Spring has finally sprung. The thought of sunny days and warm weather makes me think of one thing and one thing only: TRAVELING. I’ve always been fascinated with traveling. There’s just something exhilarating about getting lost in a new place and being immersed into a different culture.
Prior to becoming a mom, I had the freedom to travel and go as I pleased. It was normal for me to hop on a plane or convince my friends to go on some crazy trip as I was the wild, “spontaneous” friend always ready to go on the next adventure.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was afraid I would lose that “freedom” and “spontaneity” that made up the core of my soul. I was 26 at the time and I was just beginning to really see and discover the world. Not being able to travel was unacceptable for me, so I promised myself I wouldn’t allow “being a working mom” get in the way of my passion for traveling.
I was determined to be that “working mom” who traveled with her baby and make it look easy.
I was naive. Since giving birth, it’s been a real challenge holding myself to that promise. Although work has granted me the opportunity to explore a few new cities, I haven’t really been able to travel and explore new destinations like my heart desires. The demands of work coupled with a constant lack of energy made traveling seem far-fetched. I thought— even if I wasn’t so tired, when would a busy, working mom like me ever have the time to travel?
As working moms, we sometimes allow the demands of “motherhood” and having a career prevent us from doing those things we love. And it shouldn’t be that way.
For the past few months, I spent my days thinking of ways to balance motherhood, work and my burning desire to tour a new city. With my job only permitting two weeks vacation every year, I was tasked to come up with a solution that would allow my daughter and I to go on adventures without having to use all of my paid time off on one trip.
My solution was simple: make traveling work for me and my schedule. While it may sound cliché and seem difficult, it’s really not and YOU can do it too.
Here’s what you need to do:
Stop telling yourself you can’t travel. The first step to making this work is actually believing that a busy, working mom like you can travel with the kids. Yes I know you are constantly bombarded with work emails, making sure the house stays clean and scheduling doctor’s appointments for your kids. If you can juggle all of that and stay sane then you can also manage to squeeze in a trip for you and your little ones to enjoy yourselves. Don’t let the “working mom blues” stop you from making this happen.
Schedule trips around work holidays. Find out what holidays your current employer observes and write them down. This list will serve as your guide for planning out your vacations. Scheduling your trips around work holidays allows you to take a quick getaway without having to use your paid-time off. You should also ask your boss if your company allows employees to leave early the day before a holiday. This can be a department or company-wide benefit that’s available to employees—and it’s important to know. Here’s why: if you’re scheduling a trip for the Fourth of July that happens to fall on a Friday and your job is allowing all employees to leave work at 12:00 pm on Thursday, you can use that extra half-day for traveling.
If you work part-time or work in an industry like retail where working during holidays is required, then schedule your trips on the days/weekends you have off.
Talk to your boss about your plans. When I first started my current job, I was on a 90-day probation period that prevented me from using any vacation time during those dates. I was scheduled to graduate with my Masters degree from the University of Florida during that period and had already planned a trip to Gainesville so I could walk across the stage and receive my diploma. I wasn’t going to cancel my trip because of work so I talked to my boss and asked if I could work through my lunches and offered to come in early and stay late beforehand to make up that time. She said yes! A lot of companies value the importance of work-life balance and will work with you so don’t be afraid to ask.
Don’t be afraid of taking quick getaways. You’re a working mom who doesn’t have the luxury or time to go on a three week vacation, but that shouldn’t discourage you from taking mini-vacations. You don’t have to be somewhere for a week to have fun and make memories. I’ve had just as much fun on a three day trip as I’ve had on a two-week trip. At the end of the day, it’s what YOU make of it.
However, because you are a working mom, you may not be able to travel to places that require long flights. Accept it and go to the places you can.
Research kid friendly destinations. Make a list of cities that both you and your kids can enjoy. The last thing you want to do is go somewhere that doesn’t have any fun attractions for your kids. Ask your kids where they want to go. Base your trips off of common interests and likes. Don’t know where to begin? The Today Show published this article on the 16 best places to go with a baby/toddler- start with this list and go from there.
Make your “bucket-list” of things to do. Once you’ve done your research and narrowed down your destinations, make a list of the things you and your little one(s) have to do! This not only helps you with planning, but also gives you and your little one something to look forward to. Traveling to a new place can be overwhelming as you’ll see and discover new attractions once you’re there. Having a “bucket-list” will ensure you both get to do things you love and enjoy.
Connect with friends and family. Get on Social Media and let people know where you’re going. You may have a friend or family member who lives at that particular destination who can help you get around. These people are a great resource as they are already familiar with the city and can tell you which restaurants have the best food as well as the best times to go to the places on your “bucket-list”. Plus-you get a chance to catch up with them!
Schedule trips in advance. Don’t be that mom who waits until the last minute to book your trips. The last thing you want to happen is to promise your kids you’re going somewhere and not be able to go because of poor planning. By scheduling trips in advance, you’ll also be able to save money on flights and hotels.
Have fun! Relax and have fun! You work and bust your ass day-in and day-out and YOU deserve this trip. Cast away your worries and cherish this time. Disconnect from your world back home and really immerse yourself in the cities and culture. Turn off your phone…get off Social Media…and don’t you dare check your emails.
Decide today to make a change–those work projects will still be there and the house will always be dirty (I mean you do have kids now) so stop using them as an excuse for not traveling the world or taking that vacation with your little ones.
Feeling inspired? Tell me where you plan on going with your kids in the comments below.