Firstly, let us preface this by saying travel is absolutely achievable with children in tow, albeit a little stressful. Some families take their little ones all over the world, and that's a wonderful thing, but before you have to pay for that extra seat on the plane or worry about whether you packed the pacifier in your carry-on, there are a few places you should tick off your travel bucket list.
For this roundup, we went further than merely suggesting a desirable location to visit around the world. This time, we chose the destination based on the unique experience you can have there—even science says that will make you happier. From swimming with the whales in Tonga to trekking the desert via camel-back in the Moroccan desert, make sure you book these before you procreate.
There is something purely magical about whales. Their song is almost folkloric in nature, not to mention incredibly soothing to listen to, and just witnessing their sheer size moving through the ocean is a sight to behold. So just imagine swimming with them? Well, now you can turn that dream into a reality with the humpbacks of Ha'apai, Tonga. This charming remote island is a sanctuary for these gentle giants who migrate there annually to mate and bear their young. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where you can swim alongside the humpbacks, making it our number one bucket list experience to have before you die.
Are you ready to relive your childhood? Hark back to the days of yore and indulge in some major nostalgia with a vacation spent in a grown-up treehouse. Surround yourself in the natural surroundings of the tropics with just the sounds of wildlife to keep you company. Experience that heaven on earth feeling amid the Costa Rican jungle canopy with breathtaking views all around you. The Tree House Lodge has a room set in a 100-year-old sangrillo tree, but there are also several majestic towers in the trees for rent on Airbnb. According to reader reviews, you can enjoy breakfast with the local monkeys at the Punta Jagua tree house—sounds life-changing.
Just looking at this icy room give us instant goosebumps all over, but this bedroom isn't a figment of your imagination or some very clever Photoshop skills—it's 100% real, and you can stay there too. At the incredible Icehotel in Sweden, you can actually sleep in a room carved out of ice. While that sounds like torture, they do have warm suites available, but they recommend spending some time in the cold rooms to get the full experience. The hotel's deluxe suite is hand-carved by local artists and is the largest of the cold boudoirs. It features a heated relaxation area with a sauna, shower, and bathroom all run on solar power. The beauty of this particular hotel is its temporary nature. Every year, the Ice Hotel is rebuilt in the winter with a new façade, structure, and rooms. Now that's a surreal experience everyone needs to have in their lifetime.
If riding a camel through the desert-like your favorite New Yorkers in Sex and the City 2 is on your travel bucket list, now is the time to officially tick it off. The dry heat, stark environment, and relaxing pace of the trek isn't the most appealing vacation for children, which is why we strongly suggest you do it now before it's too late. Choose to travel at your own pace on a private tour to the Sahara Desert, or make it a social event and join other travelers. We recommend booking the three-day guided desert trip, which involves sleeping in nomad tents under one of the most impressive star-filled night skies you'll ever see.
While we're all for European family holidays, this one is definitely a trip you need to do sans children. Tasting some of the world's finest wine—handmade in local vineyards— while you look out at some of the most picturesque landscapes (the same ones that inspired many famous Renaissance painters) is definitely our idea of heaven. It doesn't need to cost you either. Italy on a Budget hosts fun themed wine tours with punny names like The Grape Escape, a day trip to two Tuscan wineries followed by lunch and an afternoon of shopping in the medieval town San Gimignano.
Riding horseback isn't just relegated to the stables of the Midwest—it's time to take your rodeo-queen dreams to the coast. Ramp up your beach vacation and inhale the salty air while riding a beautiful stallion along the shoreline. Cabo San Lucas Tours offers several beach options, including a sunset ride perfect for that romantic rendezvous or bonding experience with the girls. Watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean is definitely a life highlight we should all have in our memory banks. Then, once you do have children, you can do it all over again with the whole family for an entirely different experience.
If you seek serenity and spiritual awakening, then India is your destination of choice. The country's yoga retreats are world-famous for their unique wellness and healing modality. Ditch the phone, detox from all the stress of your hectic life, and embrace the peace and quiet of this ancient holistic therapy and prevent burnout. Ashiyana Yoga Retreat addresses the negative side effects of our modern lives and helps to rid them from your body and mind. Make yoga your "inner medicine" and strike the ideal work/life balance. We warn you that it will be hard to return to the busy pace of your normal life afterward, but with all that tension released, your internal tranquility meter will be on an all-time high. You'll be ready to take on the world again.