Summer Travel Journals

Posted In: All posts, Writing

Today we have Kayte Ghaffar, who is sharing some wonderful tips for summer journaling with children. I have had the opportunity to work with Kayte over the last year and love of her innovative ideas and knack for creating engaging learning experiences.

No matter what you have planned this summer, whether it is a trip to see the grandparents, a week in Hawaii, or a stay-cation visiting your local museums, a custom journal is a great way for your children to record their experiences.

Before our beach vacation a few years ago, I searched for the perfect travel journal for our daughter. I could not find one that fit our trip or my daughter’s skill level exactly, so I decided to make one with a blank notebook and some journal prompt stickers. It was a hit, and, three summers later, we have quite a collection of them.

Playful Learning: Summer Travel Journals

I started with a Kraft Moleskine Cahier notebook, but you can choose any notebook that suits you. I picked pages without lines to accommodate the oversized handwriting of our young writer and her imaginative drawings.

Playful Learning: Summer Travel Journals

Then, I wrote out some prompts on the computer. Since my daughter was an emerging writer at the time, I paired simple questions with requests for drawings about the day. Prompts included:

  • What was the weather like today?
  • Today I felt…
  • Draw something you want to do tomorrow.

For the first journal, I chose a simple font in a larger point size. As the years have gone by, I have shifted to more complex questions and smaller fonts. Each book I make has some of the same generic questions, but it also contains prompts specific to particular experiences:

  • What was your favorite animal at the zoo?
  • What new Costa Rican food did you try today?
  • Labels for gallery sketches in a museum.

Playful Learning: Summer Travel Journals

Be sure to capture things that are novel to beginning travelers like:

  • Draw your hotel room.
  • How do you think Denver is different from our hometown?
  • What did you like about riding on the subway for the first time?

I printed our prompts onto clear sticker paper, because the pages of our journal were not white. I cut them apart and put them into an envelope that I slid in the pocket in the back of the journal. You can use plain paper and throw a glue-stick into your bag; just remember that it has to go in your clear Ziploc bag at a TSA airport checkpoint. Separate prompts (as opposed to preprinted pages) allow you to add the applicable ones each day and give you the freedom to place them onto the pages where you want. It also is a great way to incorporate journaling from more than one child in a single book. I also print journal covers for each book on the clear sticker paper.

When we return home from our trip, we add photographs, postcards and other ephemera to some of the pages.

Playful Learning: Summer Travel Journals

My daughter loves creating her journal on each trip we take, and she loves looking through them once we are home. She occasionally waxes poetic in the middle of an event about what she will write later that night in her journal. As a mom, watching her become a writer is as precious as reading her early words.

How do you help your kids record vacations and important family events?





Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I have used this idea from Kayte and it is wonderful.  I feel the kids get so much more from the trip because they are processing the information from the trip and writing it down as they go so it is a forever memory.  It is truly a wonderful gift from the trip.

  2. My young children have kept journals for years. Whenever they had an experience that they were excited about, they would draw a picture of it and dictate to me what they wanted to say )or I’d write what they were describing). We love looking back through them and reliving the experiences as well as seeing the progressions in their drawing and writing!

    I love the look of the journals you use. We’ll have to try those. Thank you!

Sign up for Our Newsletter!