Would you ‘Gift’ your spouse/significant other solo travel? This was a question I posed recently on Twitter, as I was thinking about our summer travel plans. The results of the poll are below, and a bit of a mixed bag, and the topic is an interesting one.
What do you think about 'gifting' your spouse vacation for solo travel?
— andrewdoronin (@andrewdoronin)
Apologies for Twitter Polls not being able to discern that ‘Yes’ in some capacity actually was the winning vote.
One of the things that is obviously influencing the answer would be your person family dynamic. A couple with no kids, either from being young, out of practice, or empty nesters, would have a lot easier time of it than a family with jobs to hold down. In our case, Summer 2016 is going to be quite a weird time. Allison has elected to go to India for her summer fieldwork, I think the duration of the program is about 10 days, but the trip itself got a bit bigger than that, and now looks like this:
- July 25th fly to Bombay, stay 1.5 nights, onto Pune for the course
- July 29th Course starts
- August 8th (or 9th) Course ends, stay in Pune
- Aug 12th fly to London
- August 20th fly to JFK (from Manchester, England..)
From my perspective, this means I’m left ‘holding the baby’. I’ll be flying with Dylan, who is 2 in June, to London on August 12th to meet up with Mommy before visiting my family in the UK. The flight with just the two of us is currently the most concerning thing for me, because the ‘always on’ parent mode will be tiresome if I can’t get him to rest on that. But, it’ll work out. Looking forward to this period, it certainly has a lot of worries attached, but at the same time it feels right. We’ll have childcare this time, which will allow me to work still… when we did something similar last year for her college assignment we did not.
I was also thinking about future years and whether it would be cool to always allow her (is allow proper?) to take time to travel solo, if wanted. It’s never going to be easy for the guy or girl left holding the baby, but when you think about it, what is the purpose of a family and support structure if not to take the heavy load every now and then?
In terms of ‘appreciation’ it isn’t just a way of showing someone that they are appreciated, but also the quality of the trip can be a lot higher for the person who is freed from the parenting burden. We were joking about this when it comes to our travel this year, as I also have a solo trip, a ‘Business trip’ to Vegas where I’ll be flying back on Southwest, probably in the middle seat. But the truth of the matter is that if you get to fly even in economy without worrying about your child sticking his tongue into the nearest outlet, it is a restful and enjoyable experience.
Keeping the right perspective
It’s very easy to have the mindset that the other partner shouldn’t have a gift like this because it isn’t fair or ‘even’.. though by the same token its likely that you can easily even things out by returning the favor later.. but even when you cannot, we should strive for a selfless approach to these things. For example, Allison is flying Emirates Business Class outbound, something that I’ve never done (we locked in J as we were 10K short of F days before the devaluation at Alaska..) and something I may never do. For me, I think it’s awesome that at least one of us did it, and look forward to the pictures of the bar on the A380. So she gets the A380, and I get Southwest… it’s funny, but it’s also perfectly cool.
How do miles fit into this?
Miles are constantly devaluing, and if you have a family, its harder and harder to keep up. We’re burning 210K United miles (one way) on our next trip, and are likely into the 1MM mark for the year. Maybe if you are in a similar situation but you just can’t keep up with the pace a new route, which might be even more rewarding, would be to drop from buying 3-4 tickets and buying just 1. If it is fancy Business or First Class so be it, but if devaluations make that out of reach, perhaps even a middle seat in coach will work just fine, and miles can really make a difference to your life again.
With all the griping that comes with a devaluation it is easy to forget how cheaply we view travel when it is so cheap to acquire. Perhaps if we stop to appreciate it again, by allowing people to really have a ‘moment’ of indulgent ‘me time’ it’ll regain its luster again….