Top 5 Family Travel Destinations for 2014 (and Possibly Beyond)

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Winter break just wrapped up–so it’s time to think about what to do when the kids are out of school this summer. Here, the “Wall Street Journal” and Lonely Planet share their top five family travel destinations for 2014. Can’t get to these places this year? Don’t worry, most of them are likely to still be around in 2015.

Top Five Family Travel Destinations for 2014

Photos Of Products Sold In Iceland

Laughing Squid’s own Rusty Blazenhoff recently returned from a trip to Iceland with a curious photo album in tow. Taking it upon herself to photograph unfamiliar products for sale in the grocery stores of Iceland, the collection is both funny and enlightening. When I eventually make it out to Iceland, I’m going to strongly consider hunting down Viking Snacks for my meat-eating friends and family members. Check out her photos and descriptions here.

[Photo Credit: Rusty Blazenhoff]

Iceland Is the World's Friendliest Country
 

Explore Iceland With Discovery Adventures

Discovery Adventures takes travlers to Iceland in 2013Discovery Adventures has announced an exciting new tour of Iceland that is sure to be a hit with the adventure travel crowd. The new 12-day itinerary features an interesting mix of culture, history and the breathtaking landscapes the country is so famous for.

Highlights of the Iceland Adventure include trekking across a remote glacier, visiting rustic fishing villages and whale watching in unbelievably scenic fjords. Travelers will have the opportunity to witness the country’s amazing geological features first hand as they visit lava fields, witness erupting geysers and end their days by soaking in the local hot springs. They’ll also get the chance to explore Icelandic culture and tradition while touring the nation’s capital of Reykjavik while also taking in the majestic beauty that has made Iceland a favorite destination for travelers for many years.

Discovery Adventures is a joint venture between the Discovery Channel and travel company G Adventures. Since launching a few years back, the company has continued to add exciting and adventurous destinations to its line-up each year while continuing to craft excellent adventure travel opportunities for their customers. This new Iceland trip stays true to the company’s vision of providing unique travel experiences while still offering comfortable accommodations and small group sizes.

To find out more about the Iceland Adventure tour and all of the other destinations that Discovery offers visit the company’s website.

[Photo Credit: Andreas Tille via Wikimedia]

Survey Ranks ‘World’s Most Unfriendliest’ Countries

Have you ever been to a country that just seems to give tourists the cold shoulder? Now, there are some figures behind those unwelcome feelings; the World Economic Forum has put together a report that ranks countries based on how friendly they are to tourists.

The extensive analyses ranks 140 countries according to attractiveness and competitiveness in the travel and tourism industries. But one category, “attitude of population toward foreign visitors,” stands out.

According the data, Bolivia (pictured above) ranked as the most unfriendly country, scoring a 4.1 out of seven on a scale of “very unwelcome” (0) to “very welcome” (7).

Next on the list were Venezuela and the Russian Federation, followed by Kuwait, Latvia and Iran (perhaps when visiting one of these countries, you should try your best to not look like a tourist?).

On the opposite side of the scale were Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco, which were ranked the world’s most welcoming nations for visitors.

Tourism infrastructure, business travel appeal, sustainable development of natural resources and cultural resources were some of the key factors in the rankings. Data was compiled from an opinion survey, as well as hard data from private sources and national and international agencies and organizations such as the World Bank/International Finance Corporation and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), among others.

The report also emphasized the need for continued development in the travel and tourism sector, pointing out that the industry currently accounts for one in 11 jobs worldwide.

All of the results of the survey can be found after the jump.

Attitude of population toward foreign visitors
(1 = very unwelcome; 7 = very welcome)

Friendliest

1. Iceland 6.8
2. New Zealand 6.8
3. Morocco 6.7
4. Macedonia, FYR 6.7
5. Austria 6.7
6. Senegal 6.7
7. Portugal 6.6
8. Bosnia and Herzegovina 6.6
9. Ireland 6.6
10. Burkina Faso 6.6

Unfriendliest

1. Bolivia 4.1
2. Venezuela 4.5
3. Russian Federation 5.0
4. Kuwait 5.2
5. Latvia 5.2
6. Iran 5.2
7. Pakistan 5.3
8. Slovak Republic 5.5
9. Bulgaria 5.5
10. Mongolia 5.5

Have you ever visited somewhere where they didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat? Alternatively, have you visited somewhere on the “unfriendly” list and had a great, welcoming experience? Let us know how your travel experiences compare with the survey’s ranking in the comments below.

[via CNN]

[Photo credit: Phil Whitehouse, Wikimedia Commons]

Discover Scandinavia In Washington DC: Nordic Cool 2013

Aurora Borealis, new Nordic cuisine, ice hotels, hot springs, fjords, moose, meatballs and music? Scandinavia is at the top of the list for a lot of travelers these days. But if you can’t book a ticket to the northern countries this year, Washington, D.C., might be your next best bet.

The city is the host of Nordic Cool 2013, a month-long international festival celebrating the culture of Scandinavia, taking place at the Kennedy Center from February 19 to March 17, 2013.

Featuring theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, cuisine and film, the festival aims to highlight the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as the territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Áland Islands. That’s a lot of Scandinavia in one month.

There is a wide selection of free events that are open to the public, including exhibits on Nordic design and plenty of musical performances. In fact, a total of more than 750 artists, musicians, dancers and writers, will descend upon the capital for the festival, all in an attempt to answer the question, “What is Nordic?”

There’s no simple answer to that, but at least you know it will be high on the cool factor.

[Photo Credit: Nordic Cool 2013]