I took my young children to Paris for spring break last year after we went to see their grandparents in the UK. A lot of folks asked me whether or not my kids were too young to get much out of the trip, whether they were bored or not excited about what we did. I traveled a lot when I was little, and I’m grateful that my mom gave me the idea to keep a travel journal from a very young age. This kept me invested in all the activities we did, and it did the same thing for my kids. When I was younger, journaling meant collecting “stuff,” tickets, postcards, menus, whatever I could get my chubby hands on. But the collecting itself gave me a focus when I was at a cathedral or a museum, and, as important, an activity to do when we got back into the car. As I got older, I added pictures and descriptions. In my early teens, the journal started to become more of a traditional journal, a place to reflect on the experiences I had, more than just a travelogue. It is a fact that the trips I kept journals on I remembered better than those I didn’t.
I got my kids excited about the journal idea on the plane over. As soon as we hit the airport, I gave them new notebooks and a special pen for my older daughter, colored pencils for my younger one. We didn’t feel pressured to write every day or keep every last item. But even my six-year-old went excitedly from room to room at the Pompidou center, first figuring out what to draw and then sketching her favorite piece for about 20 minutes.
And as much fun as these journal were at keeping my kids engaged in what we saw, they have been even more fun after the trip. The best part was comparing their views of what we’d seen to what I’d written in my journal on my first trip lo these many years ago. Reviewing the journals lets us relive the trips we took.
Here are a few we liked, although we are also partial to the basic black and white composition books:
- Nichols does these lovely “little adventure journals.” He hand cuts tiny pieces of paper to make each picture, and each journal comes with 25 collage illustrations inside.
- Martha Stewart, as always, has a great DIY travel journal that seems easy enough that even we could do it. You can do it with your kids to build anticipation for the trip. Doesn’t seem too hard, even for us!
- For the tweens in your group, a simple personalized rainbow journal would do the trick. Here's one we liked from Frecklebox.
Happy travel journaling!