live in Vancouver. This trip was the first time I would be away from my 11-month old daughter for more than a night. I knew it would be challenging and lucky for me, I was surrounded by many more experienced moms who helped me out.
A few things I did to prepare ahead of time:
- I made sure my daughter was well taken care of, by people I trusted. She spent her days at our new day care and evenings with Daddy. The weekend was spent with my in-laws, who spoiled her.
- I created a vibrant, funky dance mix to lift my spirits in case I was starting to get homesick.
- I put many photo albums of my daughter and family on my BB Playbook, so I could easier flip through them at any time.
- I asked my hubby to take a photo of her every morning and every evening, and to send it to my phone.
The first few days of the trip went well, no sign of the tears yet. What I noticed is that many people do ask you about how you’re feeling and if you’re having a hard time being away. I became aware that there are a few different types of “traveling parents” out there too:
- Those who were away from their kids for the first time, and found it tough (me!)
- Those who had been away from their kids before, and still found it tough
- Those who are often away from their kids, miss them, but are really good at being present and enjoying their time away (working on that!)
- Finally, those who just brought their kids along – there were so many babies and children at Convention this year! It was nice to get a “baby fix” every once in a while
I made it through the first 3 days pretty well, but by the 4th day, I was starting to get homesick. We tried to do a video call (with Google) and couldn’t get the sound and video to work at the same time. I got to see her little chubby legs and longed to be holding her in my arms. By Saturday, it was getting more and more difficult for me to focus on the events of the day – which were amazing, and included a speech by Chris Gardner (of The Pursuit of Happyness). And even though thousands of flights had been cancelled and so many people were being re-routed by Hurricane Irene, I decided to go to the airport on Saturday night and do whatever I needed to do to catch a late night flight out.
By some miracle, I was able to catch a flight from SLC to ATL, which arrived at 6 am on Sunday. I took the 9 am flight to Buffalo and was holding my daughter by 1 pm. She was so excited to see me and kept hugging me. It was amazing. I never realized how hard it would be for me, but I will do it again next year. It’s so important for me to have room to grow as a person as well, and this trip provides that for me and my team every year. And hopefully, by next year, she’s be able to carry on a conversation on the phone so that I know she understands that I love her and miss her.
Share your experiences about traveling without your kids. Have you done it yet? Longest trip? What do you find is your biggest challenge when you are away? And finally, any tips on how to make the trip easier on mom?