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Reviews and News

Top Five Best & Worst Airports Results

23 Feb 2008

Our first top five list - TWC readers sent their nominations for best and worst airport… from regional to international.  They told us why they were so great, and not so great - thanks to everyone who wrote in to our completely unscientific and opinionated poll.  A random drawing tells us that lucky writer Whitney H. will receive a TWC bumper sticker or magnet, her choice.

Send your comments, or ideas for a new top five to info@travelswithchild.org!

Top 5 Best Airports:

  1. Changi - Almost a destination in itself.
  2. I love Zurich- they even have showers available.
  3. Munich - just the right size (TIE) Portland, OR - again, just the right size, and easy to navigate.
  4. National - attractive since the remodel, easy to get to and from.  Only strike is that the Cinnabon there closed.
  5. Albuquerque - small, but they did a great job of decorating.  You know exactly where you are; it's not a run-of-the-mill anonymous airport.

Top 5 Worst Airports:

  1. Charles de Gaulle - My loathing for this airport is a whole article in itself.
  2. Frankfurt - always under construction, without signage.  No chairs.
  3. Dulles - old and ugly and has places you can be stuck for hours without a phone or bathroom.
  4. Miami - a flight attendant once told me every flight delay on the East Coast can be traced to Miami.  Plus, they are rude.
  5. Vegas is loud and gastly (TIE) Tampa because it's always closing due to thunderstorms when I'm there and the design means it sounds like you're in an echo chamber as the thunder and rain crashes in on you.

500 Places To Take Your Kids

21 Jan 2008

Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids

Before They Grow Up
Wiley Publishing, Inc.
by Holly Hughes

I didn't think I was so attached to this one until Raq and I met up to exchange books.  Couldn't do it.  Didn't wanna.  Wow - that was a revelation.

This is not a traditional guidebook. 500 Places is organized by category ("Cities Great and Small", "Weird and Wonderful") and then sub-category - all thematic rather than location-based.  This is not necessarily something you take with you to thumb through while you travel. 

For instance, you can't say "I'm going to Washington D.C." and then page to the DC entries.  They're scattered throughout the book - under Postcards Across America, Windows on History, etc.

Also, the categories cause their own problems - under the single entry "Hundertwasser's Architecture Run Riot", the visionary and offbeat architect's Vienna apartments are featured, as well as his spa at Bad Blumbau, and the Hunderwasserkirche in Barnbach.  But other well-trod Hundertwasser stops further afield - in New Zealand, for instance - are not listed.

Lastly, the author acknowledges that she has not been to each of the locations listed - she relied on the travel experiences of other families as well. 

But still, I couldn't let the book go.  Why?  For one reason, mainly.  I love lists.  Annotated ones especially.  And this is a great book of lists, broken into unusual categories.  The unusual organization is inspiring, often leading me to make notes in the margins about when to go, and then cross-referencing those notes with other guidebooks that are more regionally-oriented.

I like it - it's wacky fun, and there are some great ideas in here.  Raq, you'll need to buy your own.

~ Fran W.

Family Travel: The Farther You Go, The Closer You Get

10 Jan 2008

Family Travel:
The Farther You Go, The Closer You Get
Travelers’ Tales Guides
Editor: Laura Manske

Raq W. Writes:

I think I adore this collection of essays about traveling with family members. They are not saccharine, soft-filter Hallmark cards, but they are inspiring, delightful, entertaining, and familiar.

I recognized a few of the author’s names, but all the selections were quite wonderful in different ways. The anthology is seasoned with sprinkles of famous quotations, dashes of not-very-famous observations, and a pinch or two of stories too short to be called essays. The placement of these in relation to the longer stories is very well done.

I can’t speak to the overall arrangement of stories, as I jumped around like I normally do with anthologies (and salad bars). Some fun alchemy happened with this method, though; after reading a comment on how it’s impossible to describe what parenthood is like to the uninitiated, I read a snippet on how everybody tells you that the Mayan pyramids are hard to get up, and freaky terrifying to get down. You won’t believe them, not until you’ve committed and you’re at the top staring almost vertically down and thinking “Oh dear, now what?” I can think of no better metaphor for what parenting is like than a Mayan pyramid.

If you enjoy travel, if you have a family, I recommend this book to you.

Fran W. writes:
While travel guides (the good ones) are very helpful with where to go, they're not always so enlightening about how to go.  That kind of knowledge requires good preparation, as well as anecdotal tales from others who've been where you're going - or somewhere like it.

Which is exactly why I enjoy listening to and reading other people's travel tales, and learning from them.  This little book is a fantastic collection from a wide variety of families traveling just about everywhere, and for every reason.

In "The Thrill of the Ride", Marc Jacobsen describes the road trip he took with his daughter and a friend to all of the seaside amusement parks on the Atlantic Coast. James O'Reilly's "Road Scholars" presents his family's year in France, as they drive from town to town. "For the Birds" is George Kalogerakis' study of a birdwatching trip with his aging father. With "A View from the Hospital," Libby Lubin describes with amazing calm what happens when her daughter falls gravely ill while in Italy.

The short essays take up canoeing, hiking, cruising, and touring; understanding, loss, and even conception.  They present real experiences, with real voices.  They are not always easy to read.  But they are the stories that will come to mind as I travel - like the tales friends tell when they return from a journey, with tips woven in to a colorful narrative.  They're the stories that will come to mind again when they're needed. 

101 Baby Travel Tips

08 Jan 2008

101 Baby Travel Tips

Lifetips Book Series
Christina Chan

Traveling with a baby is a big topic to boil down into 101 pages of short paragraphs and bulleted lists, and in fact this book also includes tips on travel with toddlers and kids. The author (credited as “Baby Travel Expert Guru,” which makes me wonder about all those Novice Gurus. Or maybe she’s a guru to Baby Travel Experts) clearly had to find a way to make a nice palindromic number of sound bytes, and thus the book should really be called 101 Things To Buy In Order To Go Anywhere At All With A Child.

Now, I have to admit that I pretty much subscribe to the SAS Survival Handbook approach to traveling with a child:


I therefore found the book useless, if not counter-productive. It made me feel a little panicky, like I won’t be able to travel with my son until I can afford all this stuff and a Sherpa. But then I realized I’ve already traveled with him a bunch, and have never wished I’d brought more stuff.

And hey, if I really want to schlep a ton of stuff when I travel, I can google for the items and reviews myself. And even when the author presents practical advice, my confidence in her statements is undermined by the multiple grammar and usage errors. Lifetips apparently lacks an English Language Expert Guru to edit their books.

~ Raq. W.

Travel Merit Badges!

19 Dec 2007

 This is too great - get your travel merit badge now!  MommaMeritBadges (irreverent merit badges for the hard work of parenting) mark those rites of passage from grocery shopping, to reading, to our personal favorite: travel.* Really excellent and noteworthy.

Thanks to  yetanothermommyblog for the tip off!

*(Including all the incidentals like having "to take a sleeping baby from a sling so you can go through the metal detector.") 

~ Fran W.
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