“A Gelato A Day” is a collection of travel tales that highlights the good, the bad and the not-really-that-ugly of the family travel experience.
The book is edited by Vacay.ca contributor Claudia Laroye, a freelance travel writer, blogger, editor and content creator. It includes 20 family travel stories from several award-winning authors in Canada and the United States, including; Lucas Aykroyd, Jennifer Bain, Heather Greenwood Davis, Jenn Smith Nelson, Diane Selkirk, Maia Selkirk, Lavinia Spalding, and Olivia Stren.
Laroye lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two sons and is the Founding Editor of the award-winning Claudia Travels travel site (formerly The Travelling Mom). She is a Contributing Editor for Twist Travel Magazine and an Editor at Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com.
We caught up with Laroye who talked about the inspiration for her book and her own family adventures.
Vacay.ca: Hello Claudia! It’s wonderful to chat with you.
Claudia Laroye: Hello back, it’s great to be here!
Vacay.ca: I have to say I love the title of your book, “A Gelato a Day” and how the inspiration for that came as a way to protect the peace with kids during trips. It would appear that this tactic got you out of a few jams as a Mom.
Laroye: I’m so glad that you like the title, it seems to resonate with gelato lovers everywhere. You’re right, planning for a sweet motivator like a daily gelato, or after our youngest got sick of gelato, cake, worked very well to keep spirits up and the hangries away. The strategy works equally well for adults too. After all, we need treats to look forward to just as much as our kids.
Vacay.ca: What inspired you to put this book together?
Laroye: I’ve wanted to write a book for many years. The idea for this travel anthology took firm hold in 2019, when I attended a book proposal seminar in Vancouver. I researched and wrote my book proposal, which was accepted quickly by my Canadian-based publisher, Guernica Editions, just a few weeks after submitting it in January 2020.
Vacay.ca: You told a moving story about your father. Growing up in Italy, his time in an orphanage and the rejection he felt from an allied soldier after the Second World War. You also spoke about the impact that rejection had on him and how travel helped answer many stories you had about his life. I have to know – were you able to take other trips with your father and learn more about him?
Laroye: Thank you for the kind words. I am grateful for the opportunity that travel, and the research for A Gelato a Day, gave me to understand my father better. We took many trips as a family during my childhood and youth. Road trips to visit my grandparents in Montreal, family holidays to Hawaii, Italy and Switzerland. The father-daughter Banff trip was unique in that it was just the two of us. I think my Dad knew it was time for us to have some ‘adult’ heart-to-heart talks; that he was ready to tell his stories, and that I was mature enough to hear them.
Vacay.ca: Another reason why I found the story about your father interesting is because it isn’t the kind of story one would expect from a book about travel – especially a book with the word ‘Gelato’ in the title. Family travel does have a way of bringing people together and building bridges. Can you go into more detail about that?
Laroye: I love how A Gelato a Day is actually a bit subversive. The book is atypical of most family travel books or guides that focus on “How To” tips or general destination advice. And that’s absolutely by design. When I was doing my book proposal research, I searched for similar books in the anthology and family travel genres to make a business and marketing case for why A Gelato a Day was different. I was surprised to find that in all of the wonderful travel anthologies out there, not one was focused on narrative true stories of family travel. Most were stories of inward-looking personal discovery, themed on types of travel like backpacking, women-only stories, or destination-based tales. My anthology collection is unique, and that is very exciting.
Vacay.ca: I know you can’t pick a favorite, but do you have a particular story in the book that connects with you or stands out to you, and why?
Laroye: I do love all of the stories in A Gelato a Day. Some of my favorites include Jessica Wynne Lockhart’s story about taking a road trip with her mother in northern Alberta, and learning more about her as the miles tick by. I also loved Maia Selkirk’s story about growing up sailing around the world. Bruce Kirkby’s piece, which I chose as the first story in the book, is about why traveling with children and as a family is so important. I think his piece really sets the tone for the entire collection.
Vacay.ca: I would agree. Kirby actually wrote a line that I thought connected the entire theme of your book. He says – “I would argue it takes children to shake the complacencies from our travel. Routines and habits developed over a lifetime of backpacking journeys are tossed the instant we touch down, for children race down every road and path but the ones we’d instinctively follow.”
There is a fear many of us do have about travelling with children because most of us have been on that plane with a screaming child. But your book says with a bright yellow cover “lighten up and enjoy the moment!”
Laroye: There’s no denying that travel in general can be stressful, and when you add crying children into the mix, sure, it can be more so. Parenting and childrearing don’t come with a universal playbook, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved. When we take ourselves out of our routines and give ourselves over to enjoying travel experiences with our kids, we can lose an element of control but stand to gain a great deal more, as Kirby rightly points out. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them – embrace the joy and wonder and different path that our kids can offer us. With the caveat of safety first, of course.
Vacay.ca: Why are you passionate about family travel and do you have a favorite place (or two) that you’ve gone to with your family?
Laroye: I have been traveling with my family since I was a baby, now over 50+ years. For me, family travel has helped to establish and maintain family connections, created lasting memories, and given me a sense of self and a greater appreciation for the world I live in.
As far as favorite places? Well, I have family travel memories stretching back 50 years of visiting my grandparents in a small town in the Swiss Alps. I’ve been there dozens of times, and introduced my husband and children to that place many times over the years. They love it almost as much as I do. The islands of Hawaii are also very close to my heart, having been there as a child and then on my honeymoon, wedding anniversaries and for many family trips.
Vacay.ca: Being as this is an interview for Vacay.ca, you know that I have to ask if there are places in Canada that you enjoy travelling to with your family.
Laroye: I love Canada, and am so grateful that my parents chose to move and raise their family here. I grew up in Southwestern Ontario and loved my childhood there. But after living in Vancouver and British Columbia for the past 30 years, this province has my heart. I love the mountains, the great outdoors, the beaches and multicultural vibrancy of B.C. It is truly one of the best places in the world. Coming home after a trip is always the sweetest journey.
Vacay.ca: It has been a pleasure speaking with you. Last question – what’s next for Claudia? Where will your travels take you next and can we expect to see another book from you in the future?
Laroye: Well, right now I’m planning for Christmas celebrations along with everyone else! We put up our tree a few weeks ago, and I only have a few presents to go, which is lovely as it’s been a busy fall. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season of relaxation and with a side of reading some great books – wink wink!
Moving forward I’ll have to think about another book, as others have asked me about a follow up to A Gelato a Day, a Volume II if you will. I hope to participate in some book and literary festivals next year, and record an Audiobook version of my anthology. In terms of travel for 2023, my schedule is booking up. There are some big and exciting trips on the horizon, including to several destinations that will be new to me – Chile, Japan and Newfoundland. I can’t wait!
Vacay.ca: Thanks Claudia! It was wonderful to speak with you and congrats again on your book.
Laroye: Thank you! I appreciate the opportunity.
MORE ABOUT “A GELATO A DAY”
A Gelato a Day was released in North America and Great Britain in fall 2022. Please visit your favorite independent bookstore to place an order, or pre-order here. $20 CAD | $17.95 USD | £11