My husband and I have been married for 10 years this fall. For years, I have been planning an outrageous 10-year anniversary that always seemed to involve Europe. Most recently, we both decided we really wanted to see something new so we ended on Barcelona. Barcelona sounds amazing. I checked out about Barcelona books from the library, we were looking at flights and hotels, and I was in talks with my mom to watch our two kids (ages 3 and 5) for 10 days-ish while we traveled. Everything was working out. When we went to actually buy our flights, I looked at him and said “This feels totally irresponsible.” After all that planning, I hadn’t considered how I would feel actually flying across the world without my kids. It didn’t feel great. And I know people do this all the time and I’m always so envious of international travel without kids. But, for me, I just couldn’t buy the tickets. My husband agreed. Either the kids were coming with us or we were going somewhere closer.
Perhaps it’s my training, but all I could think about were the issues that could come up. There were several legal issues that ran through our heads (my husband is a lawyer, too, so we share the same type of brain when it comes to these things):
- What if there is a medical emergency for one of our kids? We’ve had some asthma-related ER trips lately and they aren’t fun. Also, it would be hard to travel across the world quickly to get back to be at my little one’s side if something bad happened. Staying in Europe would not be an option for me as I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it, knowing that my kiddo is having a hard time, in a hospital. I mean, is having fun in that situation even possible? Aside from the emotional and financial stress, would my mom actually have the requisite authority to make decisions for my kiddo while in the hospital? I have recently started preparing powers of attorney for my clients with minor children but I don’t think we have one, yet, so we need to get on that.
2. What if we got hurt or (I seriously thought about this) incarcerated? We are not crazy people, but we are American and can be loud, so that might put us in the hotseat in another country. I have heard some crazy stories in my practice, so this is not out of the realm of possibility. Perhaps I overly identify with Amanda Knox, being my age and from Washington State, or I’ve seen Brokedown Palace too many times, or I have heard too many stories from my husband, who is a criminal defense lawyer? Whatever the reason, it ran through my head. If we were gone for an extended period of time, my mom would have the kids for an indefinite period of time, which she would do, of course, but it would be very difficult to (1) adjust to having 2 small kids all the time; and (2) actually do everything they need without a power of attorney specifically for taking care of the kids. As we are both trained to consider the exposure to liability and how to mitigate liability, this was enough to make us pause.
3. What happens if we die? OK, so we probably wouldn’t die, but we could. And without our kids. We travel with the kids a lot and I’ll admit that I always feel better knowing we’re all together when we fly. Morbid, right? We’d all go together. We have Wills that outline who would be the guardian of our kids, but I haven’t updated my love letter (which I advise everyone with young kids to prepare for the appointed guardian, if all the bad things happen). So, we technically have this addressed, but . . . I don’t want to die when my kids are so young. Period. Another exposure to liability analysis, unfortunately, but it convinced us to stick closer to home.
4. Do we have enough life insurance? I mean, we have a ton of life insurance but I kind of want more as I get older. For no reason other than I’ve seen how awesome it is for families to receive life insurance after someone dies. It’s quick, it’s usually a lot, and it helps people get through whatever they need to get through. So, this process has helped me realize I want to get additional life insurance for both of us.
In the end, we decided to head to Vegas for a few nights of good dinners and shows and sunny days by the pool. We are really looking forward to it and REALLY looking forward to when we can take the kids with us to Barcelona in a few years! I wish I were a person who could be “cooler” and go traveling internationally without the kiddos, but my professional training and experience just won’t allow me to ignore the blaringly obvious liabilities that come with such a trip! I would love to hear about how people prepare and go traveling without their kids – maybe I should take some notes!