One of my favorite things about our road trip and summer adventures is our travel journals. We’ve done different kinds of journals over the years, but I’m excited for this year’s because I put a lot of thought into what I know my kids will love and set them up with creative tools to make the experience of journaling more inviting. This past year, Lainey really got into journaling as a creative tool—not so much deep dive writing into all her feelings (although I hope that comes) but more a creative collection of thoughts and ideas she noticed in the world: cutting out fun things she liked and gluing them in her scrapbook, making lists, collecting quotes, compiling affirmations, etc. The open-ended scrapbook approach kept her busy for hours. This year’s travel journals are similar in that they’re very open-ended—blank books and all the fun things a kid would want to write, draw, cut and paste things they see, taste, hear, experience and collect as they adventure. Everything fits into a pouch (I used paint pens to write their names) to keep them organized and make them easy to transport. I found these wet dry pouches in the Dollar Spot at Target, but these are similar and the same size.
I bought these Soft Cover Spiral Notebooks. They come in a 3-pack, so it worked great for my kids (I ended up buying an additional one for me). They’re the perfect size—a little smaller than a regular school notebook, and they’re unlined so great for scrapbooking and art. To build some excitement for the trip, I’ll have the kids decorate the covers of their journals the night before we leave.
Inside Our Pouches: colored pencils, good journal pens, kid scissors (for cutting things to scrapbook), fun travel themed stickers, double sided tape, glue stick
I found stacks of Michigan travel brochures on eBay for a few dollars as well as some Michigan tourism magazines that include places we’re visiting. They have a lot of great things the kids can cut and scrapbook. I distinctively remember a road trip we took out west when I was maybe 12 years old. My friend Tisha and I collected free travel brochures everywhere we went and cut them up to document our trip. We even made dioramas with them when we returned home.
Another fun addition to travel journals is photos. We’ve bought a couple of kid-friendly cameras over the years, and my current favorite is the Canon Ivy. I find the picture quality is better than the Instax, and I really like the Zip instant photos with the peel-off paper if you want to turn them into stickers. The cameras are great for kids to take their own pictures. Even better, you can use your phone or iPad to take photos and print them straight from the phone with a Portable Bluetooth Printer. I have the Polaroid one (I don’t think they make it anymore, and the ones left on Amazon are more than double what I paid for), so I linked the comparable Kodak one. These are great because you can use editing apps to adjust brightness, contrast, etc. before you print photos so you’re really getting a good quality photo.
As for what to put in the journals, I try and encourage the kids to be as creative as they want—no rules! They can draw, make lists, write, cut things up, etc. In case they get stuck though, I taped this list of fun journal prompts in the front of their journals:
TRAVEL JOURNAL PROMPTS
1. Describe/Journal the things you brought on this trip
2. What you ate today (write a menu description for it)
3. Rose & Thorn (best part of the day and worst part of the day)
4. Something new you learned
5. A funny thing that happened today
6. A funny quote someone said
7. Somebody you met or saw today
8. How you made someone feel good about themselves today
9. What happened today from the perspective of your stuffed animal
10. An interview with someone you’re with
11. Write a pretend postcard to a friend in your journal
12. Write a review of restaurant/hotel/Airbnb
13. Look up three Sherwin Williams paint color names. Write about today—you must include those three descriptions.
14. You are creating a travel advertisement for a place you visited. Write the advertisement in your journal. Sell it!
15. Make a Pirate’s Treasure Map of where you are. Label all the good places!
16. Journal “How To” Instructions for someone, detailing something on your trip (example: How to annoy your sibling in the car, How to enjoy Sleeping Bear Dunes, How to catch a fish, How to make the perfect s’more, etc.)
17. Make a list of animals you’ve seen on your travels
18. Draw favorite outfits you’ve worn on the trip
19. Make a list of travel tips based on your trip
20. Write a review of your Uber driver (Daddy)
21. If there was a bestselling book based on this trip, design the cover of the book
22. Research a place you visited and journal 5 facts you learned
23. Design a T-shirt for a place you visited or the state you’re in
24. Journal a list of the 5 best souvenirs to bring home
25. Journal a guide for the “Best Day Ever” on this trip
26. Journal a list of Best Smells/Worst Smells on this trip
27. Make a soundtrack for your day. What songs would you include?
28. Today, find something for each of these and document (either words, drawings or photos) what you find: SOMETHING BLUE, SOMETHING GROSS, SOMETHING COLD, SOMETHING DELICIOUS, SOMETHING SHARP, SOMETHING PURPLE, SOMETHING SAD, SOMETHING THAT SMELLS GOOD
Even though we’re using blank books for open ended travel journals this year, I can’t write a post about travel journaling without including a couple of my favorites for more structured journals.
Go! Travel Journal
This is such a great journal for little kids who need a bit more prompting. It’s so well designed and includes so many creative prompts for documenting every fun aspect of visiting new places from what to pack to good things you eat.
I Was Here Travel Journal from Chronicle Books
This one is great for older kids, teens and adults. Includes great prompts for recording the details and discoveries of your trip, a pocket to store ephemera, graphic pages for notes, etc.
Now, we just need to hit the road so we can start documenting our travels. We’re so excited!