"Not another museum, Poppy, PLLEEEAASE! You promised today you'll take us to the water park!" – Rayan @ age 10
"Papa, I don’t want any more boring guided tours. Can we just go back to the hotel and chill?" – Reina @ age 12
Sightseeing with kids is a universal challenge for families.
Sightseeing with my kids was always a challenge. We could be holidaying in the world's most iconic cities – full of culture and history – but no attraction would hold their attention unless it were entirely child - oriented. And they would protest having to visit boring museums and monuments, while I grumbled about the effort and money being wasted on the trip.
The solution: Travel guides for children!
One evening, I was catching up with a friend who was haggardly putting together a docket for their family trip to Istanbul. He had the same issue that I had – “We will take them all the way to Turkey, and all they will want to do is play in the park. We could do that right here in Mumbai!” he complained. Chatting with him, a possible idea started to form in my mind – travel guides for children! They would read them before visiting any major city – a kid’s equivalent of a Lonely Planet or TripAdvisor – but with a twist! Rather than boring them with facts and data, I would write each city guide as an action-packed adventure story. Each book would incorporate the spirit of the city, and its main attractions and experiences, in a fictional story – by making information entertaining, I hoped to get their attention.
I quickly got to work and wrote an adventure story based in Istanbul – about a battle between two kids and an evil eye monster – printed a copy at the local paper store and gave it to them, a few days before their flight. Their kids – Zanaee, aged 11 at the time, and Arjun, then 8, read it cover to cover. And as per my friend’s feedback upon their return, they had an incredible trip – the children, for a change, were driving the sightseeing agenda. They had an awareness of the city, wanted to visit the attractions they had read about, and were the most engaged they had been on any holiday.
A landmark journey across 55 cities
Encouraged with this feedback, I decided to pursue this whole - heartedly. I cobbled together a global team of creative freelancers (travel experts, writers, illustrators) to assist me. But to do full justice, I needed to see the world with a fresh perspective. So in January 2019, my wife and I embarked upon a five - month, 75,000 km trip – we covered 55 international cities, walked 1.7 million steps, clicked thousands of photographs, and jotted reams of notes. I was clear in my goal – almost every attraction that I would write about, would have to be personally visited by me.
Finally, launching the first three books!
We returned in Summer 2019 and I got down to writing and putting all of this together. The pandemic threw everything off balance –travel came to a standstill, we battled health challenges, and it was hard to stay motivated. But two years hence, I am thrilled to share the first three books in my 'Cities of Adventure' series – based in Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Melbourne. Each adventure – rescuing a mythical creature in DC, saving a Hollywood actress in LA, or hunting for a stolen artifact in Melbourne – weaves its way through the city's stop attractions and experiences. Complete with vibrant illustrations and a fun reference section, kids will discover the city's landmarks, myths and legends ,local cuisine, and language–all without realizing that they have been learning!
The series is primarily written for middle grade readers, aged~7 to 13, but all are encouraged to give it a browse. I would also be most appreciative if you could share this with others who might find it relevant.
For some of us, travel is presently at a standstill. But while a pandemic has forced our children to stay home, their imagination is free to run wild. And I hope that these books will help them journey to wondrous faraway lands, even if it is only in their mind for now.
And a lot more on the way . . .
I am working on the next set of books based in New York, Copenhagen, Sydney . . . it’s a huge world with lots of Cities of Adventure to explore, and I will keep you updated on my progress. In the meanwhile, wishing you and your families safety and good health. Thanking you in advance for your support and kind wishes.