Children’s Book Tuesday :: Books to Travel With

Children's Books to Travel With

Here’s a thing. Once upon a time, we lived among a thousand children’s books. There were piles next to the bed, next to the daybed, in the day bed, and bursting from every bookcase and box we could find. There was always a new unread book to pick up, and read for the first time. There was always a book to read, which we hadn’t read in a long time.

But then you plan to move your family to the other side of the world for a year. A thousand kids’ books can’t come with you, as nice as that would be. But how then do you choose? We like variety. We love reading something new or forgotten. How could we choose books to sustain us for a whole year?

Here’s a few ideas:

Something small, but full of goodness

There are several beautiful small books, which are long, and juicy enough to the fill bedtime reading hour, but short enough to fit in your luggage. The key is finding well written books that you can read over and over again, like:

Violet Mackerel
Beatrix Potter
Lola’s Toy Box
The Cleo Stories

Something classic

I don’t really like re-reading adult novels,  but re-reading children’s classics never gets tiring. And if you can find the classic in small print, with a paperback cover, even better.

Books we brought with us include:

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Harry Potter
Pippi Longstocking
The Wizard of Oz
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Something that satisfies more than one age group

If you have more than one kid, bringing books that kill two birds, so to speak, will weigh less in your luggage. Both our three-year-old and our six-year-old daughter love:

Pippi Longstocking
Violet Mackerel
The Cleo Stories

and all picture books. Well, any book with illustration.

Something to listen to

I have always sworn by audio books. My daughter chewed through Charlie & The Chocolate Factory several times over when I used to have to take her baby sister to sleep. Audio books are great for plane rides and long trips. I either download them through iBooks on my phone or, if I have an internet connection, put them on YouTube without the visuals.

Audio books my eldest has listened to on this trip include:

James & The Giant Peach (YouTube)
Gangster Granny (iBooks)

and I have listened to The Fault In Our Stars (iBooks) and Artemis Fowl (iBooks). (Great for running too!)

Something to borrow

Of course, you don’t have to bring every book with you, in your luggage. There are lots of free libraries around the Netherlands. Mini ones, in front of people’s houses! But also public libraries. Our friend took out a membership for us, and every week or two, we select new picture books to read at night to keep life interesting.

And Dutch friends have very generously leant Dutch books to the girls while we are here.

Something to swap

I haven’t done this yet, but I like this idea…

If you meet other families on your travels, swap books with them! I don’t think I can bring myself to re-read some of our picture books again, having read them so often on this trip. Maybe I can find a bookish family to swap some books with, when we are camping.

Something local

My kids are learning Dutch. So buying or borrowing Dutch books while we are here is a great thing to do. Not only do I get to stagger through the books, while the kids patiently listen, I get to learn a little bit of Dutch too. Also, children’s books are a great little insight into the culture of the place you visit.

Books that are very synonymous with Dutch culture are:

Jip & Janneke
Pippi Longstocking
Ronia The Robber’s Daughter

Something good

Whatever you do, choose wisely! These books will be your companion on your travels, however long that may be. So they need to be good.

Personally, I hear anything by Zanni Louise is worth lugging around the world 😉

How do you choose books to take with you when you travel? Any other ideas?

Join me for Children’s Book Tuesday here by sharing your children’s book post in the link below. Or follow along on social media #ChildrensBookTuesday.

Tiny traveller

tiny traveller

She won’t go to bed without a bear suit, and a blanket tucked securely over her legs. If you skip the book before bed, she cries. If she isn’t not lying on her lacy pillow case, she also cries. My little creature of habit and security.

My husband likes travelling. I like travelling. My eldest LOVES travelling. But my youngest…we weren’t so sure.

During our epic book tour adventure last September, she cried in the back seat. ‘I just want to go home,’ she said. Over and over again. And here we were, dragging her across the country. I planned our trip with my eldest daughter’s wanderlust and adaptable sensibilities in mind. I didn’t yet know how the smallest would cope.

After a day or two, with the right blanket, the right bear suit, the right doll, the right books and the right pillow case, she was okay. Occasionally, she’d ask to go home. But it was mainly so she could dress up as Elsa.

Five months later, we are on the road again, living out of suitcases and sleeping on mattresses. Yes, I thought about my youngest this time, and brought necessary bear suit etc. Yes, I worried about how she’d cope. But, selfishly, I hoped for the best.

As it turns out, the best was worth hoping for. With the right bear suit, the right blanket and the right doll, my tiny traveller is happy anywhere.

She loves people as much as my eldest daughter. She is just as adaptable.

We have a little night-time routine, where my youngest and I disappear upstairs for quiet time. We read Rita’s Rhino, by Tony Ross. We have a few ways of reading it, to entertain us, and make us laugh. Then we read Ella Bella and The Sleeping Beauty Ballet. Initially, she loved it for the dancing and the tutus. But when I changed the dancers to football players, and the bad fairy to a bad giraffe, she loved it even more.

Children can be amazing and adaptable, can’t they? How do your children travel?

Stay well! x

Holidaying in the city with kids

When you live around Byron Bay, it is tempting to never ever go on holidays. We live the holiday – why go anywhere? If we need an injection of holiday, we just head down to Byron, and walk up to the lighthouse. Surrounded by foreign tourists, it feels like a vacation.

But the Cambridge Hotel in Surry Hills Sydney recently offered my family a weekend stay. As we have been looking for an excuse to return to Sydney – a place which holds many romantic, nostalgic feelings for us – we pried ourselves from the Sunshine House and hit the big smoke.

Cambridge Hotel

The Cambridge Hotel is unusually situated. Heading down nearby Oxford Street, you are surrounded by bars, clubs and drag costume shops. But heading south down Riley Street, or towards Crown Street, you pass beautiful old houses and a surprising number of trendy cafes.

Surry Hills


Surry Hills House

We discovered a beautiful Italian delicatessen/cafe down the road on Riley Street called Pasta Emilia. It was the sort of place my mum would love, with rows of preserves, a piano tucked into the corner and a selection of home-made fresh pasta in the fridge.

Pasta Emilia

We had an amazing breakfast and coffee at Pieno cafe, close to the Cambridge Hotel, on Crown Street. Further down Crown Street is Gelato Messina, which is reported to be the best gelato in Sydney. I don’t know other gelato bars in Sydney but it was by far and away the best gelato I have ever had. Poached fig, panna cotta & amaranth love. My god.

Gelato Messina

gelato messina

I loved being able to walk from the hotel down Oxford Street, Paddington. I have so many childhood memories of shopping in Paddington with mum when we visited the city. Nothing seems to have changed. I love the glamour, and the interesting, design-ey stores. We spent ages in the kid’s section of the Ariel Booksellers in Paddington.

We took advantage of being located so close to the city, and walked the girls down through the botanical gardens to the Opera House, and into The Rocks. It was a fair hike, but completely do-able.

On our return journey from The Rocks, we looked for somewhere good to take the kids in Darlinghurst. We stumbled on Bill & Toni’s Restaurant – a humble Italian joint, with red and white checked plastic table cloths, and a simple menu. It looked perfect – and it was. Dinner was served within minutes, and was so much Italian yumminess. My urge for something ‘authentic’ and interesting was satisfied, as was my practical mum-self.

Bill & Toni's Restaurant

The Cambridge Hotel itself is pretty snazzy. The foyer is decked out in bright orange, pink and black, with rows of neon lights on the stairs. Our room was comfortable, and had everything we needed. It had the best bed (although Husband spent both nights on a mattress on the floor to accommodate the sprawling ways of our daughter). The staff were friendly and accommodating. My only gripe was no free WiFi, which is kind of limiting for a blogger. But, according to Twitter this morning, the hotel has just introduced free WiFi – good news for blogging and other Internet using guests.

cambridge hotel room


It was perfect being so central, and in such a trendy area. For us little ol’ country pumpkins, being surrounded by good cafes, shops and museums is a wee bit exciting. I’d go again. But for now, I will enjoy being back in our little ol’ country pumpkin routine. Travelling with kids in the city is completely possible, but it’s nice to be back in the Sunshine House.

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with the Cambridge Hotel, 212 Riley Street, Surry Hills, although views expressed are entirely my own. Thank you to the Cambridge Hotel for putting us up for the weekend, and giving us the chance to feel cosmopolitan again. And apologies for the crumbs left on the carpet and the high-pitched squeals from my girls.

What are your hot tips for holidaying in another city with kids?

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Travelling with child

When I was 10, at 19 and again at 21, I lay awake dreaming of the plane I would be catching the following day…a plane that would take me to unknown lands, where lay the promise of adventure and hope and the awakening of a New Me. I could barely breathe from excitement as the plane lifted its wheels and soared into the sky. In a foreign country, I could be a different version of myself. I would transcend from dreary old Life and emerge the other side of the clouds in a land I knew I should have been born, amongst houses that were quaint and cobbled streets that were hundreds of years old. I would breathe in dust that tasted different and allow my senses to be ravaged by new smells, sounds and colours. Travel never let me down. I had moments of grief during my time away, but largely it fulfilled my appetite for novel and wonderful delights.

And then I had a child.

This time, prior to my flight, I lay awake worrying about all the things I hadn’t done, like putting out the garbage or packing my phone charger. The day before we left, my husband and I bickered, which was unusual for us. We snapped where snapping was not due. We were both anxious, and consequently, my daughter clung to me fiercely, needing cuddles all day long, which made last minute packing and cleaning impossible.

We were blessed with a smooth plane trip and a child that travels amazingly well. She never grumbled, had appropriate amounts of sleep and when the time was right, she entertained our neighbours.

We battled crooked sleep patterns for the first few days – even those weren’t that bad. Though we saw a whole new side of Elka…fast becoming an independent and assertive toddler under normal conditions, when faced with sleep deprivation, her sense of independence and assertiveness escalated. As did her wild ways. She would screech (excitedly) in train carriages and tear down the platform, sending both her parents into a fit of near anxiety as they struggled to prevent her from flying off the side. She threw food on the floor and developed numerous cheeky ways to entertain herself.

Once sleep homoeostasis was restored and her wild ways subsided, Elka’s social personality flourished. She now will chat non-stop for 15 minutes about chimneys, and little men with funny hats and sharks, regardless of who’s listening. She sings and dances for strangers, even attracting a severe “Shhhh….” from a cranky French lady in the Belvedere Museum, Vienna. Like both her parents, she is drawn to company and novel experiences, never tiring, and constantly satisfied if surrounded by Happenings, Events and Lots of People.

Travel is different for me now. Now, I don’t transcend. I am the same Old Me who walks the footpaths of Panorama Drive pushing a pram. The air here is fresher and cooler. The natural flowers more beautiful. The mountains more astonishing. I appreciate it all…but I am no longer…lifted. I felt it particularly at the Belvedere yesterday. After years of studying art history, I used to visit European art galleries and became overwhelmed by passion. Schiele and Klimt would give me goose bumps. Yesterday, walking around the same museum, seeing the same paintings, I was preoccupied with the fact that Elka needed a sleep, or Elka needed a “Jutie”, or Elka needed to go outside. My micro-world of me, Elka, Gregor and the growing foetus felt the same in the Belvedere as it did on Panorama Drive.

I am partly whimsical about my young and carefree travelling self. But still, I enjoy taking my micro-world with me, seeing new things and being in new environments. I will take it to Mt Everest if I have to…because there is no way I can do without it. Travel is different now…I can’t tell you which exhibitions are on in Vienna, but I’ll happily explain the city park in vivid detail. That is becoming an adult and a parent.