I just read Yahoo’s “8 places to go before you have kids“, and I don’t buy all of it. Some places are totally doable with kids (most European countries in fact) and everywhere is doable with a nanny in tow. Conveniently, though, I’ve actually been pondering this travel question lately… but I’ll rephrase it: What are the trips you should take without (young) kids? And preferably, while you’re energetic, independent, up-for-anything, and can handle traveling sans creature comforts (if needed)? Those are the places you should hit up either before you have kids or if you can drop them off somewhere… ’cause once you have kids, traveling is just not going to be the same from a monetary, leisure, and experience standpoint. I’m not saying it’s going to be worse. I’m just saying it’s going to be different.
1. Amazon Rainforest
You really have to chuck the creature comforts if you want to visit the Amazon. While a trip here offers some of the most au-natural and Discovery-channel worthy experiences (you can actually live with the locals on this tour), the Amazon is hot, humid, and not pruned for tourism. When I was there, my guide literally made a hiking path for us using his machete! Plus, you’ve got to deal with wild animals, fire ants, tarantulas, and every other kind of nasty insect that thrives in wet, sweaty environments. Add to that, you may only have cold showers, fixed meal times, and no peace and quiet (the rainforest is surprisingly really loud)… and piranhas. Lots of them. With all that said, adding kids in the mix is going to: 1) take away from the experience of just “being” in the Amazon and 2) add to the list of worries you’ll have while you’re there – this isn’t even considering all the travel immunizations just to prep for the trip, too.
2. African Safari
Along the same note as a visit to the Amazon, an African safari is also a trip best taken by adults. For those who haven’t taken one before, participating in a safari is a test of patience (it could be hours before you see anything interesting) and requires the participants to be pretty darn quiet the whole time lest you want to startle a lion or elephant. Last I checked, patience and quietness aren’t exactly the characteristics that make kids so precious. Also, depending on where you stay, there’s a good chance that your lodge or camp is in the middle of a giant national park. This means that you’re staying in the animals’ “stomping grounds”, which means you just might wake up to an elephant traipsing poolside (true story), families of warthogs roaming by the bathroom (true story), a heard of buffalo blocking your path to the breakfast area (true story), or even gorillas (did you see this video yet?) visiting your campground. With all those possibilities to watch out for, making sure your kids are quiet and patient may be the last thing you’ll be concerned about.
3. Bora Bora
If you fancy
tropical islands luxury tropical islands and you have the funds to spoil yourself on a trip to the South Pacific, by all means, go to Bora Bora before you have kids. Or, drop the kids off with the in-laws, nanny, friend, whoever and just go! There are two main reasons I say this: #1 Bora Bora is expensive to get to and expensive once you’re there. Lunch for two is at least $50 (we’re not even talkin’ gourmet here) and dinner will cost at least $100 (again, still not gourmet here). If you’ve got the money to take your whole family there, then you probably have the money to pay for a nanny, too, but that brings me to point #2: 99% of the visitors to Bora Bora are couples. You don’t really want to be THAT person who brings along a bunch of kids, do you? People head to Bora Bora to honeymoon and celebrate milestone anniversaries. They are looking to turn up the romance and indulge in R&R. Don’t be the family that spoils that for them. If you’re dead set on visiting French Polynesia with the kids, go to Moorea or Tahiti, but save Bora Bora for a vacation before or without the kids.
4. Any kind of trip that requires extended physical activity
Some trips are centered around an extended period of physical activity like hiking to Everest Base Camp (this takes at least 2 weeks plus there’s always the threat of altitude sickness), biking through Tibet, or kayaking for a week in the Bahamas. These types of trips can be intense and physically demanding! Unless you’ve got super active kids who can handle the long days, this type of experience may be best reserved for adults… and even then, reserved for the adults who are in really good shape!
Hmm, I’m impressed. When I started this list, I thought there would be way more things on it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are lots of cool family vacation options – especially if you have well-rounded, curious, and healthy kids! Traveling is the best way to learn about history, other cultures, and the world around us – it almost seems like a shame not to use it as an opportunity to share that exprierence with the kids. That said, the truth is that traveling changes with kids (there’s just so much more to think about, plan for, and pay for) so here’s to sowing all your wild (travel) oats while you can!