Travel Journaling

A page from Charlotte’s travel journal.

My grandmother wrote travel journals on international trips to Mexico, Egypt, Russia, Africa.  These journals are still around, dating back to the 1960’s, and contain accounts of her day, meals, and impressions of the culture, along with tips on the best seat choice for flying in a 747, notes about respecting people’s differences, and packing lists that include half slips and “minimum jewelry.”  Reading old travel journals provide a window into the past, a way to view our family and our world in an time capsule of sorts.

As a child, my grandmother taught me to write in travel journals of my own, and I loved it.  As an educator and a parent, I believe that to process an experience through writing is an effective tool for solidifying a memory, putting an experience in context, or expressing feelings.  On our recent camping trip to the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, I brought Charlotte a travel journal.  Although journals can be purchased with prompts and drawings, a travel journal can, also, be a blank, lined book, pages ready to be filled with free form writing.  Charlotte’s journal provided pages for a recount and rating of her day, listing of people we encountered, and weather notes.  Using observation skills allowed her to view her surroundings and translate what she saw, felt, and heard into words.  Below are some sample prompts for travel journal writing for generating a satisfying journal writing experience for adults, or kids, and creating a time capsule for the future.

Before the Trip

What are you looking forward to seeing or doing on this trip?

Who is going with you?

How are you getting there and how are you getting home?  How long will it take?

How will you travel around once you are there?

Why are you taking this trip?

What will you see and do while you are there?

What items are you planning to bring with you? Make a packing list.

What language do people speak where you are going?  What does their flag look like?

During the Trip

Date, Location, Weather.

About my Day:  I heard…. I saw… I smelled… I felt…..

Did you learn something or do something new today?

Is there something you did on this trip that you never want to do again?

Are you eating foods on this trip that are different than at home?  How is it different?  What is the most unusual thing you ate?  What is the best thing you ate?  Where did you get it?

Rate your day between 1-5 (1 is the worst and 5 is the best).

What is the thing you most want to tell a friend at home about this trip?

What made you smile today?  What made you frown?

Did you buy or collect any souveniers this trip?  How will they remind you of your trip?

What is something about this trip that you never want to forget?

After the Trip

What did you miss the most while you were away?

What old friends did you see or bew friends did you meet on your trip?

What was the most memorable moment on your trip?

Where do you want to go next?

Journaling in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains on a camping/climbing trip.
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