As the decision to start a family looms closer for couples, the yearning to take “one last big trip” may become an inexorable priority. Having kids does not equate to a lifetime lived in one place, but traveling with little ones in tow is an entirely different experience than jet setting as a childless couple. There are some places in the world that are just off-limits for children, and others that simply may not be as enjoyable if you’re constantly interrupted by naptime and tantrums. Here’s our pick for the top 10 places couples should visit before having kids:
For the adventurous, a trip to Peru to see the Incan city of Machu Picchu is a must before having children. Although there is a train that weaves through mountain passes to deliver tourists to the lofty ancient city, why not hike the 26-mile Inca Trail for spectacular views along the way? As you’re watching the sun rise above the misty peaks surrounding Machu Picchu, you’ll be forever grateful that you and your partner made the trip before having kids:
If you’ve ever dreamed of going on an African safari, now is the time. Whether you choose to rough it on a small budget or splurge on a luxury adventure, taking tots into the African bush is not advisable. By making this trip as a couple, you’ll have memories aplenty to share with future children: How about the time mom and dad saw elephants and had a near scrape with a lion? It will be a journey your child will want to repeat when they grow up!
A tropical island getaway should at the top of every couple’s before-children bucket list. Why? The romance. Sun, sand, piña coladas and hours of minimally clothed beach time make a tropical island vacation one of the most romantic vacations around. And Tahiti—the magical South Pacific nation—is one of the most lush and glamorous tropical getaways imaginable.
The Louvre, Versailles, the sidewalk cafes of Montmartre, sunset walks by the Seine, shopping on Boulevard Saint Germaine—all glorious activities that couples can do in a much more relaxing manner when unnaccompanied by children. When you do have kids, come back with them—Paris is a fun city for children, and a very easy and welcoming place for families. But if you’re looking for a dose of pre-child romance and a taste of Europe, the City of Lights is a must.
Many people have a clear image of this colorful land fixed in their imagination: the lake palace of Udaipur, the lush beaches of Goa and the exotic thrum of Bollywood are enticing. But imagine them with children and the picture changes dramatically. Travelers in India must deal with extreme heat and humidity, crushing crowds and questionable sanitation—all situations that may be uncomfortable for both parents and children. So if India’s on your bucket list and you’re contemplating kids, make sure you go now while it’s still just the two of you.
Alaska can easily be a fun family adventure, but if you and your partner are interested in adventure sports, it’s best done as a couple. Activities like do-sledding, fishing and whale watching are simply not options with young children in tow, so if you’re interested in exploring the rugged 49th state, it’s best to do it before the family comes along.
There’s a reason that a visit to the Pyramids is on everyone’s bucket list—they are spectacular and mysterious and one of the world’s most amazing architectural achievements. Once in Cairo, grab a camel or two for an amazing ride around the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the only one to remain largely intact. Yes, Giza may be a great family experience with older children, but the heat and rugged conditions may be too much for little ones to endure.
Southeast Asia is famous among backpackers, and for good reason. It’s hot and inexpensive with amazing food and culture. Temple hop in the jungles of Angkor Wat, bum around the palm-dotted islands of southern Thailand, or ride an elephant through the ancient forests of Laos to create amazing memories together. Someday you’ll share the experience with your kids and inspire them to take a backpacking trip of their own.
9. New Zealand
You’ve seen the landscape of the Lord of the Rings series, and you’re determined to visit New Zealand. Doing so before you have a baby means that the two of you can hike, camp and roam the mountains, rivers and beaches to your heart’s content, without worrying that the little one needs a snack or a diaper change. And considering that most flights to New Zealand are over 12 hours long, it’s definitely a place that is better visited without a baby on board.
10. Las Vegas
Although there are plenty of family-friendly and child centered activities in Vegas, couples should visit at least once on their own to fully experience this adult playground. Massages, golf, shopping, gambling, dining, stage shows and nightlife are what make Vegas fabulous, and indulging in the vices the city has to offer is one of the biggest reasons to make the trip.
Whether you and your partner strive to make one or all of these trips before having kids, chances are the memories and photos you capture will sustain you until your child is old enough to join in on a new adventure—family style.