I wish I could say that my husband and I traveled the world before we settled down to start a family. We did your typical yearly vacation to tourist attractions in the U.S., but nothing over-the-top.
No trips to Italy to boat the canals of Venice. No decadent pastries in Paris as we strolled the sidewalks at night. Although, there were some exotic moments on our first cruise to the Caribbean. We had some steamy nights watching the sunset over the ocean for the first time. We stole a kiss when we saw the Statue of Liberty. We were child-free in those days.
Today, we have a toddler son. Today, traveling means putting many selfish desires aside to accommodate this little person we chose to bring into the world.
I had no idea that when we all took our first few trips together as a family of three, my heart would soften towards my husband and I’d be ready to make out with him every chance we got. How – you may ask – did I feel this way on a vacation with my husband with a screaming baby in the backseat? Let me explain.
1 | Nostalgia from your previous travels will emerge.
I didn’t realize how much I liked to travel with my husband until we traveled together with our little for the first time. During those first few trips with our toddler I saw a side of my partner that I had forgotten about. He was sexy to me as he navigated our trip. Sometimes you forget your spouse is sexy when you hear about boogers all day. I remembered that my husband thrives on figuring out the best place to go for dinner on a Friday night in a new place. I recalled that he’s more worldly than I am when it comes to understanding when and where to tour a hidden treasure on the far side of town. Character traits I once found attractive resurfaced.
2 | You will see an ugly side of each other you haven’t seen before. Then you will apologize to each other like you haven’t before.
When we used to travel, we would have our moments of anger towards each other. Typically a silent treatment followed by a usual “act like nothing happened” conversation. This still happens with a little one running around. When you’re traveling with a toddler, screaming is bound to happen. And on a trip in a car, you can plan for lots of screaming.
We realized quickly how our anger affected our child. And then asking for forgiveness didn’t just mean getting over ourselves for the sake of the trip. It meant showing our son what it’s like to walk in forgiveness and love each other and choose to have a good time on vacation.
3 | You learn to save money while traveling.
When my husband and I traveled before said toddler, we bought airline tickets without a blink. We made hotel reservations with a loose budget in mind, but luxury at the top of our list. Living off of two incomes was a breeze – not much to think about when financial decisions came up.
Now we live on one income and trip-planning has become a science. I can tell you the best sites to visit for the cheapest hotel rates at places that won’t make your skin crawl. Wanna know the quickest and cheapest spots to eat on Route 66? I’m your gal. We can make $1,000 stretch more now on a trip to the Grand Canyon than we ever could before.
4 | Your definition of “fun” on vacation changes.
I used to think eating a $100 steak at a top-ranked restaurant in Chicago was a fun event for a vacation. Now? Listening to Raffi sing “Bah Bah Black Sheep” while my son giggles in the backseat and I mimic a pitiful-sounding sheep is pretty fun. Six flags with my husband would be a blast. Now? Going to the nation’s largest fair and checking out the petting zoo (with a discount card mind you) is pretty amazing. I mean, my son had never seen a rabbit up that close before that he could pet and hold. Wide and amazed toddler eyes are a thing you’ll never forget.
5 | A held hand at the right moment will remind you of who you are together.
When my husband and I used to walk on the beach watching the sunset on the ocean, thoughts pretty much went towards getting frisky later. My husband and I still like to get frisky, but when you have kids, sometimes friskiness isn’t a option. Sometimes finding the moment to communicate genuine desire is fleeting.
When you’ve been riding in the car for ten hours and the baby finally falls asleep, you look over your last few days together and all you can do is lean over and hold each other’s hand. The quiet, “I love you” escapes your lips and you’re not even thinking about sex. You’re reminded that you guys are a team and without each other, you’d be losing in life right now. That means a lot more than a walk on the beach followed by sex. OK, sex would still be nice but maybe in a few days when you’ve caught up on some sleep?