Sure, traveling with a baby can be all kinds of wonderful, but there are some adventurous trips that are better taken before growing your family.
Originally published by Travel + Leisure
Adventure travel and babies—or even toddlers—don’t exactly go hand in hand. Parents of young children may also find that it’s difficult to fully indulge in a relaxating vacation unless you take turns parenting with your partner while the other soaks in the geothermal pools, learns to kite board, or gets a hot stone massage.
Before you start searching for the resorts with the best kids’ clubs, on-staff babysitters, and asking about suites with cribs, seize the opportunity to take advantage of your child-free life.
Here are a few trips where that might be better off taking before traveling with a baby (and all of that gear) becomes a reality.
There are plenty of things to do in Iceland with your children, but when it comes to some of the bigger adrenaline-producing adventures, it’s better to partake before you have kids. Go scuba diving into the Silfra fissure that cuts between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, hike into the Thrihnukagigur volcano, or explore an ice cave in a glacier. At the end of your adventure, spend time soothing tired muscles in geothermal pools and saunas.
Paris is the city of lights, love, and romance, which is exactly why it’s the perfect place to vacation without children. Walk the streets hand-in-hand and stop at boulangeries and fromageries to pick up supplies for a picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries or under the Eiffel Tower. Revel in the opportunity to shop for hours in the Marais without a bored child fussing, or strolling through the Musee D’Orsay, the Centre Georges Pompidou, or the Louvre. Have an aperitif on Montparnasse and a digestif in the Left Bank and return to the hotel after a leisurely walk along the Seine.
3. Route 66 Road Trip
Get your kicks on this 2,451-mile road trip that winds through American backcountry and history. Cruise along the so-called Main Street of America from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River into the heart of the Rust Belt. Live the American driving dream and undertake the entire run from California to Chicago, or take your time along a smaller stretch of road, stopping by the roadside attractions and drive-in diners. Either way, enjoy traveling sans kids to enjoy the meditative hum of the open road without cries of “Are we there yet?” to interrupt the idyll.
4. Banff, Alberta
Check into the Fairmont Chateau on the banks of the brilliant blue Lake Louise to revel in the old school, upscale charms of the resort. In winter, cross-country ski right out the front door, or go dogsledding or snowmobiling. The truly adventurous can try heli-skiing, helicopter tours, or ice climbing. Work off the chill at the hotel’s spa. In summer, the mountains beckon with hikes, horseback rides, and whitewater rafting. You can also simply sit under the peaks of the Canadian Rockies with a good book.
5. Napa Valley Wine Tour
There are some 250 wineries lining the 30-mile stretch of road between the towns of Napa and Calistoga in California’s Napa Valley, making for a particularly adult kind of fun. To make the most of a trip through wine country, it pays to hire a driver. That will free up amateur oenophiles to wind their way along Highway 29 or the more low-key Silverado Trail, stopping at wineries and restaurants, admiring the rows of vines that line the hills, and sampling as many of the pinots, merlots, and cabernets that the wineries have to offer.
6. Monte Carlo
Live out your James Bond fantasies with a trip to the glamorous world of Monte Carlo. The chic district inside the diminutive city-state of Monaco is one of the brightest jewels of the French Riviera. Get in touch with your inner 007 at the casinos, watch the changing of the guard at the Prince’s Palace, pick up a fashionable ensemble at the Pavilions Monte Carlo, or re-enact Grace Kelly and Cary Grant’s famous scene from To Catch a Thief and rent a convertible to drive along the coastal road, the Grand Corniche.
There are many things that kids would love to do in Tokyo (Helllllo, Hello Kitty World!) but the city is also filled with activities that only adults could love: Wake up early to go to the Tsukiji fish market. Go on a tour of Shinto shrines. Sample sake from around the city or check out the Tokyo Whisky Library. Cruise down the Kanda River from Nihonbashi. Take in kabuki theater, try your hand at Japanese cooking with a class at Chagohan Tokyo, or visit kawaii heaven at the Kawaii Monster Café.
The jewel of the United Arab Emirates is a seriously buttoned-up business center, but in its off hours it’s an adult playground. Go pool hopping at ultra-luxe hotels, ski indoors, or dive in at one of Dubai’s massive water parks. Dubai has plenty of places to pick up a souvenir from the souks—spice, gold, textiles—to the malls, including the Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall, which holds the title of world’s largest mall. Dine at some of the world’s finest restaurants, see the world’s largest aquarium and the underwater zoo, take a desert safari, or simply sit on the golden sand beaches of Jumeirah Beach Park.
9. The Oslo-Bergen Rail Journey
To truly appreciate the wonder of train travel requires a love of the contemplative joy of staring out windows and admiring the scenery—not exactly kid stuff. Hop on the Bergensbanen, or the Bergen Line, to experience one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world before you have children. The seven-hour train ride begins in Oslo before setting out across 308 miles of glaciers, fjords, sweeping valleys, and windswept, ice-clad mountains.
If Norway isn’t in the cards, try one another scenic train ride, like Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer or a Pullman Rail Journey between Chicago and New Orleans.
Photos: Christian Kerber; Celine Clanet; FrankvandenBergh/Getty Images; Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images; Alex Farnum; Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images; Tayawee Supan/Getty Images; Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek; Getty Images/iStockphoto