Travelkids Thailand is the ultimate carry along book for traveling to Thailand. It is chock full of wonderful information about the culture, the people, the food, no detail stays uncovered. If there was ever a book to make a kid’s travel experience unforgettable, this is it. But don’t be fooled, you as a parent will be reading along with them, discovering things together through the colorful pages.
Travelkids Thailand is not like any ordinary guide book, not only is the format different (It’s HORIZONTAL), it also feels extremely personal, you can see how Elske has poured her heart into the pages. There are no suggestions for hotels or restaurants, instead there are stories about the food, checklists for the kids to mark what fruits they try while they adventure through the country, and some phrases in Thai to be able to have a little conversation with a local.
Elske and I met in Bali when she came to do a tour guide training seminar. We hit it off quite well over a few beers and my kids were instantly drawn to her fun demeanor. She told me about her book and what a great experience it was so I decided to interview her about it, cause us crazies gotta help each other out!
Elske has lived in Thailand for ten years and everything in her book has been inspired by her experiences there. If you are planning on a trip to Thailand or maybe just want to teach your kids about Thailand, you should get this book.
Interview with Author Elske De Vries
How did you come about the idea for the Travelkids Thailand book?
When I worked as a tour leader I noticed there weren’t any books on Thailand for kids specifically, only for parents on how to travel with kids. Kids in my groups had loads of questions on what they saw on the way and of course then I could answer them, but what if they travel on their own?
How long did it take you to get it finished?
Almost 3 years, my head is very messy and from idea to actual book is a very long way.
The silly parts on how to use the hose in the toilet or the part on how many things in Thai language can be playful; eating, sleeping
Tell us about how you published it. Did you do it yourself or with a publisher?
I published it myself. I’m registered as a publisher in Holland (I pay tax) to be able to publish it myself and to sell it myself.
How would you like to see your book grow?
I want it to be a first in a series on Southeast Asia. Dream big, but take it step by step!
So you have plans for more books?
Working on TravelKids Vietnam. Actually, more than 60% is done, but since I’ve moved to Indonesia I wouldn’t be surprised if TravelKids Indonesia will be ready first. Hope not though…Another book I’m working on is a story book for young kids. It’s about an imaginary country where everything is the same and different at the same time (inspired by living here in Southeast Asia, surprise surprise).
Like when when you travel; At first everything seems so strange and different, but if you take a better look, much is the same, but in a different way (still following me?) Hope I can publish this one at the end of this year.
Did you also travel a lot as a youngster? Do you travel a lot now?
My father was a high school teacher, so we spend long summer holidays camping in Europe. My first trip to Indonesia was when I was 15 with my parents and sister. That was the beginning of the end…
Tell us about your cultural heritage and background, did it influence the writing of the book or the idea of doing it?
I was born in Indonesia, but grew up in a small village in the Dutch country side. I’ve always stood out, but never in a negative way. I’m totally fine with my identity, but it confuses people everywhere I go. I’ve learned never to trust your first impression, because you never know.
When I write I try to keep an open mind and to observe, don’t want to tell kids “This is Thailand”, but rather hand them the tools to explore on their own. Often people tell me that I’m curious like a kid, to me that’s a compliment.
Tell us a funny or interesting story that happened while you were in the process of writing the book.
When Thai people find out you write, they put you somewhere high up on the ladder and assume you know everything.
Want to know anything about cars in the seventies? Ask Elske, she’s a writer.
Sometimes in Thailand, kids come to me and ask for my autograph.
Did you have collaborators? How did you do the research?
Some Thai friends advised me on cultural stuff, and I had a translator for the English version, and also someone to check my spelling.
Would you like to acknowledge anyone?
Special thanks to my dad who always is my super advisor for everything and my girlfriend who maybe wasn’t much involved in the writing process, but was smart enough to kick my ass sometimes to make sure I wouldn’t give up on the project.
If you could give one piece of advice so someone writing a kids book or specialized guidebook, what would it be?
Carry a notebook everywhere you go, because you get the best ideas on the moment when you expect it the least.
When you write keep in mind kids always want to know why. Sometimes it feels like that’s the only word in their vocabulary.
***Elske and I have become really good friends. We saw each other again in Bali and Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to see her new book!