Are your family vacations a time of excitement, discovery and togetherness? Or, do your kids plug in their headphones or play with electronic gadgets? Do they text so much that their cell phones look like part of their hand?
To turn this around, travel journals open the door to connect family members and create lasting memories.
Imagine this-you tell your kids that everyone will have their own section in the travel journal. Are your kids groaning? Are you groaning just thinking about their reaction?
Your kids may complain, because they do that sometimes. In order to make this work, here are some tricks to try:
• Begin with a blank travel journal that has multiple sections. One that has tabs is best, but in a pinch, you can make your own sections using sticky notes.
• Stock your budding writers with colored pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, etc. Supply stickers for younger children.
• Provide everyone with a durable pouch or container to collect souvenirs that may be put into the travel journal. Ticket stubs, postcards, brochures, and menus are great mementos.
• Ask young children if they want help. If they don’t, leave them alone. If they do, ask if they prefer help from an adult or an older sibling, assuming an older child is willing to help. Older children helping younger ones is a memory worth capturing.
• Everyone can put whatever they want in their designated section. Don’t correct or censor anyone’s journal entries.
Stimulate their interest with fun assignments. Here are some ideas:
• If you go to a museum, start with the gift shop and have youngsters pick out their favorite postcard. While touring the museum, have them look for that object or art. Later, paste the postcard in the travel journal.
• Propose that kids look daily for a vacation highlight to draw. Anything is possible, be it buildings, animals, mountains, seashells or people.
• Suggest that kids try new foods and record what they ate. They can pretend they are food critics, giving thumbs up or thumbs down to various restaurants.
• When visiting relatives, have kids write down things they think are funny or memorable.
• On long road trips, look for interesting bumper stickers, vanity plates or signs. These may be included in the travel journal. Photos of license plates, road signs, or unusual cars can be added later to your travel journal.
• If you travel to a foreign country, have kids note new words or phrases. Engage them by asking them to find out the word for bathroom, dog, or hello, and write them in the trip diary.
• Visit a local post office, particularly for foreign travel. Stamps are inexpensive souvenirs that look beautiful when pasted into a travel journal. Kids enjoy picking them out and practicing their foreign language skills at the same time.
As a group, you can decide how you want to share the journal. This could be an evening activity or one that you do at meal times. Teens may want to write their journal entries at night, so be prepared to turn the trip diary over to them. Just remember to ask for it in the morning so early risers can add their memories.
If despite your best efforts to engage your kids in this activity, don’t force it on them. Instead, try to involve them in other ways. When you have everyone’s attention, ask them what some of the day’s highlights were. Write them in your travel journal. (Don’t be surprised if they notice parts of your vacation that you didn’t notice.)
Travel journals turn ordinary trips into family legacies. Long after your vacation is over, your trip journal will still be here, forever reminding you of your precious time with your family.