Top 10 travel destinations for kids.

As one study recently proved, the highest level of happiness that humans can experience attributed to something they buy is the anticipation of going on a holiday. As a bonus you also get to experience the holiday itself, not to mention all the happy memories that will remain long after the credit card has been paid off. This type of happiness seems to beat any other pleasure that can be purchased.  

If you also add the amazing learning opportunities provided by experiencing different places and cultures, travelling remains our favourite item on every kid's wish list, worth saving towards.

HootLoot has compiled a list of the most amazing destinations for kids, taking into account the "wow" factor but also the learning opportunities, the inspirational value and the experience of a deep connection with nature (which is why we have not included any theme parks, which score certainly high in the "wow" category and instant entertainment but otherwise quite low). We have also taken into account how much these places are kids and family friendly. Things like accessibility and safety should all be high on the list of those travelling with children. Many of the places in the list we have travelled ourselves, so are speaking from first hand experience.

All your children will want is to add one of these trips to their HootLoot savings goals and work towards making it happen !

1 - Arizona and Utah national parks 

The highest concentration of the most amazing rock formations the planet earth has to offer is located in Western USA in the regions of Utah and Arizona.

The Grand Canyon, the Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Arches National Park and Zion represent thousands of miles of beautiful rocky landscape with highly accessible highways, modestly priced accommodation and good family deals in restaurants and cafes. 

This is an extremely easy and yet unforgettable trip to do with kids. The parks are very well maintained and there are endless possibilities for hiking itineraries, camping holidays or only touch-and-go day trips.  You can fly in and out of Las Vegas, adding a whole other dimension of entertainment to the trip. 

The scenery is mind blowing but also varies greatly from park to park. It ranges from the majestic vastness of the Grand Canyon to the oddly shaped hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, to the magic light effects in the underground sloth canyons of Antelope Reserve to the chunky soaring towers and monoliths of Zion National Park. 

 2 - Whale watching trips

 We are pretty sure there is no other animal as magical as a whale in a kid's mind (other than of course a dragon or unicorn). After being threatened to extinction for decades, we are happy to acknowledge that the many conservation efforts have been so successful that in most parts of the world at present the whales population has grown back and even surpassed the levels of the 1970s.

As there are many whales out there in our oceans, there are also many places in the world where you can book whale watching tours. The most popular ones leave from Vancouver in Canada, Reykjavik in Iceland, the Gold Coast and Victoria in Australia, the Isle of Mull in Scotland and the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Other locations include the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, the Azores islands and the Peninsula Valdes in Southern Argentina.  You can check out this excellent whale watching map and search function to help you find the closest and best tours around the world.

3 - African Safari

A great favourite and in the dream list of many kids, a Safari trip in Africa never fails to deliver the most amazing nature experience.  Once the top holiday destination of the wealthy, safaris have become very affordable thanks to low cost airlines and many more African regions opening up to tourism.

 

There are safari trips organised pretty much everywhere around Africa, however East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Rwanda, Ethiopia) shines as the most organised and popular location. There are so many local companies catering for tourism that you can find pretty much any price tag, from 5 star hotel stay to camping safaris. Here you can find some affordable trips, whilst this article lists more expensive and particular trips.  South Africa also offers easy access to very fun game parks without the hassle of having to endure the Malaria prevention protocol.

4 - Costa Rica

This is a super easy family trip with great impact. Costa Rica boasts absorbing rain (and Cloud) forests, amazing beaches coupled with friendly people and accommodation throughout. There are so many animals, coral reefs and tropical beaches to explore that you may not find time for the volcano and hot springs.

Everything is so easy to access and extremely beautiful. The local government has been sponsoring environmental sustainability programs for many years, making Costa Rica the most succesful reforestation project in the world, and it definitely shows.

When we were there a few years ago we encountered toucans during our hotel breakfast, crocodiles by the side of the road, monkeys dropping by to join us for a coffee, sloths hanging out on the paths to the beaches and millions of humming birds every where we looked.

It is truly like being in a paradise full of amazing animals and jungle pretty much everywhere you look, exactly what is needed to drive every child to hysteria. Costa Rica is also very easy to travel and not as expensive as the Carribbean islands resorts close by.  You can just rent a car and go pretty much everywhere (as we did). There are thousands hotels, B&B and hostels for any price tag. 

5 - Lapland

 What youngster would pass at an opportunity to visit Santa Claus's homeland? This is a trip we are still longing for, dating back to our childhood. Christmas tales of a winter wonderland all materialise in Lapland, the only region with more reindeers than people, not to mention frozen lakes and gorgeous snowy forests. There is plenty of magic to last a lifetime, particularly during winter where you can meet Santa in his home, hear stories by a crackling fire and have the chance to ride on a reindeer sleigh. Of course there is a lot more than Santa in Lapland that will make the trip memorable. Long rides on snowmobiles, watching the northern lights and experience real arctic life. Rovaniemi is Lapland's capital in the country of Finland, deep in the arctic circle.

6 - Snorkelling

Imagine swimming with dolphins and sea turtles, feeding bananas to a school of multicoloured tropical fish or watching beautiful mantas glide in the warm crystal clear waters of a tropical beach.  Wouldn't your kids just love the experience? How much would they learn about what the oceans have to offer? This is a biology class and swimming practice taught in the most fun way.  There are many expensive tropical locations in the world like Maldives, Fiji Islands or some top rated Caribbean resorts, however a great snorkelling holiday can be done for little money, provided you focus on the snorkelling itself and not on the 5 star hotel resorts nearby.

Some great marine reserves that are not limited to honey-moon-style holiday packages are available in Indonesia, Thailand, Belize, Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico or Australia. For Europeans the Red Sea in Egypt is probably the best value for money location, with the highest concentration of sea creatures and coral reefs at inexpensive prices. 

7 - Kennedy Space Center, Florida

 In less than an hour drive from Orlando you and your kids can dive into the vastness of space with exhibits, attractions, iMAX theatre shows and a bus ride to the Saturn V Complex and the International Space Station facility.  Everything is perfectly organised to walk you through the history of NASA and the space exploration program.

What an amazing way to learn about space and what an inspirational trip for kids as they witness the efforts of the human race to overcome the limits of our knowledge (and gravity).

It is easy to spend a full day or two at the Space Center, depending on how space obsessed your kids are, particularly if you would like to add on Lunch with an Astronaut or one of the special interest guided tours....and don't forget the Astronaut Hall of Fame! 

8 - Australia, Kangaroo Island and Queensland

It's very difficult to pick only few locations out of an amazing continent such as Australia. These are the ones that we believe would mostly interest kids. Kangaroo Island (South Australia) is so particular with Kangaroos and sea lions cohabiting the white sandy beaches and beautiful forests whilst koalas nap in eucalyptus trees.

Queensland is called "the holiday state" by the Aussies as it is the home to most of the attractions that make Australia so great: the Great Barrier Reef, Australia's amazing Outback and the World Heritage Rainforest, beaches, sunshine and wildlife. There is really everything for everybody. 

9 - Morocco

Only a short trip on a low cost airline from most European cities, Morocco has a lot to offer to children and families.

The amazing souks of Marrakech and Fez full of spices, lanterns and leather goods are so interesting and offer a great cultural break from city life. Kids can visit the leather factories and learn about how to extract natural dies and turn the leather into beautiful crafts. 

From Marrakech it is easy to book 4x4 tours of the Sahara desert, passing by the Atlas mountains through the Valley of the Roses slowly descending into a river of palms to the mighty sandy dunes and camel trains of the Sahara. It is truly an unforgettable holiday.

Most Sahara tours offer few nights camping amongst the dunes, a truly memorable experience.

Accommodation in private homes (Riads) is affordable and full of character, plus the food is consistently great everywhere in Morocco.

10 - Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley, Peru

 

This is definitely one of the most magical places for both adults and children. The lush limestone formations wrapped in mist peeking out of the clouds with their ancient Inca temples and Llamas. If altitude is not an issue, this part of Peru is easy to travel and the perfect place to spend time immersed in nature and ancient human history.  

The Sacred valley is a golden beauty with corn fields and Inca ruins. Llamas and alpacas are farmed throughout with many farms opening to visitors offering a great opportunity for kids to connect and learn everything about these beautiful creatures. There is a train that crosses the whole valley to Aguacalientes, the base town to access the Machu Pichu archeological site. From there an easy bus ride at the break of dawn brings tourists to the site just in time to watch one of the most amazing spectacles this planet has to offer, the sun rising through the mist across the best preserved Inca temple.

 Where to start?

This is a tough question that we won't try to answer. What we would say is that we have attempted to keep this list down, though we appreciate there are many more that we have not included but very worthy. This gives us a great excuse for a follow up post, but we would love to hear your views and experiences.  If you have been travelling in a great location with your kids, let us know! Either write a comment below or tell us on HootLoot's Facebook page.  We will include it in a follow up travel post!

Time to start saving up for the next family holiday. Get your kids on the case !  HootLoot  gives you and your kids with all the tools to make this easy.

 

 
 

 

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