This is a guest post written by Nicole Smith, founder of Flytographer
First published in the Summer 2017 issue of Twist.

The magic of traveling with just one child

Five years ago I made a decision that changed my family forever. I followed my gut, quit my safe marketing job at Microsoft and started a startup. Everyone thought I was crazy, including my own parents, but I forged ahead. A startup is like having a new baby: you are sleep-deprived, obstacles and frustrations are everywhere… yet (like kids) you love it harder than you ever could have imagined

Having two other “babies” in my life, meant a lot of juggling and tradeoffs these past few years. My kids are now 10 and 12 and the teen years are approaching fast.  It always feel like there is never enough time with my boys and one-on-one time is particularly rare. I wanted to slow down and create special memories together and deepen our bond. Hopefully, that would also help us ride out the teen years ahead.

Enter the 10th Birthday Trip.

I had first heard of this idea from a travel blogger friend, Kim-Marie Evans. She explains why ten is a great age for a “mommy and me” birthday trip:

  • They are young enough to take out of school without ruining their pre-college GPA.
  • They still think you know everything.
  • They are old enough to remember it forever.


Mother and son trip to Hawaii

Two years ago, I tested it out and took my older son, Harrison to Palm Springs for his 10th birthday, and it was awesome. We swam, played volleyball and visited the local zoo. Every night he would crush me in a heated game of UNO after we cooked dinner together. There was no sibling rivalry, homework, or domestic day-to-day distractions. Just the two of us, having fun, creating memories together and a lot of “inside jokes” along the way. We were two peas in a pod, chilling in the desert together.  It was bliss.

This February my youngest, Jack turned 10. He had been anticipating this moment for awhile, (his very own 10th birthday trip!) and chose Maui. We had fun doing research on where to stay, and what to do, I think the planning together was half the fun!

We stayed at the Grand Wailea, and if you are a ten-year-old boy it’s pretty much pool paradise. A waterslide jackpot. There are  four jungle pools, four intertwining slides, a whitewater rapids slide, a Tarzan pool with rope swing, a sand beach, six waterfalls, caves, three Jacuzzis, an infant pool, the world’s first water elevator, and a swim-up bar (my favourite part). We slept late, went for long walks, took photos, played in the ocean and swam like fish. We saw humpback whales, ate shave ice, and took day trips to Lahaina and Paia.  At night, he whispered stories, asked questions, shared fears, curiosities and interesting observations from the innocent lens of a 10-year-old . His guard was down, and we bonded in a way we simply couldn’t with all of life’s daily distractions. It made me appreciate his unique lit

We also created our own little rituals in Maui. For example, the “crazy elevator dance”. Every time the elevator doors closed and we were alone, we danced like crazy until they reopened, and then stood solemnly side-by-side, sneaking smirks at each other as people came in. Our little secret.

Back home, months later, the magic of these memories still lives with us. Last week, at our local juice shop the cashier turned his back and Jack smirked at me. I smirked back knowingly, and we broke out into a crazy dance for 10 hilarious seconds. When the cashier turned around, we froze and stifled laughs.  As we walked back to the car, Jack said “Mom, you’re pretty fun to hang out with”.  I smiled back and said “you too, buddy”.

I glowed with joy the rest of the night. I think he did too.

Have you ever taken a trip with only one child?

Andrea Fellman is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Twist Travel Magazine. She is a stylish nomad and expat mom living in Barcelona with her husband, two kids and a dog! She blogs about family travel, expat life, and her online business adventures at Wanderlust Living.

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