Child-free holidays give you a chance to kick back, relax and check on the kids, writes Jim Kayes.

Three books and 10 games of gin rummy. It's a basic indication of how different a holiday is when you've left the kids behind.

One was away on Spirit of Adventure and the other we left with my sister as my wife and I flew to Samoa for six nights as unimpeded adults.

We were just a couple again. Free to do what we wanted, when we wanted, without interruption. Or so we thought.

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They were still there, hovering in our thoughts, just a text message away. At least, the younger one was.

As she was at my sister's, the bus route to school was new so there were checks on the first day to make sure she had got there and home okay.

We may have overdone the checking aspect when she eventually replied: "I crossed the road without looking, robbed a bank, got three tattoos and have five boyfriends and they are all skody."

We retreated to the pool.

Another issue was that we had taken the girls to Saletoga Resort last year and they'd been popular with the staff. So we spent the first day or so defending our decision to leave them at home this time.

But they were there, as memories and we found ourselves chuckling at what we'd done and the fun we'd had a year earlier.

We went to the bar to wash away the ghosts.

The true bliss of a child-free holiday comes in different forms. When they are little, it's sleeping in; as they get older, it's being able to lounge in a pool without being a jungle gym.

I found it, too, in one of the large, round, sofa-like deck chairs and a stash of library books.

The first was devoured within 36 hours of checking in as I indulged in my favourite pastime of "reeping". This is a combination of reading, snoozing, reading, snoozing some more and then reading again. In Samoa, I added a third component of taking a dip in the sea after each snooze.

Less relaxing, but a whole lot of fun, were the games of cards we played at the breakfast and lunch table and throughout the day.

My wife is lovely but she's a demon when it comes to playing cards, especially if I win the first games, which is what happened in Samoa.

We eased the tension at the bar.

Being child-free also meant we eased back on the thrills and contented ourselves with a more sedate holiday.

There were tough decisions to make like whether to swim in the pool or take a dip in the sea, and if we should have a snooze before or after lunch — or both.

We ventured out rarely, just a day trip across to Apia to do a bit of shopping mid-way through our week.

I needed some more jandals and, for less than $6, they are the best value you can get.

My wife bought a bowl, which caused angst as she fussed about getting it home but, in the end, having declared it at Customs, we breezed through.

And there was dinner at another resort because no matter how good the food is where you're staying, the menu becomes monotonous after a while.

Two days before we left, the elder daughter got back from Spirit of Adventure.

We were more desperate to check in with her, than she was with us.

She'd been filthy that we were going to Samoa without her, but when she declared her 10 days at sea to be "the best 10 days of my life", we figured she'd got over it.

We left just as we were starting to truly relax, which is so often the case on short holidays, but we had to go if only to protect my liver.

As we queued for the shuttle to the airport the staff sang their farewell song and told us how great it was to see us again.

"Next year bring the girls though."

Hmm, maybe.