Today, an interview with Shira Halperin, founder of the Kids’ Travel Guide book series and TheFlyingKids.com.
BSM: You’re a mom who loved to travel before becoming a mom. Now, you specialize in sharing family travel secrets, tips and destinations with other families. You’ve also created a successful guide-book series just for kids. Please tell us more about your inspiration and how the books and website have evolved.
SH: I travelled for many years, both for pleasure and business.
When my kids were babies, it was just a technical challenge: what to take with me, what’s the best way to fly with babies and so on. When they got older, I found myself struggling with bored kids. It didn’t matter where I took them, after a short while they just wanted to go back home or watch TV.
I kept asking myself what I was doing wrong. I was a Learning Solution expert and made my living consulting with people and organizations on how to develop learning solutions for their employees. How was I not able to handle my own kids while traveling?
So, I decided to develop unique resources, content, and solutions. First, I developed general materials about traveling (back seat activities, for example), then I started to gather ideas for engaging kids during travel in various countries or cities. I created a variety of materials to educate and entertain because I wanted to keep my kids entertained and familiarize them with other cultures, places and history.
Soon, friends asked me to share what I created. Then they shared it with their friends.
In return, I received tremendous feedback and a great gift — other parents started to contribute their knowledge, and they shared my “activities” with their friends. The result was the birth of the Kids’ Travel Guide book series. TheFlyingKids website was just a natural thing to do in addition to the books.
BSM: What are the challenges of traveling with children? Any tips for making it easier?
SH: Traveling with little babies is the easiest. When they start walking and want to have their own say, things change.
The most challenging time was when they were toddlers as at this age kids are more stubborn and like to have their own way.
When they are young kids, they start to get more interested in discovering new places so as a parent you need to keep up with their curiosity and continuously explain and entertain them. Of course, it gets more and more challenging when you have more than one child and your children are different ages.
As for tips, I’d say:
- When kids are young, you need to try and plan your trip so that you stay in one hotel for the whole vacation and try to avoid moving as much as you can. Traveling during the day and returning to the same hotel in the afternoon helped my kids to get use to a new place faster and they usually meet more people or other kids this way.
- Try to involve your kids as much as possible in your plans. Preschool kids can really get involved in the planning, they can vote and/or choose from choices you give them. Grade school kids can read about places in advance and ask to visit specific attractions about which they’ve read. Teens can do research. Give them the mission of planning one full day during your vacation.
I truly believe that when kids are more involved in the planning of the trip the chances are that they will not get as bored. The more they know about the place you visit, the more they enjoy and remember it years later.
BSM: Your kids’ travel guides are fantastic. Please tell us about them. Do you have a personal favorite?
SH: The Kids’ Travel Guides are specially created for kids 6 to 12 years of age, but we get feedback from parents that read it to their younger children and adults who enjoy them, too.
We’ve heard from homeschool parents that use our guides as learning tools without even planning to visit the destination. That was a big surprise, and it looks like more and more homeschool parents are using the guides.
What makes our guides so special is that they are interactive. They are a unique combination of books informing parents about where to take their kids and colorful books with information written for kids.
They involve kids in everything from planning, packing and discovering what to expect, to seeing the sights and learning new things. Kids are entertained with fun activities, games, juicy “Did you know?” information, and tips about the main attractions.
Kids meet Leonardo, the FlyingKids “tour guide”. Leonardo encourages them to experiment, explore, learn, and be more involved in the family’s activities. These guides also become the kids’ diary for the trip, inviting them to capture the great moments and their impressions of new sights and experiences. This way, without even noticing, kids learn so much more about new places and have wonderful documented memories when they return home.
Of the 26 guides we’ve released, our best sellers are London, New York, Rome and Paris. Last month we released Kids’ Travel Guide – Spain which looks like is going to be a best seller, too. And a few days ago we released Kids Travel Guide – Australia. My favorite book is always the latest one. When they are newly-released I look for feedback from the reader. I’m curious to see how kids all over the world use them and if we did well and made the kids and the parents happy.
BSM: Where will you be traveling with your family this summer? What destinations are on your “dream” list?
SH: After many years of traveling in the most common ways, we’ve started sailing. My kids are older now (14 and 18 years old) and four years ago my “other half” and I bought a sailing yacht. For the past 2 years we’ve spent the whole summer in the Greek Islands and this is our destination for the coming summer, too. We sail from one island to another, living on the boat. We get to know beautiful places, special people and nice communities. We leave for the next island whenever we want and go where the wind takes us. We like it a lot and plan to extend our sailing trip more and more when the kids are older.
In case you’re curious about what it is like sailing with kids (teenage kids), well..it’s another story for a different series of books and blog.
The Kids’ Travel Guide – Ski
In addition to city and country guides, FlyingKids has a Kid’s Travel Guide for skiing. I’ve got it. I’ve read it. And I totally recommend it. It’s not focused on any one region or resort, and as Shira explained about all of the guides, it offers useful information, fun games and becomes a travel diary.
Designed for beginner skiers, it has safety tips (including The Code), information about what to expect in lessons, the history of skiing and snowboarding, along with tips for getting in shape and practicing balance before even going on vacation. And this is just a tiny sampling of what’s included.
It’s also good for summer reading!
We’re thrilled to offer three (3) copies of the Kid’s Travel Guide – Ski for giveaway. Whether you’re planning for a ski trip during the upcoming Southern winter, or you’re be planning for next ski season here in the north, this is a handy book to have on hand.
To enter, please leave a comment telling us where you and your family yearn to ski! For a second entry, please follow TheFlyingKids on Twitter or on Facebook. Three winners will be randomly chosen from all eligible entries on Monday, March 20.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Jackie, K and Pam S!
More Travel with Kids:
- Packing Your Ski Gear For Air Travel and More, February 13, 2017.
- Mi Familia: Unplugged, June 30, 2014.
- International Travel With Kids, Part One: Yes, You Can, July 7, 2011.
- International Travel With Kids, Part Two: Getting There, July 28, 2011.
- International Travel With Kids Part Three: Tips for Success, August 11, 2011.
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