Brilliant Ideas

Dorsoduro apartment rental - Canal View from the apartmentDisclaimer: This post has nothing to do with writing or books and none of the brilliant ideas are mine. I've been vacation planning for August - which seems ridiculously far away, but people book this stuff early so I guess I have to, too. We've decided to go to Venice and...some other places.

That's what I've been trying to figure out - where - plus the logistics and most important: how to keep three kids, eight and younger, happy.  Europe is really cool for grown-ups, but kids - mine at least - have little or no tolerance for museums (truth? neither do I) and trekking through historic towns.

Hence, the first Brilliant Idea: Kids Go Europe: Treasure Hunt Venice.

Seventy-two pages of scavenger hunt challenges in Venice (How many lions are in Such-and-such Square? Say "bongiorno" to a stranger). You get points for completing stuff and rewards like gelato. I am SO buying this. And I would buy one for every place we go. Sadly, there's only one other. Someone should make more of these. Preferably before August.

There are similar books like Kids Europe: Italy Discovery Journey that has a checklist to keep track of which gelato flavors and kinds of bread you've tried. Add to Cart.

Another Brilliant Idea: the Travel for Kids website. My very favorite thing about it is that for each destination, they recommend relevant books for kids (okay, this post is a little about books, after all). There were eleven on the Venice page alone, fiction and non, including picture books like This Is Venice by Miroslav Sasek who did a whole series of these that are fantastic - kids loved the San Francisco one we read pre-vacation last year. Also on the list was a Magic Tree House book, Looking for Marco Polo and MG/YA novels by Donna Jo Napoli and Cornelia Funke. More Add to Cart.

ATTENTION kids'-authors-whose-books-are-set-in-tourist-areas - promo opp? Contact them here.

My other favorite travel website and Brilliant Idea #3: HomeAway.com. I'm not sure I'll ever stay in a hotel again. Jamming me, husband and three kids in a hotel room would be a nightmare, but that aside, there are so many ah-mazing places with more space, terraces, better views, character and a lot of time they cost less.  There are plenty of sites that list vacation rentals, but I think the price/quality/ease ratio is best at HomeAway and the selection is BIG for just about any place I've searched, US and other.  And look at these incredible houses in Italy *swoon*:

Lucca farmhouse rental - Il Fienile, the Lower Terrace and Pisa viewMassarosa cottage rentalCamaiore cottage rentalLucca villa rental - Villa Segale Dominates the Valley

So, after a bunch of research, I have: a shortlist of houses and apartments, a tentative itinerary of places to go after Venice and car rental, train, plane and ferry info for all of it. Now, to lock it all down before Agent Melissa gets back to me with thoughts on the latest version of the soon-to-be-retitled TOUCH.