Best Books For Family Travel

At WAYB we love family vacations and staycations: the dreaming, planning, and most of all, going! Here are some of our favorite books that guide travelers of all ages as they seek adventure and experience the world around them.

When I’m not traveling, I’m planning the next trip. And apart from the old-fashioned “spinning a globe and seeing where your finger lands,” I love a good travel book to lead me to my next destination. Sure I can see where “everyone” on instagram is going, but I like stumbling across an obscure fact or interesting tradition that might inspire the next trip. With my wee travelers, books are a great way to prep for or get more out of a trip. Here are some favorite books for all ages. Links are included, usually to Amazon, though I recommend you visit your local bookstore or library first.


This gorgeous, illustrated book is our coffee table favorite. With lovely drawings and fun facts, you’ll feel like you’ve been around the world. All Ages

2. Atlas Obscura

With off-the-beaten-path destinations, both the regular and kids versions will inspire adventure. Age 6+ (kid version), Adults (Original)

3. Cat in the Hat Learning Library

These well-researched books present really complex topics about the natural world in fun ways. If you’ll be near the ocean, in the rainforest, or seeing animals at all, find a related book and you’ll be amazed how much your kids pick up. We passed a tree recently with air plants on it. “That’s an epiphyte,” my 8-year-old said. I can thank “If I Ran the Rainforest!” for that one. Age 4+

4. Lonely Planet

Besides offering the best country guides for adults, Lonely Planet has a ton of kids books, from adventures around the world, to city-specific kids’ guides. All Ages

5. This is…

For the most delightful, illustrated guides to cities around the world, check out the “This is…” series by Miroslav Sasek, featuring cities like Edinburgh, Paris, and Sydney. These classic books from the 50s and 60s are also collected in “This is the World.”

6. Kids’ Travel Guides

These activity books keep kids excited about their trip, and had my daughter interviewing everyone she met to find the answers to puzzles and questions. Age 8+

7. Children Just Like Me

This wonderful book introduces kids from around the globe in heartwarming and relatable ways. Your whole family will feel like you’ve made dozens of new friends, and you’ll teach your kiddos about world cultures, religious and economic differences, and beautiful global traditions. All ages.

8. DK … everything

Besides “Children Just Like Me,” DK has so many amazing photo-based books on… just about everything. Check out their atlases, their Smithsonian guides to science and history, eyewitness travel guides, and even books about transportation. They also have some illustrated books, like the fascinating “Cross-Sections” books.  Wherever you are going, DK will have a book about something you’ll encounter.

9. Classics

Classic stories of adventure are still loved by kids, and you’ll love reading them again. Go back to Pippi Longstocking, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Tintin, Boxcar Children, or the delightful illustrations of Richard Scarry. If your older readers want a more updated take, try
Nim’s Island, a sort of modern-day Robinson Crusoe. Ages 6+

10. All Aboard!

These lovely board books are great for wee travelers. Ages 0+

11. Beautiful Picture Books

My kids can’t get enough of the stunning artwork in some of the gorgeous books about travel in times past, imaginative travel, or real adventures seen through a child’s eyes. Our favorites include Locomotive, Journey, Redwoods, and Time of Wonder. Ages 3+

12. Treasures in your Local Library

If all these books are starting to add up and blow your travel budget, don’t overlook the wonders of your local library. Not only can you browse for unexpected gems, you can also borrow e-books to read on the trip. Download Libby and you can read books on your phone, iPad, or send them to a kindle. Our kids have become obsessed with several great travel-related series of books. We can’t bring all that paper on our travels with us, so we borrow them for Kindle. Check out the Magic Treehouse series, Geronimo Stilton, and Royal Diaries, to name a few. If I’m not sure if a book is age-appropriate, Common Sense Media is a fantastic review site for parents. 

What are your favorite travel books? Post a pic and tag @hellowayb to share!

About the author: Amanda Reid is the former Head of Brand and Social Impact at WAYB. She spent the last year living on a sailboat with her family where she spent her time writing, steering, boatschooling, and planning the next adventure, big or small.