Explore the World With Your Kids

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Nov 22, 2014 / 0 comments

One of the best things you can do for your kids is to raise them as global citizens. And the easiest way you can do that? Well, travel with them - as much as you can, as far as you can. Because they will be exposed to many different people, lifestyles, cultures, and landscapes, they will be interested in - and care about - the world around them.

But it isn't always easy, is it? We were recently sent a review copy (thank you!) of Explore the World With Your Kids, penned by travelers and writers Kate, Mike, and their tween, Maggie, of Big Eyes Little World Travel. It's a complete guide to creative, inspiring family travel.


Explore the World with your Kids

Book Cover, from the carousel at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Vignette: when tween was at the threshold of 5/6, she asked whether all of Paris was a playground after multiple trips there over 2 years. Kate answered yes! Daughter asked: where is the adult equipment? Kate answered: the equipment changes. This vignette tells you all you need to know about how we see travel with kids: no matter what age you are, there is something wonderful to discover...especially if you and your little ones read.


Chapters include:

  • Fun, Modern, Engaging Family Travel
  • Travel Happily from Ages 6 months to 18 Years (which is further divided by age - more on that soon)
  • Engage
  • Practical Planning Tips
  • Airplanes
  • Activities
  • Intrepid Gluten-Free Travel
  • Security
  • Having Fun on the Ground
  • Dining
  • Resorts
  • Theme Parks
  • Road Trip
  • Bringing It Home

What I love most about this book is the pure pleasure that Kate and her family take in traveling together. Each precious piece of travel advice in the book is based around the concept of seeing the world through your child's eyes, of making the world a playground, of adjusting your thinking and creating opportunities for fun, discovery, and learning.


Painted desert

Painted desert


What does that mean for you, the reader? This book presents an entirely new way of looking at family travel - as something extremely enjoyable. No handouts to give to flight attendants to apologize for your child (what a way to look at the world. But I digress); no trying to fit your kid into a strange world where there is no space for them. Instead, this book encourages seeing travel as an adventure - for the whole family. There's plenty of space in this world for all travelers. Yes, there are plenty of specific (and genius) tips for traveling with kids of each age. But as I read this book, I kept thinking that if more people traveled this way, the world wouldn't be as foreign. By traveling differently, with a sense of curiosity and interest, and an eye on how your kid experiences the world, your family will have a chance to learn about and have fun with this amazing planet we live on. Highly recommended!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Kate, to discover the backstory of this book, inspiration, travel tips, creating travel excitement and inspiration, budget-friendly travel, and more. Here's what she had to say...


NYC High Line: This picture highlights the old and the new in the  neighborhood.

NYC High Line: This picture highlights the old and the new in the neighborhood.


Please tell us about your book, Explore the World With Your Kids...

It provides a toolkit for parents to use when planning family trips, with kids of ALL ages. The idea is to tap into kids' imaginations and interests at every stage of their lives so that they get the most out of every trip. We believe deeply that all kids can travel happily without the parents perpetually relegating themselves to kid-specific adventures. Amazing places usually have amazing stories to tell. So our book helps new parents figure out how best to tell the story from the beginning (before the trip), the middle (during the trip), and the end (once home again). The second half of the book focuses on how to use technology intelligently to help parents engage in family trips efficiently and cost-effectively and safely. We cover internet safety and privacy (including balancing significant privacy needs of tweens/teens with their love of social sharing), as well as basics like road trips and how to choose a resort vacation that will balance the needs of everyone in the family. Because Kate has celiac disease, we also include a chapter on gluten-free travel.

NYC Top of The Rock: Probably my favorite picture taken for our blog.

NYC Top of The Rock: Probably my favorite picture taken for our blog.


What inspired you to write this book?

Dinner parties. Our daughter is now 12. For the last decade, our friends have been asking our advice on how to travel with kids. They keep telling us "what a good idea" when we give them suggestions. Last year, one person went farther: she said to us, "You should start a website!" We looked into it and Kate started writing a website. But we soon realized that the website should be more focused on specific destinations and that we had much more to say. So Kate started writing the book. It pretty much wrote itself.

Why bother doing all this when we have day jobs? Because we have heard so many families say they are "saving" a major city for some mythical time in the future when their kids are old enough to "appreciate" the culture of a location. Many view traveling with kids as an experience to be endured, rather than enjoyed. We think this is a massive waste of time and imagination. By the time kids are old enough to "appreciate" a location, they are probably old enough to hate the idea of being on a family trip. The younger years are full of imagination and curiosity about the world. Most importantly, they literally see the world differently through their little eyes. One of the most wonderful discoveries we had about travel with kids was that they made us see treasured, familiar places (like New York, Paris, London) in new ways and they encouraged us to go to new places and see the magic in them.

We want to encourage a new generation of parents to go out exploring the world with their little ones!


 Milan Duomo Exterior

 Milan Duomo Exterior (above and below)

 Milan Duomo Exterior


What are your top tips for happy - and memorable - family travel?

Our number 1 tip is to balance everyone's needs, be flexible. If a family is going to a memorable location (i.e., Paris or New York), it is important that kids learn to accommodate their parents' interests and that parents make space for their kids' specific interests.

Our number 2 tip is to be sure to give each child in the family a book in advance of the trip focusing on the location....and then travel with the book. It will help kids connect with the place and, for little ones, can help ease potential anxiety about the new things.

Our number 3 tip is to have a family movie night using a movie that features the location to which the family will be traveling. Family movie night in general is a cozy tradition. Adding the travel theme helps the family become excited about the trip. The older the kids become, the more interesting the movie options!


Magic Treehouse Travels

Infographic to match our blogpost. As far as well know, we are the only ones to have mapped Jack & Annie's historical fiction to real places.


How can parents instill a love of learning about new places, people, and cultures through travel?

We believe the trick is to find the amazing stories embedded in a location and then telling kids the stories in language they will understand. Don't focus on dates and figures. Tell your kids the history of a place as if it were a cartoon. They will be more receptive to going through a museum (yes, even an art museum) if they read a book first about the location (see Tip 2 above) and if the parent then goes out of the way to tell them stories....and ask for their imaginations to be put to work.

Don't just take a child to the Louvre or any other museum. Take a child to see the stories in the paintings. Ironically, medieval art is one of the best ways to engage with kids because their canvases were filled with fantastic creatures (like dragons and unicorns) and romantic archetypes (like knights and princesses). This is where we in Western culture get our fairy tales. Let them see the real thing.


NYC Park Avenue

NYC Park Avenue (above and below)

NYC Park Avenue


What if a family can't afford to take big trips - do you have any tips for localized travel?

We have three tips!

First, just about every place has some history associated with it. Mountains, lakes, and oceans have local legends, stories of bravery, and myths. Most outdoor adventures are FREE or only have a minimal cost. Don't just go out for a hike in the woods. Prepare your kids for an adventure by giving them first a book about fairies or trolls. Let them see the adventure of the history here. The same is true for local attractions. Sit down with a physical map and figure out which locations are within a 3-hour drive from home. If train rides are an option, expand your search to short train rides. Plan a day trip where the kids get to read a little in advance about related places. For example, if you are in Europe and are a short drive from a castle, give your kids a great book that takes place in a castle before you head out.

Second, look at museums. These are wonderful ways to travel through time to different cultures. Don't view it as a trip to see static art...see it as an opportunity to tell stories with great drama and beautiful colors. Most kids will respond to this, at least for 30 minutes.

Third, surf the internet together. If your kids are interested in knights or cowboys, find a few YouTube videos or public television shows showing them what the real thing looks like. You and your kids can travel together through a 30-minute virtual experience without ever leaving the house.   Checking out what the world has to offer -- and dreaming about going there -- has never been easier. Pick a place relevant to a book your child is already reading, then have a look at what YouTube and official websites have to offer. This will be time-consuming when small kids are involved, since it might make sense to pre-screen a few items before little eyes see them, but it will be worth it.


Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountains: My favorite picture from this place. Being outdoors (without roughing it, without camping) is a huge part of what we do.


What's up next for you?

After much discussion, we will be heading to see family on the West Coast for the holidays and we will be skiing in Colorado in the spring. Those are our major trips planned so far. We are trying to figure out how to manage to get to Europe AND to the beach in the USA this summer, so stay tuned.

For our business, we have only been blogging since late June, so we want a bit more time to get our sea legs. We have some more books on the drawing board. We have some ideas regarding kid-specific travel consulting options in partnership with major global travel partners, as well as a few more books. We do know one thing: every new product will make use of technology in innovative ways.


Travel with Kids

The infographics describing what we do and what the book has to offer.


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Thank you for the interview and for the kind words about our book!


Waldorf Room Service Menu

Waldorf Room Service Menu: Look at all those GFREE! options and their commitment to accommodate. This sets the bar for everyone else in our opinion. It also communicates the luxury part of what we do.



All photos courtesy and copyright Big Eyes Little World