How to Take a Vacation Without Children

poolside bed sandals ochi
••• Poolside beds (not baby cribs!) at Sandals Ochi. Sandals Resorts.

You're finally alone, ready to start your vacation. You turn to your beloved, about to speak. But then... "WAAAAH!" Suddenly, the sounds of silence are punctuated by a fretful, crying baby -- and the child is wailing as if it may not stop until it reaches college age.

When one travels, this happens all the airports, on trains, planes, in restaurants, even in hotels with thin walls. Peace of mind is shattered by ear-piercing cries from OPBs (Other People's Babies).

What can you do?

Even if you have children, love kids, or are planning to start a family, you shouldn't have to spend a romantic vacation surrounded by the sticky-fingered set. The good news is, you don't have to. There are plenty of places that offer vacations without children; you just have to be selective.

Getaways Without Children

Many all-inclusive resorts such as Sandals, SuperClubs, and Iberostar Grand Hotels restrict guests under age 16 or 18 -- so any immature people you may encounter on a vacation at such properties will be emotionally, rather than chronologically, immature.

Also, numerous fine inns, especially those furnished with treasured antiques, do not accept youngsters.

Cruising Without Children

If you want to avoid the little darlings, your best bet is a river cruise. More expensive than ocean cruises, they have zero facilities for children and tend to attract an older crowd.

(The one exception is AmaWaterways, which partners with Disney on a few sailings and is launching some custom-built ships for family travelers.)

On an ocean cruise, sailing a longer itinerary to distant ports at times other than summer and school breaks certainly cuts down on the likelihood you will encounter toddlers to teens.

Large cruise ships are starting to make concessions to adults:

  • Celebrity Solstice has AquaClass, an entire deck with adults-only cabins
  • Freedom of the Seas and several other newer Royal Caribbean ships dedicate one of its outdoor pools to adults only -- and the bar is just steps away
  • Princess Cruises has added to ships a dedicated childfree space called Sanctuary.

"Safe" Months to Travel

Many hoteliers say the best times to travel are what they call the "romance months" of May and September when kids are in school and couples season, which begins after Labor Day and ends before Thanksgiving. We've found October and early June relatively childfree times to travel as well. Also, immediately before a major holiday, such as the first two weeks in November or in February before spring break is a safe bet.

"Family-Friendly" Resorts with Adults-Only Sections

The term "family-friendly" is a red flag for me and should be for others who'd rather not vacation among children. If you book such a resort, expect children to be seen and heard throughout your stay.

We once took advantage of a Valentine's Weekend package at a family-friendly resort expecting a reprieve from the shrieks of infants, but we were out of luck.

That's because it coincided with ​President's Day weekend. And further to the consternation of childfree couples, new parents towed newborns along on what was intended to be a romantic interlude. One of the contributors to this site calls it "stroller shock."

Still, some multi-generational resorts do make a concerted effort to keep romantic couples and rambunctious families separate. The more upscale a place you select, the more likely it will have facilities that segregate children from grown-ups. Most hotel spas are off-limits to kids, for example, and better hotels and cruise lines feature adults-only pools.

Beware of hotels that have adults-only swim hours, though: While you won't have to put up with screams and splashing, you will be swimming in the same water where diapers may have dipped earlier.

What You Can Do

Let the resort manager know how much you appreciate being in a serene, childfree space. The more you patronize places that cater exclusively to adults, the better it will be for everyone who likes to unwind without the presence of children.

Now if Disney would only make one day a month for adults on vacation without children, we'd be delighted.