Post Cards, Journals, and Road Trip Mementos
Take only pictures, leave only footprints. How many times have you seen this reminder on a park sign? Here’s a 20+ year confession; the paper weight on my desk is a triangular-shaped rock I lifted from the Continental Divide the summer between third and fourth grade. I blame my parents, of course.
Documenting your vacation in the form of post cards and journaling (blogging counts) is great for kids for a number of reasons, including (1) it keeps them writing and reading on summer vacation, (2) it gives them the “job” of historian (keeping them occupied in the car, restaurant, hotel, or campground–yes!), (3) they are collecting material for those first “What I did on Summer Vacation” projects when school is back in session.
Thanks to advances in digital film technology, it’s easy to hand the kids a camera and let the creative liberty begin. Check out this photo from the Wisconsin Deer Park. Taken by a three-year-old, is anyone craving Milk Duds right now? Hit the post office and buy a book of post card stamps. Sharpen pencils. Pack notebooks and tape (acorns and seashells can be “contained” to paper instead of the tiny car projectiles they really are). We once took home a cactus in a Wendy’s fast food cup. Embrace your inner Eagle Scout.
To get you started, check out the book “Postcards from Mr. Pish: A Cross-Country Journal,” by K.S. Brooks. Using post cards as a trip journal, Brooks took her Jack Russell Terrier, Mr. Pish, on a drive from coast-to-coast and even into Canada. As the “author,” Mr. Pish writes about what he sees, where he goes, and what he learns. Featured in photos throughout the country, my younger kids shrieked with delight at the one where Mr. Pish was pretending to drive the car. Note: this led to a discussion about why dogs are ineligible for a drivers license. Ever. Yes, folks, these kids will be running our country some day!
Whether it’s sending post cards, looking for license plates, collecting coins, adding to charm bracelets; really there’s no right or wrong way to document your trip. The point is to include and engage your kids (heck, even get them in on the itinerary planning) and roll with the punches. Someone will probably, inevitably, sneak home a rock or two. But, twenty years later, they’ll probably have a paper weight souvenir and some stories to tell! And you can go back and have a good laugh too.