Our (Kid Free) Bucket List Trip to Greece!

World travel is a passion of mine, but let's be honest: It's not as easy to check traveling abroad off of the to do list once you begin building a family.

The reality is it's kind of imbedded in me, in many ways. It's part of who I am. I consider myself to global citizen, and I'm super thankful for this claim. Having grown up on the east coast of the United States and Asia - and also having had the opportunity to travel to so many countries in between during my formative years - was both a life-shifting and life-defining experience, to say the least.

That said, there are still SO many places I haven’t been to that I want to explore. Egypt, Maldives, Amsterdam, and Cuba come to mind, and I am confident I’ll get there in time. But like so many parents, we mostly just fantasized about travel before snapping back into reality.

On the top of our travel bucket list was Greece, and my husband David and I knew when we had the chance to get away again, that’s were we would go.

Enter our good friends from our New York City days, Keith and Mylisa. Per annual tradition, their family (they have three amazing kids) came to celebrate Thanksgiving with us in our new home in Cleveland last year. They told us all about their wonderful, child-free trip to Italy they’d taken over the summer, and mentioned that they’d plan to travel again next year, and every year, because the best time to see the world is now. 

I was impressed by their ability to just make up their minds to travel while they are still young and mobile, and by their commitment to making time to reconnect alone, as a couple, each year. David and I hadn’t traveled abroad since our honeymoon to Rio de Janeiro over 5 years ago, and we hadn’t gone away together alone since becoming parents over 4 years ago (yikes!). 

As I held my then 4-month old in my arms, I rationalized that my kids were too young to leave them behind to “selfishly” go exploring the world. We would think about catching up with our friends in a few summers, when our boys were older.

But our friends were persistent, and mentioned that my baby would be a one year old in the summer time, and that their grandparents would more than likely be happy to care for them. Sine we have no family in Ohio and the boys typically only see their grandparents every few months (my parents live in northern Virginia and my in-laws are outside of Philadelphia), perhaps it would be nice for them to have some bonding time? 

David and I started to think things through. Should we do this? Is this too much, too soon? We were getting pulled in, in the best way possible.

One thing we didn’t have to think about was our final destination. All four of us had dreamed of getting to Greece in our lifetimes, so the deal was sealed around where to go. Before Christmas rolled around, we were fully committed.

We were going to GREECE!

It almost didn’t seem real in the months leading up to our trip. So much so that I actually didn’t seriously think about it until we were about a week away.

Then the extreme planning hit: packing and prepping to be away from the boys for a week and a half (I created a detailed manual about the boys’ daily routines for my parents and my in-laws, who would split their time taking care of them). Contacting my oldest sons preschool and their pediatricians office, sticking the kitchen with their favorite foods...the list went on and on. I’ll admit I also had to keep feelings of panic at bay right before we left. Would the boys be okay? Would my baby forget me? Maybe we shouldn’t have agreed to this. But there was no turning back now.

If things didn’t seem real before our trip, they certainly didn’t seem real while we were in Greece - and even now, as I reflect on our time away. 

We spent 10 amazing days in Athens, Crete and Santorini. Ten days to explore, to sleep in, to reconnect. Ten days to learn and to discover. To nap, to relax and to let go of the daily grind. Ten days to do everything and nothing at all. I feel refreshed just to thinking about it, and I think that may be the hallmark of a great vacation.

In Athens we shopped in Plaka, visited the Parthenon at the Acropolis, and spent an evening at the beach.

In Crete we explored Rethymno, spent the day at a pink sand beach and went wine tasting.

We saved the best for last. Santorini was quite literally a dream! From the blue and white architecture in Oie, to our hotel that overlooked the ocean and the sunrise, to some of the best food we’ve ever had at Lefke, to spending a night dancing in Fira…every experience was breath taking and magical and unbelievable. I tried to breath in my surroundings every chance I had while there. 

Each day we woke up in Greece, I meditated on how blessed we were to have this experience together. We connected with each other and with our friends in ways that would not have been possible back home with the boys. We could be carefree and make decisions without regard to time. We did everything together, as opposed to our normal routine of dividing and conquering at home. We even had the time to have a proper argument and come to a resolution in one sitting! As I reflect, time may be one of the biggest luxuries we lose once we become parents. It felt surreal to have it within our grasps (as opposed to being grasped by it) for a few days.

When we returned home, we found our boys were not only alive, but happy and thriving. My husband and I were so ready to squeeze them after several days of only being able to connect with them through a phone screen via FaceTime.

We are back to hustling and diaper changes and swimming lessons and summer camp now. We love it all, to be honest. Even on the hard days, watching our boys grow and thrive makes it all worth it. 

But we know taking time for each other is also worth it. So much so, that this annual international getaway may become a thing for us. We’ll see where we end up next summer ☺ 

Evening at the beach in Athens.

Evening at the beach in Athens.

Elafonisi Beach in Crete.

Elafonisi Beach in Crete.

My husband and I loved Crete.

My husband and I loved Crete.

Santori is magical. For real.

Santori is magical. For real.

Poolsode at our hotel in Santorini. If it looks like heaven...that's because it was!

Poolsode at our hotel in Santorini. If it looks like heaven...that's because it was!

You got this:

1. Identify what you love, and do it. For me, it’s international exploration. What does your heart want to experience? 
2. Understand that raising your child(ren) does not have to happen in isolation. Allow your family and friends (or whomever else your village is comprised of) to support you in your parenting journey. 
3. Commit to connecting with and reconnecting to your partner regularly. Anything from a date night or a long walk together, to a trip away will do. The intentionality is what matters.

"I satisfy my curiosity and take in the world around me as I explore new places and spaces."

PS – If you’re interested in hearing the specifics of the itinerary while in Greece for your own planning purpose, let me know in the comments and I can write a post that outlines the details.