Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Alfie and I love traveling. Between the two of us we've probably visited over 200 cities in almost 50 countries, and that's still not enough. If we won the lotto, that's what we'd spend our money on (aside from a couple of motorcycles, tummy tucks and designer shoes, of course) -- travel, travel, travel. We've imbued our children with the same wanderlust; all three kids ask us constantly which new country or city we can visit next.
Traveling with kids always presents an extra challenge, because you obviously want everyone to have a good time. We don't want to spend all our vacations at theme parks, but the last thing we want is to drag tired, whining (or worse, video-game-playing) kids around to yet another museum. So travel these days requires a bit of extra planning. You'd think that all the travel information accessible via internet has made travel books obsolete, but we recently received a review copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Best Family Destinations, and we're finding it to be quite a useful (and entertaining) tool in discovering great family destinations and attractions -- it's giving us some great ideas on where we can travel to next!
Planning a family vacation is exciting, but finding a destination that will appeal to multiple ages and interests can be a challenge. While the internet has become a primary tool for vacation planning, helping families decide when to go, how much to spend, what to do once they arrive, etc., it falls short in organizing information in one place that helps families decide where to go in the first place.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to the Best Family Destinations experienced travel writer Kyle McCarthy, with the assistance of traveler reviews from one of the top family travel sites, FamilyTravelForum.com, takes readers through five U.S. regions, Canada, and Mexico, uncovering the top 200 destinations for family travelers. Destination categories include:
· Top theme parks, family beaches, and other outdoor adventures
· The best road trips
· Most accessible national parks, eco-adventures, and recreation areas
· Rich cultural spots, including the best museum, event, or folk culture
· Can’t miss historical sites
· Budget-saving tips and fun facts to keep kids engaged
Here's what I like about the book:
* All the top family destinations are already compiled for you, so it's perfect for non-internet savvy families. But even people who spend their lives surfing the internet (uh, that would be me) can find this book useful -- try Googling "family travel" and sorting through the mountain of results, and you'll know what I mean! The true value of this book lies in the fact that it's a wonderful starting point for more in-depth research. You can quickly skim through the book to help you figure out where you want to go, then head to the internet to surf out all the deets. We're already using it to figure out what we want to do when we go to San Diego this August, and we're paying special attention to the attractions in Alaska, our next "dream vacation".
* Based on the recommended family destinations around my part of the world, I think the author is spot on. We've been to a few of the places in Part 6 (San Francisco, Las Vegas, Napa, Kauai, Hoover Dam, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite) and Kyle has really picked out the best of the best. I would heartily second her recommendations for things to do there.
* Best of all, it's in an easy-to-read format that the kids really enjoy. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd much rather give this to my kids to read than let them loose on the internet (can you imagine the results they would get for Las Vegas??). The Pea LOVES reading this book! She knows we probably won't get to see everything she reads about, but that's okay. It's giving her an idea of all there is to do and see around the US, Mexico and Canada, and it's feeding her love of travel even more. I have a feeling she's going to have some strong opinions when we start planning our next vacation -- and Alfie and I couldn't be happier.
This may be nit-picky, but I don't like the title of the book. I think it's somewhat misleading -- it should read "The Best Family Destinations in North America", or something that reflects the fact that we're only talking about the US, Canada and Mexico. After all, there is literally a whole world of amazing family destinations around the world! Speaking of which, I'd love an international travel edition of this book.....
The Bottom Line
The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Best Family Destinations is a great resource book for families who are starting to plan their vacations, or just dreaming about one!
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book in order to facilitate my review. I was not paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information is provided by the featured company/product and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.