Before kids, you don’t need much of a plan to enjoy traveling. You can effortlessly explore new places, get lost on purpose, and change destinations on a whim.
Before kids, I went on a budget backpacker around-the-world trip. If you’ve never traveled like that, it might sound hard. Let me tell you, though — traveling with three kids is infinitely harder. I have to do so much more planning, entertaining, and negotiating than I did as a solo traveler.
This summer we’ve been thinking of a family trip to San Antonio, Texas. Before I’d even started to plan, an amazing opportunity came up. I applied for and was invited to attend the INSIGHT Blogging Retreat there. Possibly even better, my husband volunteered to solo parent so I could go on my own. This would be my reconnaissance trip – a get-acquainted visit paving the way for our family vacation later this summer. A “mom-cation,” if you will. This post is sponsored by the INSIGHT Blogger Retreat and the sponsors listed throughout this post.
10 Reasons To Take a Mom-cation Before Your Family Vacation
• You know how when you travel with kids, sometimes it feels like you need a vacation when you get home? Taking a reconnaissance trip is a reasonable excuse for a grown-up getaway.
• My kids felt left out when I told them I was taking a trip without them. Being able to tell them that they’ll get to go next time softened the blow.
• The drive was gorgeous. All the flooding rains Texas had this spring have had a silver lining – a bumper crop of colorful wildflowers along the highways. Driving without kids was blissful – no cartoon sound effects, endless road trip games, or “Are we there yet?” whines.
• The retreat was at the sophisticated and charming boutique Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. If I’d had three noisy kids in tow, I might have missed this little gem. Now that I’ve discovered it, I know that the quiet atmosphere there would actually be calming to my energetic crew. They have an amazing breakfast in their restaurant, too.
• You can order a cocktail like this swanky “poptail” champagne and Popsicle combo at Vbar, the hotel’s elegant bar. I had such a nice time getting to know fellow bloggers in our group there.
Plus, no one there whined that they wanted a Popsicle too.
• Another excuse for a mom-cation is that you can try out places you might be afraid to take the kids if you were just picking from a guidebook or website. For instance, our group was treated to a lovely tasting lunch at Nao Latin Gastro Bar. We enjoyed flounder ceviche, roasted vegetables with scattered black quinoa, oysters, and more amazing delicacies. I was in heaven.
My kids wouldn’t appreciate that menu, but I learned a secret! If you ask nicely, the kitchen will make quesadillas for children. Also, The entire lunch service is staffed by students in their final months at The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio. When we go back to San Antonio as a family, this place is going on the top of my list.
After lunch at Nao, we walked over to the bustling Bakery Lorraine for delicious macarons and other sweet treats. I loved that while on mom-cation I don’t have to hold back on dessert.
• A group of us took a fun a guided river tour on the first afternoon. I loved that I was able to give the guide my 100% full attention. I had time to process everything he said, and think about how to get my kids interested in some of the city’s historical offerings. I’ve learned that the San Antonio Smart Destinations Go City Card Explorer Pass includes the river tour as one its choose-as-you-go attractions. I love the flexibility of how the pass works.
• When you’re on a mom-cation you have more time to talk to adults there about hidden gems, and personal favorites – I got to ask lots of questions about the huge new children’s museum, the Do-seum. I wanted to know how it compared to the children’s museums we’re already familiar with (favorably!)
• Without kids, it was easy to let someone else plan the meals. Kim Vij organized our retreat, including a sponsored meal at Fogo de Chao on the Riverwalk. I’d sort of vaguely heard of the Brazilian steakhouse trend, but I had no idea what I was missing! Roving waiters serve meat that they carve tableside with a sword. Plus, there’s a buffet too fancy to be called a buffet, so they call it a market table. It’s full of gourmet treats like smoked salmon, roasted vegetables, and exotic fruits. Yum!
• I like staying in places long enough to get my bearings, to be able to walk around without constantly looking at a map or phone. When we go back as a family, I’ll have already gotten a sense of how the area is laid out.
I loved my mom-cation, and want to thank all the sponsors that made it possible. I also want to highly recommend the concept! I realize that it may be tricky to take two vacations. Still, you’re just one person, and if you go with a few girlfriends you can share some of the expenses and planning. Go ahead and make it an advance trip for your next family vacation, and have fun!