To suggest that Raffles has itchy feet is somewhat of an understatement. With almost 20 countries already under his belt, he’s been eagerly writing travel bucket (& spade) lists since he could hold a pencil and is usually dreaming up our next adventure on the plane home from the last one.
What you may not know is that he also loves words and always has his nose in a book. Needless to say, he’s a huge fan of the Lonely Planet Kids book series. So much so that he decided to get the inside story on all things travel from Lonely Planet’s Chris Zeiher.
Here Raffles and the lovely Chris wax philosophic about exploring the world, eating and why travel is so important for kids. Over to them…
How many countries has Lonely Planet written books about?
Lonely Planet has visited and written about every country on the planet during our 42 years in business. This includes difficult to get to destinations such as Greenland, Micronesia and St Helena (which takes nine days to get to via boat as they don’t have an airport). We have travellers on the road all year round searching out the best places for people to visit and the cool new spots travellers should be checking out.
Wow. If Lonely Planet can do it so can I. I’m going to visit every country on the planet by the time I’m 42 years old. But I’ve only been to 19 countries so far so I better get on with it.
How do you all know so much about so many different places?
The key is our great travel writers. We have more than 200 writers travelling the world right now researching destinations to ensure we’re able to help people make informed choices when they’re on the road. We take the hard stuff out of travel by making the mistakes instead.
Working for Lonely Planet, you must get to travel a lot. Where is the weirdest place you’ve ever travelled to?
It’s not weird but it’s far away. Last year I was lucky enough to go to Iceland. It’s an amazing country – full of fire and ice (volcanoes and iceberg lagoons). On my trip there I got to descend into a dormant Volcano in a window washer’s crate as well as snorkelling in glacial meltwater in a crack in the earth that divides the tectonic plates! Seriously, it was one of the best trips of my life.
EPIC! I’m going to put Iceland on my bucket and spade list!
Do you have a favourite country?
I know this is a bit greedy but I have two: Iceland (I can’t wait to get back as I missed out on seeing the Northern Lights on my first trip) and New Zealand. I love New Zealand and get over there about four or five times a year – there’s so much to do there and it’s really easy to get around. I also love the food. Their bakeries are some of the best in the world.
That’s not greedy at all. I have loads… but Oman, Japan and China are my favourites… so far.
I really, really love the Lonely Planet Kids books, especially the Not-For-Parents Country guidebooks. How many books have Lonely Planet written for kids?
Lonely Planet started publishing books for kids more than five years ago now and we’ve got 32 different titles in the range. Excitingly, we’ll be releasing another 15 books throughout 2016. Our books range from sticker activity books for younger kids to big hardcover book like The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book that details fascinating facts from every country in the world.
The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book is awesome. I’ve been reading about a new country from it each night before I go to bed.
I saw that Japan came second in your Best in Travel 2016 book. I went to Japan this year and loved everything about it, especially the food. Botswana must be pretty epic to have beaten it to first place. How did you choose?
With our Best in Travel lists, one of the key elements for a destination to make the list is for something to be happening there in the year to come. Botswana is celebrating its 50th year of being a Democratic nation in 2016 with lots of celebrations planned throughout the year and it’s one of the best places in the world to go on safari. It was an obvious #1 for us. I’m lucky enough to be going there in August – I can’t wait to see a cheetah in the wild. It’s going to be so cool.
That sounds awesome. Can I come too?
I love to eat when I travel and I think Lonely Planet should do a Best in Food book with the top 10 countries to eat! Do you have food guides too?
Lonely Planet LOVES food and food and travel go hand-in-hand. Every person that travels has to eat and most travellers have an amazing (or gross) food story from when they’ve been on the road. Lonely Planet does a range of food titles which showcase cuisine from destinations around the world. Our bestselling title so far is The World’s Best Street Food which showcases the world’s best street vendors in places like Malaysia, Vietnam, New York City and Argentina.
I totally have to read that one. Street food is the best and I love how nice the vendors always are to me. I think it’s because I’m a kid.
I love to travel to new places to see and learn new things… and to eat. Why do you think kids should travel?
I think travel can broaden your mind and make you see things from a different angle. By travelling you can experience different cultures and see amazing things which all make you a more rounded person. I’ve travelled with my family since I was little and my nephews (who are 6 and 2) travel with us extensively. The world’s the biggest playground and a brilliant place to explore.
I’ve learned heaps from seeing how other people live. Travel totally rocks.
What’s your best advice for families who want to travel?
Go! No really, travel does not have to be hard and you don’t have to go far. Travel can simply be visiting another state of Australia or a town you’ve never been to. However, if you’re doing a bigger overseas trip you should do some planning. Planning prior can take away the pressure when you’re on the road. And make sure you know some travel games before you go. I always pack my Canasta cards.
Mum always plans our trips really carefully so we never get bored or lost!
Do you think travel is important for kids?
Absolutely, the world is more accessible than ever before. And the opportunities to experience it are the best they have ever been in our history. Kids should be encouraged to explore our fascinating planet, not be fearful of it.
You don’t need to encourage me. I’m totally on it!
Where do you think are the five places in the world that all kids should go to if they have the chance?
1. The British Natural History Museum: It’s free and probably the coolest museum in the world.
2. The Grand Canyon: It’s one of the most amazing geographical experiences anyone, young or old, can have. It was the first place I saw a wolf in the wild and heard people applaud the sunset.
3. The Great Barrier Reef: Can you believe this is right on our doorstep and is the world’s most amazing marine parks…and you can see Nemo in his natural habitat.
4. Rome: One of the coolest cities on earth with incredible and sometimes really gory history. Rome breathes history where incredible ruins are on every corner…and it is home to the world’s best Pizza and Pasta.
5. Iceland: Iceland has been rated one of the happiest nations on Earth but the Icelanders are very superstitious with their history rich in stories about Hidden People, Elves and Goblins.
Hmmm, mum’s in big trouble now. I’ve only been to one of those.
I love to write about travelling. How could I become a Lonely Planet Kids author?
We’re always looking for new authors. Let’s talk. 🙂
Thank you so much for answering my questions.
Thanks for asking them and being curious about the world.