Mental Health & Well-being, Summer

Kid-Free Holiday Options

Kid-Free Holiday Options

Originally published in TEACH Magazine, May/June 2019 Issue

By Adam Stone

When Elizabeth-Ann Rowlison and some friends decided to take a vacation last spring, they opted to go kid-free.

“I am dealing with 150 kids a day, with the whole range—from very wonderful to less wonderful kids,” says Rowlison, a theater and music teacher at Bell Middle School in Golden, CO. “When I thought about going on vacation, it seemed like it would be a lot more relaxing if the adults could just be responsible for themselves.”

She’s not alone. For teachers who spend all their professional time surrounded by the K-12 crowd, an adult-only vacation destination may be just what is required to recharge the batteries.

An ESL teacher in New Hampshire’s Webster Elementary School, Elizabeth Leone left her three kids behind in February for an adult-only trek through Costa Rica. “I got to spend time in the rainforest at a sustainable cocoa farm. I spent time on the coast. I did hiking trips on the volcano,” she says.

“I don’t think we can do this job as teachers without adult downtime, time for ourselves. Nobody can run on that many cylinders all the time. I need a lot of quiet, a lot of nature, just to reset my mind,” she says.

Rowlison’s kid-free trip took her to the TRS Turquesa Hotel in the Dominican Republic. It is an all-inclusive resort with an adult-only option that includes a kid-free wing of the hotel for quiet bedtimes, as well as child-free zones around the property. “We had a separate pool and a couple of separate restaurants and a separate section of the beach,” she says. “It is just so much calmer with no kids crashing into you in the pool or running into you on the beach—so quiet and calm.”

Teachers are not unique in their desire to occasionally travel without the wee ones in tow. In a recent survey, the Cruise Lines International Association found that 30 percent of travellers say it’s important to have an adult-only option when they vacation. Expedia reported that social media conversations about child-free trips doubled from 2016 to 2017.

It’s a global phenomenon. The Spanish island of Majorca saw the number of adult-only hotels swell from 41 to 106 in the space of just a year.

But while cruise lines and all-inclusive resorts may offer kid-free experiences at a premium price, it isn’t necessary to break the bank just to get a break from the runny noses and general mayhem. For Amy Duke, a simple baseball game was enough.

“I took a day off of school to go see the Yankees and the Astros play, and since it was a day game it was a legitimate kid-free day. There weren’t any kids at the ballpark,” says Duke, the Mathematics Department Chair at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, TX.

“At first I didn’t understand. I wondered where everybody was! My friend said to me: Amy, it’s the middle of the school day. Where are you usually? Then I got it. It was a great happenstance,” she says.

Like many teachers, Duke seeks out those grown-up moments as a counterbalance to the many hours of kid-oriented conversation that make up her work day. Adult time “is a time of renewal, a time to refresh. When you’re talking to adults you have different subjects of conversation as compared to when you are talking to kids,” she says. “No video games. No memes.”

For those looking to vacation sans enfants, the travel industry has lately been stepping up its game.

  • Viking Cruises has gone adult-only. For all cruises booked after August 1, 2018, passengers must be at least 18 years old. The Swiss-based line offers river and ocean excursions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia.
  • For deep relaxation, Miraval Resort and Spa is an Arizona wellness destination for just the grown-ups. This may be the place if your tastes tend toward yoga, herb gardens, and spa sessions—and if you are heavily bankrolled. Rates can top $1,000 USD a day.
  • Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay is a massive adults-only resort in Jamaica. The all-inclusive amenities include multiple bars and restaurants, a luxury spa, movie theater, and shopping center, along with water sports, white sand beaches, and cooking classes.
  • Teachers in search of a budget-friendly option may turn to Costco’s online travel service that offers a range of adult-only destinations that are less likely to require a second mortgage.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, really. The travel industry has seen a proliferation of adult-only offerings in recent years. Savvy travellers may want to consider looking up adults-only hotel guides from TripAdvisor or Town & Country magazine. There are also travel agents who specialize in adult-only travel.

Some teachers who opt for an adult-only break explain that, even if they can leave the kids behind, they still bring a little of the classroom with them.

When Leone travelled to Costa Rica, she detoured off the beach to visit schools and connect with local educators. While she was glad to travel kid-free, she said, the visit still offered her a chance to build new professional ties. “I kind of always wear that hat,” she says. “Everything is about learning, and I’m always looking for things that I can bring back and use.”


A seasoned journalist with 20+ years’ experience, Adam Stone covers education, technology, government and the military, along with diverse other topics.