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Can Sex and Family Vacations Go Together?

Summer is a time for family vacations. But can family vacations and sex go together?

It’s our last week of our Sizzling Summer Sex Series! All through the month of July, we’ve been talking about how to make sex sizzle in your marriage. And I thought it may be good to dedicate one of the posts in our series to sex in the summer–specifically to sex and family vacations.

I actually talked about this for the first time four years ago, and started a huge commotion in the comments with people vehemently disagreeing with one another. So perhaps I have a bit of a masochistic streak, but I thought I’d revisit it, since it is a question many of us have. And even though this is the sizzling summer sex series, this post may not, well, sizzle. See what you think:

Romance and Family Vacations: How does sex work if you're camping with kids, or in a hotel with kids? Let's get real!

How does sex work in a family vacation?

Here’s the scenario: You’re on vacation with your kids. You’re there to relax. So should sex be part of that? Well, let’s think this through, starting with this big factor:

You’ve got kids with you!

Can sex and family vacations go together? A look at why it may be better to cool it:Click To Tweet

We spent most of our family vacations when the children were small in tent trailers, traveling around Canada. It was great fun, but the children are right there with you. And you know what happens to trailers when you try to–you know? They move.


Friends of ours who often traveled with us were in stitches one morning. I asked what was so funny, and my friend explained, “last night we were having fun when our 6-year-old gets out of bed and yells at the top of his voice, “Will you please stop rocking the trailer!”

Yep. Tent trailers and sex are difficult.

But hotel rooms can be worse. You’re in two double beds, and the kids are only about 6 feet away from you. Not exactly romantic.

And as bad as it is when kids are little, it’s way worse when they’re older and actually know what’s going on. We’ll be taking some trips in our RV this summer with our youngest daughter sleeping in there with us (while older daughter & hubby are in their own tent, and youngest daughter’s boyfriend is in his tent). You can be pretty sure that we’re not going to scar Katie by doing anything while she’s right there (you can thank me later, Katie).

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That’s why my husband and I have just realized that family vacations are for just that–family. They’re not really couple time. Sure, you can take advantage of times when the kids are off doing something else (if they’re old enough to go somewhere by themselves), and quickies can be fun (and funny!), but in general, a family vacation is a time to concentrate on your kids, not the sexual side of your marriage. And I honestly think that’s okay.

If you’re in a tent with a separate bedroom, or a separate hotel room or cabin with your own bedroom, then that’s wonderful. (And tents with two separate sleeping areas are ideal, and definitely worth the investment!) But not everyone can afford that. So if you’re all thrown together to create memories–well, perhaps it’s better that sex isn’t one of those memories. ? If the kids are fast asleep? That’s one thing, especially when they’re small. But when they’re older? Personally, I think that’s disrespectful.

After all, it’s hard to get kids away from the computer or the internet, and just spending time with you and with their siblings. Family time is hard to grab in today’s busy world! So when you are away together, I think it’s okay to say, “this time is for us as a unit.” That’s not to say that you can’t have fun at night (especially if you have your own separate room!), but I know some couples who won’t take a vacation if the kids stay in the same room because then sex is too difficult. And I think then you’re giving up the opportunity to make some great family memories.

We’re talking sex and family vacations! If kids are with you and your hubby, what about romance?Click To Tweet

Plus there’s also the exhaustion factor.

Often when we go for family vacations, we’re super tired. And we just need to collapse.

Our family would go camping or on vacation with our kids several times a year, if possible. But leading up to vacations was always stressful  (here’s a really funny column I wrote about just that phenomenon! See if you can relate). You had to clean the house, do all the laundry, pack all the food, pack all the kids’ toys and clothes, and load up the car. Then there was travel time, which was always a little stressful with kids. And then you get there.

Not just that, but leading up to the vacation we often worked harder at our jobs or around the house than usual because we had to finish up things so we’d be free to leave. The first few days on vacation, then, were often just about decompressing.

And have you ever noticed that when you finally have time to relax, your body just shuts down? It’s like you can go to sleep at 9:00 pm and sleep 10 hours if you could get away with it, because your body just needs it. If Keith expected that in those days when the kids were little and we were in a tent trailer together that he would also get the best sex of his life–well, he would have been dreaming.

That’s why I don’t think family vacations should really be thought of as “sexcapades”, so to speak.

When life is busy–and sometimes unavoidably busy–we force ourselves to keep going. Vacations are the times when we can finally let go and get some sleep. And if kids are right there with us–it isn’t exactly romantic.

Does Every Family Vacation Also Have to Be Romantic? Why sometimes it’s better to put sex on holdClick To Tweet

A Family Vacation with minimal sex is not the worst thing in the world.

You can take couple vacations at other times, after all, where the main purpose is sex. Take a night away in a hotel, just the two of you, or even go camping, just the two of you.

And we make it a point to stress sex as part of our everyday lives. When sex is fun, frequent, and passionate at home (which is what I’ve been talking about all month!), then it isn’t that big a deal if you go away on vacation and you have to go a few days without it.

Your marriage isn’t just about one night, or one vacation, or one week. It’s about the sum total of your relationship. And at different times you’ll concentrate on different aspects of your relationship. Sometimes you’ll focus more on the sexual side, and sometimes you’ll focus more on the parenting side. As long as you talk about this, and agree with it, I think that’s perfectly healthy.

Besides, vacations are stressful enough. Don’t make yourself think you’re a failure if you couldn’t figure out how to try new positions while the toddlers are sleeping three feet away from you in a tent. Let what happens, happen, and let yourself relax a bit. That’s what vacations are for!

Your Sizzling Summer Sex Challenge Day 16:

Talk to your husband about your vacation schedule for the year ahead–and plan one “sexcapade” without children there!

Find other posts in the Sizzling Summer Sex Series here.

Okay, now I’m ready for the arguments to begin in the comments (because last time there were some heated ones!) What do you think? Should sex be a part of every family vacation? Let’s talk!

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