Relax and take in these perfect pre-kids travel destinations. (©Ishan/Unsplash)
Family vacations create cherished memories that can last a lifetime, but there are just some locations or adventures best experienced before adding little ones to the family structure.
There is plenty to keep children occupied, but there is a reason "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," wasn't an advertising campaign aimed at families. A trip to Paris is much more romantic with a loaf of French bread and a bottle of wine instead of Goldfish and a bottle of milk. Ringing in the New Year with family watching TV in the comfort of one's own home is one thing; it would be another to subject youngsters to the partying crush of humanity that is Times Square.
Before your situation changes, pack your bags and enjoy these travel experiences.
Watch the Ball Drop
People start lining up in the morning for the best spots between West 43rd and West 50th streets and the best spots are usually gone by the afternoon.
Unless preparations are made to stash a sippy cup and requisite snacks in a jeans pocket, toddlers may start to fidget quickly as bags are not allowed; lines for food are long and finding bathrooms can be difficult. But hanging with friends all day and reveling in the raucous atmosphere, listening to live performances from entertainers such as Taylor Swift before the epic moment at midnight is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.
Romance in the City of Lights
A romantic picnic under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower or a cruise along the River Seine may not have that same appeal when managing bedtimes and potential tantrums is thrown into the mix.
After a heavenly French meal at the Michelin three-star Restaurant Guy Savoy near the Arc de Triomphe head to the Moulin Rouge for some late-night, adult fun. The historic cabaret has a troupe of 80 artists including the famous Doriss Girls, recruited from around the world. If you want to knock two things out at once, come for dinner and a show.
Dive Into the Maldives
With white sand beaches and the bluest of water, the place to have a true out-of-the-way snorkeling or diving experience is the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
Seemingly there is no bad time to visit as the sovereign nation is awash in sunshine for most of the year. The Maldives territory incorporates 26 atolls and 1,200 islands, all of which have lagoons with crystal clear water protected by reef structures that provide amazing underwater views of the colorful marine life.
Stay in a hotel on the capital Male' or indulge in a resort stay on an atoll. Remain on Male' for amazing snorkeling and scuba diving or head north to the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve: The Reserve is home to 1,200 reef- and reef-associated fish species and are home to five of the seven species of marine turtles found in the world.
Maldivian food is a variety of fish and coconut combinations. At a resort try a breakfast of "Mas Huni," which is tuna fish mixed with grated coconut, onions, chilli and lime juice eaten with a griddled pancake.
Ride in a Venetian Gondola
Sure, chasing pigeons on St. Mark's Square is fun for younger ones, but is it the mood that's trying to be set on a romantic trip to Venice, Italy?
No, to get the feel of one of the most enchanting cities in the world, unencumbered is the way to go. Take a romantic sunset gondola ride through the Grand Canal, drinking in the views of sights such as the Rialto Bridge in addition to colorful structures and Gothic and Renaissance-era castles—not to mention your loved one.
Drink in Napa Valley
A trip to Napa Valley is really a 21-and-over experience, because while not all about the wine, there is a reason it is called Wine Country.
Napa Valley is an oenophile's heaven with hundreds of wineries. Experience this Northern California haven by going on wine tastings and tours—including wine cellars and caves. While taking a break from wine culture, there are other activities to help ensure you take full advantage of this bucket list destination.
Take an African Safari
There's going to be plenty of time to see wild animals in a zoo, which the brood will love, but still with an opportunity, take a journey to see those ferocious—and not so ferocious—creatures in their natural habitats.
See the big five: elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo in South Africa's Kruger National Park. In addition to trascking game in a vehicle, the park offers the opportunity to stay in a rustic camp and experience the environment on its wilderness trails. While keeping an eye on the bigger aspects of nature, these adventures through the bush allow hikers to experience things they would otherwise miss in a vehicle.
Explore New Zealand's South Island
While it's a small country of just four million people, an extended visit to inviting New Zealand may be best enjoyed before loading up on diapers as part of your pre-trip regimen. And younger ones may not fare so well with a 12-hour nonstop flight from the West Coast.
Wanaka, on the South Island, offers a multitude of options for outdoor enthusiast no matter the season. In winter, take to the slopes below the mountains of the Southern Alps at the Treble and Cadrona ski areas. Heli-skiing is a way to get the heart pumping while taking in the beauty of the area; in the summer, heli-biking on Mount Burke is a must for riders. For hikers, an hour outside Wanaka is Mount Rob Roy in Mount Aspiring National Park. Hike two hours to a viewpoint that has amazing views of active glaciers and spectacular waterfalls along the cliffs.
Hike the Inca Trail
Setting off on one of the most famous hikes in the world to reach Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas," is a not a journey best suited to children.
At a minimum, the trek is a four-day day journey in the Andes Mountains of Peru before arriving at Machu Picchu, believed to have been built in the height of the Incan Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. Stretching for five miles, the historic structure has more than 3,000 stone steps in addition to temples and sanctuaries.
The destination is just part of the fun, however. On the way to the top, the view changes from mountain scenery to subtropical jungles and the traverse crosses the Inca ruins of Llactapata, Runkuraky, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiay Wayna.
It's Called Sin City
Ok, the experience you have may not quite equal, "The Hangover," but in Las Vegas there is more than enough adult entertainment to entertain group outings like bachelor or bachelorette parties and create lasting memories.
There's drinking and gambling and that's before noon on a Tuesday. There are 104 casinos in Las Vegas, not to mention slot machines when you first arrive at McCarran Airport just a scant few miles from The Strip.
In a marrying frame of mind? There are more than 50 wedding chapels—including the Graceland Wedding Chapel—for couples who want to speed up the marriage process, and people in a real hurry can utilize drive-through chapels.
Find Love in New Orleans
Mention New Orleans and usually the first image that pops into mind is Mardi Gras, and with good reason, as it is one of the most well-known celebrations in the world.
But there is another, softer side to the Crescent City.
“New Orleans is known for Bourbon Street and its 24/7 party atmosphere, but the real draw for couples sans kids is the city’s romantic side," said Doug Brantley, Where New Orleans editor. "Moss-draped oaks, mule-drawn carriages and gas-lit street lamps set the mood for a starry-eyed getaway guaranteed to get—and keep—the love fire burning.”