Babcia and Yia Yia!, Intro To Travel Lit

‘Tis The Season For Travel Lit

Okay! We know! Traveling during the holidays is usually far more of a hassle than a great experience. While some of us get the pleasure of enjoying a true travel experience under the tree, most of us are either tucked in at home or schlepping somewhere we’d rather not. We hear you and we know you are calling out for a little help. Our response to this SOS is to work on your library. Books? YES!

These days, we’ve been totally inspired by the curated library on the Holland America Rotterdam cruise ship. It was completely curated to reflect a traveler’s interests. It got us thinking that sharing a curated list of books and book inspired moments for the traveler may be the best way we can wish you the best of spirits this season. So, pour a glass of wine, get yourself a great latte, and get comfy under your favorite blanket. Let’s travel, book style! 


Use books to start your next travel dream

We can’t get enough of the grand libraries and bookshops of the travel world. Book lovers everywhere are always keeping an eye out for those amazing little places that can never be anything but delightful. Be sure to seek out the bookshops and libraries in the destination that you are going to visit. Carve out time to find the dusty corners and the sleepy cats who supervise all of the stacks! We suggest that you plot out your latest reads with this amazing find: Plotted: A Literary Atlas

Some of our favorite- but not always famous- bookstores that are worth your time are:


  • Shakespeare and Co., Paris: Let’s talk about the line! This most famous of bookstores on the banks of the Seine can have quite the queue! But it stands the test the time. Make enough time to at least walk by it.
  • The Red Wagon in the St. Germain area of Paris: Children’s and adult books are just steps from Luxembourg Gardens.
  • The American Bookstore on Spui Square in Amsterdam: A long held American outpost, this is the place to grab a quick read before sitting down at a canal side cafe.
  • The Strand in NYC- books as decor are on display on every single wall. This bookstore is a piece of art unto itself and is our bonus pick!

Connect to your reading in more ways than one

We can’t get enough of how digital media has made book reading more accessible and portable while giving us book junkies a way to connect and share. Two of our favorites are Audible which allows you to listen to books at your own pace and Goodreads, a book loving community that let you connect and create goals to aspire to. While both of these services are by Amazon, we are not partners with them but we do love this cute little page holder that makes a perfect stocking stuffer! We’ve been busy reading and have some great picks for all kinds of travelers. We’ve added an Amazon link to each pic to make it easier to connect with these fabulous reads!

For The True Academic:

Babcia says: Go back in time and find out how the world changed as each drink was formulated. It’s fun to try and guess what they are before cracking this book open and it’s more fun to learn how they influence us to this day.

Yiayia says: Enjoy this heart-wrenching Holocaust survivor’s story. This story demonstrates that the power of love can see us through the darkest parts of our lives. Lily was liberated in 1945. She is an extraordinary woman who speaks out on the hope that evil would not happen again.

For The Romantic:

Babcia says: The first in a series of easy breezy romance stories, Julie Caplin creatively sets the scene for her classic boy meets girl stories all over the globe. Fun and fast, this is a quick read for any romance reader.

Yiayia says: Opa! When things fall apart where should you head? Santorini of course. Enjoy this romance novel on the beautiful Greek Island. Take in the blue tiled villas and turquoise waters. Let the love and beauty of Santorini wash away all your sadness!

For the Power Planner:

Babcia says: This travel journal keeps memories in an easy to update format. It’s a can’t miss for me and I so enjoy adding to it every now and then.

Yiayia says: Who doesn’t have a bucket list? If not, get started. This book gives you places all around the world guaranteed to meet all your desires. You will find hidden gems, cathedrals, castles, etc. to make your trip complete. So stop dreaming about it and get out and do it.

For The Logistics Lover:

Babcia says: Getting organized has never been so polite and Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting organized can help any traveler reduce and streamline to better focus on the long range travel plans we all crave.

Yiayia says: With the big movement of minimalism, this book is on target. The Swedish author, Margareta Magnusson, provides an element of humor to a daunting task. Get rid of things that are not needed and are just taking up space. Hold on to those things that are dear to you and family. Start cleaning!

For The busy busy mamas

Babcia says: with so much in the news, this book gives you a good look at how certain reads wound up being banned. It makes you want to enjoy a little taste of Kansas City’s great banned books landscape.

Yiayia says: This is a must read when planning a family vacation. This is a great assistant to the busy mom. It will give you great options from cruises to all inclusive resorts.

For the Murder Mystery Maniac

Babcia says: It’s a classic and it’s well travelled Christie brings her characters to life in this must read who done it.

Yiayia says: Reading a good mystery should be on everyone’s list. This one takes you on a destiny wedding off the coast of Ireland. Meet all the wonderful characters and decide who done it!

For the Outdoorsy Enthusiasts

Babcia says: Get back to basics as you explore the great outdoors and learn what nature is really saying to you.

Yiayia says: “I now walk into the wild.” Follow Christopher’s unconventional life choice as he leaves friends, family and job behind and heads into the wild of Alaska.

For the European Wanderer

Babcia says: You can’t miss when you get a story from a great piece of art and that’s exactly what Theresa Chevelier does with Girl With A Pearl Earring.

Yiayia says: You don’t want to pass this on by. Go along with Katy as she takes a trip she is has been waiting years to take to Positano. She is only missing one thing, her mom. Journey with her and witness how she reconciles with the past.

And one for the kiddos!

Lauren Pelkey Wally the Wandering Wallaby! This great first look at how amazing the world can be! We had the pleasure of chatting with Lauren and learning all about her travel journey and how she became a children’s author. Check out our conversation in our podcast. You can click the link below.

Try This Scandinavian Tradition

Take on the Icelandic custom of Christmas Eve reading. Pop some popcorn, put on some low music and have everyone crack open a brand new book. Happy holidays! Love, Babcia and Yiayia!

Travel U for Kids

Travel U Library: Pacific Edition

Thanks for joining us for our 10 Books in 10 Minutes Facebook Live Event! Sharing stories from around the world is an amazing gift to give any child. Putting the world in a young mind’s hands is one of the best ways to create productive, understanding adults. Books like this allow readers to develop life skills like empathy, cultural understanding, and a global sense of self.

TGC strives to connect travelers with quality literature and media that allows the curiosity in all of us to thrive. More importantly, the most powerful tool we have to be the best travelers we can be, regardless of our age, is gobal literacy. So, for more great reads and connections to travel and culture, click here! Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

Are We There Yet? By Alison Lester

Are we there yet?

It’s almost Summer and that means that tons of us are hoping to hit the road to go see the great big world around us. As with any car ride, the proverbial question tends to bubble to the bored surface sooner rather than later. Here it comes… you know what it’s going to be! Are we there yet? But have you ever considered really hitting the road? Really dedicating a few months to traveling rather than just a few days? Author Alison Lester takes on the HUGE task of circumventing an entire continent. She weaves a story based on her family’s very brave decision to check out their Australian homeland.

This charming and detailed book does a great job of answering that big question. It proves that each time a kid asks “are we there yet” it may just be the smoke signal we need to pull over, take time and experience something new. Perhaps it motivates you to take that epic road trip you’ve always dreamed of!

The Outback By Annaliese Porter and Bronwyn Bancroft

With illustrations being just as important as the text, this book focuses on the elusive center of Australia. The Outback uses aboriginal art to convey the importance of nature and the harmony that makes this unique region work. Look for this perfect bedtime read to inspire lots of adventurous dreams.

The Aussie A to Z By Heath McKenzie

Get ready to get on the alphabet train to make 26 stops in the land down under! This wacky look at all things Aussie. From furry friends to sports, look for this pick to give you a launching pad into studying this great corner of the world. While the text is minimal, the author includes a quick reference glossary in the back of the book. Additionally, all of the illustrations are ready to explore over and over again.


Living in Australia By Chloe Perkins

Get ready to meet Ruby! She is ready to tell your young reader all about her home country and does a great job at showing what life is like for a fellow kid citizen. With stops at Uluru and Sydney among others, this global book pick goes a bit further by telling what schools are like and highlighting the aboriginal culture. With easy to read text and clear illustrations, this pick is perfect for your younger travelers.

Our global book picks never feel complete without a journal!

Another huge help when taking any sort of road trip is a journal. Structured journals help kids be part of the experience. In fact, many of the bumps and bruises that come with extended trips can be rooted in the fact that kids don’t feel that they have any ownership in the experience. Journals are a great way to include young minds into great travel buddies that feel like they are part of the travel process.

Tokyo City Trails By Lonely Planet

Straight from the publishers of some of the best travel guides for children comes Tokyo City Trails. This book, great for your older explorers, has over 15 walking tours themed for every interest a kid could dream up! From sushi to ghost stories, this book covers Japan’s capital covered. The pages are designed to explore all aspects of culture and get your kids excited about visiting the land of the rising sun.

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Freidman

How My Parents Learned To Eat, a global book pick!

This wonderful tale of a Japanese-American child leaves you with a satisfied feeling. She treasures her parents story. When her mom and dad meet, things are a bit confusing. It causes the two young lovebirds to question if they have a future with each other. Each person struggles to understand and learn the other’s culture and are surprised to discover how hard they have both tried. The lovely end allows for the little narrator to share her story with us. A great read!

Books like How My Parents Learned to Eat allow all of us to savor the unique differences in our cultures and connect over the commonalities. Perfect for ages 4 through 8, it’s the perfect bedtime story. Be sure to share this gem with a young reader soon!

Hachiko by Various Authors

Of all the books I share with kids, I have yet to make it through this one without crying. Be prepared! This unbelievably true story about a dog’s loyalty speaks to the Japanese senses like no other. Hachiko will show how steadfast loyalty can be the very thing that matters most. Richard Gere turned the tearjerker into an americanized version a few years ago. It’s worth the watch but doesn’t hold the same power as the Tokyo setting of the original version.

Suki’s Kimono By Chieri Uegaki

Suki doesn’t understand why the other kids don’t admire her kimono in the same manner. While she is most comfortable in it, others don’t see it’s importance. Suki teaches them how her kimono connects her to her culture which she loves so much. This is a great pick to read with kids who may be struggling with their own cultural identity. Look for Suki to relate that fitting in and standing out are both a great way to be.

Dogku By Andrew Clements

Enjoy this this pick that bring the ancient art of Haiku into the modern world by writing about one of our favorite topics, the family dog! Get inspired to write your own haiku about your furry family member.

Thanks for joining us and look for more global book picks in the future!!

lady reading a book in a library
Babcia and Yia Yia!, Intro To Travel Lit, Notes on Planning and Packing

Our Guide To Guide Books!

We all do it! We commit to a destination and start the process of hunting down all of the amazing things we want to do and see while we are on holiday. But, are we really getting the most out of the information that we uncover? Have no fear! TGC is here and we are committed to helping you find the perfect travel guide to make your next investment in travel all it can be.

books on shelf in library
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Listen in to our conversation about guide books on our podcast! Babcia and Yia Yia Travel The World is a great way to get all kinds of travel tips. Click here to listen to this episode and more!

First, a few pointers…

Before we jump in to all the different guides out there, there are a few tips to make travel guides work for you.

  • Always buy a new guide book. Up to date books are a must. You can’t reuse an old travel guide. Times change and new places pop up while old establishments may not be around. I once tried to follow an old book in Poland. I was after a great laundry service I’d read about. It turned out that they moved 10 minutes closer to where I was staying but I only found that out about four hours later!
  • Multiple sources can help narrow down options to tailor your travels. Using more than one source can validate a particular choice. When I went to Livingstone, every guide, blog, and recommendation list told me to go to the Elephant Cafe. They were all right!
  • Mark up those books! Make notes and cross things out so that your book works for you. My favorite tools are Notetaking tabs and flags and Flare Pens to mark up all of your travel guides.
  • Don’t forget the guides on TV. Some of my favorites are Curious Traveler and The Travel Show on BBC. Shows like these can breathe a little more life into your decision making process so you can know if your picks really work for you.
  • Be careful of terms like hidden gems and off the beaten path. Sometimes these can mask as “I’m recommending this for a monetary kickback”.
pile of books accurately stacked on table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

In the beginning…

While the concept of touring goes waaay back, modern tourism truly started with the grand European tour. Bored people of the Victorian age would pack up a ton of stuff and traipse around Europe seeing the big sites. Back then, a guide from Murray’s was the best choice around. As the tourist trade became more accessible to the middle classes, the grand tour was put on the back burner with the first shots fired in the World Wars. Then in 1957, a soldier named Arthur Frommer thought that Americans would like to know how to visit post war Europe on $5 a Day. It was a smash hit.

With Europe being the number one destination of traveling American, backpacker Rick Steves published Europe Through The Back Door in 1980. He brought the same pragmatic approach to visiting Europe and a great dedication to keeping his work up to date. Both books warrant a read by any serious traveler regardless if Europe is at the top of your list or not. Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

What’s on the bookshelf…

Rick Steves and Europe Steves continues to dominate the European guide market and does provide excellent, reliable information for the general tourist and traveler. He, however, is not the man you are looking for to string hostels together for a hiking trip through Switzerland or a super specific guide to island hopping in Greece.

Count on Rick, his TV show, and his multi media empire to give you a good read on the basics. His Rick Steves Guided Audio Tours are certainly illuminating and, yet, some can find that his focus is on the arts and humanities…. which can come across as a little dry. We recommend using the official Bingo game when watching!

aerial view of city buildings
Photo by Nick Wehrli on

Beyond Europe…

As travelers expanded past European boundaries and set their sites on places like Japan and Australia, guide books kept up with demand. Arthur Frommer certainly expanded his base and his daughter, Pauline, continues to update 350 guide books for pretty much every destination around the world.

Lonely Planet follows suit with 200 authors canvasing the globe for the next greatest find in travel. LP leans toward eco tourism and outdoor adventure which can be super helpful for those looking to get out of the the general tourist lane.

Moon rounds out the big four and likes to invest in Central and South America with great guides for Belize and the Dominican Republic. Look for Moon to be helpful in other outdoor centric areas like the National Parks.

The digital bookshelf…

Big trade guide books are an incredible place to get information. However, with so many choices, they can feel a bit overwhelming. The question now becomes, “how do I narrow down all these great choices?!” The best suggestion is to follow a few bloggers.

This is the newest treasure trove available to travelers. A simple search on Pinterest leads to pin after pin of blog posts that will give you more information than you can imagine. That, in itself, can be a little overwhelming. Narrowing your search can be a huge help and following several bloggers that approach your destination from different perspectives can also bring on the best info to help you plan. Again, use Pinterest as a springboard so you can find writers that write about your interests like camping, wine, shopping, and more.

Digital guides on platforms like Amazon hosts a few digital picks which can make download and print an easy task. These guides are often written by niche experts who have well established blogs. They can be super helpful when you are looking for very specific information like fishing guides or foodie guides.

A few amazing bloggers are:

Your traveling tour guide…

You’ve researched all your choices and you’ve got a list tailored just for you. One tool in your arsenal that you may forget about your smartphone. The huge amount of apps that can be sourced is astounding. Apps can be a great on the go, last minute resource for any traveler.

Beware of crowdsourcing apps like Yelp! and Trip Advisor. Do they give you the best advice? It’s a mixed bag: Yelp! Seems to come out of the haze and tends to be accurate but Trip Advisor is dealing with a ton of bad reviews based on personal experiences that usually involve a crappy guest who didn’t get their way.

A few great app choices are:

  • Google Arts and Culture
  • Public transit apps like NYC subway or Eurail travel planner
  • iExit

Listen In…

Podcasting is a fabulous way to gather information and cross check a lot of the choices that you’ve already read about. Podcasts often have expert guests and plenty of kitchy tips to blend in to your own tailored needs. Some podcasters hope to be storytellers while others are working toward giving you the just facts in a fun format. Like all other areas of digital media, podcasting is flooded with too many choices to ever listen to, but here are a few of my faves: