Giving up on travel once I became a parent was never an option but let’s face it, travel with kids is not easy. It spells the end of any relaxation time but, as any passionate traveller will tell you, it’s also time to embrace the rewarding aspects of travel with children. Kids can help you break the ice with people and show you a different way of seeing the world.
I started looking for something to make our family travel more fun and educational. By educational, my goal is not to make sure my kiddo gets an A* in geography, but rather to stimulate curiosity and help her to open up to this amazing planet and its glorious cultural diversity.
I didn’t want a travel with kids book for parents. I already have a number of these and, while useful for family vacation ideas and planning family trips, I wanted books that children could carry with them on the trip, engaging and enriching their experience every step of the way.
I wanted help with fun and engaging facts, mental activities like quizzes, and physical activities like walking tours, as well as the opportunity to be creative, and also record something of their own experiences, creating a record of the trip. A travel guide that meets kids where they are!
I started researching and found quite a few options so I thought I would share the travel guide books for kids I have found and used:
Leap & Hop travel guides for kids
Isabelle Demenge teamed up with illustrator Emilie Sarnel to create the Leap & Hop series of travel books after creating the first book for her own children. There are mini-tours of sites, easy to understand facts, quizzes, and opportunities to draw and stick in your own contributions to create a record of your trip.
Destinations covered: Bali, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India-Rajasthan, Mongolia, Myanmar, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam
My view: I personally found these books beautifully produced and creatively written. Isabelle has tested these on her own kids and it shows. We enjoyed Sri Lanka and Myanmar so the Leap & Hop books would be my first choice were we to travel to any of the other destinations she covers.
Lonely Planet kids’ travel books
You would expect them to be the market leader and Lonely Planet kids’ books and kids’ travel guides certainly offer a wide range of publications for children. There are engaging atlases and gorgeously presented fact books, as well as helpful guides to whet the appetite like The Travel Book. Then there are a limited series of fantastic destination guides, jam packed with the facts kids want to know about places. They have a good mix of text and images.
Destinations covered: London, Sydney, Paris, New York, Rome, Washington, Tokyo, Europe, Australia, USA, Asia
My view: I think the ‘Not for Parents – Everything you Ever Wanted to Know’ guides are brilliant – very professionally produced but less ‘interactive’ than some of the other guides reviewed here. If your child is a bit older and you are visiting one of these destinations you can’t go wrong with these kids’ travel guides. The reference books make beautiful gifts and are good for identifying family vacation ideas but are not much help ‘on the ground’ in your destination.
Deliberate Travel workbooks
The Deliberate Travel series of travel workbooks for kids was created by a Dutch-English couple – Joram and Laura – who aim to teach children about the world while developing exploration, curiosity, research skills and understanding. With educational puzzles and activities, the aim is to make learning fun. There are workbooks for kids aged 6-11 years and more complex workbooks designed for kids aged 7-12 years who want to dig a little deeper.
Destinations covered: England, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, Morocco, Jamaica, Ireland, France, Australia, India, Scotland, Mexico, India.
My view: I like it that the workbooks are available to purchase in both physical or digital form, and especially that there are different books for younger and older children. These kids’ travel guides are fresh and fun.
Flying Kids travel guide series
The Flying Kids travel guide book series has been developed by Shira Halperin with the goal of making your family vacation more fun, relaxing – and even educational. Various authors have been brought in to write the guides, for example children’s author Kelsey Fox created the US city guides. They have kids’ activities books for 4-8 year old children and guide books for 6-12 year olds.
Destinations covered: San Francisco, Washington DC and Los Angeles, China, Thailand, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
My view: The FlyingKids books probably offer the best range of destinations with a good selection of popular US, European, and Asian countries and cities. Again, it’s great to have two age ranges covered as a 12-year-old wouldn’t touch anything even faintly ‘babyish’ with a barge pole. FlyingKids has taken care to take on board feedback and experiences from actual travelling parents. There are also downloadable activities in addition to the books.
Other ideas for kids’ travel guides
The tourism boards for some countries have developed their own activity books and guides for children. For example the Costa Rica Tourism Board has a free downloadable activity book with designs for colouring in, puzzles and games to help kids learn about Costa Rica’s unique wildlife.
If you are planning a family holiday to Florida, take a look at A (mostly) Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades by Karen Bartlett. This family guidebook to Florida’s Paradise Coast tells you the best activities to plan with your kids and has the right amount of history and information to keep kids and adults interested.
What are the best travel guide books for kids?
Who offers the best travel guides for happy kids on your family trip? Because of the limited range, it will often come down to who offers a guide for your travel destination. If you are going to London or New York you will probably have a choice. If you are going right off the beaten track you might have to make one up for yourself! Regardless, taking a children’s travel guidebook with you is going to add value to your trip. Have you discovered any other kids’ travel guides that I’ve missed?