Tripadvisor has just come out with its Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2010. It’s a great list, divided into numerous categories, like Best Beaches, Best Destinations, Best places for culture, Emerging Destinations, Top 25 by continent and so on. In fact, it’s the kind of lists I love and probably spend too much time reading.
I’m a big fan of TripAdvisor (with some reservations. I’ve learned that no matter how wonderful a place, you’ll always find at least one person who manages to moan about it) and I know this is the traveling community’s choices, but still I’m a little shocked and disappointed to read the Top 10 Destinations in the World for families. Of the Top 10, four – yes, FOUR – are selected not only for their theme parks, but for Disney theme parks (EuroDisney, Disney Japan, plus Disneyland and Disneyworld)). Not that I have anything against Disney – I’ve been three times and even took my kids for a day the last time we were in LA – but is that really the best in Family Travel ? Are those really four of the best family travel destinations in the world ? Is Eurodisney really a better destination than other areas of France ? Is Disneyland really a superior destination in the USA, than say San Francisco, New York or the National Parks of Utah and Arizona ? Would you really prefer taking your family to Disney Japan than say the Great wall of China and the Forbidden City, or Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia etc. etc. You get the point. This is one of my favourite rantsand why I actually love travelling with my family. I would rather take my kids to a real destination, to learn culture, see and hear different people living real lives than a contrived theme park. I want to go on real travel and have genuine, authentic experiences with my family, and to think that it can’t be done so just go for the Disney default is sadly misguided. I believe real family travel – outside of the convenience and unreal confines of Disney – can be an incredibly rewarding and bonding family experience. We all learn so much and cherish that time together. Compared with racing to rides and eating junk food. In my book, no comparison at all. OK, that’s probably enough from me.