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DVD Review: Travel With Kids – London

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Traveling with kids?  Our family wouldn't have it any other way.  At one time, parents would go for trips leaving children at home with relatives to care for them.  Increasingly, parents are traveling with their children, broadening the entire family’s knowledge of culture, history and geography. Parents Carrie and Jeremy traveled the world after college, spending a year exploring 35 different countries before settling into domestic life.  It wasn’t long before the Roberts family – now including two sweet blonde boys you’d suspect were twins if it weren’t for the height difference – hit the road again, producing kid-friendly travelogues packed with information for traveling families.  Traveling to New York City, Hawaii, Ireland, England, France, and many more, the Roberts are establishing a new genre of travelogue with a vision that is kid-centric.

Travel With Kids – London finds the Roberts family complete with sons Seamus, age five, and Nathan, age seven, departing by plane for the city of London in the evening to minimize jet lag.  Arriving at their destination they dive into a whirlwind of activity over their multi-day trip.  Packed into a 50-minute DVD are trips to the British Museum, London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, the HMS Belfast, Tower of London, and many more.  Watching the heavily edited condensation of the Roberts stay in London is enough to make any parent familiar with traveling with children tuckered out.

Seamus and Nathan dive into their new environs with unabashed delight – taunting English guards out of their famed sobriety, stepping on the sandwiches of punks in Piccadilly Circus, and reveling in the delights of formal English tea – complete with candy canes.  Were it not for the opening disclaimer stating that many scenes of crying, tantrums, misbehaviour, breaking things, and other miscellaneous meltdowns, you’d think that the Roberts sons were paragons of virtue.  The included blooper reel and occasional glimpses of defiance show that this isn’t the case – the Roberts too experience some challenges including their children in their travels, but persevere for the benefit of the entire clan.

During the live-action sequences of traveling around town via underground, train, on foot, and by boat the boys and their parents provide a running commentary on the sights and events they are taking in.   Interspersed with these adventures are forays into the history of England, and London provided by an English-accented narrator and depicted through comical animations and quirky sound effects.  Ever seen a five-year-old and two-year-old sit spellbound through a presentation of the division of the United Kingdom?  Mine did. With such a condensation of facts and educational tidbits, children and parents, who will pick up new information with each viewing, can mine this DVD repeatedly

Cognizant of the limited budgets most families deal with when traveling, pop-ups explaining the prices of various transportation methods and sight-seeing venues give an overview of how much to set aside for specific attractions.  The Roberts themselves have a limited amount of money to spend, turning down a stop at the Westminster Abbey due to cost.  These pop-ups also shoot up like a flash to share cultural and historical insights, but keep your pause button handy – they often disappear before the import of the note sinks in.

Providing far more than an entertaining, armchair visitor experience, this DVD is packed with supplementary information of use in studying London further or preparing for a trip abroad.  Craft activities, authentic recipes, recommended reading for an assortment of age groups, and a listing of family films provide fodder for a place specific unit study or preparation for a family adventure.  Packing tips, travel resources tips on including your children in the planning process and nitty gritty details on transportation and attractions provide a valuable travel planning resource.

I doubt our family will be traveling to London anytime soon, but we can experience her rich history vicariously through the lively, upbeat adventures of the Roberts family.  My children and I look forward to joining them again as they leave London by train to explore the countryside of England in Travel With Kids – England.

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