We are getting ready for another big trip, this one for 6 months to the US. We’ll be spending 3-4 months of the time driving/camping, so we have a whole different set of things to figure out for this trip, from solar battery chargers for the phones etc, to what’s the best laptop/tablet etc solution for me to be able to work as we travel, to how to we keep the kids up with their school work.
I have already got travel journals sorted for all three kids (I had a gift voucher from Blurb, so I actually made them one each, with loads of blank pages for drawing and writing, a big map of the states, and lots of photos from the last o/s trip we did, 3 years ago).
Also we’ve got house sitters sorted out for our house here (though we have a lot of work to do on the house before we hand it over to them, including MORE decluttering!), but we still need to find a house to sit ourselves for our last two months over there, in Berkeley CA. So sing out if you need someone to look after your house in the winter!
We’ve spoken to Liam’s teacher about whether she wanted to give us some work for him to do while we’re away, since he’ll be missing 6 weeks of school, and her response was to suggest he keeps a travel journal of what we do, or his impressions, each day while we’re away.
When I was about 8 my Dad and his girlfriend took me and her daughter (who was my best friend) to the snow for a few days, and they bought us each a drawing book and a notepad and we were supposed to write/draw in them each day. Even though I have kept a journal since I was about 9, I still remember how stressful I found that process, partially because I couldn’t draw to save my life, and partially I assumed that whatever I did would be compared to my friend’s efforts and found lacking. That shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on my Dad or her Mum, but only on my own insecurities.
Anyway, I don’t want Liam to have an experience like that. However, I do want to get him something he can draw as well as write in – because unlike me, he loves to draw. And, I’m considering whether to get something for Mikaela as well, but of course she can’t write yet, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it. I’m thinking she could stick things in it, like ticket stubs or postcards.
I’ve looked for kid’s travel journals on Amazon and Fishpond, but with limited success. I’ve also been down to the local newsagency and found a bunch of travel diaries (most of them not specificially aimed at kids though), most of which I thought were overpriced, and not that useful. Here is what I have found so far:
There is The Children’s Travel Journal on Amazon, with lots of prompts and things to fill in (which I would have loved as a child), but it doesn’t have many blank pages, much less one per page per day as a general daily journal, which is what I am looking for. It does have sections like “planning” and “packing list” for filling out before the trip, and then pages for “first impressions”, “the route”, “what we did”, “the language” and so on, which could be a good way of structuring a journal, particularly for a child who maybe isn’t sure what to write. But it doesn’t have any daily pages, and it assumes you have one destination, not several as we do. At the moment this is $14.96 on Amazon.
Then there’s the Kid’s Trip Diary, which looks like fun, and again, I’m sure I would have loved this as a kid, but it only has pages for 28 days. It does have a lot of list type pages to fill out before you go, which could be fun for a child for whom the wait for the trip seems interminable. It has a ‘special note to parents’ at the front with a checklist of things to take with you. It’s all good information, but seems to assume that your child will not read those pages (mine would!). At the moment this is US$6.95 on Amazon. You can also purchase the Kid’s Trip Diary on Fishpond, currently for AU$7.72 with free shipping Australia wide, but that is more than 50% off, so I don’t know if that price will last.
In the newsagency I found:
The Kids Travel Journal by Mudpuppy Press, which is also on Amazon. This one was closer to what I am personally looking for. It has less pages of lists to fill in, and more daily pages for your trip. It does have a world map to mark your route and stops, pages to fill in about your country of destination (only one country though), a page to write about your journey and arrival, postcard address pages and so on. Then it has more than enough daily pages for our purposes – I stopped counting after 60. It also has a few pages for drawing, but not enough.
The main downside of this one is that the daily pages are very structured. Each one is divided into three sections with the headings: ‘What I did’, ‘What I saw’ and ‘What I ate’. I’d rather Liam had the opportunity to write whatever impressions he might have for the day, and maybe draw pictures some days or paste in ticket stubbs or other souvenirs. Price at the local shop was AU, $22.99, price on Amazon is US$8.50.
My favourite option so far is the Fountain FOK Travel Journal. This is not aimed at kids, so hopefully I am not just projecting my preferences onto Liam. It has I found this online for AU$11.95, but I’m pretty sure it was under $10 in the shop. It comes in three different covers with different famous landmarks. It has a personal information page at the front, followed by a checklist page, postcard address pages, itinerary pages and then stacks of lined blank pages with a plastic pocket in the back. The lined pages don’t have anything printed on them, so could be a page per day, or several pages per day, as necessary.
I know this is in someways more a grown-up style book than they others, but it also leaves a lot more room for creativity and for also using it for scrapbooking, which I think Liam will like.
What I would really have liked to find is a book similar to this, but with a kid’s style theme, and alternating lined and blank pages for writing and drawing. There’s still the possibility that I might just buy them each an A5 visual art diary for around $4 each from Big W, and let them have at it. I will ask Liam whether he’d preferred lined or blank pages and go from there I think.
Travel blog and information from Barcelona to San Francisco and back to Canberra