William Gray is a 37 year-old, award-winning travel writer, TV presenter and father of twins. Last year, he was invited by the BBC to present family travel pieces for the 2006 series of its flagship Holiday programme (attracting over five million viewers). William is also the family travel columnist for Wanderlust magazine and regularly contributes travel features to The Sunday Times and numerous other national and international publications.
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
Great info, shallow categorization of kids' interests
By Gringo Ric
This book has extensive information for travel with kids in almost every corner of every continent. Full of pictures, it is written in a bright, accessible style. Disappointingly, emphasis is on places they are likely to have heard of (Orlando, Italy, Australia), rather than places their parents might simply wish to take them, and on beaches and adenaline-charged activities rather than on museums and quiet activities. There is really nothing wrong with this focus, except that, to a large extent, it explains the obvious. This book also has a presumption of dysfunction about the dynamics of traveling families, and is particularly ugly in its references to teenagers. Perhaps the author is just being funny, but my wife and I read several of the descriptions and just sort of looked at each other disgustedly (i.e., we didn't laugh). The author apparently feels that the depth of a teenager's travel-savvy extends no farther than recreational shopping or finding an adrenaline-rush. Quote from the section on France: "Fashion-conscious teenage girls will enjoy browsing the shops [of Paris], and might even tolerate mum and dad tagging along-- as long as they bring their credit cards." Also, on Berlin and Amsterdam: "Of course, you probably won't get teenagers within a hundred miles of either Amsterdam or Berlin unless you tempt them with... the promise of retail heaven." On Asia: "If your teenagers are more into retail therapy than adrenaline abuse, take them to Dubai..." etc., etc., etc. The pitch of this one-note song only makes me wish for a different book geared toward families with tots/children/teens who DON'T view a family trip as an occasion to incubate brattiness. The author clearly expects much less from his readers' children than he does from his own, who are "fantastic little travelers, always happy to confront new challenges."
On a side note, it is curious how many places are simply excluded from the book, presumably because they are not as interesting to children. But isn't the purpose of the book to help parents travel with children to places where child-focused activities are more elusive? For example, there is nothing about the American Midwest -- never mind Chicago with its Sears Tower and world-famous aquarium and science museum. While several countries (such as France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey) get detailed chapters to themselves, many countries, such as Japan and Russia, are altogether excluded.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Pretty But Very Generic
By Greg Scowen
I bought this book based on all of the very positive reviews (at Amazon.co.uk). Unfortunately I leave the purchase a little disappointed. The book is pretty, with lot's of lovely pictures to inspire you, but also very generic. A very quick scan of a Google search result for family friendly holidays will bring up all the content in here and then some.
To make matters worse, there are blindingly obvious mistakes throughout the book, but even in the opening top 10 lists. I don't know whether this is bad editing or if the author simply browsed a few websites and slapped together some lists.
Examples: pg. 22-23 list the Explora en Atacama hotel as a top 10 for pampering parents. Sure, I have to agree, it looks great and is located in the driest desert on earth, a harsh yet exciting environment. But the picture on page 23 shows a photo of the Explora en Patagonia, more than 3100km away in sub-Antarctic Chile. If I booked based on the photos I would be pretty bummed out when I turned up in a desert and not in the glorious mountains I expected.
Another example is found on the Switzerland page, where a top ten recommendation is to meet Peter the Goatherd in Savognin, a link to the Savognin Tourism website is included. There is no information on this excursion to be found on the website. Perhaps because the Peter and Heidi stories are based well north of here.
ADDED NOTE: When information about excursions such as this are given, a direct link to a permanent URL where the actual excursion information is provided would be much more helpful. Merely giving a website address (to the home page) and leaving the reader to search for the content can lead to disappointment.
Again, it just gives off the impression that the rest of the book is littered with the same sort of low-quality research.
As I said, it is pretty and will still make a nice coffee-table item to keep visitors amused. But I will not be relying on the content of this book to inspire my next holiday. A quick search online will yield a lot more, fresher information.