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Babcia and Yia Yia!, Intro To Travel Lit

Travel Lit: 10 Ways Books Make Us Better Travelers

Books work so very hard to take us on a journey through stories with settings and characters that inspire and ignite the imagination. For the traveler, books are even more important as they produce wandering memories and inspire travel dreams. Let’s face it travelers and literature are two peas in a pod!

woman in beret looking at piles of books placed in front of antique shop
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In fact, there are plenty of ways that books make us become better travelers no matter what kind of trip we are taking. It’s one of the most important things that we do all year long. Here are 10 ways we use books:

Create context for your destination.

As we plan for any trip, our first move is to hunt down some books to start learning about where we are off to. No matter what destination is in our sights, there’s a book out there to help get us excited about our adventures. To be clear, we certainly look for great new book picks but we also read and reread plenty of great classics. If we are on our way to Paris, we may choose our old copy of Julie and Julia to enjoy. However, if we are headed to Texas, we might opt for a brand new book of essays entitled Being Texan.


Inspire travels you never thought of before.

As teachers, we are always throwing book picks at each other. Our conversations are often about that list of books from Ambassadors or the new Sunshine State book awards. Usually, one new title will stand out to us as the “I haven’t thought about going there in a while” book. Books do a great job of stirring up the senses and taking us to new and exciting places. Using quality literature to get you going is what we are all about! I just put down the true crime book entitled The Galapagos Affair. How about a trip to the Galapagos?


Allow for new experiences when you know the literature from where you’re visiting.

Setting. It’s an undeniable part of any good read! We are often drawn to books with great setting and that can easily get us prepared for our upcoming experiences. If we are off to the Far East, the crowd pleasing trilogy Crazy Rich Asians may be just the right fit. It may not let us into those fancy circles but it can remind us to review the rules of Marjhong and ensure that it’s part of our trip! On the other hand, we could be right in the middle of the juicy Bridgerton series and are headed for high tea to take on biscuits and scones with a High Tea tour on a double decker bus touring London by Brigit’s bakery. Perhaps a good book sends us on a journey to find that setting as is the case with most traveling fans of Harry Potter!

Connect the past with the present.

No matter what era of history your mind wanders to, there is a book for you! Can’t get enough of Ancient Rome? There’s a book. Enjoy learning about the Vikings? Books have you covered. Do you want to learn more about the European founding of Australia? Check. Fiction and non-fiction abound! Some of the best literature helps connect the modern reader with the amazing tales of the past. One of our favorites is Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief. Middle schooler Percy takes us on an epic adventure across the US while teaching us about the ancient Greek Gods. We recommend this for kids and adults alike! Read it then, take a cruise through the Greek islands!


Open the world of art to the non art lover

Books can teach us so very much even when we are not expecting them to. Plenty of travelers struggle with art appreciation and are looking for ways to connect with art. Take in great fiction like the DaVinci Code to not only enjoy a great read but to also start wrapping your mind around the art of Paris. Enjoy incredibly moving non fiction like The Greatest Treasure Hunt In History to learn about The Monuments Men. This band of brothers was tasked with repatriating all of the stolen art of WWII. Way to tie it all together! Art is an integral reality of any travel and has the ability to be embraced. Books certainly help.

woman sitting on ottoman in front of three paintings
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Give kids a starting point to make travel more relevant

International children’s literature is at an all time high. There is more for children to read than ever before. Classics like Madeline and Paddington offer glimpses of faraway places. While modern picks such as Katie in Scotland make travel a relatable topic for young minds. Use our Travel U series to look at all kinds of children’s books that will inspire you! 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!

Extend travel while you are not out and about

Sometimes a good book is just the remedy true travelers need when they are grounded. Literature can help you sort through all of your different travel choices that are available to you. If the world is your oyster, books are the tool to use to pry it open! Sometimes, though, it’s hard to make a choice with so many options. We like The Wordy Traveler Subscription Box as a great way to see what newly written and newly wandered. Another great source for curated picks are the many, many book lists over on Good Reads.


Make world customs and traditions easier to understand

Sometimes there’s so very much to keep in mind when we travel. We always want to mind our P’s and Q’s while feeling comfortable in our own skin. Books can enlighten us on how to conduct ourselves when out and about. But literature can also give us an understanding of a culture like no other avenue. Take, for example, Joyce’s Ulyssus. This classic story takes us through Dublin in one day in the life in 1904. Be sure to know that Bloomsday will take place every June 16th and you can join in the revelry! But don’t you think it’s a good idea to read the book before you do? Ireland has tons of literary connections to enjoy. Check out Dublin’s Literary Pub Crawls to partake in all the fun!

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Uplift your own storytelling skills

If there is one thing those Irish know how to do, it’s tell a great story! And that could be said about so many other places as well. From Africa to North America, storytellers can be such an integral part of why and how we travel. The teacher in us will always tell you that the more you read the more you will develop your own storytelling skills about all of the places you’ve been. So, tell your stories and keep reading the tales of others.

Unlock the true meaning of quality travel

No matter where you go, books can be the key to unlocking purposeful travel for any age. Kids will connect better, adults will appreciate context and everyone will understand their destination just a little bit more. Books provide far reaching understanding of global understanding and values. Whether you are turning the page or listening to a book, the world awaits as the story unfolds. Enjoy the adventure!

PS: Here’s just a little more book fun!

Travel U for Kids

Travel U Library: A Global Book Review

Thanks for joining us today for our very first Facebook Live Book Review. I truly love these particular books and hope you will too! Each of them contributes to make us all better global citizens. Here are the Amazon links to all of today’s picks! 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!

At The Same Moment Around The World

As the sun brightly rises on one side of the world, it softly sets on another. In this global book pick with a series of delightful illustrations, the author takes the reader on a journey during just one moment in time. Each page shares a child’s view of his or her community and depicts what each and every busy mind is up to during this moment in time. A delightful read to support understanding of how the earth revolves around the sun making it a perfect balance to support STEM and cultural understanding.

This is a perfect book to share with a young traveler just starting to understand how movement around the world works. Take time to find each location on an actual globe to gain a better sense of time zones and the latitude-longitude system. Mostly, though, enjoy the charming illustrations of this global book pick and fun cultural activities each page brings to the read!

Travel Journals

Hitting the road? Catching a flight? Whether you are off to see the wonders of Italy or on the way to Grandma’s house a journal is not only a great way to keep young ones busy but an excellent teaching tool. Journals certainly provide practice with ever frustrating writing skills but they do so much more! In fact, journals create intentional, mindful travelers. Each time an entry is another step toward making travel a learning moment.

Meet Molly, An American Girl

From the creators of the American Girl Dolls comes one of their signature historical fiction series. Molly is realizing that war time sacrifices are frustrating especially when so many changes are happening all around her. From food rations to home made Halloween costumes, Molly needs to navigate her world while missing her dad who is overseas supporting the war effort. Molly’s story certainly rings true in light of current issues our kids are facing. What better way can we help them see that things will get better than to read a story about a little girl who learns just that lesson? Molly’s journey continues through several successive books. These books can be a bit of a challenge to find as this particular doll is has been put back in the AG vault and can sell for more than $300.00! The doll that is, not the books!

Wonders Of The World

Calling all travel dreamers! This one is for you! It’s time to get your Indiana Jones hat and explore the greatest of all time! From the Colossus of Rhodes to the mysterious Hanging Gardens of Babylon, this book takes you on an epic journey to engineering feats that make you say “how did they even do that?!” That power of wow is a super cool way to get the kids in your life ready to get going on your next adventure!

Nat Geo Kids’ Guide to Photography

If you are looking for an amazing new hobby for your budding traveler, how about giving photography a try? In true Nat Geo form, this book is jam packed with tip after tip and idea after idea. I literally took this book and a camera and put it in the hands of a few students. It was magical! With easy to read articles about photography basics and interesting tips about theme, this read is perfect for the creative kid in your life!

This Little Explorer: A Pioneer Primer

Start your little travelers off on the right foot by teaching them all about some of the greatest explorers of all time! In this great read along, each page introduces famous travelers like Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. (The info has been updated on that guy!) Sweet illustrations make this a fun bedtime read so your little gypsy can have adventures while he or she dreams!

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World

This pick is for the girls in your life who is ready to learn why women are mighty. These one page biographies are delightful and highlight their wonderful contributions to their respective fields. if you are looking for a little girl power, check this book out!

A Computer Called Catherine

If you have had the chance to see the movie Hidden Figures, then you already know that Catherine Johnson is a superhero! This kid sized version of how Catherine would up being an integral part of the Space Race is a great launching pad to understanding the role of women throughout history.

If Kids Ran The World

I can think of no better time to read this book than in these tough COVID-19 times. This book rings so true today and as I re-read it for this post, I found myself wishing it were all true! With a hopeful nod to the way things should be on our third rock from the sun, and a bit of Louis Armstrong nostalgia, this read leaves you refreshed and ready to take on a new day.

A Ticket Around The World

I hope all of your travel dreams come true this year! I’m hoping for a banner travel year myself! My planning process always starts in January. I guess I’ve taken the “New Year, New You” saying and customized it to be “New Year, Where To?” When getting ready to plan your travels, you may want to dream a little bit with your kids. After all, that’s exactly what we need to do in order to keep growing our future global citizens, right? A Ticket Around The World by Natalie Diaz and company does a great job of taking a literary trip around the world to explore many familiar and perhaps unfamiliar places all over the globe.

So, climb on board with kids from all over and learn about the wonders of Botswana, The Philippines, France, Brazil, and The United States (among others). Each beautifully illustrated page has tons of great travel basics to know about each destination. It makes this picture book a great first travel guide to boot!

Travel Listography

Considering that we are all grounded, how about a book that lets you remember all of your adventures? And dream up some new ones? Each page denotes a topic and has room to write down previous fun and room to conjure up some new travel ideas. While I put it on this list for older kids and teens, make no mistake, it is a great adult pick too! I find myself jotting down all sorts of new ideas. Then, realizing there is so much more to see and do in this world. I am in love with this book!

Study Hall: Essays On Travel

These are a few of my favorite things….

It’s Christmas time and the air is filled with the excitement of the season. Lights are strung, trees stand at attention ready for Santa’s big arrival! The kids are a little out of control with the anticipation of all that the next two weeks offer. I love Christmas and my time with my family. It never disappoints. I love to laugh, love, and share with them especially as they grow up and start forging their own way in this world. As with anything moms deal with, I always seem to find myself over analyzing what I could do differently or better than before. I know, I know I shouldn’t but, I do! I’m always looking for ways to be creative with the holidays but my kids have brought up a very good point: “Mom!” they say “we never know what to get you!”

Fair enough!

One of my favorite things is my travel tree with ornaments from all my travels.

Kids want to give just as much as they want to receive. I must admit, I am one of those moms who falls in the “put me last” category-as most do, but, the kids have a point. How are they ever supposed to know what to do if we don’t help them along? Maybe the thing I need to do is put their gift giving ahead of their gift getting. And in the end, isn’t that what we are always trying to teach them? So, here’s my idea for the busy, put-myself-last, creative holiday moms out there:

Create a simple list of a few of your favorite things!

Here is mine:

  • 1. Bumble bees
  • 2. Maps
  • 3. Christmas ornaments that come with a story or meaning
  • 4. Travel books
  • 5. Polish pottery

The list is open to any interpretation but at least it gives your young gift givers a place to start! So, post your list, cozy up with you kiddos and have an evening with problematic Maria! She is very clear on her favorite things!