"Travel with Children: Your Complete Resource" Lonely Planet, $19.99
Under the best of circumstances, traveling can be a challenge. When children are involved, it can get even more complicated. The people at Lonely Planet, including co-founder Maureen Wheeler, have plenty of experience traveling with children. In this very useful book, they emphasize good preparation while discussing the joy and pain of traveling with children, from toddlers to teenagers. In addition, they include sections on deciding where to go, life on the road and types of holidays, from adventure and camping holidays to package holidays and long-term travel.
"Walt Disney World With Kids 2010" Fodor's, $17.99
This 20th edition discusses what to see and do with children, from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot to Disney's Hollywood Studios to the Animal Kingdom as well as Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld, but author Kim Wright Wiley also mentions some of the changes facing the famous landmark. She notes that spring and fall, for example, are becoming more crowded than usual. She recommends the off-season as a better choice but warns "that it's not quite as 'off' as it used to be."
"Healthy Highways: The Traveler's Guide to Healthy Eating" Ceres Press, $19.95
"Healthy Highways" offers alternatives to the fast-food eateries crowding the American landscape. Designed with motorists, bikers and hikers in mind, it features more than 2,800 natural-food stores, co-ops and health-conscious restaurants from Alabama to Wyoming. Each entry is brief — there is no fat here — with just the essentials: address, telephone number, hours of operation and a concise description of the type of listings (whether natural-food store or vegan or vegetarian restaurant) with the kind of services they offer (alcohol, baked goods, deli, juices, organic produce, salad bar). It includes driving directions and maps.
Authors Nikki and David Goldbeck list six "healthy" rules of the road to remember, including choosing different ethnic foods whenever possible, ordering vegetarian (even if you are not one) and avoiding unnecessary fats. Statistically speaking, Delaware and Nebraska are tied with the fewest listings (seven), while California has the most (a whopping 160). The Goldbecks have done a great public service for health-conscious travelers everywhere.
"Colombia" Lonely Planet, $25.99
News reports aside, the authors note, Colombia is one of the most well-developed countries in Latin America, with plenty to offer the discerning traveler: modern cities and beautiful beaches, Amazon safaris, archeological ruins, scuba diving and surfing. Best of all, though, after decades of civil conflict, Colombia, they insist, is safe to visit again with the common-sense caveat that anything can happen — "just as anything can happen in your home country." As with all Lonely Planet guidebooks, the background information on history, culture, lifestyle, food and drink and lifestyle is informative and entertaining. Consider: With one sentence, the authors sum up the essence of Colombia: "What's the point of a party if you can't dance?"
"Cycling Italy" Lonely Planet, $24.99
Italians have had a love'hate relationship with bicycles over the years. Cyclists were feared and condemned as being (take your pick) dangerous, a nuisance and, because women took to cycling immediately, a threat to traditional Italian life. The bicycle also was associated with juvenile delinquency (because bicycles could be used as vehicles for an easy escape). But attitudes have changed. The guidebook showcases the various opportunities for cycling in Italy, from coastal paths to the country's biggest and busiest cities. Alas, author Ellee Thalheimer also is a realist, writing, "City riding is suggested only for the savvy cyclist who likes tackling mayhem." She offers information for novice and veteran cyclists, whether riding in small towns or in the Italian Alps.
"Fields of War: Fifty Key Battlefields in France and Belgium: A Visitor's Guide to Historic Sites" French Battlefields, $29.95
Author Robert Mueller caught the battlefield bug when, as a child, he visited Gettysburg. Since then, he has felt "an emotional draw to locations where fateful events took place." In this impressively researched book, Mueller chooses 50 battlefields in northern France and Belgium. These sites cover hundreds of years of European history, from the Battle of Crcy in 1346 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to the more recent conflicts of the Battle of Dunkerque in 1940 and the Normandy invasion of 1944.
Each chapter offers a brief summary that places the battle in its historical context and then goes on to describe the battle. The Aftermath section discusses the consequences of the battles. It's a somber and fascinating guide illustrated with maps and photos.