The ultimate guide to preparing for travel WITHOUT your kids

If you’re planning a trip without your kids, you know there’s a lot to get ready. Use this step-by-step checklist and free printable caregiver’s handbook to ensure that all is well while you’re away. If you're planning a trip without your kids, you know there's a lot to get ready. Use this step-by-step checklist and free printable caregiver's handbook to ensure that all is well while you're away.

We take lots of trips together as a family. If you’ve been around here long, you’ve seen the details of our travels to Oregon, Florida, and various places around our home state of Utah. I love traveling with my kids. They are troopers on the road, and I’ve been amazed by how much we’ve been able to do and see around the world with small children in tow. BUT, there is also something to be said for traveling without your kids.

Last fall, my husband and I were lucky enough to be able to take a week-long trip to Hawaii, sans kiddos. As much as there were things I would have loved experiencing with my kids, it was also a great opportunity to reconnect as a couple and dream big for a few days together–uninterrupted by nap times, snack cups, and diaper changes. It’s not something we get to do often, but we’ve been blessed to go on a few adults-only trips since entering parenthood.

After going to Hawaii and then getting pregnant with baby boy #3, we hadn’t planned on any more big vacations this year, but opportunity knocked…and we’re leaving today for a 10-day trip to the UK (I’m actually finishing this post while using my phone as a mobile hotspot in the JFK airport in New York…wish me luck!). My husband has never been outside North America, and I haven’t been back to Europe since I studied abroad in London 12 years ago. Needless to say, we’re a little giddy about this adventure!

Because of our travels, I won’t be updating the blog for a couple of weeks, but I’ll be sharing some pictures on Instagram if you want to follow along with our travels through Scotland and London.

I’ve spent countless hours researching places to stay and things to do during our travels. And I’m so excited it’s finally here!

Do you know what’s funny though? I’ve spent almost as much time preparing for my kids to stay at home as I have spent preparing myself to leave them. Caring for kids can be complicated, and running a household requires keeping a lot of cogs spinning in the clock. I trust my sister (who will be caring for the boys while we’re gone) implicitly, and I know she would find her own way to do things and make things work, but I want to make things as easy for her–and for my kids–as possible.

So I got busy organizing.

People always say that kids don’t come with an instruction manual–well, mine do! At least, they will be coming to my sister with a handbook of all the basic information she will need to care for them during the coming week.

It’s one thing to leave your kids with a babysitter for the evening (I made a plan for that too….you can see it here), but going on a long trip is different. If you’ve ever left your kids with a caregiver for an extended period of time before, you know there is a lot to tell them.

If you ever find yourself planning a trip without your kids (you lucky duck!), be sure to prepare using my ultimate guide to traveling without your kids! Included below are two main things:

  1. A pre-travel checklist of everything you need to do and all the documents you need to gather for your caregiver.
  2. “The Caregiver’s Handbook”… a free printable workbook (see below) to fill out and leave with your caregiver. It includes emergency contact information, daily routine, family rules, meal plans, and so much more. It’s everything you need to keep everyone healthy and happy while Mom & Dad are gone.

Pre-travel Checklist

  1. Gather contact information:
    1. YOUR contact info
    2. nearest relatives and/or neighbors to contact if needed
    3. your child’s doctor, dentist, and your local hospital
    4. health insurance company
    5. poison control center
    6. school/child-care center
  2. Write a letter giving your caretaker permission to authorize medical treatment for your children in case they become ill or injured while you’re gone. I adapted THIS template to create mine.
  3. Leave medical/dental insurance cards
  4. Make sure your child’s school, coaches, teachers, etc. know that you will be out of town and who will be picking up and dropping off your children from any activities. If it’s during the school year, make sure that you have added your caretaker to your child’s emergency contact card as a person who is allowed to check your child in and out of school.
  5. Take your caregiver on a tour of the house.
    1. Show them where first aid supplies, medicine, fire extinguishers, etc. are stored.
    2. Teach them how to adjust the thermostat.
    3. Make sure they know how to properly operate car seats (those buckles can be tricky!).
    4. They will probably be able to rummage around and find things as needed, but it can be helpful to point out at least some of the basics (like where you keep the extra toilet paper).
  6. Leave a set of car keys and house keys.
  7. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas.
  8. Stock the house with food your kids love and that is relatively easy to prepare. If possible, make a meal plan & have some meals prepped in the freezer to make mealtime easy for your caretaker. If you need ideas, here are 30+ family-friendly meals we love!
  9. Leave museum memberships, coupons for activities in the area, and some spending cash for fun,gas, and groceries.

If you're planning a trip without your kids, you know there's a lot to get ready. Use this step-by-step checklist and free printable caregiver's handbook to ensure that all is well while you're away.

The Caregiver’s Handbook

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD your free printable: The Caregiver Handbook

The handbook includes a bright and happy binder cover page (because everything in life is more fun when it’s pretty) as well as workbook-style pages including the following:

  • Emergency contact information
  • Family rules
  • Kid favorites
  • Helpful tips
  • Daily Routine
  • Meal planning/feeding information
  • Calendar of family events

Pretty much EVERYTHING your caregiver could possibly need to know! Simply print, fill it out, put it in a binder, and then get back to packing your own suitcase. You can actually relax on vacation (I know I’m planning to do just that) knowing that everything at home will be just fine.

Happy travels everyone!

What do you do when you travel without kids? Any other tips or bits of helpful info I’ve forgotten? Share in the comments below!

If you're planning a trip without your kids, you know there's a lot to get ready. Use this step-by-step checklist and free printable caregiver's handbook to ensure that all is well while you're away.

12 thoughts on “The ultimate guide to preparing for travel WITHOUT your kids

  1. This is a great idea! My kid also came with a book when I went out of the country for 3 weeks. As a single mom, I needed to make sure that he was covered for school, holiday events, sports practice and games, cub scout meetings, and visitation with dad (who worked out of town). This was not an easy process but it gave me, and my caretakers, peace of mind knowing who is doing what on which days, and who is picking up or dropping off, etc.

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! It really is amazing to realize how much you do each day as a mom to keep daily life running, right? Once you write it all down for someone else, it’s easy to see why we moms are all so tired at the end of the day. 🙂

    1. We left my oldest for the first time when he was 2. It was definitely hard to leave, but it was also really nice to recharge and remember what it was like to be a couple. I wouldn’t do it often, but it’s all about the balance. 🙂

    1. I know, right? It’s SUCH a rare thing for most parents (including myself), but I’ve been blessed to have a few opportunities to do so.

  2. This is such a great idea! Have a great time. I am pinning this for when we are ready to travel without our kids!

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