I love to curl up with a good book that takes me away to other places. Travel books let me reminisce about places I’ve been or dream about locales on my “someday” wish list. Reading about it the next best thing to being there.
At this stage in my life, I’m a junkie for books about all aspects of family travel (no big surprise for a mom with a “have kids will travel” website). Traveling with tots, toddlers, tweens or teens presents a unique set of challenges and rewards that make for rich, often humorous writing material. I can get lost for hours in books that outline new places I can explore with my girls (required research for our upcoming round-the-world trip) and literally devour chronicles and caveats of other families who have globe-trotted before us.
If you know anyone who shares my literary wanderlust, here are five stocking stuffer suggestions to amuse and inspire them. Better yet, gift them to yourself.
How to Fit A Car Seat on a Camel: and Other Misadventures Traveling with Kids, edited by Sarah Franklin. This tome gets my award for the most compelling title of the year! The anthology contains 46 essays about the trials and tribulations of traveling with children, often leading to hilarious (in hindsight only) insights. The stories span the globe (Ecuador, Laos, Cape Town, Graceland…) and the ages (from nursing infant to surly Goth teen), covering escapades in a sailboat, campground, canoe, car, airport departure lounge and more. It’s a fun read that may make you wonder why parents ever leave home with their offspring in the first place – but don’t the mishaps make the best memories?
World Trek: A Family Odyssey, by Russell and Carla Fisher. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my desire to take off and explore the world with my kids for a year or so – I can’t get enough of books written by parents who’ve been there, done that and can impart some of their wisdom to me. Not only do these author-parents provide insight into planning, packing, budgeting, home schooling, language learning and other practicalities of long-haul traveling with two daughters in tow, they have written an engaging travelogue about their worldly adventures through 19 countries and 50,000 miles for 376 days. Even if you have no intention of ever embarking on such a journey, this is a riveting read.
Exotic Travel Destinations for Families, by Jennifer M. Nichols and Bill Nichols. The title is self-explanatory – this book is ideal for more adventurous families who like to journey off the beaten track (no Disney recommendations here), but always with safety, learning and fun in mind. If you dream of taking the kids to places like Bulgaria, Namibia, Cambodia, Qatar and the Galapagos Island (I do!), this is the guide for you. The book is peppered with personal anecdotes from the authors’ own trips with their children, along with practical tips, resources and book/video/DVD recommendations about each destination.
A Kid, A Grown Up and a Travel Bug: A You-Can-Do-It Travel Guide for One-on-One Getaways With Your Child, by Janice Davis. The unique twist to this family travel guide is that it advocates leaving the spouse and siblings behind while you spend some quality bonding time tripping with just one kid at a time. Sharing special experiences, discoveries and adventures with your child while traveling together is the very definition of quality time. Planning and organizing tips, age-by-age activity suggestions and sample itineraries are included.
Frommer’s 500 Place to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, by Holly Hughes. If you’re looking to spark some fresh family travel ideas, this book is chock full of kid-friendly locations, attractions and must-sees around the world. The list includes zoos, aquariums, museums, caves, castles, beaches, theme parks etc. – some obvious, some unusual. Each listing includes an age-rating, a brief description, a website link and info on nearby family-appropriate lodging. It’s a great starting point to get the travel dreams flowing.