Making Memories: Creating a Travel Journal for Kids

by Laurel Smith (Travel Mom)

Creating a travel diary or journal is a wonderful activity that will not only keep your children busy in the car on a long trip, but it will preserve their memories for a lifetime.

It doesn't need to be fancy or complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. The only thing you need is a big spiral bound sketch pad and a box of crayons or markers for each child. Each day of the trip, or for each event along the way, have your child draw a picture of what they did that day, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs such as brochures, ticket stubs and other momentous.

If your child isn't old enough to write, then Mom or Dad can help by offering to write a caption on the page or a couple of sentences on the back. Remember that it's his journal, so ask your child what he wants you to write. Then be sure to add the date.

I still have a trip diary that I made on a big family trip when I was 9 years old back in 1976. The memories in this journal are priceless, and my spelling is hilarious.

It's interesting to look back and see what events impressed me the most on the trip at that age. Here are a few excerpts:

May 26, 1976.
Today we started our trip, and it rained. Before we left, people from across the street put banners all over the car. And we traveled for 7-1/2 hours.

Apparently our family van meant a lot to me since it was the first thing I drew in my journal.

The next entry was about a short stop we made along the way.

May 27, 1976
Today we're going to El Paso. And on the way we stopped at Monahan Sand Dunes and went for a nature walk and looked at dinosaur bones. And then we slid down the GIANT sand dunes.

Sometimes just the littlest things meant the most.

June 3
Today we got to San Diego and went to the biggest zoo in the world. My favorite thing at the zoo was to see real baby chicks hatch.

Some days I wrote a whole paragraph:

June 4
Today we went to Disneyland. My favorite thing was the Haunted Mansion. At Disneyland we went on a ride that was in a submarine and it was neat!! In the haunted mansion we got in cars and rode through the mansion and saw glow in the dark ghosts and things, and boy was it scary! We went on lots of other rides too.

And on other days, one sentence said it all:

June 7
Today we went to the beach and made a big sand castle.

My journal has been a wonderful keepsake over the years. I read it to my own children recently, and they were amazed that their Mommy is the main character in this book!

If your children are really young you should help them preserve their journal by keeping it in a special place when the trip is over -- until they are old enough to be entrusted with it's care.

The important thing is to keep it simple and let your children use their imaginations. Give them enough suggestions to help them get started, but make sure the final product is truly their own creation.

Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom