Kiddosphere: Happy World Tourism Day!
I love reading travel books, travelogues, and books set in countries other than the United States. When I learned about World Tourism Day, I immediately thought of the awesome books that would be perfect for a tourism-based post.
Although there are many apps and websites that are great for travelers, I still love a reliable, comprehensive and picture-rich guidebook. The DK Eyewitness Travel guidebooks are my personal favorites. Not only do you get the usual recommendations for hotels/restaurants/shops, but you’ll learn a ton about the country’s (or city’s) history and culture. Other well-regarded series include Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Moon Handbooks, Rick Steves, and Lonely Planet. If you’re looking for an in-depth guidebook for an American state or city, definitely see if there’s a Great Destinations guidebook for your desired state/city/region.
Rick Steves is famous for his guidebooks and television programs on European travel. His latest, Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door 2016: The Travel Skills Handbook is not like his “stay here, see this, eat here” guidebooks (although that is included). Rather, it’s an enormous guidebook of travel tips gained from his 30+ years in travel. Everything from booking your travel, to using your mobile devices in Europe, to the different styles of sightseeing, shopping tips, and how to avoid scams and ripoffs is included.
Abroad at Home: The 600 Best International Travel Experiences in North America is a big and beautiful celebration of the amazing diversity of the United States. While many people visit the Chinatown neighborhoods of New York and San Francisco, you may not know that there are French Canadian enclaves in Maine, a Yoruban community in South Carolina, Norwegian neighborhoods in Seattle, and many more.
Four Seasons of Travel: 400 of the World’s Best Destinations in Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall is another beautifully packaged travel guide from National Geographic (as is Abroad at Home). Everything from fall foliage in New England to the summer White Nights in St. Petersburg, Russia (during which there is nearly round-the-clock sunlight) is covered in great detail. While this and “Abroad at Home” wouldn’t be your main guidebooks, they are terrific resources for enhancing your travels or just “aspirational” armchair travel.
1,000 Places to See Before You Die is the ultimate in armchair/aspirational travel. While I’ve not used it as a practical guidebook, it’s definitely a very cool thing to read. While the standards are included (Grand Canyon), there are many places that are probably not familiar to most people (Plitvice Lakes in Croatia). This book spawned an industry of similar books and imitators.
Do you enjoy travelogues/travel narratives? I usually shy away from the ones that seemed to be very popular a decade or so ago, in which someone bought a fixer-upper in a foreign country and wrote about the eccentric locals. They all seem to run together after a point. Lucy Knisley, thankfully, is not your usual travel writer; for one thing, her books are written in the style of graphic novels. Her books are deeply personal; not only is she writing about her travels, but she’s also writing about family, her relationships, her self-identity as a struggling young artist and more. While all of her books are highly recommended, Displacement is my favorite so far (in which she takes a cruise with her grandparents).
The World Between Two Covers seems ideal for armchair travelers and those who love reading books set in other countries and/or written by non-American authors. Ann Morgan set out to read a book from each country in the world (196). She chronicled her experience on her blog, which was later expanded and turned into this book. The book is not a rehash of her blog (which she has continued after finishing her project); she chronicles the difficulties and surprises she found while finding and reading books from countries large and small. I’ve not read this yet, but it’s on my list!
Travel is important for kids, too! While there are plenty of “family travel” guidebooks, there are very few guidebooks written specifically for kids. National Geographic has a splendid kids’ guidebook for the national parks (I’m waiting for them to create more children’s guidebooks!). Divided into geographical regions, this is a great guide for both children and adults.
Going on a road trip or a plane flight? Backseat A-B See and Flight 1-2-3 should definitely go in your travel bag. As you can guess, “Backseat A-B See” explores the alphabet through road signs (L is for Library!), while “Flight 1-2-3” follows a family making their way through the airport (Dad gets singled out by TSA!).
Lonely Planet has answered the call of librarians, teachers, and parents who want fun and engaging books about countries. While there are fine series about countries and states, most are, admittedly, not fun recreational reading. Its Not-For-Parents series is occasionally irreverent (and includes some gross aspects of history), so it might not be for everyone. However, it is filling a gap that is sorely needed.
∼Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library