Robert Reid is the U.S. Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. In a column written exclusively for BookPage, he highlights terrific travel books, both old and new. This month, he selects some of the best books on the classic road trip.
The best thing a family can do when planning a trip is to include the kids right from the start. Make the whole process of picking a destination, finding places to stay, booking flights or plotting highway routes a family activity. At 10, I got to plan a short ski trip—our first—and I chose an empty summer lodge with staff that wasn’t sure why we were there. Still, it ended up being one of the most memorable trips we ever had.
I’ve always believed that the travel bug begins by just looking at maps. For a creative approach to map-making, check out Katharine Harmon’s imaginative The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography. Another great way to get the whole family involved is to pin up a map, like Michelin’s laminated USA wall map, on a family room wall and let everyone tape notes where they want to go most, then rate best/funniest/worst moment on the map after a trip.
For young readers, there are plenty of books to help inspire curiosity in the world and keep them entertained on the road. Lonely Planet’s new Not For Parents series is perfect for the budding traveler, with cartoon-based overviews of the featured cities (New York, London, Paris and Rome), along with quirky facts about familiar places (how the Roman Colosseum was first used, why you should never say “piece of pizza” in New York). For a bigger picture, the addictively browsable Not for Parents Travel Book covers the whole world. If the kids think your guidebooks are boring, try these and see if their tune changes.
Little ones might also enjoy the classic globe-trotting adventures of Tintin, particularly now that it’s been made into a popular movie. Older comic fans should consider Québécois comic-book artist Guy Delisle, who has published a series of superb travel-based books, including his latest, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City.
A fun book to help inspire teens (and adults) is Keri Smith’s playful How to Be an Explorer of the World, filled with hand-drawn tips and ideas on how to collect things in your daily life and on the road, and create a “life museum” with your finds. It shares some of the great universal truths about travel: No place is boring, and there’s more than one way to explore.
Robert Reid is Lonely Planet’s U.S. Travel Editor and always has at least one big map pinned to the wall.