It seems inevitable that once you hit your late 20s, everyone around you starts to do one of three things: get married, buy a house or get pregnant.
At the moment, a lot of my friends are starting to do the latter, and while we’re definitely not in that place just yet, it has made us put more thought into when we will be – and what we need to do in the next couple of years, in order to feel “ready”.
While I am definitely aware that getting pregnant is no easy task, and it can take months or even years of trying, right now I’m working to the (albeit hopeful and idealistic) assumption that I am fit, healthy and will have no problems conceiving, and therefore that I have the luxury of a few years left before I need to start trying.
I know from my friends who have already had kids that travel often becomes very different as soon as there’s a little one in tow.
It might be that adventure is sacrificed for family time and relaxation, itineraries are crafted around kids’ entertainments, more exotic destinations are avoided (after all, who needs the risk of food poisoning from street food, or the threat of petty street crime hanging over their trip when they’ve got tiny immune systems in tow and kids to look after ?) And of course, the prices of holidays hike, as the number of passengers increase and dates are restricted to the pricey school holidays.
When the time came, I would definitely attempt to do more involved travel with kids in tow, but there is a limit to what is possible (even just financially), and I’m under no disillusion that we’ll be jetting off every five minutes.
And so right now, other than maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to prepare my body for what is to (hopefully, one day) come – my number one priority is to see as much of the world’s more expensive, less accessible and/or exotic locations, which would be difficult to get to with a toddler in tow.
I really doubt I’ll be able to fit every one of these trips into the next few years, as they’re all pretty major holidays – but if I can get through even half of these, I’ll count myself lucky and satisfied.
1. New Zealand
One of the countries I think it’s fair to say it would be hardest to make it to with kids is New Zealand. The flight time alone (27 hours) would put me off, without even considering the expense of more than two air fares.
Although this is only a fairly recent addition to my travel bucket list, New Zealand – along with Australia – is also one of those places that I would really regret not being able to say I’d made it to, if I didn’t go.
The fact that it is so remote from any other part of the world means I don’t feel as though I can bypass it – you couldn’t go anywhere else to get an idea of what it was like, so if I didn’t make there I would feel as though I was missing out on experiencing a pretty major corner of the planet.
The fact that it is supposedly similar in some ways to Iceland adds extra intrigue for me, too.
Many of my reasons for having New Zealand so high on this list also apply to Australia. But I’ve also always listened to friends’ stories of their gap years spent backpacking in Australia with envy, wishing I’d gone, too.
I can’t put my finger on what I find most intriguing about Australia, but if my kids ever asked if I’d been, I’d like to say yes – I have – and tell them what it was like on the other side of the world.
By far, the longest standing destination on my bucket list. Japan was the very first place I ever desperately wanted to go, and at 29, I’ve somehow still not made it there.
I know that Japan will connect with my inner child so much, as it was when I was 8 that I first decided I wanted to go – and so I can’t help but feel that I want to go and be able to enjoy it 100% for myself, seeing everything that I’ve been waiting to for the past 21 years, without having the stress of navigating Tokyo with a kid or having to adjust my itinerary to accommodate little legs and early bedtimes.
I definitely think it is a destination that could work well with kids – with all those colours, cartoons, arcades, harijuku fashion and legends, how could it not be? – but I’d like to enjoy this country purely for me and my inner child.
When I was 22, I was working in my first permanent PR job, and hating it. One of my best friends from university got in touch and mentioned she was planning to drive across America for three months, and asked if I wanted to join her.
Stupidly, I said no – feeling I needed to keep going with that job to make my CV look good. Fast forward a month and a half into her trip, and I quit that job anyway – albeit not with enough money behind me to fly out to join her.
Ever since, an America road trip has been a huge dream of mine – specifically, a trip down the west coast, starting in Vancouver, where I have family, and heading down to LA, through Portland, Oregon, Big Sur and more.
Again, this is something I think that would be doable with kids, but I consider it almost a rite of passage which I owe myself.
5. South Africa
A few years ago, in Montenegro, I stumbled upon one of the most stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen – clouds hanging low over the peaks that loom above the curving bay in Budva.
It’s a sight that has always stayed with me, and ever since I’ve been fascinated by coastal mountain landscapes, including – above all – Cape Town.
Working for a luxury bespoke travel agent which specifically dealt with South Africa and Kenya a few years ago only amplified my desire to visit.
This is definitely one of those destinations which I think I would be more nervous heading to as a family. I know that keeping your wits about you in order to avoid crime applies in so many parts of the world, but this is a country I’ve always felt a little more nervous about, so in my heart of hearts I know I probably wouldn’t take little ones there.
6. South America
Ever since I first saw The Motorcycle Diaries, I’ve wanted to go to South America. I imagine it to be so rich in colour, flavour and culture.
Again, this is a country I’d just like to explore for me.
I haven’t got a set destination in mind – although admittedly I have struggled to get the incredible landscapes of Machu Picchu out of mind, and I do long to go to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead – but I know for sure that this is a part of the world I really need to explore.
If you’ve read my posts about my recent trip to Iceland, you’ll know that I hold this isolated island in seriously high regard.
I maintain that, finances allowing, I’ll one day take my kids to visit this place once every five years or so, to continuously renew their appreciation of the natural world – but I don’t think I can wait that long to go back and experience Iceland during the summer.
I also desperately want to spend some time travelling the north and east of the island, including Mývatn, Akureyri and the Westfjords, in a campervan.