Once upon a time (in the days before family vacations), a weekend getaway or weeklong vacation together meant romantic dinners by candlelight, sunset strolls along the beach, a quiet exhibition in a famed museum of art. Then the kids came along and meals grew cold as you tended to their needs, getting kicked under the table while attempting to hold a conversation above the din of the very family-friendly restaurant.
Sunset strolls still occurred, but with buckets to hold the seashell treasures the kids found. Visits to museums became harried and to child-focused exhibits ("Yuck, mom, do we have to look at paintings all day?") But romance isn't impossible while traveling with children. If you're looking to spice up your next trip with the kids, here are some tips to help you have the best of both worlds.
Seek Family-Friendly Resorts With Kids' Clubs
Many destination resorts feature kids clubs where children of various ages can spend mornings or afternoons in camp-like settings, making crafts, taking adventure walks, learning to swim, and playing games with other children their age. Typically found at bustling family-friendly resorts at Disney World or all-inclusives on a Caribbean beach, such as Atlantis, there may be a lot of action. But while kids are enrolled in the club for a day or even a week, couples can sneak off to enjoy a spa treatment, hit the links or take that quiet sunset walk along the beach.
Some hotels and resorts such asThe Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney's Polynesian Resort offer special Kids' Night Out evening programs that may last two to four hours. Kids get dinner (typically pizza-party style), movies, campfire fun, games ... but it's really a parents' night treat where mom and dad get to have a quiet dinner at a resort restaurant.
For hotels without special programs to keep the kids occupied, some keep a list of trusted babysitters who will come to your hotel room and watch the children so their parents can get a little alone time. Even if not advertised, contact the concierge to find out if they can refer you to local sitters.
Perhaps the little ones aren't so interested in the "boring" art museums, but selecting a destination filled with both romance and history can help you stroll hand-in-hand with doe-eyed pleasure while the kids get an up-close-and-personal peek into their history books. Love will not be lost in the city of romance, and while you and your partner devour chocolates and walk along the Seine in Paris, the kids will happily tag along and marvel over the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Take a trip to Buenos Aires and let the kids giggle while everyone learns the art of the tango. Book an over water bungalow in Tahiti and let the kids stare through the glass-bottom floor window at the natural and highly colorful fish swimming inches away, as you remain secluded in the island's paradise, eating passion fruit.
Travel in the Off-Season