Having kids can be one of the greatest experiences of your life, as the beings you birthed will grow and blossom into capable adults before your very eyes. They’ll be living testaments to your love and devotion as a parent, and keep the memory of you around long after you’re gone. However, it’s not always practical to go everywhere with your kids, such as certain places for vacations. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the top places you should see in the world before you have kids, so you can create a lifetime of memories just for yourself. After all, when the little ones arrive, you’ll more than have your hands full and will have to tailor future vacations to their needs, not your wants.
Anyone who’s ever been to the Strip knows it’s not exactly the most kid-friendly place to visit, with the huge array of flashing lights, half-naked travelers, and extreme abundance of alcohol and gambling. Everywhere you look, there seems to be an invisible saying “Adults Only”, and it’s not an appropriate city for kids at all. But while you’re still child-free, head there for a week with a roll of cash to blow at the casinos, a hotel in the midst of all the lights and excitement, and a promise to yourself to uphold Las Vegas’ slogan of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.
The French Quarter is a seductive section of New Orleans where the people are always sexy, the music always makes you want to dance, and the alcohol never seems to run dry. Or, in other words, one of the last places your child should be when you’re on vacation. It’s not impossible to take the kids along to New Orleans for a family trip, but the sights and activities are much more geared towards adults than the little ones. Plus, with all the cool jazz bars on Bourbon Street, it’d be hard to pull yourself away at a reasonable hour to make sure the kids get to bed on time.
This 2,200 mile trail will take you the better part of half a year to traverse entirely, even if you start at Springer Mountain in Georgia and finish up at Mount Katahdin in Maine (it’s more common to go from south to north than north to south because of the weather). The trail itself isn’t particularly challenging and there are plenty of people and towns along the way, but it’s still an exercise in stamina, endurance and perseverance. If you’re ever going to take kids along, they’d have to be in their late teenage or early adult years, because the physicality of it — not just the walking itself, but walking with a big backpack on and camping on the ground — is well beyond the reach of children.
This iconic highway measures more than 2,000 miles in length, from Santa Monica all the way to Chicago. And you don’t even need to have kids to know what a tough job it is transporting them in a car, no matter how short or long the trip is. It’ll be hours and hours of driving each day, with the whole trip taking a couple of weeks, especially if you want to check out landmarks along the way. But put a couple of kids in the car, and suddenly your road trip will be dominated by frequent bathroom breaks, squabbling in the back, and having to make sure every stop has something kid-friendly in it for them.
The heat and humidity alone in Cambodia are not good for children, as physiologically, they’re more vulnerable to its adverse effects than you are. Add in the fact that the temples of Angkor Wat are a place of great reverence (re: silence and respect), and towing the kids along may not be the best idea. While you may have a good tolerance level for kids being kids, other travelers at the temples may not, and will resent you for spoiling their trip that they spent plenty of hard-earned money on. Lastly, the temples complex sits on a staggering 494,000 acres, which takes a good amount of stamina and physical shape to cover.
It’s not that this state has nothing in it for children, but to experience the truest essence of Hawaii, it’s better to go with adults. This vacation hotspot is like nature’s own, huge playground for adults: you can go on incredible (and dangerous!) hikes, climb to the top of the largest mountain on Earth, snorkel with manta rays at night, drive down the soul-jarring Hana Highway, skydive, and even fire guns at a shooting range. The beauty of it is all you have to do is wake up and plan your day from there, doing exactly what you please and when you want.
To start with, you’re facing a 12-hour flight just to get to paradise. Once you arrive, it’s the kind of destination where you put your feet up and do nothing but relax for the duration, not run around and clean spaghetti stains from t-shirts. A lot of the accommodations are over-water bungalows, with either glass floors or wood ladders that lead up into the sleeping quarters. You may not be so crazy about trekking up over a lagoon to get to bed each night — and especially not if you’ve had a couple of drinks — but for kids, their safety could be at jeopardy.
Transatlantic flights are not nearly as affordable as they used to be, but there’s a sneaky little shortcut around it: Quebec City. This provincial capital was originally founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, and has kept nearly all the historic architecture in place. What this means for you, the childless traveler, is steep, cobblestone roads, incredibly narrow streets, and a distinctly European feel in both physicality and nightlife.
This seems like the perfect place to take your kids — and it is, it really is — but there’s still a certain magic that exists for only adults. There are a ton of fancy restaurants just for adults, thrilling rides like Space Mountain and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the International Wine and Food Festival at the Epcot Center, a nightlife to really get excited about, and luxury hotels that are not quite branded for children. The best time to go is October when most parents won’t pull their kids out of school to go, and you can enjoy a mostly adults-only experience.
The Seven Summits refers to the highest point on each continent, and Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s, which lies nestled right near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. At 19,341 feet and a mountain that isn’t terribly challenging in technicality, climbing to the peak is certainly doable for a wide range of physical abilities. But if summiting Kilimanjaro isn’t your cup of tea, Tanzania still has plenty to offer otherwise: three of Africa’s Great Lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa), the Kalambo waterfalls, 16 national parks (visit Gombe Stream National Park to revisit some of Jane Goodall’s most influential work), and gorgeous Kenya to the north, if you want to break your vacation into two countries.