Here are the 9 trips that are significantly more challenging to do with young children than as adults only. In retrospect, my husband and I should have done them as part of our pre-kid bucket list.

My dad would call that ideal adventure period as, “when we were DINKS” (Dual Income No Kids).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly pleased with the diverse world exploration we did before starting our family. In hindsight though, many of our European trips could have been enjoyed with children in tow while we instead prioritized the more extreme travel opportunities.

I have a 1 year old and 3 year old, so I estimate it’ll be 7+ years before any of the trips below will be feasible as a family. To any adventurous parents reading this, let me know in the comments below if you’ve managed to embark on any of these excursions with kids.

1. An African Safari is the #1 trip I wish I’d taken before kids.

For one, the number of travel connections required to reach Africa from the Midwest, USA would be exhausting with really little kids. Now, let’s assume you survive the flights over with some semblance of sanity and you set out on your once in a lifetime safari excursion: How do you insist that a 3 year old remains silent while your group is approaching a pride of lions?

That’s a rhetorical question. It’s an impossible task.

2. The Galapagos Islands should be on your pre-kid bucket list.

“Leave No Trace” is a solid rule of thumb anywhere you go, but in an ecosystem as fragile as the Galapagos, it is ultra-critical. I can vividly imagine my toddlers venturing off trail or antagonizing giant lizards and turtles. Cue the parent shaming…

3. Experience Northern Europe Hiking/Backpack Camping before you start a family.

After a few back-to-back days of hiking in Utah recently, I learned 3-miles is our family’s daily limit.

When the kids are teens I look forward to Swedish and Norwegian multi-day hikes where you backpack from remote cabin to cabin.

4. Bungee Jumping isn’t worth the risk when you have young kids.

I feel it is my duty as a mother to postpone putting my life in danger at least until my children reach an age where they are self-sufficient.

I’m grateful I got sky diving out of my system pre-kids, but I wish I had made more of an effort to experience Bungee Jumping and Shark Cage Diving as well.

Things to do before kids - Bungee Jumping

5. Shark Cage Diving and Other Adrenaline Junkie Activities will have to wait.

I have two boys, so while I missed my window pre-kids, I can picture this being a mother/son bonding activity when they are teens. Ice climbing would be one family activity I’d love to share with them.

I recently heard of wing walking and that’s been added to my empty nest list of things to do.

Things to do before kids bucket list Cage Dive with Sharks

6. Work remote from anywhere in the world before having kids.

We did this for a 3-month period just before starting our family and it was the most memorable travel we’ve ever experienced. Because we worked during the day, we stretched our stay to allow a bit more time to explore outside of working hours and really got to feel like we were ‘living abroad’. I would’ve loved to do this for a year or more had I started earlier.

The challenge now that we have kids is childcare during focused work hours. Unless you can spring for a full time traveling nanny, at least one parent will need to be self employed or a “stay at home” parent.

7. Stay in more hostels and build a network of friends around the world while you’re young.

The energy in hostels is something special, but once you reach a certain age or have kids, you feel like an evident outsider who doesn’t quite belong.

Make hostels your first query when booking lodging especially in your twenties. You’ll meet oodles of interesting travel-loving people and will likely build long-lasting friendships. At a minimum, they’ll have entertaining stories and savvy travel advice to share.

8. Travel the Middle East and immerse yourself in its history.

Maybe it’s exaggerated media, or perhaps just my hyper-paranoia as a parent, but countries labeled as elevated risk or are politically turbulent are not places I will take my kids.

I would be more comfortable visiting many of these destinations if it were only my own safety I needed to look out for. Then, I could be vigilantly aware of my surroundings vs. digging through my bags for a kid’s snack. Additionally, if we were busy tending to our young children it would be difficult to fully immerse into an unfamiliar culture.

Someday, when my kids are grown, I want to explore the richness of history in this corner of the world. Until then, Petra, I’ll be thinking of you. You too, Cappadocia.

9. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain making it one of the Seven Summits of the World. While I’d never attempt to climb Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro is more accurately described as a long hike vs. a climb so it seems like it’d be in my wheelhouse and still a rewarding accomplishment.

That said, it is no easy feat. Fitness and high altitude training is required and about 50% of those who attempt to climb do not make it to the summit. It takes hikers between 5-8 days round trip to complete the journey.

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  1. Thank you for these! I’m trying to make the most of my 20s (currently doing number 6), but you brought up some things I didn’t consider! I’ve got a lot to pack in to the next few years 😉

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’d love to do an African safari and I can see why you think it’s best before kids. I’ll definitely be trying to do that over the next few years! It’s so difficult to fit in all the places I want to go.

    1. For sure. My husband and I traveled for almost 7 years before kids and STILL didn’t get through the whole list. But travel with the kids is amazing in different ways.

  3. Lots of great points here, especially about the more dangerous activities! I think some of these things are now going on my own bucket list!

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