Family Vacation With Your Ex and Your Kids: Pros and Cons
Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines a few years ago after taking a “modern honeymoon” vacation with her new husband and ex. Although this may shock some divorced couples, others may take it as their sign to try vacationing as a family with their ex and kids.
After all, a joint vacation would make it easier for custody schedules and school break planning, wouldn’t it? Or would taking a trip with your ex make co-parenting with them more complicated?
Well, it depends.
Family vacation with an ex: Is it possible?
For many divorced couples, the idea of taking a family vacation together doesn’t even cross their minds. However, this has slowly become more popular among celebrities and common families alike. Before you plunge into a vacation with your ex, though, there are several pros and cons to weigh.
Benefits of family vacation with an ex
On the one hand, vacationing with your ex can help your children in many ways. It shows them that even parents who divorce can get along and spend time together peacefully. Also, it allows your children to enjoy experiences with both parents simultaneously, so both parents get to enjoy the moment.
Depending on your custody schedule, vacationing together can also alleviate some of the fighting about who gets the kids when during breaks from school. It also gives you each a rare opportunity to see the other parent in action, which can be exciting and beneficial for you both.
Drawbacks of family vacation with an ex
On the other hand, it can be hard to maintain a friendly relationship with your ex and carry on like nothing happened. Even if you can do it for a few hours during a birthday party or soccer game, doing so on a family vacation is a different animal – and it doesn’t work for every couple.
If you and your ex went through a high-conflict divorce or still have issues co-parenting without arguments and problems, a family vacation may not be the best idea for you.
Similarly, a family vacation could send the wrong message to your children or even your ex. Situations like this can blur boundaries and give people hope when there isn’t any to be had. Consider the weight of this decision before making it and what conversations you would need to have to clarify your intentions and set boundaries.
Tips for maintaining boundaries during your vacation
You may decide that a family vacation with your ex and the kids makes sense. However, vacations require a lot of planning, especially when they involve a person with whom you have a mixed history. It can help a lot to think about logistics such as expense sharing, your itinerary, and how you’ll handle your dealings with each other ahead of time.
- Split expenses as equitably as possible. If you book hotel rooms, you can each pay for your own room. If you are doing an Airbnb or other rental home, consider splitting the cost down the middle. You can also split costs evenly when it involves the children and pay for your own things when it’s for individual adults.
- If you decide to pay for items in advance with the plan that your ex will pay you back, keep receipts for everything, and send them to your ex electronically. This creates a clear paper trail. The same goes for any communication about the vacation: Make sure everything is in writing somewhere, just in case disagreements arise later.
- Create an itinerary before you leave. Block out time for each parent to do things on their own with the children, and coordinate some times for the entire family to do things. If you have multiple children together, it may also be a good idea to plan some one-on-one adventures for each parent with a child.
- Make sure you and your ex are on the same page regarding what you’ll spend on meals, souvenirs, and other aspects of the vacation. This will help avoid conflicts or confusion during the trip. Setting an agreed budget for items can be especially important if your income differential is significant because one parent may feel pressured to overspend in order to “keep up” with the other.
- Talk through how you’ll handle potential conflicts between adults or behavior issues with the kids before you set out on your trip. If possible, meet to discuss these matters in person without the kids so you can focus on a game plan. Addressing potential problems when you’re both level-headed can help make the vacation run smoothly.
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FAQ about vacationing with an ex
Is taking a family vacation with my ex actually beneficial to my children?
There are situations where a family vacation with your ex could be great for the kids. However, there are also situations where it could be harmful to everyone. You have to decide whether you and your ex have the type of relationship where this could work.
How can I avoid arguments or hurt feelings on a family vacation with my ex?
Although it’s impossible to predict every conflict that could come up, the best strategy is to plan out as much as possible ahead of time. If you and your ex are on the same page about everything, there’s less chance you will argue during the trip.
Can a family vacation with an ex work if one or both of us is remarried?
You and your ex can certainly still plan a family vacation with your children and each bring your new partners. However, if your ex and your new partner or you and your ex’s new partner don’t get along, this may not be the best choice for your the children.
For more thoughts on planning vacations and school breaks with an ex, check out these articles: