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Traveling with Just One Child – The Mommy and Me 10 Year Old Birthday Trips

Traveling with Just One Child - The Mommy and Me 10 Year Old Birthday Trips luxury travel mom
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Blue Hawaiian Helicopter

Long before I was Luxury Travel Mom, I started the 10 Year Old Birthday Trip tradition.

In a stroke of brilliance I decided that if I was taking a child on their once in a lifetime excursion, I wasn’t just doing it for me, I was being a great mom.

What started out as a boondoggle (if I’m being honest), has turned in to something more meaningful than I ever anticipated. I wish I could say I had consulted child psychologists and Harvard admissions counselors, but 10 was dumb luck and it’s been perfect.

Why ten is a great age

  • 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.

So now, each of my children gets to go wherever they want when they turn ten. Yes, I am accepting adoption applications.

How to take them out of school

  • Tell the school, don’t ask. This is educational and no it can’t be done during break.
  • Actually make it educational (JJ’s trip to Rwanda is likely what got him IN to his private school, they made him an offer during his interview).
  • Take their work with you and carve an hour out of every day to do it so they don’t fall behind.

My best advice

  • Record every moment, video, photo, have them keep a diary. 
  • Don’t feel guilty. Your other children and spouse will survive, despite what they say.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Include your child in the planning.

Wilson in Hawaii

Green Sea Turtles Big Island

Chance of a lifetime

Wilson chose Hawaii, but I fell in love.

We have communed with green sea turtles (the oldest creature on earth), swam with dolphins in the open sea, helicoptered over a volcano and waterfalls, and still have surfing lessons and Pearl Harbor waiting for us.

Our first day on the Big Island Wilson said “Mom, isn’t it great how we make each other’s dreams come true?”

While writing a story about bucket list travel I remembered how as a little girl I would call Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays and ask them to send me brochures. My parents couldn’t even afford to send me to the public swimming pool on Wednesdays, but I dreamed of Hawaii and squirreled away pamphlets under my canopy bed.

When we arrived at the Four Seasons in Haulalai and they put a lei around my neck, I found myself in tears. I hadn’t realized how much this trip meant to me too, but I think Wilson did.

Four Seasons Big Island

Wilson picks flowers for my hair every day


We swam in the “secret waterfall” shortly after this pic was taken.

Macie in Paris

Luxury Travel Mom

Mon Cheri

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Ok, we ate a LOT in Paris.

On our first day in Paris, Macie said “Mom, the food is so much better here, and the shoes are cuter.” I have never been more proud. Really, we could have flown home right then, my job was done.

Her voice will never sound like this again, she doesn’t call me “mommy” anymore and neither of us will ever forget the day we spent at La Fete des Tuilieries (a summer carnival, but fabulously Parisian).

JJ in Rwanda

Luxury Travel Mom

No one has ever been this excited to see me before

Very few people have had the opportunity that JJ did when we visited Rwanda. First of all, he went to Rwanda, which is perfectly safe by the way. Ask him, he can explain their benevolent dictatorship form of government to you. He visited Partners in Health hospitals, learned to diagnose malaria, met the children we sponsor through World Vision, shopped in a local market and took a safari tour through the Akagera Game Park.

Luxury Travel Mom

Can you see them sizing him up? (also, this is our hotel, NOT the game park)

Shortly after this photo was taken, one of the baboons (likely the shifty looking one in the back) climbed IN to our car to steal my gluten free cereal. He climbed OVER JJ on his way in, and then back out. JJ had his best cocktail party story at 10.

Keaton ??


So where does Keaton, whose life is pretty much one big bucket list trip, want to go when he turns ten?

Space, of course. No sibling rivalry there. So watch your back Lance Bass.

Wilson and I are being hosted by the Four Seasons as I am writing a story for their magazine about educational Hawaii. None of our other trips were in any way sponsored, unless you count Jeff Evans, and he does.



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