Kid Picks: 5 Top Vacation Spots

Way back in September, my editor asked me for a schedule of columns through the end of the year. This sort of advance planning doesn’t really suit me. I can barely plan for tomorrow much less for the next three months. Why should I do something today that I could just as easily do tomorrow? Well, tomorrow has arrived, and three months ago I promised my editor a column on “In Places for Kids.”

But what’s in and what’s out?

I am a travel professional, so I have a wealth of resources at my fingertips: hotel reports, resort and cruise reports, operating reports from my agencies, and consultants’ comments. I also have the ability to survey almost a thousand professional agents on the Tripso Forums. I started to do my homework, but something just wasn’t right.

Although I have been accused many times of acting like a kid, reality says that I am not a kid. What the heck do I know about the “in” destinations for kids, anyhow? So for this week’s column, I deferred to the true experts — Miss Perdue’s third-grade class at Central Elementary School in Edgewater, Maryland. A couple of second- and fourth-graders snuck in, too.

I posed a simple question: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?” Now I offer you the Top 5 Destinations for Kids, by Kids:

Number 5: Madagascar (with thanks, no doubt, to Walt Disney Pictures)

“I want to go to Madagascar because it sounds cool and I think it would be very fun to go there. I really want to go there someday. I think the little animals are really funny.” — Madison, Third Grade

“I want to go there because it has lots of plants. Also, because there are a lot of beaches.” — Elizabeth, Third Grade

Number 5: China (yes, it was a tie for fifth place)

“China, because I can learn a new language, meet new people, and eat lots of China foods. I can have lots of new friends.” — Mariah, Third Grade

“I want to go to China because I want to see if they have different money and I want to find out what language they speak. Also, I want to go because I want to see what kind of food they eat.” — Glen, Third Grade

Number 4: Italy (grown-up surveys support this “in” choice)

“Because, at my house we have a lot of things about Italy. My mom’s mom’s cousin has a house there. My parents talk about going a lot. So I think I am going in one or two years. My parents, together, have mostly gone there about 19-25 times!” — Madeline, Third Grade

Number 3: Jamaica (another perennial favorite)

“I want to go to Jamaica because I love tropical places with fruit and warm air. I also want to go to Jamaica because there are lovely beaches and chilly pools. They have fancy hotels too! Jamaica serves fancy food just like Hawaii. In Jamaica, people set up shops and you can buy tropical clothing and jewelry!!!” — Julia, Second Grade

“I would go to Jamaica because it doesn’t have winter and you could always go to the beach. Also, you can play in the sand anytime.” — Kaylin, Third Grade

Number 2: Kenya (adventure travel is on the upswing across the board)

“I would like to go to Kenya because Kenya has beautiful culture and land. Also, Kenya has safaris and I could see all the animals. I also would want to meet the people and learn about them.” — Justin, Fourth Grade

“I would travel to Kenya because there is lots of good animals to hunt.” — David, Fourth Grade

“I would want to go there because we learned a lot about it in Fourth Grade. Also, I have a pen pal there and would like to meet her. The last reason I would like to go to Kenya is because I want to learn more about the culture.” — Hannah, Fourth Grade

Number 1: Hawaii (again, the kids are right on target with the grown-ups)

“I would like to travel to Hawaii because it has nice beaches, pools, and nice people. Also, it has pretty flowers, hotel rooms, and clear blue oceans. That is why I want to go to Hawaii.” — Molly, Third Grade

“I want to go there because my friends live there and it’s hot. Also, because it sounds cool. You can surf and swim.” – Caraline, Third Grade

“I would go there because their hotels are good and I like tropical places. Also, I like seeing the volcanoes and you can go whale watching. It reminds me of the rain forests.” — Michael, Third Grade

“Honolulu, Hawaii, because it is fun. I have never been there before. I think it will be interesting. I think that it is really cool. I would like to learn their language. I want to be like them.” — Griffin, Third Grade

It is interesting that these future world travelers picked destinations that are definitely popular but not heavily promoted. I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial for Kenya or Italy. I was also impressed by the reasons these kids gave for wanting to see the world and experience other cultures. Unlike some pundits, I do not see our educational system letting us down, and I offer a hearty thanks to Miss Perdue and her principal, Mr. Ferretti, for that.

The other destinations mentioned are equally worthy of a visit, and I want to give some kudos to the children who came up with these as well:

* West Virginia (Anna, Third Grade)

* The Bahamas (Andrew, Third Grade)

* Boston (Brandi, Third Grade)

* Antarctica (Zach, Third Grade-and a dream of mine as well)

* Egypt (Khorey, Third Grade)

* New York (Sarah, Second Grade)

* England (Forrest, Third Grade)

* Australia (Amanda, Third Grade)

* The Amazon Rain Forest (Emma, Fourth Grade)

* New Jersey (Katie, Third Grade)

* Texas (Jessica, Third Grade)

* New Hampshire (Mitchell, Third Grade)

So parents, take note: These 8 and 9-year-olds are putting a lot more thought into travel than I ever did as a kid — and probably even as an adult! And, they are picking their favorite destinations for the right reasons.

From what other experts tell me, Italy will be hot for 2006, and so will Hawaii. Adventure travel is climbing incredibly, too, so think Costa Rica and, yes, Kenya, though probably not Madagascar (sorry kids) unless you are looking for a real adventure.

Thanks, kids, for your time and happy travels to you all.

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