Travel journals are an excellent way to encourage kids to contemplate what they have seen and done on their holidays. Journals can take many forms and will naturally be quite simple for young children and become more sophisticated as they grow older. Depending on the age of the kids there will need to be some parental involvement at first, however, it will gradually become a memento that is entirely produced by your child. Both of my daughters started keeping travel journals at a young age (Katie started hers at the age of 5 and Emma at the age of 4) and they are treasured memories of all the places that we have been.
Even young children who are just learning to write are capable of keeping simple travel journals with a little help from Mom and Dad. I purchased a blank spiral notebook for Katie prior to a trip to Chicago when she was 5 and that's when she started keeping a journal about her travels. Her first entries consist of just a few short sentences about what she did each day accompanied by her own illustrations of what she remembered best. Many of the early entries are similar to this example from a trip to The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas which illustrates her activities for the day - two trips to The Dig, riding paddle boats, feeding stingrays, swimming in the pools, going to Predator Lagoon and having ice cream. That's a lot of memories in one little picture.
Emma started her journal at a younger age because, as with just about everything else, she wanted to do what her older sister was doing. Her early journal entries are a little more colourful because by then we had advanced to using stickers. This is one of her entries on our Hawaiian trip about her day at The Polynesian Cultural Center. The entry itself is quite simple - "I went to the Polynesian Cultural Centre" but she happily covered two pages with stickers that she had purchased that day.
Over time the girls have started adding ticket stubs and postcards in to their journals and I now travel with a roll of tape so that these items can be affixed to the pages each day rather than after we return home.
Postcards are great for recording memories of places where photos can't be taken such as The Sistine Chapel.
Ticket stubs also provide great visual reminders of places that have been visited.
Journaling has become a regular part of our routine while we are on vacation. Each evening part of the getting-ready-for-bed routine is to get out journals and write about the day. Emma loves to write and her entries often go on for pages and pages as she describes each and every thing that she did over the course of a day. Katie's entries are now much briefer, however, they are becoming more sophisticated as I encourage her to analyze and interpret the day's activities rather than just listing what she has seen and done.
We now have multiple volumes of travel journals that the girls are quite proud of. It's fun to look back at them just like we look at photo albums and remember our trips and what made an impression on the girls. The journals are keepsakes from our family travels that will mean far more to Katie and Emma as they grow older than any of the trinkets and doodads that they picked up along the way.
Travel Journal Tips
If your children aren't already keeping journals on their travels then consider having them start on your next vacation. Here are some simple suggestions to get you started.
(1) Provide each child with a blank lined notebook and pencils, pens, crayons, stickers or anything else that you think will aid their creativity;
(2) Have your child decorate a dated title page - this could even be done before you leave home in order to build anticipation;
(3) Collect ticket stubs and postcards or anything else that strikes their fancy that can be taped into the journal;
(4) Set up a regular time for writing/drawing in the journals - we find that the end of the day works best;
(5) Date each entry; and
(6) Be prepared to prompt your child with leading questions to get them thinking about what they did during the day.
Most importantly, step back and let the kids have fun and record whatever they want in their journal even if it's a detailed description of what they ate at the dinner buffet or the afternoon's pool games. It's their journal and they will be recording family memories that will always be treasured.
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