The award-winning freelance writer and family travel writer Mara Gorman has a new book out, The Family Traveler’s Handbook. This is exciting news for families because Mara is not only an exceptionally experienced traveler, but she is a resourceful traveler demonstrating that where there’s a will there’s a way. This approach enables those who don’t believe they can or should travel with kids to feel inspired, and Mara’s book provides credible tips to take action on that inspiration.
Here’s what Mara says about the goals of her book: “Many families get locked into the idea that there is one way to travel because kids are involved – they think they can’t go backpacking, check out art museums, dine in restaurants, or visit other continents because those are activities reserved for adults or because it will be too challenging.
This book redefines family travel by showing parents that with planning and flexibility, they can do almost anything they did before they had children. It encourages them to use day trips and weekend getaways as practice runs and to consider outdoor adventure travel and extended travel as viable options for family travel.”
The book is divided into easy-to-peruse sections including The What and Why of Family Travel, How to Plan Your Tip, On the Road: Making the Most of Your Trip, and Special Considerations in Family Travel. There’s also a Resource guide and quotes from a litany of expert family travel bloggers and writers, including yours truly.
What makes this book so appealing is that Mara’s style is so approachable. Mara’s not on a pedestal preaching tricks of the trade without context; in contrast, she expresses heartfelt stories that we can all relate to as a community of traveling families.
Handbook highlights for me include Mara’s explanations and sentiments around the following:
What is family travel – From day trips to weekend getaways, to trips to see family, it’s ALL travel and offers an opportunity for learning and life-changing experiences.
Travel prioritizes experience over things – The quote “… stuff is fleeting, but memories last forever,” by Christine Koh, is my mantra is just one of the wonderful sentiments from other writers that Mara features in the book.
How to plan your trip – This is the family travel bible. For newbies and experienced travelers alike, this section includes realistic tips for all flavors of travelers. From choosing a hotel to camping to flying, Mara’s tips cover every aspect of the trip planning process. Her “How to Create an Itinerary” list is an easy-to-follow bullet list of actionable tips.
Preparing your kids to travel – We’ve learned this the hard way. Kids need to be engaged in the trip planning process as they get older. Mara suggests letting each child plan an entire day of a trip so that they will have a chance to assume ownership of it. Brilliant!
Traveling like a local – Mara practices what she preaches here as she always prioritizes getting beyond the tourist fluff. This insight is particularly invaluable for families traveling abroad.
When things don’t go as planned – This is travel reality. No trip is without some kind of snafu or missed expectation. Mara recommends taking a day off touring in the middle of a trip. We wholeheartedly agree and always set aside plenty of ‘no action’ time.
Thinking safety before you go – Mara provides practical, must-read tips in this section. Nobody likes to think about the bad stuff, but unfortunate happenings are much less impactful when you are prepared.
Finding adult time on the road – Hallelujah! Just because you’re on a family trip doesn’t mean that the trip needs to be all-kids-all-the-time. Mara provides creative tips for sourcing a sitter.
There are many more excellent tidbits I’m not sharing from Mara’s book. To order a copy, visit Amazon.com.
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