5 Tips for an (Un)Successful Weekend Getaway Without Kids

Last weekend Russ and I had a no-kid, restful, romantic getaway. We set the dates well in advance, dreamed big (Mexico!), adjusted our expectations (Coeur d’Alene), and then made plans for a great weekend.

It lasted just about 12 hours, and much of it was spent sleeping. I could have easily let disappointment sink me emotionally and create tension between us. Thankfully, Russ and I are professionals when it comes to dealing with the unexpected.

It’s easy to write tips for a successful weekend getaway, but I’ve been a mom for nearly 30 years, so I’ll impart a little wisdom from the trenches. Here are 5 tips for an (Un)successful getaway because, let’s face it, it’s going to happen some time.

I took this photo as we arrived Friday night - it's the only one I took.
as we arrived Friday night – the one and only photo I took

Five Tips for an (Un)Successful Weekend Getaway

1. Be flexible | As much as we love to plan, illness, travel problems, and even work schedules may change everything. Last weekend, we dropped our sons off with friends. Two hours later their little boy had a fever; he grew sicker through the night and by morning they took him to the doctor who was nearly certain he had influenza. There is so much flu going around, the clinic was out of tests, so it isn’t confirmed, but we’re going to trust his judgment.

2. Have a sense of humor | I’ve always admired women who could laugh in challenging and disappointing moments. I tend to be too serious or feel things too deeply. I’ve gotten better at this over the years – and this weekend, once we got over the initial disappointment, Russ and I got creative and began figuring out an alternate plan. Which leads to my next point.

3. Redeem what you can | Rather than say, “If we can’t have the weekend we planned, we’re packing up this instant and going home!” we said, “Okay, we need to go home today, but we’re here at this beautiful hotel, and we can ask for late check out. What should we do?” We settled the boys in our room with food, tv, and my cell phone, and headed down to the restaurant overlooking the lake where we had a lovely breakfast. Then we took the boys swimming in the pool. After checking out, we headed to Cabela’s where the boys enjoyed the huge display of animals and fish, camping equipment, and other gear, and Russ finally spent a gift card he’s had for three years.

Photo Jan 07, 3 55 41 PM

4. Plan ahead | I like to pack light and spent quite a bit of time figuring out what to pack for this trip which included a nice dinner out, snowshoeing, and casual, comfy clothes too. Since we still hope to get away, and I hate to repeat my effort, I carefully laid everything on the bed as I unpacked and took a picture of my clothes before putting them away. Then I unpacked my outdoor gear for snowshoeing: jackets, hats, gloves, boots, etc. and took a photo of those too. If we manage to get away this winter, it will be a breeze to pack again!

5. Be Thankful | I could focus on the negative or look at it this way: we went out for dinner, we had one night alone, our friend’s son was diagnosed quickly and got good medical care, we had unexpected special time with Ebenezer and Wogauyu, Russ got new shoes he’s needed for a long time, and we had a (sort of) quiet Sunday at home. Those are all huge blessings and I choose to be thankful.

It’s challenging to press through disappointment when plans don’t go as we hope. It’s not easy to be flexible in our thinking, but anchoring on unhappiness will only produce more unhappiness and then bitterness, as we seek to put blame somewhere or on someone.

One of my goals for 2017 is: Seek joy, search for beauty, be thankful. We had a perfect opportunity to practice it this weekend, and we did a fine job.

Do you have a story to share of plans that went awry? Any tips you can add to the list? I would love to hear from you.

Happy Monday, friend.



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Kim
    January 9, 2017

    Our four day weekend for our 28th anniversary over New Year’s was spent sitting beside Nathaniel in the hospital instead. I get it. Great post on how to redeem what you can when plans have to change. Praying you and Russ get some time together soon.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 9, 2017

      Blessings to you, Kim. I hope you get a do-over for your anniversary too.

  2. Alisa
    January 9, 2017

    My mom always said if you’re going to laugh about it when you tell this story 10 years from now, you might as well laugh about it now.

    On our 20th anniversary our 3yo foster daughter got sick so we took all 8 of our children with us to our condo. On our actual anniversary day that week we ended up in the emergency room for hours with her as she had a severe case of hand foot mouth disease. We came home pretty tired from that trip.

    So we planned a big 21 anniversary trip to Hawaii the next year. Our big dream trip! Right before we were to leave, my oldest daughter came out of remission and went into the hospital for a week. She was sick for a few months and we had to cancel that trip. Non refundable. Pretty sure I won’t laugh about that one in 10 years…

    Then we planned our big 25th trip! California! Disneyland! The beach! That was last month. 5 days before we were supposed to leave my husband got sick with the virus going through our home and it attacked his heart. He went into the hospital with pericarditis and myocarditis. He was released from the hospital the day before we were supposed to leave. He was prescribed 6 weeks of rest and released to go on trip. So we went. Wasn’t what we envisioned as we were both exhausted. But I am choosing also to be more thankful and joyful this year. I am thankful my husband is alive as they thought he was having a heart attack. The angiogram showed his arteries to be beautifully clear! Yay for clean eating!

    We also had planned a family vacation last week that we had to come home 4 days early from. Our dear friend in our church passed away and we came back to be a support (and my husband is doing the funeral) and make sure we were in town before the winter storm hit.

    Should I mention my washer broke? Lol! So I am with you Lisa! Choosing to smile. Loving my family through the hard and the disappointments. Saying “Help me Jesus” and “Lord have Mercy!” a lot. : )

    Next thing planned is the Refresh Conference. Our first time going! Hope we make it!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 9, 2017

      Alisa – you should have written this post, girl. Wow! I’m with you in giving thanks for what truly matters, your husband is alive, and he is well. Praise God. It’s so important to learn how to live with these disappointments, even the big ones, like your Hawaii trip; I would have had a hard time with that one. There’s nothing to be done but say we trust our Father. I hope you make it to Refresh – it’s wonderful! And I love your Mom’s perspective. Russ’ parents took their kids and spouses on a cruise several years ago. When we got to Florida, our luggage (mine and Russ’) hadn’t arrived. It didn’t make it to the ship on time either. We went on the entire cruise with only what we had in our carry-ons. They let us go through the (clean) Lost and Found when we boarded and we found a few things to wear. It was hilarious – Russ wore bow ties, an unmatched double-breasted jacket with tuxedo pants, shirts he would never have worn at home, etc. We laughed a lot. The saving grace was I had packed my swimsuit in my carry on. Finding a new swimsuit may have constituted a minor crisis.

  3. Emily
    January 9, 2017

    This was such an encouragement to me today, as, after weeks of angst and prayer, one of my kids was supposed to start school for the first time ever this morning. Instead, we spent the day at the doctor finding out that his non-responsive strep is probably mono instead. I’m scratching my head over the Lord’s timing in this and trying not to doubt whether we made the right school decision. Your tips for staying sane in this post are so well-timed for me. Thank you!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 9, 2017

      I’m so glad to hear that, Emily. Believe it or not, I worked really hard on that post, got up early this morning for final edits and published it, then found out school was canceled. I had to dig deep to be flexible and have a sense of humor!


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