The Growing List of Kid-Free Travel Zones and Destinations
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Traveling with kids can be fun, crazy and — just perhaps — a little loud and chaotic. Adults-only destinations and resorts are hardly a new concept but, over the last few years, no-kids-allowed policies have been spreading beyond resorts to include airplanes and cruises.
(And by the way, the newest splashy kid-free destination in the US is a brand-new all-inclusive resort in Key Largo that looks pretty amazing.)
To get a feel for the broader state of “no kids allowed,” here’s a list of major airlines, cruise lines and resorts where children aren’t allowed to travel.
Viking Says No to Kids
Viking Cruises already had restrictions in place regarding children on its various cruises, but according to its terms, the cruise line took things a step further last year. For all cruises booked after Aug. 1, 2018, passengers must be 18 years old on or before the day they embark. However, cruises through 2019 that were booked before Aug. 1 may still have passengers under 18 as long as they were booked before the child ban went into place — just don’t expect kid-focused amenities.
Richard Branson Launches Adult-Only Cruises Next Year
In April 2020, Virgin Voyages will set sail with free Wi-Fi, “rock star” suites and even a vinyl record store and tattoo parlor. But one thing that won’t be on board are children as all sailings are for those 18 and up. While the cruise line is still a year from bon voyage, you can make your bookings now for ports like Havana and Virgin’s private island in the Bahamas. Prices for various cruises start at $1,500–$4,000 per cabin for two, with the first few cruises pricing at the highest rates. There are also solo cabins at single-traveler rates that start at around $1,000.
Airlines With Child-Free Zones
How many times have you heard an adult passenger complain about crying babies or energetic toddlers seated near them on an airplane? A quick search on social media brings up plenty of pleas for child-free zones on airplanes, even if it costs extra.
There aren’t any US airlines with child-free — or even child-friendly — seating areas, but internationally there are a few.
AirAsia X has a “Quiet Zone” encompassing rows 7–14 that’s only available to passengers who are at least 10 years old. The airline’s website states that this area has “gentle ambient lighting,” early meal service and “minimal noise with no disturbances.” Some test searches show these seats are available for an additional $25–$55 per person.
Scoot Airlines, a low-cost airline based in Singapore, also has a quiet zone at the front of its 787 Dreamliners. In this area, no kids under 12 are allowed. In addition to the child-free atmosphere, seats in this section come with an adjustable headrest and you can opt for Super or Stretch seats, depending on the aircraft but both with extra legroom.
Indian budget carrier IndiGo also offers “Quiet Zones” where children under the age of 12 aren’t permitted. These child-free rows are 1–4 and 11–14 — the rows were reportedly designated with business travelers in mind. Beyond those restrictions, children aren’t allowed to sit in seats with additional legroom.
No Babies in First Class on Malaysia
Back in 2011, Malaysia Airlines banned babies from first class on its 747 and A380 aircraft and didn’t install bassinets in its first-class cabin. I cannot find anything on Malaysia’s website that indicates babies are officially banned from the first-class cabin, but when I do test bookings with an infant, there’s a pop-up warning stating that there are no bassinets available in the first class cabin. We’ve reached out to Malaysia for clarification on its infant policy.
Use Points to Book Adults-Only Resorts
Even within the award travel space, there are places you can use your hotel points to enjoy a few child-free days and nights.
Miraval in Arizona — now with a companion resort in Texas — is an all-inclusive wellness retreat that we enjoyed for an anniversary celebration. Paid rates can soar to more than $1,000 per night and include yoga, classes and meals, but you can also put your World of Hyatt points to use to relax and recenter.
Standard rooms are available at Miraval for 45,000 World of Hyatt points for single occupancy, or 65,000 points for double occupancy. However, the resort occasionally runs specials that can save you 50% on the award rates.
To go along with the original Miraval in Tucson, there is also now the Miraval Austin that falls into the same award pricing structure and also boasts a child-free experience.
Hyatt Zilara All-Inclusive Resorts
Hyatt has a network of nice all-inclusive resorts under the Ziva and Zilara brands. The Ziva brand is family-friendly, but the Zilara brand is just for adults, so get the points on your World of Hyatt Credit Card ready for kid-free relaxation.
You can redeem your World of Hyatt points to visit either the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica or the Hyatt Zilara Cancun. The family-friendly Hyatt Ziva Cancun also has an adults-only tower, Turquoize, and a lovely adults-only rooftop pool. Both the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Cancun properties cost 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy. Remember, you can also instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio from your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Wyndham Rewards uses a flat award chart with all properties costing 15,000 points per night (at least for a few more weeks). So for 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night, you can leave the kids with the grandparents and book an all-inclusive, adults-only stay in the Dominican Republic at the Viva Wyndham V Samana and Viva Wyndham V Heavens.
Hilton Jewel Dunn’s River Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios is an all-inclusive resort for those 18 years and up. You can book this property for 44,000–70,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
The all-inclusive Hilton Puerto Vallarta has recently opened a new Hacienda section comprised of 192 junior suites that are only available to those 18 and over. Award rates to stay at this all-inclusive resort normally range from 44,000-70,000 Hilton Honors points for double occupancy. However, the rooms within the Hacienda priced for me as premium rooms at higher award rates, so you may do better off earning up to 54 Hilton points per dollar spent on those rooms, rather than using points.
Hilton Playa del Carmen is another 18+, all-inclusive destination that can be booked for 80,000 Hilton points per night, double occupancy. Rooms there start at 653-square-feet junior suites, which is pretty massive when you don’t have to share the space with little ones. Here are ways to rack up Hilton points for these kid-free stays.
Beyond these examples, many overwater resorts, resorts with private pools for each villa, safaris, retreats and more either don’t permit children or have age minimums of at least 10 to 12 years old.
Stay at a New Florida All-Inclusive Resort
Bungalows Key Largo is not a traditional points hotel, but that doesn’t mean it is off-limits with rewards. The new adults-only luxury resort opened in early 2019 and describes itself as an “island oasis built for downtime and disconnecting.” It is located 65 miles south of Miami International Airport (MIA) and bookings can be made directly with the resort and then the charge can be offset using fixed value miles such as those from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Prices start at $399 per person, per night for a minimum two-night stay through Dec. 19, 2019 (blackout dates and restrictions apply).
More Child-Free Travel Options to Come
In the past, Richard Branson suggested that he “would love to introduce kids’ class” in the sky. It hasn’t happened yet, among other reasons, because the UK Civil Aviation Authority is reportedly worried about what would happen in case of emergency if children were alone in one cabin and their parents in another. Branson hasn’t ironed out the logistics for a kid-free inflight zone, but his child-free cruises will launch soon.
I can’t imagine Carnival Cruises would ever go kid-free, but even Carnival offers a Serenity Adult Only Retreat on many of its ships with amenities like hammocks and a bar. Disney Cruise Line also has multiple indoor and outdoor adults-only sections of its ships. So even if you aren’t indulging in adults-only travel, you can still find some kid-free spaces such as the Serenity Retreat at Carnival or The District on Disney.
Even at the family-friendly capital of the world, Disney World, you can escape kiddos by heading to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at the Polynesian Village Resort, where children are not allowed in after 8pm. Or stay at the yet-to-open Riviera Resort that will have Tower Studios built just for two. Not exactly the same as kid-free, but certainly not geared to families either.
As a parent who sometimes travels without kids but often travels as a whole crew, I have no issues with kid-free spaces, even on airplanes. However, it would be great if a family-friendly zone was also created. This video from Virgin Australia is, sadly, an April Fool’s joke, but wouldn’t it be cool if it was actually real?!
Featured image of the adults-only Hacienda at Hilton Puerto Vallarta courtesy of the hotel. All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.