travel with kids journals

This week I am hosting the MKB Book Club discussion of Family on the Loose, a wonderful book about family travel by Bill Richards and E. Ashley Steel. Chapter 7 is about travel journals, which just happen to be an excellent language activity!

The traveling I did with my kids when they were young was to Spanish-speaking countries and was done with their language skills in mind. From the time they could write at all, I had them keep travel journals, not only as a record of the trip, but also as a way to use new language they were acquiring. As the authors point out, what a child takes away from a trip can be a function of how much they reflect and record in their journals.

I so wish I had had the suggestions from Chapter 7 of Family on the Loose for all those trips! The authors have a wonderful list of ideas for travel journals. There are prompts that are appropriate for children at different ages, and my children would have loved many of them.

We used traditional hard cover books, one of the options Family on the Loose discusses. Since my kids were young and the journals had lots of pages, we used the same journal for several trips. This was not a plan when we bought the books, but it worked out really well. As we were traveling, the kids liked looking back and I think they probably reread their journals more than they would have if we had used a different book for each trip.

The What to Write in the Journal section of the chapter has lots of wonderful ideas. Some of them, like drawing or collecting ticket stubs, maps, menus, etc., came naturally to my kids. Most of the prompts are not at all obvious, so of course I didn’t think of them. Now I would give anything to have my kids’ 6- or 8-year-old responses to prompts like:
– Describe one character you met that day.
– Make a list of things you would like to bring home with you. These could be works of art, food, ideas, phrases, or people.
– Describe the sounds you heard that day.

Family on the Loose also has great suggestions in the Alternative Ideas section. Again, I wish I had had this book when my kids were younger! Each of my kids went through stages where they would have loved the different formats the authors suggest. In particular, I think the Post Card Photo Album is a something almost anyone would enjoy making.

The focus of this chapter is travel journals for kids, but I would add that keeping your own journal is also worthwhile. Although at times it seemed like just one more thing to do, writing helped me slow down and process the experience we were having. Having a record also has come in handy as the trips start to blur with the years!

Do your kids keep journals when you travel? How do you inspire them to write? Do you keep your own travel journal? Please share your thoughts and ideas in comments and on the MKB Book Club Google+ thread.

Don’t forget to check out these other posts about Family on the Loose.

You will also find an excellent collection of posts on family travel on the MKB Book Club Family on the Loose page. If you are a blogger, feel free to link up!

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