After looking through so many books for this website, there are some books that float to the top when I consider the idea of a travel book for kids. So, I wanted to take a moment to separate those for you.
Below you’ll find information about the best travel books for kids. For this list of “best travel books for kids” I’ve focused on children’s books that fit following criteria:
- Multiple destinations. Considering our Global Bookshelf is geared towards books organized by country, I wanted to highlight books that cover multiple destinations. There are two ways that I’m doing this. The first part of this post are single books that have multiple destinations. The second part of this post is dedicated to book series that include more than 3 titles (and thus, 3+ locations).
- Just like the rest of the books on this website, these books are geared for kids from birth to about 13. And, to be honest, a lot of these are books adults will love, too.
- And finally, these are books that are about the act of travel. So, we’re not looking at the awesome books for kids that are focused on everyday life or folktales or anything like that. Travel!
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The Airport Book by Lisa Brown – The key to a successful trip is managing expectations. Managing expectations for both the adults and the children involved. This book helps, so much. It shows the process of going to the airport from packing to go to the airport and then landing and leaving the airport – and everything in between. And I mean, everything. If, by chance, you’re at the airport reading this book and trying to find a way to past the time – get this e-book version now.
Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams and illustrated by Lucy Letherland – The main reason anyone travels for fun is for stuff to do. This book focuses on the “do”. What are the experiences you should have while visiting a new destination? This book helps sort that for you.
Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski – The love of travel begins easily enough. Start with a map. Beautiful maps. The Maps book is one of my favorites. The illustrations are captivating. This book is a great one to have to start the conversation about travel, to inspire dreams, and to begin the process of looking for places to discover in more depth.
I decided to separate good travel book series that include 3+ books because I think there’s something about being familiar with a book’s format that is very comforting for kids. You know how if you read a book you like by an author you want to go and read all of their books? Well, that’s kind of the idea here.
So check out one or two of the series below to start.
HOT TIP: I’ve seen a lot of these books at my local library, so don’t forget to stop there first!
Travel books for kids from the makers of travel books for adults
Lonely Planet is one of my favorite travel book creators. So it makes sense that if they make books for kids, I’ll probably like them, too. I particularly like their “City Trails” series. These books are packed with information from experts, written with kids in mind. In these books, a pair of cartoon guides provide the information and tours of the city. They’ll weave historical and cultural details with interesting tidbits. The goal is to give options for things off the beaten track and not often seen in guidebooks.
- Cities covered: London, Paris, Rome, NYC, Washington D.C., Tokyo, Sydney
- These books are available in paperback and e-book versions. Nice.
Travel books for kids who don’t know how to read yet (ie. board books)
These are the simplest version of travel books that exist, but I still love them. When I was pregnant with my first we found out within the first trimester that we were moving abroad. The only book I bought for my son before our move was a board book called Good Night Florida. What mattered to me most wasn’t that we had a book of rhymes or colors. No. I wanted him to know where we were from.
Since then I’ve discovered that these Good Night books are also collectible souvenirs. Some people collect shot glasses, spoons, or magnets (or if you’re my mom, all of that), and some people collect Good Night books. There are too many Good Night books to write here, but if you can dream a U.S. destination, they’ll likely have it.
Along with the Good Night books, I recommend the All-aboard series. The All-Aboard series includes books set in the Pacific Northwest, US National Parks, California, Washington D.C., London, Paris, and New York City.
Travel books for kids who like to be interactive with their books
My favorite travel journals for kids are by Leap & Hop. They’re colorful, include lots of prompts that both help kids discover new things and give them an opportunity to think about what they’ve seen. And, of course, when the trip is over they’re the perfect souvenir.
- Cities covered: Paris, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, New York, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bali, and India.
- Leap and Hop books are spiral bound and include separate maps.
Another way to experience interactivity through books is with a scavenger hunt. The Mission series provides multiple scavenger hunts to help make the trip fun and make sure the kids keep their eyes peeled.
- Cities covered: Paris, London, Washington D.C., Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, New York City, and St. Augustine.
- Books include multiple missions throughout the city.
Browse the Mission Scavenger hunt books.
Travel books for kids who like stories about kids traveling
These are hard to narrow down, I’ll be honest. I’ve decided to pick my top five favorite series that offer an array of destinations and definitely fit with the idea of an outsider visiting the city. I’ve organized these according to age from those that will appeal to the youngest readers, to those that appeal to our highest age range (13).
This Is is a classic travel series. Great illustrations combined with a simple text are, in my opinion, a great introduction to any city they cover at any age. These are books I’ve coveted since long before having children of my own. The cities in the This Is series include: New York, London, America, Rome, San Francisco, the World, Washington D.C., Ireland, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, Britain, Australia, Israel, Texas, Venice, Greece, and Cape Canaveral.
Browse the This is series.
Molly and the Magic Suitcase
I’m a huge fan of this series for multiple reasons. Aside from a great husband and wife team creating the books, they have a unique way of approaching their destinations. The illustrations are so detailed they give you a real sense of being there. And I love that they choose unique destinations to discover. The cities in their collection are: Shanghai, Sydney, Puerto Rico, Rome, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen, Peru, Thailand, and London.
Browse Molly and the Magic Suitcase.
Greetings from Somewhere
These are the first chapter books in this collection. You join siblings, who travel with their busy parents, around the world. There’s always a mystery to solve that’s a fun way to meet a new place. There’s limited illustration so keeping note of the places they visit to look up later would be ideal. They’ve had mysteries in: Venice, Paris, Beijing, Kenya, India, Peru, Australia, Alaska, and Athens.
Pack ‘n Go Girls
What separates the Pack ‘n Go Girls from the other series in this list is that they center on girls. And not just any girls. The girls have diverse and interesting backgrounds, who travel with their families, and meet a local girl along the way. Another thing I like about these books is that new girls are introduced in different books. However, subsequent books in specific countries will feature the same girls who started there. The books take place in: Austria, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil.
Travels with Gannon and Wyatt
If you’re really drawn to the Leap and Hop series I mentioned above, or the idea of your kids making their own travel journals, or you just like adventure, this series is for you. These books are modeled after the author’s own twin boys and the family’s trips. They’re written as travel journey entries. They explore some cool places and their real website highlights those places with more information, resources, and photos. Read their fictional adventure journals from: Egypt, Botswana, the rainforest, Ireland, Greenland, and Hawaii.
Travel books for kids who want to learn the language
The last series on this list is, perhaps, the most important. Teach the kids the language before your trip! No, they don’t need to be, nor will they be expected to be, fluent. But, introducing to simple phrases and the sound of the language will make the experience more complete for them and for you. We actually keep the Teach Me Everyday German book and CD in our car. It’s a really fun way to give kids a basic language experience. Learn to say “hello” and more in these languages: Mandarin, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.
There you go. These books should keep you busy for a while. Feel free to browse our directory of books if you’re looking for something else. There are so many great series out there and fascinating folktales that give your trips a unique perspective.
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