Co-Parenting and Travel: Dos and Don'ts

Spring break! Summer vacation! Time to sleep in without looming work meetings or assignments to worry about. Just some relaxation and downtime.

The problem?

This year, you’re divorced, and you’ve decided to embark on a great experiment. You’re going to spend your vacation time with your kids … and your ex-spouse. 

So you’re traveling with your co-parent and kids

You’ve prided yourself on your friendly divorce, and you and your ex have remained cooperative on the co-parenting front. Going on vacation together may stretch this friendly arrangement to new dimensions. Are you prepared?

Factors to consider before packing your bags

At this stage in your lives, you or your ex may have remarried. There may be new siblings to consider. The success of your vacation may require more than just a bit of luck. It will likely require a lot of planning … and maybe even a good dose of self-control. 

Whether you’re considering a local foray to a nearby city, an out-of-state adventure, or international travel, before you pack your bags, take a look at our list of dos and don'ts for traveling with your kids and your co-parent.

Tip #1: Don’t forget to think about how the kids will interpret this

Your kids’ well-being is of utmost importance. You have the best of intentions and want to create a sense of stability and harmony in your kids’ lives after your divorce. 

But kids can harbor fantasies of their divorced parents reconciling, and taking a vacation together could cause some misunderstanding. Consider where your kids are at in this divorce journey before you try to meld your vacation into one big happy post-divorce family. 

Tip #2: Do consider where you are emotionally

A vacation with your ex-spouse may seem all well and good in theory until the emotions kick in.

Perhaps you’ve been fine getting together for pizza and birthday parties with the kids from time to time, but this is bigger than that. This is a vacation, and you’ll be spending a good amount of time together. 

Are you and your ex-spouse at a point where uncomfortable emotional baggage won’t rear its ugly head and ruin the vacation for everyone?

Tip #3: Do make important decisions beforehand

Some people are last-minute travel planners. But your peaceful co-parenting vacation requires some serious communication and planning. Work out all travel plans and details well beforehand, and make sure you’re both in agreement on scheduled times and activities.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How will you handle lodging? Meals? Paying for extras? 
  • What if the kids need discipline during your trip?
  • What happens if the kids try to play you against each other to get their way? 

Plan your itinerary together, and have backup arrangements in case of inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Create a budget and agree to stick to it. If you’re splitting costs, decide how you’ll share your records and take care of reimbursements. The less you leave to chance, the better off you’ll be.

Tip #4: Don’t stray from the plan 

Consistency is key to smooth sailing here. Work out the rules for everything, from how you’ll decide where to eat to what time the kids need to be in bed. Then, stick to these decisions. Just as you created a parenting plan, the decisions you make about this trip are your vacation plan.

Tip #5: Do keep communication with your ex positive

Positivity is key, especially if you experience travel difficulties or other inevitable kinks in your vacation plan. Decide ahead of time how you will handle it if your co-parent oversteps their boundaries, or if you get tired and cranky and your patience wears thin.

Why plan for these moments? Because they will probably happen. Promise yourself that you will take time out to calm down and speak with your ex quietly, in another location, so the kids can’t hear. Be the adults and, above all, be respectful

Tip #6: Don’t forget to take downtime

You don’t have to spend all your waking hours together. Each of you can enjoy some downtime on your own while one parent gets the kids all to themselves to do something special.

Tip #7: Do remember it’s not a competition

Your joint family vacation is not the time to try to score parental brownie points with the kids. It’s not time to embark on a “who’s the most fun parent” competition. The last thing you and your former spouse should be doing when traveling together is trying to one-up each other. It’s stressful for you, and your kids will pick up on it. 

Tip #8: Do be cooperative historians

This joint vacation is for the benefit of the kids. Document all the time you share together as a family, including photos of the ex, the new spouse, and the extra kids. Share them with your ex. Make this time as enjoyable and memorable as possible for the people who matter most: your children. 

Tip #9: Do be realistic

Although vacationing together as one big happy family may be good in theory, it may not be good in reality. 

If your divorce was not a friendly one or there have been continuing stumbling blocks in your co-parenting thus far, going on vacation together may be a recipe for disaster. Consider the reality, not the fantasy; everyone will be better off for it, especially the kids. 

Post-divorce life and co-parenting can be complicated, and you’re only human. You want the best for your kids, and you may believe you’ve gotten past the hurdles, but emotional history can get in the way when you least expect it. 

At Hello Divorce, we don’t just deal with the legal aspects of divorce. We also deal with the human aspects, offering professional services and helpful resources to help you get on with your best life.

Have questions? Call us to find out how we can help.


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Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.