Create a Travel Journal

You’ve planned the vacation. Give your child a project, too. A travel journal is a wonderful way to include your child in the journey.

Choosing Your Materials

A travel journal need not be expensive. A blank book or spiral notebook are good options. You might also consider a simple photo album with plastic sleeves for collecting ticket stubs, leaves or other small finds along the way.

Whatever you choose, keep it small and accessible. Allow your child to carry the journal in a backpack or stash it in a car seat pocket, so she can easily access it when she is inspired. Remember to include some fun extras, like a child's camera, safety scissors, tape and fun stickers.

Preparing Your Child

For young children even the most anticipated vacation can be worrisome. Unfamiliar routines and places can introduce new anxieties. Starting your journal before your trip can help calm those travel butterflies.

You might start by noting some logistics. (We will wake up very early and get on a plane...) You might also discuss what you plan on doing. (We will go to the beach and build sand castles.) Your child can envision these plans by drawing pictures or creating a collage with travel brochures or magazines. This may help her adjust to the new sites and scenery.

Enjoying the Journey

Traveling with kids is as much about the journey as the destination. Your journal can be a nice reminder of this Zen-like attitude. Pull out the journal when traffic is jammed, your flight is delayed or the waiter forgot your order. Giving your child a mission can reduce the stress and boredom that is bound to happen.

Fun With Photos

Along the way, take photos together. Those printed pictures will be great additions to your memory book when you are home. Here are some child-friendly ideas for playing with your camera:

Scavenger Hunt. Before heading to a new site, consider some of the objects your child might see. Create a quick list and have her find and photograph these items.

Daily Themes. Each day, pick a theme for your photos. It might be a color (green), or a shape (triangle) or a category (water). You'll enjoy the new focus this gives your photo collection.

Name That Place. Look for opportunities to "write" your child's name on location - then photograph your creation. Scratch her name into sand on the beach or assemble it out of rocks and sticks on a hiking trail.  

Best Memories.  No matter how large your camera's memory card, your child can fill it faster than you can say "cheese." To encourage some thoughtful restraint, consider giving her the gift of five photos each day. Remind her that she gets five more the next day, too.