The Travel Effect: A Weekend Without the Kids Can be Good for a Marriage

logo-travel-effectEditor’s note: This post is the first in a series themed to The Travel Effect, a national advocacy campaign created by the U.S. Travel Association.  Visit Seattle is committed to promoting the importance of travel and we remind our hard-working team members with a “Spontaneous Getaways” program. Each quarter, we award one employee a trip of their choosing. We provide the transportation and allocate extra paid time off, they return rejuvenated and sometimes even write about their travel experiences. We hope this post inspires you to book your own trip soon. 

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Just a 90-minute flight away: Suzanne and Travis Allbee sip wine, sightsee and savor a rare break without the kids.

As a fairly new Visit Seattle team member, I was super excited when my name was drawn in an employee raffle to receive two round-trip airline tickets and some extra time off to allow for a last minute getaway.  I regarded this new-found opportunity as both a benefit and a responsibility, since my trip would help promote The Travel Effect, a national campaign showcasing the importance that travel plays in all our lives.

However, after my initial surge of excitement faded, reality hit.  This win was contingent upon my ability to travel within that month!  Having two children under the age of seven, a husband who works most Saturdays, and all the typical responsibilities of being a working mom, I just didn’t know how logistically it was going to happen.  And then, I thought, my husband and I need to make this happen.  It had been over four years since we took a trip without children.  This is our story.

First, after calling in a BIG favor for two nights of overnight care for our kids, my husband and I started trying to decide where to go.  We knew we didn’t want to spend much of our precious 2 ½ days in transit so decided on a trip to Sonoma, CA to spend the weekend wine tasting and eating (one of our favorite past-times pre- children).  Within two weeks’ time, we booked our flights, prepped my sister on all things kid-related, kissed them goodbye, and were off to meander California wine country, anxious to see if any California wine could trump our beloved Washington and Oregon Pinot Noirs.

Winery signsWe flew into SFO, picked up a rental car, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge feeling like we were crossing into another land.  A land which didn’t include activities centered around our children, the responsibilities of home ownership and the ever present to-do list.  A land which would prove to remind my husband and I of why we liked each other in the first place!  Our first stop:  In & Out Burger! A “must’ for my husband and inaugural dining experience for me, I was excited to see if it really was a better burger than Seattle’s beloved Dick’s burgers (I hate to admit it, but I think it actually was).

After stopping at the Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Center for a wine map and a few quick random tastings along the way (favorite: Schug), we checked into our hotel in Santa Rosa, a great central location.  We quickly refreshed and then headed north to Ferrari-Carano Winery working our way south through tasting rooms and vineyards, stopping at a total of nine wineries (sharing tastings at many).  Our tasting room friend, Harrison, at Schug pointed us in the direction of TexWasabis, a Guy Fieri, Food Network Star, restaurant), for dinner where we ate at the bar.  This may not seem like a big deal but, for many of us with kids, eating at the bar is a rarity and made us feel a little more hip than usual.

Day two found us sleeping in (!), another luxury rarely experienced at home.  We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and set out for another day of wine tasting and exploring.  We haphazardly navigated our way through several wineries, stumbling upon the Dry Creek General Store for a sandwich and and eventually ending up, at the suggestion of some newly found friends, at Williamson Winery in downtown Healdsburg.  There we found ourselves enjoying a fantastic wine and food pairing experience including a rose paired with truffle-salted aged white cheddar (Delicious! Who would have thought?!).  Then, appetites ready, we settled in and closed the evening (bar-side again) at Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar, enjoying “adult” food (oysters and a killer English pea salad with goat cheese, cashews and smoked trout).

With no alarm required, our third morning was again lazy and restful.  Ever the Starbuck’s devotees, we grabbed a quick pumpkin spice latte and spent our morning shopping in Sonoma’s quaint town square and lunching at the highly acclaimed, The Girl and the Fig before heading back into the city toward reality.

A short plane ride later and we were breathing in the fresh, clean air of Seattle, thankful for our trip but also excited to sneak a peek and kiss our girls, cozy asleep in their beds.  Our 2 ½ day Sonoma adventure was relaxing, fun, and enlightening, while enabling my husband and I to reconnect.  Long overdue for carving out time just for the two of us, I am so thankful for this opportunity that pushed us to do so.  It re-invigorated, re-motivated, and re-connected us both and taught me that getting away, even on a short timeline, is possible and really not that difficult.  Now, we will not hesitate to commit to at least one trip annually and look forward to our next adventure.

Now, off to drink a bit more of that case of Sonoma wine….

Suzanne Allbee
By Suzanne Allbee
Suzanne Allbee is a Convention Services Manager with Visit Seattle. Suzanne is a self-proclaimed “foodie,” lover of unique Northwest experiences, wife and working mom of two. A Kansas native, she currently resides in West Seattle with her husband, two girls, and beagle and is ever appreciative of the ability to see water and mountains every day.
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